"Hold onto your Stetsons . . . A thrill ride of hunky heroes, hilarious high jinks, and heartwarming romance."
-Lori Wilde, New York Times bestselling author on Only in Texas
A HOTTER IN TEXAS NOVEL The last thing veterinarian Leah Reece needs is a man in her life. They're nothing but trouble-and not even the fun kind. But when her apartment is broken into and Leah suspects Rafael, her dangerous half-brother, of foul play, she can't deny she could use a little help. She just never expected that help would come with twinkling blue eyes and a sexy smile... All PI Austin Brook wants is to nail Rafael DeLuna, the man who framed him for murder. He'll do anything for information-even lie about his identity to charm Leah, DeLuna's half-sister. But her sweet dimples and fiery spirit soon make her more than just his only lead. Leah becomes his every desire. As Austin closes in on DeLuna, it's clear he won't go down without a fight. Now the only way Austin can protect Leah is to reveal all of his secrets and risk losing her for good.
About the Author
New York Times bestselling author Christie Craig grew up in Alabama, where she caught lightning bugs, ran barefoot, and regularly rescued potential princes, in the form of bullfrogs, from her brothers. Today, she's still fascinated with lightning bugs and mostly wears shoes, but focuses on rescuing mammals and hasn't kissed a frog in years. She now lives in Texas with her four rescued cats, one dog-who has a bad habit of eating furniture-a son, and a prince of a husband who swears he's not, and never was, a frog.
If Christie isn't writing, she's reading or just enjoying laughter with her friends and family. As a freelance writer, Christie also writes nonfiction books, including the humorous self-help/relationship book Wild, Wicked & Wanton: 101 Ways to Love Like You're in a Romance Novel, as well as paranormal young adult romances under the pen name C. C. Hunter.
You can learn more at:
Read an Excerpt
Texas Hold 'Em
By Christie Craig
Grand Central PublishingCopyright © 2014 Christie Craig
All rights reserved.
Austin Brook opened his front door and stared at his two PI partners standing shoulder to shoulder on the front porch. They looked pissed enough to chew glass. He knew why they were here. He even knew why they were pissed. Still, he decided the best approach would be to take a page from his dating manual and do the same thing he always did when he got in trouble with a woman. Namely, feign ignorance and pretend everything was just fine.
"Hey," he said. "What brings you guys by?"
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Dallas O'Connor snapped.
Austin grinned. "Well, I was thinking about taking a piss when someone started pounding on my door."
Bud, Dallas's dog, nosed his way between his owner's legs and stared up with the same bulldog face as Austin's partners at the Only in Texas agency.
The fact that Bud was an English bulldog made his look understandable. Not that Austin didn't understand his partners' dire expressions. He knew they were here to derail his plan.
"I thought you guys were in Galveston." And he was hoping to be gone before they got back. Austin raised his foot and with the toe of his boot scratched the dog's neck between the folds of loose canine skin.
"We came back early. Roberto called us." Dallas, a big man carrying a bad attitude, pushed inside, and Tyler, slightly less bulky but equally tall, joined him. Bud, snorting and probably farting, followed at their heels.
Austin shut the door, then regretted it when the strong odor of doggie gas hit him square in the face. Instinctually, all three men waved a hand to clear the air.
Tyler's gaze, his eyes as dark as his black hair, shifted to Austin's suitcases sitting beside the bar. "I thought we decided to let Roberto handle this."
Roberto was the professional informant they had digging up info on the SOB, DeLuna, who'd framed them. And while Austin liked Roberto, or at least liked what little he knew of the man, he was taking too damn long to get the job done.
"No, you two decided that," Austin said, letting the bitterness shine through in his voice. "I distinctly remember telling you that I was tired of handing everything over to Roberto and getting handed back shit. We're paying this guy big bucks and we really don't know crap about him."
"So far his leads have all been on the mark," Dallas insisted.
"True. But it's been six months since he's given us a solid lead on DeLuna." To Austin that meant it was time for one of them to intervene. And since both of his partners now had wives to consider, he figured it was up to him to do it.
Not that he minded. Taking down that no-good lowlife claimed top spot on his bucket list.
"My bet is by now all of DeLuna's men know our faces," Dallas said. "You go through with this, and we'll be buying your casket in a matter of weeks."
