Friday, October 30

Review: Hot on Her Heels by Susan Mallery

Review time!! It’s strange how sometimes, there’s no buddy reviews lined up and then suddenly, I’m working on three at the same time ^_^; Seriously, how does that happen? LOL :)

This buddy review was very easy to write and took no time at all thanks to my buddy reviewer. It’s my pleasure to welcome Mary G. She’s a lurker and fellow Canadian whom I met earlier this summer when I went to visit Kristie and Cindy. I’ve been trying to convince her to start her own blog... Maybe if we had a lot of comments on this post, she’d be swayed? What do you think, fellows? :)

Hot on Her Heels by Susan Mallery
published by HQN Books in October 2009

Dana Birch vowed never to put herself at the mercy of a powerful man. She became a deputy so that she could take care of herself, and protect those she loved. Especially her best friends, the Titan sisters.

Twenty years ago, Garth Duncan swore revenge on Jed Titan for abandoning Garth and his mother. Now he’s back to fulfill that promise, even if Jed s daughters get caught in the crosshairs. All that stands between him and his goal is Dana, her gun, and a growing passion that can t be denied...

Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Lone Star Sisters, Book #4

The Story: Garth Duncan is the bastard son of Jed Titan, a very powerful man. Twenty years ago, Garth went to Jed and beg for money in order for his mother who had a brain tumor to have surgery. Thinking this was all a ploy to get more money, Jed kicked Garth out of the house. Ultimately, Garth’s mother, Kathy, did have surgery, but there were some irreversible damages and although she was still alive, Garth lost his mother… and he swore revenge on Jed.

Twenty years later, Garth is ready to ruin Jed. First though, he targeted his three half-sisters, thinking that they had a close relationship with their father. However, he quickly realizes his mistake: Jed Titan cares for no one except himself. After the sisters discover that their father was behind the explosion that almost cost Izzy her life, they decide to make Garth their family and band with him to bring down their father. As the honorary sister, Dana is charged to keep an eye on Garth and make sure that he is not a villain.

Nath: So Mary, what did you think of Hot on Her Heels? I know you were worried because you did not like Garth in the three previous books. Did you change your mind?

Mary: I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

Nath: Phew, I’m glad you did! Me, I really enjoyed this book, mainly for Dana and Garth. I just loved their personalities. I’ve been in the mood for a crabby heroine and Dana was just what I needed.

Mary: I totally agree. I was so prepared to hate Garth and I thought there was no way to redeem him. I loved how SM handled this. There were so many touching parts for these two broken souls and I loved that together they made something so good. I love strong female characters so I loved Dana but I thought both characters had vulnerabilities that strike your heart.

Nath: You know, one of the things I like most in Hot on Her Heels is the fact that Ms Mallery didn't make Garth turn all nice, didn't change his character. He's still ruthless, still very hard on the edge. She doesn't really "redeem" his character. He attacked the sisters because he thought they were close to Jed. If he had known earlier that Jed didn't care about them, I don't think he would have targeted them.

Mary: Maybe redeem is too strong a word. I just know I went from hating him to understanding where he came from. I like that he was strong enough for a strong character like Dana. The best for me besides his chemistry with Dana, was his devotion to his mother Kathy.

Nath: You’re right, Ms Mallery did a good job, explaining Garth's situation and his motives for seeking revenge. Overall, I think he was justified and the whole revenge plot didn't feel forced.

Oh and I loved Dana and Garth chemistry! I actually loved Dana’s character. She’s very strong and crabby – but not in an angry way like Nicole in the Bakery Sisters series (phew!). I guess she’s just cynical :) I enjoyed the interactions between Dana and Garth immensely; they were just hilarious and unapologetic. They didn’t try to change themselves to please each other.

Mary: I like their snappy dialogue & how they continually tried topping each other & wanting the last word.

Nath: Oh definitively. They pushed one another hard and it made for an enjoyable read :D

I’d like to come back to something you mentioned earlier… Garth’s devotion for his mother. I'm not sure I would call it devotion. I feel like Garth considers Kathy as his responsibility. He drops by, visits her, but never very long. I mean, I understand why. Kathy is not the same person anymore, she's been taken away from him - and it hurts to see her like that, because it's not her. At the same time, Garth had his young adult life taken away from him, shouldering such important responsibilities... I'm just not sure how to describe Garth's attitude towards Kathy... but I'm just not sure it's devotion.

