I bought my first Christie Craig book, Don’t Mess with Texas, because of TxDOT (that’s the Texas Department of Transportation for the uninitiated). It seems they had taken offense to her use of the catch phrase “Don’t Mess with Texas” as the title of a romance novel. GASP! Rick Perry on the cover of Newsweek: OK. Romance novel: not so much. To counter this imagined offense, TxDOT opted to sue. (The suit was later dismissed by a judge. A couple links to the original blog-posts can be found at the bottom of this post.) Needless to say, I bought a copy for me and subsequently told all my friends they should buy a copy also. Hey, if they were dumb enough to sue the least I could do was support her in particular and romance in general.
Not surprisingly I found a fun, humorous, sexy read. I liked her voice and look forward to reading the other “Hotter in Texas” books later this year and next.
In the meantime, she self-published a “book of her heart” entitled Murder, Mayhem, and Mama. It was a Barnes and Noble Nook First publication earlier this year. I was intrigued by the description:
BEING A MAMA IS HARD. BUT THE JOB’S EVEN TOUGHER WHEN YOU’RE DEAD…
Cali McKay’s mama isn’t ready to pass over to the “other side” yet. Her unlucky-in-love daughter needs her now more than ever. Before Mama can chain-smoke her way to heaven, she’s gotta make sure Cali’s ex deadbeat boyfriend doesn’t get her daughter killed.
GRIEF SUCKS. LOVE HEALS…
Cali lost her mom to cancer. Detective Brit Lowell, lost his partner to murder. Now he’s in the mood to take down some dirtbags and Cali’s ex just happens to be a dirtbag leaving a trail of dead bodies behind him. Can Brit trust this beautiful woman to help take down her ex? Can Cali look past this sexy cop’s hard exterior to trust him with her heart? Can life get any crazier when Mama starts meddling from the grave? Only one thing is for sure–none of it will matter, unless they catch a killer before the killer catches them.
I expected a lighthearted comedic mystery / romance and that’s what I got. The grieving hero and heroine darkened things up somewhat, but there were nice moments of humor to keep things from going too far down that path. Mama herself provides a nice balance as does the mama cat that adopts Brit. The story moves along nicely and there are some good twists and turns.
Though the story itself moves along, I wanted more depth of character from both Callie and Brit. Early on in the story, Brit pigeon-holes Callie as the typical battered wife; just like his mom. As this is the lens through which he views her, we never quite get a complete sense of who she is from his perspective. Stuck in her grief, we see Callie as a shadow of her true self. At the same time, we see Brit as the grieving, driven cop. Again, we know there is more to him, but we never quite get past the veil to see his true self.
From an entirely personal perspective, I had trouble with the character naming in this one. I have a dear friend named Brit. Needless to say, my friend Brit is not the Brit of this story. As my natural association is to my friend it was hard to disassociate enough to see the character Brit.
At the end of the day, this is a fun read. Not quite a comedy, not quite a romance, not quite a mystery. Fans of Janet Evanovich, Vicki Lewis Thompson, and the like will thoroughly enjoy this one.
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Toni is an historian and published technical writer who is slowly venturing into the blogosphere with thought-provoking reviews on romance and mysteries. One day she hopes she will be able to turn her attention to writing the Great American Novel. Toni lives with the most spoiled cat on the planet (Lincoln) and his sister (Abby) in a house filled with wine, chocolate, and, of course, books.