Austin sat down on his favorite armchair and stretched out his cowboy-boot-clad feet. "Just use the one we keep in the entranceway of the office and save yourself some money." The damn casket had been left in the building by the previous owners, who ran a funeral home. Now it was sort of their trademark.
"He's serious," Tyler said, using his calm voice that always reminded Austin of a therapist. Not that he'd gone to one in a hell of a long time. Well, not since he was thirteen and had decided that being a ward of the state didn't mean he had to follow their damn rules.
"You think I'm not serious?" Austin asked. His mind was made up. He didn't mess around with his bucket list.
"What brought this on?" Tyler asked. "Is this about your—?"
"Stop! Quit trying to get in my head." Austin's anger surfaced with a rush. But it was directed more at the stranger who'd shown up at the agency and spilled her dirty laundry right in front of everyone than at his two partners. Still, that didn't mean he had to discuss it. Discussing it meant thinking about it, and he'd spent a whole hell of a lot of energy trying not to do that.
"You want to know what brought this on?" he asked. "It was the year and a half I was fucking locked up in prison. Or have both of you forgotten about that?"
It sure seemed to him they had. Okay, maybe they hadn't forgotten it, exactly, but they'd somehow gotten past it. And while Austin was friggin' happy for them that they'd been able to do that, and he'd danced a jig at both their weddings in the last two months, he couldn't get past it. He wouldn't until DeLuna was behind bars.
Tyler exhaled. "I just think—"
"Then stop thinking!" Austin moaned. The last thing he wanted was to have anyone rummaging through his mental closet. There were too many damn skeletons, too many nailed-shut trunks of emotional crap, that he didn't want to think about.
"Damn it, Austin," Dallas snapped. "This is shit. We need to stick to our plan."
"What plan?" Austin asked. "We don't seem to have a plan anymore."
Dallas's shoulders tightened. "The plan hasn't changed. We keep picking apart DeLuna's organization until we force him to come out of whatever hole he's taken cover in and face us. Use your brain for once. You know as well as I do that we lose every advantage by going to him instead of having him come to us."
"Look, nothing personal, but you two have other priorities right now," Austin said. "As in wives. And I get it. But what he did still eats away at my gut. I want my pound of flesh."
"Roberto is working it," Dallas said. "If you go in now, you'll probably get him killed. Can you live with that?"
Austin raked a hand over his face. When he opened his eyes, he found himself staring at his partners' concerned faces. Real concern. Damn it to hell, he knew they were here because they cared. And yes, he felt the same way about them. If anything, the bond he had with these two was the closest he'd ever come to having a family, but ...
"I don't know what Roberto told you," he said, speaking more calmly, "but I've already worked this out with him. I'm not even going to Fort Worth. I'm checking the other lead that—"
"Which lead?" Dallas asked.
"Half sister," Tyler corrected.
"Whatever," Austin said. "They're Latin, and you"—he pointed to Tyler—"know how important family is in that culture."
"She's half-Latin," Tyler corrected again. "And stop stereotyping."
"It's a good stereotype," Austin said. For someone who grew up without a family, he could have used a little of that stereotype in his life. Of course, when he saw how his partners' families drove them crazy, sometimes he wasn't so sure.
"Roberto watched her for a month and found no connection to DeLuna," Dallas added.
"Yeah," Austin replied, "but I'd bet my left nut she knows what rock he's hiding under."
"You could lose more than your left nut. And even if she knows, why would she tell you?" Dallas asked. "Plus, Roberto tried connecting with her and it didn't work."
Austin smiled. "I'm not Roberto. I'm charming. Women like me. It's a gift."
He was just like his biological father ... or so his "mother," aka the woman who'd given birth to him, raised him for a few years, and then abandoned him, had said when she'd shown up last week. The brief conversation they'd shared came back to haunt him, but he pushed it aside. He wasn't going to think about that. Nope. So he shoved the memory back into his mental closet.
Only it kept falling out. She'd come looking for peace of mind and ruined his in the process.
"We know the type of women who find you charming," Tyler said. "Leah Reece is educated, and she's part Latin, which means she's too smart to fall into bed with you."
"Now who's stereotyping?" Austin asked. "Besides, I didn't say I was going to sleep with her. I'm going to charm her. Get her to trust me enough to confide in me. And actually, her being Latin works in my favor." He grinned. "We've discussed this before. I go for blondes. Of all the Victoria's Secret models, there's only one brunette I'd pick before I'd sleep with their whole catalog of blond models."
