Blame It on Texas

Christie Craig
September 2012, Contemporary Romance
Grand Central, $7.99, 464 pages, Amazon ASIN 0446582832
Part of a series

Grade: B
Sensuality: Warm

I thoroughly enjoyed Don’t Mess With Texas, the first book of the Hotter In Texas series, and was very anxious for this one. Luckily I was able to snag the assignment of reviewing it and didn’t have to wait quite as long.

Former police detective Tyler Lopez is still dealing with the aftermath of his year and a half of incarceration after being framed along with his two best friends Dallas O’Connor and Austin Brooks. All three men suffered the dishonor and humiliation of being labeled dirty cops. Long term friends severed the relationship faster than you could say Texas and Tyler’s fiancée Lisa was one of them. Growing up watching his father use his mother as a punching bag skewed his view on love anyway and Lisa’s abandonment was the final nail in the coffin. Plus anytime he second guesses his stance on this all he needs to do is look at his twin sister’s bad choices.

Still, life goes on. After being exonerated he and his partners established the Only in Texas detective agency. While each have an all-consuming desire to put Deluna, the degenerate who engineered their fall, behind bars they still get exhilarated solving cases, especially if they can do it before the police.

Normally Zoe Adams would be decorating her classroom, buying supplies and reviewing her lesson plans for her upcoming kindergarten class. Instead she is thousands of miles away from home, working as a waitress in Miller, Texas. Losing her mother two years ago and then being dumped by her boyfriend of four years for a stripper left her at loose ends. So it was easy for her to latch on to the decade-old mystery of the kidnapping and ensuing death of millionaire Thomas Bradford’s granddaughter, after viewing the Unsolved Mystery Hunters episode on television. There are so many things from her childhood that never added up and the picture of four-year-old Caroline Bradford looks just like her sixth-grade picture. However after three weeks she is stymied. Thomas Bradford won’t take her calls, and she can’t get into his gated home. After hearing about the new detective agency in town, she concludes that it might be a smart idea to get some help.

Ms. Craig specializes in the cute meet and she definitely doesn’t disappoint here. Like her other books the comedy is a little farcical but I found it extremely laughable. Both Zoe and Tyler are extremely appealing. It seems ages since I have read a book with a Hispanic hero, making Tyler even more attractive. Tyler’s negative attitude towards relationships is not unique especially since it is a variation of the struggle in the first book of this series. However I was willing to suspend belief and just go with the flow on this recycled conflict. I probably would be disillusioned too if a loved one failed to believe in me.

There is a secondary romance and I found these characters just as appealing - maybe even more so than Zoe and Tyler. I am always a pushover for men who learn how to be a good father. The mystery of Zoe’s parentage is more of a plot device to set up the romance than a compelling “who done it” but that is not really why I read Ms. Craig’s books. I read her books because she writes amusing scenes, believable dialogue and charming characters.

As I mentioned this is the second book in the series but it does stand on it own. I did read that the first book is being released again to coincide with the publication of this one in case you missed it and have to read series in order. Title alert though -they have changed the title of the first book from Don’t Mess With Texas to Only in Texas. I would hate for someone to think they are buying the second book only to pick up the first one again.

With this second solid book, Ms. Craig solidifies her standing on my must buy list. In fact the excerpt for the third book, Austin’s story, has definitely titillated my interest.

-- Leigh Davis

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