Thursday, December 10, 2020

The Heart of Texas (Texas #1), by R.J. Scott (author), Sean Crisden (narrator)

Love Lane Books Ltd. Audio, August 2016

Riley Hayes is the playboy of the Hayes Oil family, and the younger son--but he's also the oil brains of the family. Family patriarch Gerald Hayes has his own reasons for preferring his older son, Jeff, as the next head of the company, but his stated one is maturity. In deciding to apportion control of the company among his offspring (48% to Jeff, 22.5% to Riley, and 22.5% to Eden, the youngest, the girl, and the only one not working in the business), he also specifies that if Riley marries someone he loves within three months, and remains married for at least a year, he'll reapportion the company shares more equitably.

In one sense, you only have to look at the cover image to see where this is going.

Jack Campbell is the son of the man Gerald Hayes cheated, along the way to becoming the sole owner of Hayes Oil. Also a second son, he's running the family ranch, still struggling economically, but starting to develop a really successful horse breeding operation. Also, he's gay, which is fine with his family, but is another reason, beyond guilt at having swindled his father, for Gerald Hayes to hate him. Elder brother Josh is a lawyer, doing quite well enough to support his own wife and two children, but more interested in doing good than in getting rich. Their younger sister, Elizabeth, was born with a heart defect, and has needed several major surgeries before finally becoming stable enough as long as she doesn't do anything silly like get pregnant.

Of course, Elizabeth is pregnant, though her mother and two brothers don't know it yet.

Riley does, due to Elizabeth having confided in the only mutual friend Riley and the Campbells have. And since Gerald's contract requiring Riley to marry carelessly doesn't explicitly require him to marry a woman, he decides to blackmail Jack into marrying him, offering both money for the upgrades the ranch needs, and the money needed for the best possible medical care for Elizabeth and her baby.

This might not sound like the best start to a marriage of true hearts, but, hey, it makes for a more exciting story, right?

Honestly, it's a fun and often charming story. Some explicit gay sex. True love blossoms, and justice catches up with various members of the Hayes family, with Riley growing into a better man than the one he'd been on track to be. Dark Family Secrets are uncovered.

Not great literature, but fun and enjoyable.

I bought this audiobook.

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