"How the hell did Victoria's Secret models come into this?" Dallas ranted.
"Anytime you can bring them into the conversation, it's a good thing," Austin added with humor. "Besides, I've already worked out a plan. Roberto rented the apartment next to hers. She's a vet, and I'm thinking about getting a dog. I'll buy one, then pop in to see her and say ... 'Hey, aren't we neighbors?' And, voilà! Instant connection."
"Right," Tyler said. "Once again, you didn't do your research. Leah Reece isn't a regular vet, she's a specialty vet. Special as in a feline specialist. Feline as in cats." He laughed. "I'd pay to be a fly on the wall. You, an ailurophobe, are going to try to charm a feline specialist. I'll bet she owns at least two or three cats."
People owned three cats? "I'm not scared of cats." But it would be a cold day in hell before he acquired one of those clawed varmints. The scar beneath his right arm started to itch.
"So, the vet angle won't work," Austin said. "I'll find a different way." Somehow he'd win Leah Reece over enough that she'd confide in him about her brother. How hard could it be? She was, according to Roberto, a petite, pretty little thing with a soft spot for animals.
"I still don't like it," Dallas said.
"Me, either," Austin admitted, still thinking about the cats. "But I'm doing it."
Monday morning, Leah Reece was busy doing one of the things she did best.
"I swear, you enjoy this, don't you?" Sara, her vet assistant and good friend, teased as she stroked the anesthetized cat on the table.
"Can't you see the satisfaction in her eyes?" Evelyn, the office manager of Purrfect Pet Veterinarian Clinic, added from the doorway.
Leah grinned but didn't look up until she removed the second testicle from the tiny incision and dropped it into the metal container. It landed with a tiny thud in the pan beside its brother ball. "I was just thinking that I'm good at it, but it doesn't bring me the joy you two are insinuating. Now, if Spooky walked on two legs, thought he was God's gift to women, and spewed out come-on lines instead of purring, then it would do my heart good."
They laughed. Then Evelyn cleared her throat. "It's been two years since the divorce. I think it's time you stop dreaming of castrating them all and remember what a man can do for you."
"You mean like cheating on you with your neighbors and running up your credit cards by having phone sex with strangers?" They laughed again. Sometimes even the truth was funny. Or it could be after two years.
Still in the doorway, Evelyn gave Leah her I'm-serious look. Leah adored Evelyn; she'd been the first employee Leah hired three years ago when she started the practice.
She'd known Evelyn was the right fit when Leah asked her if she had any prior office management experience and the fifty-five-year-old answered, "Nope, but I managed to keep a household afloat, take in over ten cats, clothe and feed three boys, and get two through college on my husband's car salesman income. If you need someone who can run a tight ship, balance a budget, knows how to get stains out of men's underwear, and doesn't mind picking up hair balls, I'm your woman. Besides, with the economy down, and one boy still in college, I could really use a job."
Evelyn cleared her throat again, pulling Leah back to the present. "Brandon was an idiot."
And managed to make me feel like one, too. "But he was so good at it." Leah checked Spooky's scrotum one more time.
Sara chuckled. "I think both of us would have helped you castrate Brandon. But Evelyn's right—not all men are scum."
No, Leah thought. Some of them were even worse. Brandon was just the last in a long line of men in her life to disappoint her. First had been her father. Then her half brother. And a few lying-cheating boyfriends along the way. If not for Luis, her younger brother, she'd have given up on the whole male species. But as it was, she would be hard pressed to trust another man. And the only kind she'd let get close were the feline variety that she'd previously neutered.
"Don't you miss it, just a little bit?" Evelyn asked.
"Miss what?" Leah moved Spooky into the cage on a soft mat where he'd wake up. She gave the unconscious feline an ear rub. Hopefully now that he was fixed, she could find him a home. But Lordy, she was such a sucker for a stray.
If only she didn't already have four at home ...
"A man's touch," Sara answered for Evelyn, her voice dreamy. "The way the palm of his hand moves over your skin or fits just so in the curve of your waist. The way he looks at you like you're eye candy, making your skin get ultrasensitive. Those sexy bedroom smiles that make you squeeze your thighs together a little tighter. Oh, and that moment when he's naked between the sheets and—"
"Oh, my." Evelyn fanned herself. "I'm calling my Stewart and telling him to come home early." She walked out, her step peppier than when she'd walked in.