Mary: It was such a bittersweet moment when Garth brought Kathy to Glory's Gate and she hated it. He had to re-evaluate what it meant to achieve this goal.

Nath: Indeed, very bittersweet. I think this scene shows how human Garth is… that under all the ruthlessness, he’s simply a man, a son who hopes.

While I enjoyed Hot on Her Heels, I did have few issues with it. First, Dana's past about her father was a bit superfluous. Yes, it explains why she goes out with unassuming guys... but the part where she's all withdrawn after witnessing Garth's violence towards Jed? Didn't like that scene.

Mary: I think SM was trying to portray how her past affected her and Dana seemed more disappointed in Garth than anything else. Also, up till then none of Garth's action included violence. Dana thought he was "above" that.

Nath: Hmmm, perhaps. I just didn't like that scene. Probably my least favorite scene in the book… and I think it was perhaps a bit out of character for Garth. Ah well. My other issue was Jed Titan.
Simply put, I thought Jed was too much of a villain. I mean, I wouldn't have minded if he was a jerk or asshole, but traitor and all? That was a bit too much in my opinion. I knew from the first few pages of the book that Jed was the villain who caused the explosion. It was just too obvious, if Garth wasn't responsible.

Mary: I think you're right. His evil was a bit over the top. Now that I think back, it took the rest of the characters in the book to take him down. I did like him getting his comeuppance though. When he finally realized the damage that Kathy had suffered needlessly, I was even more disgusted with him. He went from being a bully to a pathetic person for me.

Nath: See, the thing is I don't understand the motivation for Jed's action. More money? I don't even get why he had his daughters fighting for the inheritance. Having Jed be a jerk was enough. Making him more evil than necessary was just a waste. I think that it was well explained why Jed threw Garth out when Garth asked for money for Kathy's surgery... and the ending was very fitting. Definitively pathetic man. The saddest part is that Kathy is really the one that got away from Jed, couldn't forget her. So yeah, the rest – him selling weapons to terrorists, fraud, etc. was totally superfluous...

Mary: Well said Nath.

Nath: So what was your favorite scene, Mary? LOL, I really liked when the sisters were ganging up on Garth... The fun they took from it and how uncomfortable Garth was. That scene where he realizes that he's in love with Dana? Priceless LOL :)

Mary: It was the same for me - I love the push/pull he felt with his sisters. It was such a moment for Garth to be the last to realize how he felt about Dana.

Nath: Especially when Garth asks them what he should do to win Dana back and they just ignore him, LOL :) That’s another thing I enjoyed in this book, the sisters camaraderie. Their relationship was much better in Hot on her Heels than in the rest of the series. I guess that now that they had a common enemy and their differences were settled, they could be sisters again :)

Mary: Izzy being the gutsy sister, was the perfect choice to "love" Garth into this family whether he liked it or not. Skye and Lexi balanced this with their more careful approach to trusting him. Izzy's hubby Nick, as Garth's former best friend, was a great tie-in to the other books.

Nath: Izzy has always been my favorite of the three sisters. I thought in her book, she wasn't herself... This, drawing Garth into the family, that's definitively her :D I thought it was also realistic that Skye and Lexi were more careful. Hmmm, Nick and Garth's friendship... I'd have liked a bit more closure.

Mary: That did seem to be left a bit unfinished considering their past.

Nath: I agree. Considering that Garth does not have many persons he cares for, I would have assumed it'd be important to get a bit more closure. I mean, Garth apologized once again in this book, but Nick's response. Grr, made me mad :(

So overall, what grade would you give Hot on Her Heels? I’ve been wavering between B and B+. I think it deserves B+. Very enjoyable, but not a wowzer.

Mary: Yes B+. I always think if I love it, it deserves an A but I have to leave room for the gut clenching, take your breath away ones.:D This one had its moments though. With some exceptions, movie sequels tend not to be as good as the series goes along, but I find with books I've read lately, as in this series, the last book is the absolute best one.

Nath: It's the build up, Mary :D For me, among Ms Mallery’s seven latest releases, Hot on Her Heels is the absolute best LOL :) Finally a winner. I’ll just be content with this LOL.


Hilcia said...

Great review, ladies!

