Now, I am a HUGE fan of Christina Dodd and her work! Honestly, the woman is hilarious (I get her newsletters and am on FB with her) and she is just an amazing person - very down to earth and insightful.
Now, her writing ... her writing is hot. Like, can no longer read it on the bus in public hot - and funny too. I once started laughing at Davisville station when I was reading the final Darkness Chosen book - everyone stared, it would have been embarrassing if I hadn't wanted to get to the end of the book - so good!
Anyways, her Lonely Texas Hearts are the love stories of three sisters (with guest appearances by their adopted brother, the hottie-mc-hottness, Gabriel) who are separated by a bunch of shady characters in their Texas home, after the death of their parents. The three books tie together their collective stories, and in that way I love, tie into the greater Dodd universe I am slowly uncovering (hint: Gabriel is part of the Fortune Hunter series - and that series is connected to the Darkness Chosen series, which is connected to the Chosen Ones - so good!)
Here are the books:
When Hope Prescott’s parents disappeared, her carefree teenage life vanished forever. She and her three siblings were separated and sent to different foster homes around the country. Now, seven years later, Hope is still searching for them. To support herself, she works for an answering service, and cares for her clients as if they were family. When wealthy businessman Zachariah Givens hires Hope’s service, Hope initially mistakes Zack for his butler. Tired of being coddled and flattered because of his money, Zack is charmed by Hope’s candor, not to mention her sexy voice, and keeps up the charade. As their friendship turns into passion, Zack is determined to have her, even if that means the unthinkable – marriage. But when Hope discovers his deception, Zack knows he must solve the mystery that haunts Hope’s past in order to convince her that their futures lie together….
So, as mentioned, the first book is about the oldest sister: Hope. Hope is one of those all around good girls - life has dealt her a terrible hand of cards, but she somehow sees through it all to be a good person. She claims several times over, that this is the way her parents raised her, and she wants to make sure she is justified in their memory. When not, generally being good, she is looking for her siblings, working at a call office with an assortment of quirky characters and going to school.
Enter Zach Givens. Honestly, at the beginning - you might hate him. He's a jerk. He's a playboy. He is used to getting everything he wants without consequence - he's basically spoiled.
But he's also broken. Like, major.
And this is what I love about Dodd's characters - they can be over the top, but they are real in a way that I see aspects of Zach in people I know. It's an amazing thing, actually - she gets into your head with the mental descriptions of the characters.
Tossing his briefcase onto the brown leather sofa, Zack reflected that he was always in control. He hadn't not been in control since he was fourteen. He scarcely remembered how it felt to lose his temper, to yell with joy or anger, to be someone other then Zachariah Givens. And he was glad of that. He'd had his chance to indulge in the madness of youth, and since that one summer, he'd matured nicely. If life seemed a constant round of tax-paying, tooth-flossing, visits to the gym, business memos to be answered and coffee to be drunk - well, everyone got a little stale sometimes. It was better then the alternative - a life filled with random disasters uncushioned by wealth and rife with flagrant emotion.(29)
You get a feel for the character - for his vulnerabilities and strengths, his biases and weaknesses in those few short sentences.
Dodd is a master!
And did I mention the heat factor? Oh, it's there - but I will ramp that up in the review of the last book. For now, let's move towards the second book: Almost Like Being in Love.
As the middle child, Pepper Prescott's rebellious nature helped her survive when her parents disappeared and she and her siblings were sent to different foster homes around the country. Now an independent young woman, Pepper finds herself on the run after witnessing a shooting. Fearing for her life, Pepper flees to the only place she ever considered home and is shocked to find her old lover, Dan Graham, living on the remote mountain ranch. A battle-hardened ex-Special Forces soldier, Dan no longer strikes Pepper as a man she can trust with her secrets, her life, and her love. But as long-simmering desires flare into a deep, sensual passion, Pepper realizes the only way she can reclaim her life is to ally herself with the enigmatic warrior who's willing to help fight for her future by solving the mysteries of her past -- and making her his wife today.
This is the middle sister, Pepper's story. She's the main focus of mine here - she's just irresistible - she's so strong and tough, and so broken inside - but that passion she has for Dan ... yikes.
Again, we see Dodd as a master of getting into the character's heads and really bringing out their true selves. And part of that, I think, is just how equal the two of them are. I think there is something to be said that Pepper - even though she did it because she was scared - left him. Granted, she left him to take all the heat, but there's a power struggle there, that only blossoms when they reunite.
But the mountains had formed Dan's character, made him tough, made him solitary, made him a leader of men. ... and brought him home. All that agonizing time in the hospital, two things had kept him going: knowing that when he came home,t he craggy peaks would be there, as they had been for all eternity ... and knowing that it was time to find Pepper.
But he hadn't found her. She had found him. That meant something. He just had to find out what.
Pepper and Dan are just way too hot - they seem to explode every second they're together, dragging up the past and putting it on display between the two of them, as if they couldn't somehow just get over it. It's that final resolution - amidst all the chaos of terrorism and hurt, that really hooks you in - and the final reunion scene with Hope and Gabriel and Pepper - priceless in a way that still tears me up.
And then I waited around, and finally got a copy of the last book of the series: Close to You.
Caitlin Prescott was only a baby when her parents disappeared. Adopted by a wealthy Texas oil family, she became Kate Montgomery, and grew up with no memory of her parents or her two older sisters and brother, who have been searching for her, hoping to right a terrible wrong that was committed twenty-two years ago in a small Texas town.
Now an ambitious young news reporter, Kate realizes she is being stalked soon after landing her dream job at an Austin TV station. Why did a car try to run her down? Who would want to kill her? Turning her precarious situation into a story, she takes on a bodyguard and follows him on the job. But she didn’t plan on the cool, blade-sharp strength of Teague Ramos or the attraction that sizzles between them. When Teague connects the death of an Austin socialite to unanswered questions about Kate’s childhood, she finds herself unlocking dangerous doors to her past. Now, with only her mysterious bodyguard to protect her, Kate is on a high-stakes chase that may lead her to the family she has never known — or into the trap of a ruthless killer.
So this is the baby Prescott's story.
Kate has grown up to be a feisty reporter marred by tragedies, even without knowing that her life began with a tragedy. She copes well - she puts on the brave face for her mother and the outside world, and still flinches and mourns for her adopted father in private. Similarly, Teague would seem to be the accomplished, icy cool owner of a security team - but his demons haunt him and even possess him, when he doesn't take care.
This is probably my favorite of the series, not only because I adore the two of them - but because I also get a look at the real bad guy - the Boss of this series, the one that killed their parents and separated them so long ago. He is one bad apple. And this story and the mystery surrounding it was the perfect ending to this series!
And the heat of it - Dodd has a gift of making you wait for it - not for the actual it, but all of the trepidation, the moments just before when you know something is about to go down - those scenes! She does them so well, I am instantly screaming at the pages.
"Wait. I want this first." He slipped his hands under her T-shirt, rested his palms flat against her belly and smiled into her eyes. It wasn't a happy smile. In that curve of his lips she saw tormet unleashed and need denied. "I've dreamed of this," he told her. "I have obsessed about this."
"You're not happy with your dreams?"
"Or your admission?"
"Then you should take your revenge," she whispered, staring boldly into his beautiful dark eyes.
Without anything going further - that is hot. Wouldn't you want that chemistry ...yeesh.
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So, basically here it is: Christina Dodd's Lonely Texas Heart series: A+
Go pick up a copy, I'll wait. :)