"Well?" Sara asked.
"Well, what?" Leah barely got the two words out. Her mind was mush and her body ached for something she didn't think she could ever allow herself to have again. She'd tried it. As wonderful as it all was in the beginning, it cost too damn much. Both emotionally and monetarily. Phone sex didn't come cheap.
"Do you miss it?" Sara asked.
"Nope," Leah lied, and looked down at the removed testicles.
Evelyn appeared in the doorway again. "You have a phone call. He says he's your brother, but it doesn't sound like Luis."CHAPTER 2
Monday afternoon, Austin waited in his truck for Leah Reece to return to her apartment. His plan was simple. Bump into her, start a conversation, eventually get her to trust him enough to tell him about her long-lost, piece-of-shit brother. If that didn't work, he'd move to plan B.
Problem was, plan B was slightly illegal and could get his ass thrown in jail. He didn't like jail.
He'd concluded that in the first fifteen minutes of his sixteen-month stay.
But it was worth the risk to get to DeLuna—the man who'd put him there.
He frowned. How late did vets work?
According to Roberto's description, the woman was petite, young, and pretty. Which sounded almost as bad as "a good personality." Even if she wasn't some hot babe, she had the young part going for her, so what was she doing working twelve-hour days?
Hell, maybe she left work and went straight to some date. He could be here until midnight. He groaned. Patience had never been his strong point.
A white Honda pulled in a spot across the way. Right color, wrong car, and parked in the wrong spot. Still, Austin paid attention.
A young, small brunette exited the car. Was it Leah? He should've done a better upfront investigation. Tyler always accused him of not being a Boy Scout and being unprepared, and maybe this one time, his partner had a point.
Roberto had sent some surveillance images when he'd done his own Leah Reece investigation, but, pissed when the report stated Roberto had struck out, Austin deleted them.
He continued to study the Honda's driver. She snatched a baby from the back. Damn! Leah Reece wasn't a mom.
Another car engine roared close by. The brunette with the baby stepped away from her bumper at the same time a red Ford Focus came hauling ass down the parking lot. He slapped one hand on the horn and bolted out of his car. The woman, clutching her baby, jumped back.
"Slow down," he yelled at the fleeing car, but he doubted the driver heard him over the music vibrating the windows. The woman nodded a thank-you. He nodded back and crawled back in his truck.
He'd arrived in the town of Heartbroke yesterday and got settled into the apartment. Not that it required a lot of settling. He'd hired a rental company to furnish the apartment on Friday. All he'd brought with him were a few clothes, his laptop, his phone, some basic tools, and Marilyn.
Some guys named their boats, their vehicles, or their dicks. Austin had named his Glock.
Never leave home without Marilyn. He pulled out his gun from the glove compartment. He'd cleaned the weapon twice yesterday to pass time.
Another car engine roared through the parking lot. He set his gun on the passenger seat. When a silver Toyota passed, he flopped back against the seat.
Call him optimistic, but he'd hoped to connect with Leah yesterday—and to have already scheduled a coffee date or something. But she'd stayed locked up in her place. He knew because his apartment was next to hers and he'd kept an ear to the wall half the time.
She'd watched TV and talked on the phone. Not knowing if perhaps she was chatting with her half brother, Rafael DeLuna, frustrated the hell out of him. Hence plan B.
When he'd woken up at six a.m. and didn't hear anything, he'd run to the parking lot, only to find her white Chevy Cruze gone.
On the way to get plan B supplies, he'd driven by her office. Her car was parked in the back. Why couldn't she have been a regular vet? He really liked his original plan of getting a dog. Partly because he was thinking about getting one. He liked Bud, Dallas's dog. Well, everything but the gas bombs he dropped.
Excerpted from Texas Hold 'Em by Christie Craig. Copyright © 2014 Christie Craig. Excerpted by permission of Grand Central Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I got an ARC of this book from Christie Craig's blog. She didn't even make us promise to review it, though, well, ARC means Advance Review Copy, right? I thoroughly enjoyed the story. The heroine and hero are both damaged by life - both by their childhood and adult lives - and take some time to figure out that the other can help them. The secondary characters are enjoyable, and watching the informant Roberto get his own resolution and new love that gave him a will to live again was great. I especially liked the resolution of the series-long effort to catch the gangster/drug dealer who had set the hero and his friends (heroes of the last two books in the series) up to be falsely convicted of murder, for which they spent 18 months in prison before being exonerated. Most of all, as always, I like Craig's humor. I felt as if the story lagged in some places and could have been slightly shorter to keep it moving along more crisply. Some of the bad guys came across as cardboard cutouts. I should have re-read the first two books before reading this one, since I hadn't read them since they first came out about a year and a half ago.
