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Hot Shot    by Charlotte Hughes order for
Hot Shot
by Charlotte Hughes
Order:  USA  Can
Mira, 2002 (2002)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Veteran Atlanta detective Frankie Daniels falls into bed with her new partner Jim Conners after falling for the oldest lie in the book - that he's separated from his wife and getting a divorce. Conners also forgets to mention he's the son-in-law of the police commissioner. Nor does Frankie realize he's 'loved em and left em' on various other occasions. In fact, Conners' wife has him followed regularly. Naturally the video tape of Frankie and Jim's liaison lands in the hands of her Captain, who's none to pleased by his detective's conduct. He gives Frankie two choices: prepare to be fired or agree to re-assignment. Frankie opts for the latter and packs for South Carolina and her new position as deputy of the Purdyville police department. Barely in town five minutes, Frankie's already regretting her decision.

When Frankie pulls up to her rental house it's still smouldering, the result of very recent arson. Completely at the end of her rope and in the mood to vent, she lays into the two men still on scene. Too late she realizes she's just mouthed off and insulted her new boss, Sheriff Matt Webber. Webber, about as laid back as they come, overlooks her moment of insubordination and gives her a nice southern welcome, promising to find her another place to live. But trouble's not done with Frankie yet. Before the day is out she locks horns with the town's 'bad boy', Willie Jack Pitts. She fends off his drunken advances by taking him down and grinding his face into the pavement. Pitts vows revenge, Frankie urges him to 'bring it on' and the town applauds their tough-as-nails new deputy.

Matt Webber is quick to realise there's more to Deputy Daniels than he initially suspected. Under that tough exterior is a beautiful woman hiding various insecurities, ones he's determined to discover. Neither of them wants a relationship right now, least of all Frankie, who figures getting involved with a man she works with so soon after the Conners fiasco would be the kiss of death for her career and her credibility. Yet she can't deny her growing attraction to Webber, and soon gives in to his persistence. Frankie also has a hard time coming to terms with the way the law operates in the small and friendly town where Webber tends to bend the rules every so often. But as Matt, his deputies and the citizens of Purdyville take Frankie under their wing and into their collective hearts and involve her in all aspects of the community, she realizes she's finally found the home and the family she always wanted.

Charlotte Hughes provides an entertaining read in Hot Shot. Her two leads are very likeable, especially tough-as-nails Frankie, who can smoke, drink and swear like nobody's business, yet whose vulnerabilities are clearly drawn. Ms. Hughes throws in a nice dash of small town murder and mayhem that Frankie and Matt must unravel, but balances the mix nicely with their romance and also the addition of some very quirky characters. Town trouble-maker, Willie Jack Pitts, and his family come across as a bit too red neck on occasion, but this does not detract from the overall enjoyment of this well written story.

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