18 February 2015

The Heart of Texas (Texas #1) by R.J. Scott

 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.
The Heart of Texas gave me everything I love in a book – drama, suspense, secrets, lies, betrayal, murder, romance, love, really hot m/m sex, cowboys, and there was even a barroom brawl. I laughed. I cried. I smiled like a loon. I was so swept up into Riley and Jack’s story that I read into the wee hours of the morning, only stopping when my eyes refused to stay open any longer and picking it back up as soon as I could today – which was not quick enough for me. There are so many layers to the story that I am afraid to talk specific details for fear of revealing spoilers.

Riley is the middle son and one of the heirs to his father’s multi-billion dollar oil company. But when his father attempts to cut him out of his fair share of his inheritance, despite the fact that it is Riley’s success at the company that has helped make Hayes Oil as financially sound as it is, Riley is forced to stoop to his father’s level and play his game. Taking advantage of a loophole in his father’s contract that requires him to be married for a year before the company’s shares will be redistributed, Riley approaches Jack Campbell and proposes. Although we really don’t know Riley very well at this point in the book, I never once questioned his motives for trying to thwart his father’s efforts to cut him out of the company. There was just enough said about and by Riley at this point that I knew his actions weren’t motivated by greed. While it was clear that he chose Jack as a way to stick it to his father, I couldn’t fault him for it. The means to which he went to secure Jack’s agreement were cold and calculating, but Riley’s apparent discomfort at how far he was taking things again made it impossible for me to dislike him for it. As the story unfolds, I was relieved to learn that my faith in Riley was well placed because when push came to shove (which it did several times) he stepped up to the plate.

Now I don’t want you to think that just because I’m focused on Riley that I didn’t like Jack. I loved Jack. Although not the oldest son, he seemed to be the man of the Campbell family. I loved how he took care of his family and how he took on the challenge of Riley. The chemistry between the two of them was so freaking intense and the sex scenes were hot, especially the one in the barn! YUMMY!!! As everything I want to say about Jack screams spoiler, I have a hard time espousing his virtues, but man that’s one hot cowboy with a huge heart. Ms. Scott has created a richly complex story that has so many overlapping and intertwined plotlines that it is ripe for confusion, yet never once was I confused about the events and secrets and lies. Her writing is concise and powerful. I am so glad that The Heart of Texas is the first book in the Texas series because that means I get to spend more time with Riley and Jack.
Family can surely do a number on you, we have Riley the middle child of a very wealthy Texas oil tycoon that just found out he’s been basically cut out of his share of the family company. The way he has decided to get back at the old man is marry into the arch enemy family. Even if that means marring a man, Jack only goes along with this crazy plan because his family needs the money and his kid sister is sick. What neither of them bargains for is all the lies, deceit and in the end the chance at happiness.

I’ve said it before; RJ Scott has become one of my all time favorite authors.  No matter what she writes it’s brilliant. The way she writes these characters, not just the good, but the bad it’s amazing.  Jack and Riley have intsa- chemistry and that brother, wow evil. The way the two sisters bonded over missed childhoods and shared loved for their brothers. And that twist at the end, perfect.


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