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I had Texas Hold’Em sent to me by the author’s assistant…I think. Anyway, it was a long time ago; probably the beginning of this year, I can’t remember. Anyway, I have been longing to read another Christie Craig book. The last one I read was Blame It on Texas…or it could have been Divorced, Desperate and Delicious. Anyway, the point is that I love Christie Craig as an author. The reason I finally decided to read Texas Hold'Em was because a member of Paperback Swap wanted it and I knew I just had to read it before I mailed it off to parts unknown. So yeah, I read it. Oh my God! I wish I could keep it. But I already said I would mail it so…. Anyway, Christie Craig makes me laugh has a knack for comedy in writing and that is by far the hardest thing to do because what’s funny to one person might not be so funny to tens of thousands of readers. It turns out that Craig has a world renowned sense of humor. Ok, so Austin Brook is the hero trying to find the guy who framed him and his friends for murder and it just so happens that Leah Reece is the murderer’s half-sister. Austin figures if he can get close to Leah, he’ll be a whole lot closer to finding and nailing the real killer. But he doesn’t expect his heart to have different plans. OMG. I so loved this story. It was so…unexpected. It was real (ok, Yeah it was fictional but it seemed real in a fictional world). You got it? It was heartwarming, tender, and even made me want to cry at one point. There were two couples in this story. Leah and Austin of course and then Leah’s assistant Sara and Austin’s partner Roberto. OMG. I could’ve died from the romance of it all. Ok, maybe I’m gushing because I, like the heroine hadn’t had sex in a long time and I could just feel what she was feeling ya know? O…k, maybe not. And to make the hero afraid of cats was good. It was clever. It was real. Who isn’t afraid of cats? They have claws. Ok, I need to wrap this up. I could go on and on about this book and the author. But I’ll let you decide for yourselves.
Texas Hold 'Em is the third (and final) book in the Hotter In Texas series by Christie Craig. This book features the third member of the PI business, Austin Brook. Austin and his PI buddies have been working to get their hands on Rafael – the man who framed them for murder and put them behind bars. Austin isn't a very patient man, and he's a little reckless, so he's willing to do whatever it takes to catch their enemy. Austin moves into an apartment building – right next to Rafael's half sister – in order to get information on where Rafael might be hiding. Austin just didn't expect to be so attracted to her. Leah is a veterinarian who isn't interested in having a man in her life. After having her husband cheat on her, she is convinced that men can't be trusted. Austin is handsome and cocky – he isn't used to having to chase after a woman. He's used to women falling for his natural charm. Leah proves to be more difficult than he ever imagined. She has built her walls so high that no man can tear them down. After time, Austin finally gets Leah to trust him but he starts to fall for her in the process. He feels guilty for all he has done to deceive her. I love the storyline about Austin being terrified of cats, and Leah having 4. This brings a lot of entertainment to the book. There were some steamy scenes, but it took a long time to get there. The book focused a lot on the action/suspense part of the story. Austin was a really likable character. Leah was a little harder to like but she wasn't so bad. I almost enjoyed the secondary romance more – between Roberto and Sara. It was more emotion filled. This book wrapped up the series well. I love the humor in Christie Craig's books. I recommend this series to anyone who enjoys contemporary romance with some added humor.
## This book was hard to put down. It had a lot of good elements in it such as suspense and humor. Leah was an amazing heroine. I loved that she was playful when the sh*t wasn't hitting the fan. Austin however left a lot to be desired, hence only 4 stars. Okay, I understand that he had to deceive Leah for the information he needed. But the words he said to her after they'd gotten together? SPOILER ALERT: she asks: "what happens with "us" now? We live 200 miles apart. He replies: "that's the best part. We won't get in each others way. We'll just see each other on the weekends and won't have to deal with all the day to day crap." Are you freaking kidding me? That would've been the end of the road for me. And later after she leaves, he doesn't understand why. And I hated that the author never made that clear to him. All is fogiven without explaination. I would've liked the heroine to convey how much he hurt her with those insensitive words. That's a pet peeve of mine. I like them to "get" how much hurt they caused before the obligatory forgiveness. Other than Austin being a class-A jerk and maybe the book being a little too long, this book was a terrific conclusion to this series. I have to mention that you should definitely read the first two books before attempting this one or you may get lost. I don't really think it can stand alone.