I'm definitely going to read this series, and this books looks good, good. But, it seems as if I have to start at the beginning if I want to get the full impact of Garth's character development. I'm starting at the beginning. ;P

Thank you!

Lea said...

Excellent thorough discussion and review Nath and Mary. :D

While I've not read any of Ms. Mallery's work, this story sounds well told and plotted. I think it's great that you concurred with respect to your favourite scene and a grading for the book.

BTW, I told Mary she is excellent at reviewing Nath and even offer her Closetwriter, however she respectfully declined. lol

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with respect to "Hot On Her Heels", once again, really well done!

Best to you both.

Tabitha said...

I posted a comment earlier and it was lost so, arggh.

Ditto what Hilcia said -- enjoyed your reviews, ladies!

I'm definitely going to pick up Izzy and Dana's books. I can't wait! I didn't like Skye's story so I didn't feel the need to go back and read Lexi's. Am I missing out with Lexi's story?

Hilcia, I have Lip Service (book #2) and if you haven't bought it yet, I'd be happy to send it to you. Let me know!

Jill D. said...

Man, I had given up on this series after the first two. But after reading your review, I am not so sure. Maybe I ought to give this book a try. What do you think? Can I skip Izzy's book and just move right on to this one?

Mary G said...

Thanks Hilcia
I ususlly like to read the whole series but they can be stand alones.

Thanks Lea, You're an inspiration for me & helped me get beyond "loved the book, can't wait for the next one"!!

Hi Tabitha & Jill.
I happened to have liked all of them. Lexi's got me hooked & Izzy's the gutsy one & Nath's fave.
It might be too much of a shock to go from Skye's & miss the gradual melting of Garth.

beth kery said...

Great review, ladies. I love reviews done in this way; it really evokes certain responses from a reviewer that otherwise might not come up.

Mary--I liked this, "Maybe redeem is too strong a word. I just know I went from hating him to understanding where he came from".
Redemption is such a strong word and connotes something almost superhuman in impact. For real life and real people, understanding and empathy is what adds depth and humanity to a character. Sounds like it was well done by Mallery.

And I agree, we'd love a Mary blog!

Chantal said...

Glad to hear you both liked it.
I saw this one, but decided to pass on it. I hate it when the woman is in a position of power such a cop.

Mary G said...

Thanks so much Beth
This was so much fun & Nath is so smart & articulate. As for my own blog, there are too many awesome authors & talented reviewers out there. I wouldn't do it unless I came up with a unique name for it anyway. LOL

Mary G said...

Well said Chantal
In this case though, her job makes sense given her past experiences.
She may be tough but as said in the review, very vulnerable when it comes to relationships.

Chantal said...

I understand. She wants to be in control, be able to protect herself.
I'm just really different than most moderns women when it comes to things like that.
My Feminist friends hate my feelings, but it's how I feel the way things should be.

Mary G said...

Hey Nath
I hope it's okay that I'm commenting here. I so enjoyed this experience with you. You are amazing.

Chantal said...

As one of the blog owners of this blog, I can say that we encourage those we ask to review with us to reply to comments :-)

Leslie said...

I haven't read any of Susan Mallery's books but this sounds like a good series to start with. Thanks for the great review ladies. :)

nath said...

Wowzer, 13 comments? Where did they all come from? LOL :)

Hilcia - LOL, I'll be sending you the books soon :D See how you enjoy them... but seriously, Hot on Her Heels is really the best in the series.

Lea - Thank you Lea :D LOL, Mary was so excited, I don't think she'd have argued with me :D

Oh yes, Mary!! You should accept!!! Being a contributor is the next best thing to having your own blog!! :D Lea, maybe after having so much fun and seeing so many comments, she'll accept? :)

Tabitha - Glad you enjoyed the review, Tabz :D I didn't even bother with Skye's book, the storyline didn't attract me. I don't think you'll miss much by not reading Lexi's book. If you want to know a little bit what happened, I reviewed it on my blog.

You know, I'm sending book #1 and #3 to Hils. Maybe when she's done, she can send you book #1 and you can decide whether you want to read it or not... By the way, I actually think you two live very close to each other no?

