Rating: 4.75 stars
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Riley and Jack Campbell-Hayes are hoping that the trauma of the past is finally behind them and their families. Jack’s mother Donna is remarrying and all have gathered for the celebration, Jack is expanding the ranch holdings into training quarter horses and Riley is moving his “green” energy exploration business forward just as he always wanted. Veterinarian Neil Kendrick is marrying the love of his life, Donna Campbell. Neil is aware of the complicated feelings of some of her family have with her marriage to a much younger, less wealthy man, so he brings along a good friend, Robbie Curtis, for support.
Robbie has just landed back in the States from a long stay in Australia that ended badly for him. An experienced horse trainer, Robbie is just the person Jack needs to help with his new business and Robbie settles uneasily into life on the Double D Ranch. Then Eli Martin, Riley’s old friend from college, reappears on the scene. Loud, energetic,and a force of nature, Eli is now a fashion photographer and wants to use the Double D as a backdrop for underwear campaign using cowboys. Eli takes one look at Robbie and decides that cowboy is the one for him. Now all he had to do is convince him.
But Robbie is still full of pain from the events in Australia and Eli is hiding a secret of his own, facts that will make a relationship much harder for both of them. Haley, Riley and Jack’s daughter, wants a sibling and a former competitor wants to sabotage Riley’s latest oil exploration venture. Nothing ever comes easy for the married couple and those that surround them. But even with 20 half naked cowboys lounging around the barns and the gay rodeo in town, Riley and Jack’s rock solid love proves to be the answer for all that life throws at the people of the Double D.
Texas Heat is the third book in the Texas series from R.J. Scott and what a terrific series it is. Starting with the first book, The Heart of Texas, we have followed the relationship up and downs of Riley Hayes and Jack Campbell through blackmail, marriage, murder, and the barn burnings of Texas Winter (Texas #2) to finally arrive at a happy state for both men and their families. And what a long hard road they have had to travel, but Scott has done her job in giving us two great characters to start off with and then continuing to flesh them out and surround them with equally interesting families to support them and add their own drama and surprises. It really is the tale of two families whose pasts interconnected through passion and business decades earlier, the reverberations of those events passing through all generations to affect the current generations in the form of Jack and Riley. We have watched as Riley grows from petulant pretty boy obsessed with his own ends to a happily married man concerned for the welfare of both families he has come to love. Jack has also grown in his love for Riley, lessening his suspicion of others as well as his need for control. Seeing both men at this stage in their lives as fathers to Haley and husbands and businessmen is one of the true joys of this book. We have been through so much with them that their happiness here becomes ours.
In addition to Jack, Riley, Haley, and all the rest of the families from the first two books, Scott gives us Eli Martin and Robbie Curtis, a fascinating couple in every respect. Robbie has been hurt emotionally from the loss of a partner and is afraid to open himself up to the possibility of love and perhaps more loss. Eli was with Riley through his irresponsible years; in fact, he was co pilot of them as well. But a life changing event now sees Eli grabbing out with gusto for everything life has to offer. If he sees it and wants it, Eli goes after it without thinking it through. How can two such disparate men make a relationship work? There are no easy solutions and it takes both men taking a realistic look at what they want and what they can offer each other. We get a realistic vision of a relationship in progress.
What I continue to appreciate with Scott’s writing, no matter the series, is that even as our emotions are engaged with two couples at differing stages of their relationships, other events are swirling around the outskirts just waiting to come forward with a jump and a bang. Scott keeps juggling a number of plots in her story but never lets one drop. There are so many layers to appreciate and think about that when the end of the book comes the author has a structure in place for the next in the series without losing reader satisfaction with the current story.
I can’t wait to see how the next book continues the saga of the Campbell-Hayes family and the fortunes of the Double D Ranch. Who needs Dallas when you have the Double D? If you have started the series, don’t forget to pick this one up. If you are new to Scott’s Texas books, start with The Heart of Texas and work your way to this one. They need to be read in the order they were written. Scott rarely disappoints and here she comes through with bells on her cowboys boots and then some. Don’t let the Campbell-Hayes pass you by!
Here is the Texas series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters and the events involved.
- The Heart of Texas
- Texas Winter
- Texas Heat