Book Review: Texas Hold Him by Lisa Cooke

texas hold him cooke Book Review: Texas Hold Him by Lisa Cooke

Charlotte (Lottie) Mason is a southern belle whos down on her luck. Her wealthy family has lost its land and fortune in the civil war, and Lottie, who is tasked with looking after her recently disabled father, is looking a little worse for the wear. But for a historical romance to truly get moving, the heroine really needs to hit rock bottom, and Lottie does when a mysterious man arrives on the scene saying that he has been witness to a crime committed by Lotties father, and will go to the authorities unless Lottie comes up with a handsome sum of cash.

Rather than checking the facts, Lottie is spurred into action, seeking employment as an assistant on a riverboat. When Lottie realises that said employment involves dressing in skimpy outfits and ignoring the catcalls of the gamblers on board the boat, she grits her teeth, assumes a pseudonym and tries to figure out a way to get the money she needs as quickly as possible.

Enter Obediah (Dyer) Straights, a card-playin, smart-talkin, fist-swingin lad with possibly the best name Ive come across in a romance novel. Straits is a high-roller who specialises in playing poker, and who also has a fair bit of interest in the ribaldry that goes along with this way of life. Of course, like any hero, Dyer has a dark past of his own: hes also under the thumb of a blackmailer.

When Lottie sees Dyer cleaning up night after night, she accosts him and demands that he teach her how to play poker. Fortunately, when it comes to Lottie, Dyers poker face is nowhere to be seen: he folds immediately and the two set to work transforming Lottie into a card shark. But the two soon learn that gambling has its ups and downsand its not just the money thats an issue. Conniving mistresses, money-hungry blackmailers, sexist card players and paranoid barflies are just a few of the obstacles standing in the way of Lottie saving her father. And of course, theres the tension between Lottie and Dyer

Texas Hold Him'is a slight, simple read, and its hard to argue that the premise is anything awe-inspiring. The speed with which Lottie throws away her lady-like upbringing to go and work on a boat full of harlots and gamblers feels a little off, and the reader does wonder why she doesnt go through more standard channels before resorting to playing poker as a way of saving her father. But once that initial disbelief is suspended, its all a good deal of fun: witty (and often crass) banter, untimely meetings and overheard conversations, and innuendo galore.

Admittedly, many of the plot turns and character interactions feel somewhat forced: Dyers best friend Newt, for example, takes Lottie under his wing for no apparent reason, and then, though despite being a gentleman in his own right, out of the blue decides to make an honest woman of another of the gals on the boat. Just cause. Then theres Dyers sudden recanting of his womanising, selfish ways when he has an epiphany about his love for Lottie. Though the black moment and turning point are essentials in a romance novel, I didnt quite buy this one, and would have preferred some stronger characterisation here to lend some believability.

Still, although Dyer leans far too heavily towards Alpha Male Jerk status for my personal preferences, and the plot is a little creaky, the books really a good deal of fun, and I zipped through this one in a couple of hours. If youre a fan of historical romances, and you love your heroines with a bit of sass, then youll likely enjoy this one.

Rating: star Book Review: Texas Hold Him by Lisa Cookestar Book Review: Texas Hold Him by Lisa Cookestar Book Review: Texas Hold Him by Lisa Cookeblankstar Book Review: Texas Hold Him by Lisa Cookeblankstar Book Review: Texas Hold Him by Lisa Cooke (good)

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