I received an awesome, funny, sexy free goodreads contemporary romance story Texas Hold 'Em by Christie Craig. Leah Reece is a veterinarian and does not want to see her brother, Luis, get mixed up in anything illegal with her dangerous half brother, Rafael Deluna. Private Investigator Austin Brooks is after Rafael Deluna and conveniently moves in across the hall from Leah. Leah's apartment is broken into, bloody chicken parts in a box, Rafael's friend calling, and her sexy neighbor trying to help her out. Leah and Austin's attraction for each other is getting harder and harder to resist. As Leah starts falling for Austin, bullets start flying. Austin has to tell Leah the truth and try to save her life. Read the highly recommended hot and steamy, captivating, contemporary romance story Texas Hold 'Em by Christie Craig.
I love everything Christie Craig writes and this no exception. I was so happy to finally read Austin's story and it was great how everything wrapped up with the series. Wonderful story showing how your family does not define you as a person and you can overcome anything with the right support,love and friendship. Good romance, great laughs and crazy on the edge of your seat suspence.
Author Christie Craig has a knack for drawing readers deep into her novels and holding them spellbound until the very end. TEXAS HOLD ‘EM, the third installment in Craig’s Hotter in Texas series, is a good example of this technique. Within the first few pages, you’re hooked and find it hard to put down until you know the final outcome. While this is the third book in the series, it can be read on its own. Craig weaves enough background information into the story to keep new readers from being in the dark. PI Austin Brook is determined to make Rafael DeLuna pay for framing him for murder. He’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen including pretending to be someone else while charming DeLuna’s half-sister, Leah Reece. What he didn’t plan on when he moved next door to Leah was his sexual attraction toward her. As he gets closer to DeLuna, he realizes he’ll have to come clean with her about who he really is in order to protect her, possibly losing her in the process. Veterinarian Leah Reece has no use for men. She’s had trouble with them starting with the father that wouldn’t acknowledge her to her ex that shattered her heart. She especially has no use for her dangerous half-brother, Rafael. But she finds herself thinking more and more about her new sexy neighbor with the twinkling blue eyes. When her apartment is broken into, Leah suspects Rafael and realizes she could use a man’s help. She finds herself turning to her new neighbor. Craig blends romance, suspense and lots of humor to create this well balanced story. Her characters are well developed with realistic traits and faults that readers can relate to. Her way of weaving the antics of four cats with a man deathly afraid of them will have you laughing out loud. She also blends a second love story with two unlikely characters that will keep you guessing. Craig’s rich descriptions and eye for detail brings the story to life. There are ups and downs to keep you on the edge of your seat. The story moves at a smooth, steady pace with twists and turns to intensify the suspense. TEXAS HOLD ‘EM is a feel-good book that will have you believing in second chances and redemption. FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the author and/or publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Ex-cop turned PI Austin Brook has a one-track mind: nail Rafael DeLuna for framing him and his two partners for murder. Fueled by his desire for justice, he takes it upon himself to stake out DeLuna’s half-sister in hopes she will lead him to the drug king himself. Veterinarian Leah Reece spends her days tending cats and her nights mending a broken heart. Content with her practice and being an overprotective sister to her college brother, Luis, she had no interest in men. This proves problematic for Austin who planned to woo the vet hoping she would dish on Rafael in the process. Just when it seems like Leah is a dead end, a mystery man breaks into her apartment, a mutilated animal is delivered to her clinic, and Luis goes missing. Fearing Leah will be next, Austin has to decide whether or not to come clean. He could save her life, but he will definitely loose her in the process. Christie Craig wraps up the Hotter in Texas series with Texas Hold ‘Em. Crisp writing and a compelling mystery move the story forward while allowing for plenty of tender moments between the characters. Craig does a masterful job developing the secondary characters and weaving multiple story lines into the plot while giving readers exactly what they expect from a Christie Craig novel: gripping suspense, heartwarming romance and plenty of laugh out loud moments. Texas Hold ‘Em is another hands down winner for Craig.
