Title: The Heart of Texas (Texas #1)
Author: R.J. Scott and Sean Crisden (Narrator)
Publisher: Love Lane Books Limited
Release Date: August 9th, 2016
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance, Murder/Mystery, Family Drama
Length: 7 hrs and 59 mins
Reviewed by: Lily G. Blunt
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Riley Hayes, the playboy of the Hayes family, is a young man who seems to have it all: money, a career he loves, and his pick of beautiful women. His father, CEO of HayesOil, passes control of the corporation to his two sons; but a stipulation is attached to Riley’s portion. Concerned about Riley’s lack of maturity, his father requires that Riley ‘marry and stay married for one year to someone he loves’.
Angered by the requirement, Riley seeks a means of bypassing his father’s stipulation. Blackmailing Jack Campbell into marrying him for love suits Riley’s purpose. There is no mention in his father’s documents that the marriage had to be with a woman and Jack Campbell is the son of Riley Senior’s arch rival. Win win.
Riley marries Jack and abruptly his entire world is turned inside out. Riley hadn’t counted on the fact that Jack Campbell, quiet and unassuming rancher, is a force of nature in his own right.
This is a story of murder, deceit, the struggle for power, lust and love, the sprawling life of a rancher and the whirlwind existence of a playboy. But under and through it all, as Riley learns over the months, this is a tale about family and everything that that word means.
If you prepare yourself for a Dallas/Dynasty style soap opera and take all the family drama and secrets, the absurd marriage stipulations that led to the ‘fake’ marriage, and the murder-mystery plot all with a pinch of salt this is a fun and rather enthralling romance. In fact, as the story progressed I found it compelling and entirely believable in a TV drama sort of way.
There’s a host of characters here: from the gorgeous Riley and Jack, whose wonderful sizzling romance is the pivotal point of the story, to the OTT stereotypical ‘baddies’ and the sweet sisters and friends in between. The story is told via multiple points of view, which threw me a little at first as I tend to read romances with only one or two POV. Thankfully, Riley and Jack receive the most scene time, but it was good to be a part of what was occurring elsewhere.
The chapters are generally short, ranging from a couple of minutes to a maximum of twenty-one minutes. The plot moves swiftly and succinctly at times, with no added or unnecessary details. Many of the chapters end with a mini cliffhanger—just like TV soaps often do.
I soon became caught up in all the family intrigue and the anticipation of what would happen between the two rival families. I guessed a few of the secrets, but some took me by surprise, which added to the angst I felt for the main characters.
I particularly enjoyed the interaction between Riley and Jack and the way their relationship progressed from ‘enemies’ to ‘fake’ husbands to lovers. The chemistry between them was sizzling from the start and their various sex scenes were hot and narrated with passion.
I always enjoy Sean Crisden’s narration and the distinct voices he creates for the assorted mix of characters. I especially loved the deep sexy drawl he gave to Jack. Great job.