Series: Deep in the Heart of Texas #4
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Forever on 18 December 2012
Straight-laced librarian Elizabeth Murphy is mortified when she inherits Miss Hattie’s Henhouse, Texas’ infamous house of ill-repute. When she finds a naked man (Brant Cates) handcuffed to a bed at Miss Hattie’s, she realises that things aren’t so bad.
Brant decides to pick up where his brother Bubba left off and research the Cates Curse. His wife and child died in a freak incident and he is obsessed with breaking the curse. Brant discovers that his ancestor William Cates spent time at Miss Hattie’s and starts his investigation there. In a very short space of time he finds himself shot, drugged and dreaming that Miss Hattie has paid him a visit. Things get a little hot and heavy before he realises that he is actually kissing a real woman – Elizabeth. Despite his treatment, he sticks around to help the Hens make Miss Hattie’s the number one bordello once again.
Elizabeth starts the novel as a stereotypical spinster librarian who owns a cat but over the course of the novel, we see her let her hair down and her personality flourish. Owning the Henhouse has put her in a sticky situation as she is supposed to be this upstanding member of the community. The Hens frustrate her at every turn even though she cares for them and needs to sell the Henhouse to restore her reputation. The townsfolk have been a fairly benign, well-meaning group to date but I got sick of everyone making a huge deal about Elizabeth being an “old maid”. Elizabeth doesn’t tell them to back off but rather resigns herself to her fate. Brant forces her out of her shell and we see get to see her keen wit and intelligence.
Both characters have issues when it comes to trusting others and I appreciated that they became friends first before the ‘benefits’ aspect was added. Elizabeth helps Brant with his research when they aren’t heating up the sheets and the big reveal of William’s murderer was executed well.
The Hens add most of the humour in Trouble in Texas and although they might be getting on in years, they still have very strict ideas on how to entertain men. Lane tries to whitewash the prostitution aspect of the Henhouse which was a shame as Miss Millie not only survived but thrived in that environment. I felt it lessened her achievement. The other character that shone was Beau Cates. A cancer survivor, Beau is determined not to let his illness define him and refuses to find out if he is sick again. His tale was handled sensitively and I really warmed to him.
Trouble in Texas is just plain fun and its zany humour is likely to elicit a chuckle (at a minimum) from even the most hardened of souls. Clichés are ruthlessly smashed as Brant and Elizabeth finally find what they’ve been missing for a long time.