Where do I begin with this one? I read the first 2 books in this series a while ago and I was waiting for this book to come out. I have to say it was as good if not better than the first two books in the series. I loved that there were actually two romance stories going on in one book. Not only for Austin and Leah but also Roberto and Sara. This book kept me on my toes and I couldn’t put it down. It was fantastic! Roberto and Austin/Tyler and Dallas all had wanted revenge on Leah’s half-brother and they would do anything they could to get back at him. This book is totally worth ready and you shouldn’t pass it up! Check out the entire series Christie Craig!!
*I received an ARC of this book free from NetGalley on behalf of Forever (Grand Central Publishing) in exchange for an honest review* When I first started reading this I didn’t realize it was a series. It can however stand alone. I didn’t feel lost or as if I’d missed too much, but it did make me want to go back and read the first two for pure enjoyment reasons. I never would have imagined a cat phobia would be funny, but Christie Craig proved me wrong. Austin’s phobia had me laughing at every cat encounter. But it was only so hilarious because he is such a strong and fearless man… A strong man with a water gun! However, even with his impure motives and the best of intentions he couldn’t help but get swept up in Leah. Leah is a simple woman with lousy family connections that no matter how much she tried, she couldn’t escape. With the desire to protect her younger brother from their half-brother she makes some decisions which others question, but since they actually benefit Austin he doesn’t question her. At least not out loud. Together they are perfect. Even running and fighting for their lives only brings them closer. And after their common enemy is no longer an issue, and after their fears are both faced, then they are able to both move forward. This story has humor, friendships, lust, love, lies, betrayal, suspense, and murder. It’s the perfect combination. My Favorite Laughable Moment: Austin stuck in a laundry room with a cat and a litter box while trying to hide from an intruder. I think I laughed so hard I cried. My Favorite Moment: Kissing clowns – what a way to mark a turning point.
My rating: 4 of 5 ¿¿ After spending 18 months in jail, framed for a murder he didn't commit, ex-cop Austin Brook was itching to get his pound of flesh from the man who put him there, Rafael DeLuna. He no longer had the patience to try and lure his target out from the rock he was hiding under and was determined to start actively looking. But the only lead available was DeLuna's half-sister, who according to all appearances, has no ties to DeLuca his criminal dealings. Frustrated that once again her baby brother, Luis, won't answer her calls, Leah Reece tries to get through the day at her veterenarian's clinic without worrying too much. Her new neighbour, Austin, could be a nice distraction.....that is, if she were in the market for a man. With her track record and men, she best keep her distance. But when a break-in in her apartment is interrupted by Austin, her worry for her brother and concern for her neighbour temporarily weaken her resolve. Austin had not expected the small gorgeous brunette to have such an effect on him, but something about her made it difficult to keep his focus on the job and his hands and lips off her. Although Leah was skittish, she seemed to be just as affected by him. But she was also obviously keeping secrets and seemed to be in some trouble. Not that Austin was telling the truth, but he had a job to do, even if it became more difficult by the minute to remember. When DeLuna feels the heat of the investigation closing in on him, he turns on his half-siblings, and Austin has to take extreme measures to keep Leah safe. But in the process he blows his cover and may lose the one thing that has become more important to him than his pound of flesh...... *** LOVE those Texas boys!!!! It has been SUCH a long time since I last read a Christie Craig novel and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed her writing!!! So glad I spotted this one and grabbed it, it read so familiar and comfortable. I have always enjoyed the way Christie manages to interject tight suspense with moments of hilarity, and she does it again in this book! Both Leah and Austin seem reasonably well adjusted folks, but they come with quite a bit of emotional baggage in addition to the mess that brought them together in this book. Baggage that wreaks havoc in their budding relationship (other than the lying bit, which doesn't help either!!). Each has some abandonment issues left over from childhood and nothing thus far in their adult lives have really shown them anything different. They (of course) don't communicate clearly and interpret the other's words and signals to confirm what they believe to be reality. Communication, or rather lack thereof, is always the culprit!! Luckily, these two have a few smart people around who end up knocking some sense into them, so you can safely expect a HEA. One note: this book is in fact a twofer!! I am not telling you anything about the second couple, we'll leave something to the imagination...but you get not one, but TWO HEA's with this novel!! Great action, sweat romance and some mild heat, sprinkled with the occasional moment of tension-relieving humour - and you have a fabulous fun read!!! ¿A stirring, animated and touching search for retribution.¿ **ARC provided by NetGalley and Forever in return for an honest review.**