Practice Makes Perfect by Carsen Taite

Carsen Taite is one of my go-to authors. If she writes I’m going to read it and read at that exact moment I will. I know when I pick up one of her books I am going to get a top-notch story. Her newest book Practice Makes Perfect we begin a new series focused around an Austin based law firm owned three besties, Campbell, Grace, and Abby. I knew within the first couple of chapters of Practice Makes Perfect that Taite had written something truly special. I was dazzled!

I am a romance junkie. I love a good medical drama, legal drama, insert trope here, but what truly makes my heart sing for joy is the relationship between the two leading ladies. I want, I need the romance to be the standout. Catch the bad guy, save the life, win the gold, sure, but let’s get back to the love story. Taite in this one brings the romance front and center, and damn it’s good!

Campbell Clark is spontaneous. This character trait serves her well at times. Her spontaneity convinces her overworked besties to quit their well-paying jobs at large established law firms to venture out on their own and open a boutique law firm. This is Campbell’s big idea and now she has to land the client’s to keep her best friends bank accounts in the green and their dream viable.
Wynne Garrity knows all about being over-worked. She is on track to being a partner at her Austin based law firm. She just has to keep killing herself to get there. Her boss is a maniacal jerk, she has zero social life and spends all of her time surrounded in paperwork. It will all be worth it, right?

Wynne and Campbell know each other from law school, Campbell popular and charismatic, Wynne hyper-focused and solitary. There two come back into each other’s life when both of their law firms are trying to woo a Facebook-like company’s account. These two are pitted against each other for the business until the proprietor decides to throw them together to work on a lawsuit. They have to work on this case all the while being the competitor. Not to mention, and this is big, they are wildly attracted to each other. Let the sparks fly!

This book has two fantastic leads, an attention-grabbing plot and that sizzling chemistry that great authors can make jump off the page. While all of Taite’s books are fantastic, this one is on that next level. This is a damn good book and I cannot wait to see what is next in this series.

4.75 out of 5 stars

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Outside the Law (Lone Star Law Series #4) by Carsen Taite

I think this book is a fabulous closing to the Lone Star Law Series. I think Taite improved the series with each book and this one being the best overall. This book felt more romance than crime. Which I cannot say about the others. Of course, we had to wrap up the ongoing investigation, put those bad mofo’s in jail but I just felt more spark this time around. I think you will see that the characters are given more time in the book to explore that romance and as a romance junkie, that was much appreciated.

Tanner Cohen is one of the FBI agents you met in the previous books. Tanner has been very much an auxiliary character until she helped with the rescue, Bianca Cruz’s daughter. Tanner is your strong silent type. She is the job, 100%. What we didn’t know is that Tanner gave up the love of her life for this career and that former love just showed up in Dallas and is on the case as well.

Sydney Braswell is Tanner’s law school sweetheart. They had their lives planned, finish school, take a job at a high-powered law firm, big house and kids to finish it out. The only problem, Tanner wanted something else and that desire to join the FBI broke them. Sydney found out the high profile firm wasn’t all it was cracked up to be either and is now a special prosecutor for the Justice Department.

Tanner and Sydney’s journey back to each other is sweet, sexy and sure to keep you entertained. Overall this series has been delightful, I was thrilled that the book to finish out was this good.

3 out of 5 stars

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The Secret Pond by Gerri Hill

Gerri Hill is a phenomenal writer. I love her books and have read almost everything she has published. What I love most about Hill’s writing is she sets the scene perfectly. In The Secret Pond, I felt as if though I could truly see the landscape of Leakey, Texas. She described it perfectly, Hill transported you right into one of the most beautiful places in the vast state of Texas.

There’s going to be a but now. While the setting for the book was perfect, the romance was not. Our two main protagonists in the story have been dealt horrific losses. Lindsey McDermott, an architect from Dallas, has lost her entire family to a plane crash. I’m talking everyone, parents, grandparents, both siblings, siblings spouses and their children. Hannah Larson lost her husband to a fifteen month battle with a brain tumor. She watched her husband deteriorate as cancer ravaged his body. So when these two ladies meet, they have so much backstory and pain to navigate through.

The majority of the book is spent with Hannah’s son Jack, playing in the Frio River or a secret pond on the McDermott ranch. Lindsey meets Jack, and they see a bit of themselves in each other, grief recognizing grief. They fish, swim and enjoy summer, finally including Hannah on their adventures. That takes you through almost 75% of the book. After halfway, I could not see any way for these Hannah and Lindsey to have a romance. They do, but it feels less than and rushed.

I will continue to read every book Hill writes, this one just was not my favorite. It felt long, a bit repetitious and the romance felt like an afterthought.

3 out of 5 stars

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Sidebar by Carsen Taite

Carsen Taite is one of those authors if she writes I’m going to read it. At this point, I’m sold on her stories so much, I don’t even need to read the synopsis, not necessary, I know without a doubt it’s going to be a quality book. Sidebar is no exception, I knew within the first couple of chapters Taite has written something special with this one.

If I think back over all the books I have read by this author, one always stands out to me. It Should Be a Crime, to me has always been my favorite of Taite’s. It was special. That book had bucket loads of chemistry, angst and two very intelligent, strong female leads all wrapped with a well thought out and interesting plot. What more can you ask for, right? I guess at this point you can ask for Sidebar. It has that same magic. This is book swings for the fences and delivers a bases-loaded home run.

Camille Avery is a newly appointed federal judge. After a controversial case cost her re-election at the county level, Camille is ready to start over and get her career back on track. A kink is thrown into her plan of all business, no fun when her new clerk arrives. West Fallon is everything Camille usually stays always from. She’s a fierce, social crusader who is ready to change the world. Chemistry is one thing you can’t fake and these two have it in spades. No matter how much they try to dance around it, the magnet of attraction is just too much. Neither was looking for this, but there is no denying it either.

