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.