Jill - LOL, I know why you did :D Seriously, Hot on Her Heels is her best work in a long time ^_^; I think you can pass right over Izzy's book. I mean, the explosion took place in Skye's... Izzy's book was simply her being herself again. No big loss. If you want to know what happens in more details, just let me nkow and I'll tell you :D

Beth Kery - Thank you Beth and thank you for stopping by Breezing Through. I think this is a fun way to review and discuss a book all at the same time :) That's why we made a blog out of it :D

Chantal - Personally, I don't think her job plays a big role in this storyline. Let me know if you decide to pick it up :)

Mary - No problem with the comments at all Mary! I mean, this is your review too :D You're welcome to respond!! It's even appreciated :D

I'm glad you enjoyed the experience and I hope you'll reach out to me if you find out that we've read the same books :D

Also, I think you should say yes to Lea LOL :)

Lea said...

I think she should accept too Nath. Except, just to clarify, I offered to GIVE Mary Closetwriter.. LOL

But she said no. :(

You ladies have a great weekend.

Mary G said...

Hi Nath
I enjoyed this process so much. I really respect bloggers for putting themselves out there. I like your "breezy" answers to the queries about the other books. You save us a lot of money LOL.
I'm flattered that you think I have enough to offer to have my own blog but not only do I not read all genres (I would bore you with only romantic suspense, erotica -all contemps, some paranormal), I work full-time, play tennis 3 - 4 times a week & serve on the executive of my tennis club. My hubby & son would go on strike if I added something else to my plate. As soon as I win the lottery, though, you will be sorry you asked me. Thanks again Nath & I would love to do this again if the cahnce arises.

Mary G said...

Lea my dear sweet friend.
I can't do Closetwriter for 2 very good reasons. I'll never be as good as you and I love your reviews too much to give them up.
I would have to call it Closetwriter Lite LOL.

Mary G said...

and I do know how to spell chance.

Tabitha said...


Lexi's storyline didn't attract me either which is why I haven't the urge to read the book. And I don't think I will either (thanks for offering though!). But guess what, I just ran out during lunch to grab Izzy's book. My excuse is that I don't have a book to read on the train ride home, ha.

Hmm, it depends on what part of Jersey Hilcia is in. If she's in Southern Jersey, we're not too far from each other but North is more than a few hours away. I think. (my geography is really, really bad). But as compared to you, yes, we're close. hehe!


I just started a blog recently. I hesitated a long while to start one because I'm really not good at reviewing but in the end, I wanted my own blog to summarize some of my readings (hopefully, it's not a passing interest). Like you though, I don't read across genres either. What you listed is pretty much what I read. Lol.

Mary G said...

That's neat. How do I find your blog?

Tabitha said...


You can either click on my name to get to my blog or copy/paste this link:

Maryt G said...

Thanks Tabitha

Hilcia said...

Tabitha, I'll e-mail you. :) Thank you.

nath said...

Tabitha - I hope you enjoy Izzy's story, Tabz :D Let me know! (and seriously, any excuse to buy a book is a good excuse :P)

Mary - I don't think it matters what kind of books you read, Mary. I mean, it's fun to have specialized blogs in my opinion... and I'm sure that they are others like you who read strictly romantic suspense and erotica.

Marilyn Shoemaker said...

Absolutely fab review ladies. I have it on my tbr pile and will read it this week. I've been saving it because I hate for this great series to end.

Christine said...

What a lovely review. I didn't read through the other comments, so please forgive me if someone already asked this, but do you two think this book can be read as a standalone novel? I haven't read any of Mallery's other novels, but this one sounds really sweet.

nath said...

Marilyn - I hope you will enjoy it as much as we did, Marilyn :D Glad you enjoyed the review and hope to see you here again :D

Christine - Thanks Christine :D

Hmmm, well this book is the culmination of the series right, the climax. So the first three books were spent building up to this book. I'd say you should read at least one of the previous books in order to have a sense of the family and their dynamics... However, if you don't want to... I say just hunt down reviews - the one with spoilers a bit to give you a sense of what's going on and yeah, read this one alone :D

Marilyn Shoemaker said...

I can't say enough about this book and obviously it's spectacular because it's been on the NY Times Best Seller list for two weeks in a row as #5. Garth and Dana's story was the perfect ending to the Lone Star Sisters series.

Also, if you're on Facebook stop by Susan's page, she's having a great contest where she'll donate $250 to your favorite charity if you win.