This book has it all, two fantastic lead characters, an interesting plot and that sizzling chemistry that great authors can make jump off the page. While all of Taite’s books are fantastic, this one is on the next level. No critiques, no criticism, you only need to know one thing…this is a damn good book.

5 out of 5 stars

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Swelter by D. Jackson Leigh

If you have a passion for ranch management, well then this is the book for you. I’m talking livestock production, breeding programs, animal health, management principles with a side of romance and a nefarious drug lord.

Griffin Reese is an up and coming defense lawyer from Dallas. Her business partner and lover, Christine, begins taking legal cases for drug kingpin and all hell breaks loose. On the run from the man who aims to kill her before she can testify in federal court, Griffin hides out on her grandfather’s cattle ranch in the panhandle of Texas.

Teal Giovanni was a US senator’s right-hand woman and her lover too. The problem is the senator happens to be married, while the senor’s husband is understanding of her extramarital affairs, her constituents are not. When the press catches wind of Washington’s juiciest headline, Teal is cast aside while her boss plays innocent. She tucks her tail between her legs and heads for her cousin’s ranch in New Mexico. Her car gives out, and she is stranded in Texas and guess who rescues her, you got it, Griffin.

Where books with similar premises thrive (ex. Carsen Taite’s latest, Without Justice), this one does not. Swelter is not a long book by any means but it feels like you just read forever. There are too many details about inconsequential subjects, which become distracting, and quite frankly boring as hell. Paragraphs about castrating cattle just don’t make my heart swoon, but hey maybe it’s just me. The setting should add to a story, not be the story.

2 out of 2 stars

Swelter
by D. Jackson Leigh
Link: http://a.co/3JIUqQW

Without Justice by Carsen Taite

Carsen Taite tells a great story. She is consistent in giving her readers a good if not great legal drama with characters who are insightful, well thought out and have good chemistry. You know when you pick up one of her books you are getting your money’s worth time and time again. Consistency with a great legal drama is all but guaranteed. If you’re a fan of Taite’s work, Without Justice, is a no brainer.

Cade Kelly is a former Assistant US Attorney from Chicago. Her life is turned upside down when a mob family she is prosecuting sends their hitman after her. A bullet to the chest almost cost her life. Forced into the witness protection program was her only chance of survival. This Chicago hotshot lawyer is whisked way to a rural small Texas town to live out her days till the Feds can track down her killer’s and put the Oliveri out of business for good.

Emily Sinclair is the daughter of a US Senator and the newly appointed district attorney for Lawson County. Emily has been so focused on her career for so many years she has only just realized she is longing for the stability that only a family can provide. As the new DA, she has a lot of irons in the fire, but the one feeling she cannot shake is she wants more than just a career.

There is profound chemistry as soon as Cade and Lily meet for the first time. However, both struggle to get the relationship going. Cade is living a double life and is uneasy in lying to someone she cares deeply for. She feels as if she is bringing danger right to Emily’s doorstep. Emily feels the pressure of her work weighing her down and there is something about Cade that she doesn’t fully trust. Yet their time together is compelling and the pull is there no matter how much they resist it.

This book has legal drama in spades, a developed love story, and captivating characters. You can’t help but like this book, its solid on all fronts and well worth your time. My only complaint is that I wish we had just a smidgen more time between the two main characters. A few more down moments of them with dialogue would have been fantastic.

4 out of 5 stars

Without Justice
by Carsen Taite
Link: http://a.co/4sLU4gh

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Above the Law (Lone Star Law Series, #2) by Carsen Taite

Strong women are hot! So when a book crosses your path about a no-nonsense DEA agent and a hard hitting investigative journalist well you have my attention.  Read I must!

DEA Agent Dale Nelson has had a rough year. This former military turned law enforcement officer knows all about pain and loss. Her wife and lover of ten years, Maria, was gunned down and savagely killed as she picked up the morning paper. Dale and Maria had dedicated their lives to serving their country.  A drug cartel that was angered by Maria trying their case in federal court made them suffer the ultimate sacrifice. Now Dale must forge on, and she will stop at nothing to find the killers and make them pay.

Lindsey Ryan finds the truth no matter what. This is her job and she is the best. She has toured the world finding stories and exposing them. Recently back from a tour in Afghanistan where she exposed the horrors of war to the people back home, she is less than pleased with being sent to Dallas for a fluff piece on the DEA. Little does she know that everything for her will change when she meets the dark and mysterious Agent Dale Nelson.

This is the second in the Lone Star Law Series. The books follow the inter-working of drug cartels, their families, US Attorneys and the DEA all involved in this fascinating web of crimes and whodunits. I’ll be honest I did not read the first one. Sometimes I like to pass on books set in my home state because I am sometimes appalled by characterizations of Texans. Taite being a Texan herself usually does a good job with the portrayal but you can only have so many cowboy wearing boot characters in my opinion. I promise we don’t all wear these (ladies especially not with a business suit).  So, I passed on it. This one I am glad I didn’t. It was a really interesting story and the characters had a nice chemistry. Lindsey is a really cool character with a lot of personality and I enjoyed Dale’s subtle vulnerability. The ending was rushed, as it sometimes can be. In my humble opinion it needed about three more chapters to really round out the story, but hey what can you do. Overall nice read, and I look forward to the next is the series.

3.25 out of 5 stars

Above the Law
by Carsen Taite
Link: https://amzn.com/B01FUM2XTI