Received from Netgalley for review, thank you. I pounced on Taking a Stand on Netgalley as soon as I recognized the author's name: a little while back I received, and very much enjoyed, Ken Casper's As the Crow Dies from Netgalley. This is a new series, set in the present day rather than "Crow"'s 70's, but there will be overlaps: both are set in Coyote Springs, Texas, and in fact the characters in this have dinner in The Crow's Nest, the restaurant run by the family at the center of the other series.
Tori Carr, just honorably discharged from the Air Force and flying home in her own Twin Cessna, is a nicely built character. That is, of course she's gorgeous – a tall leggy blonde – but her construction on the page is equally well done. She is more than the pretty: she is committed to achieving her dream of flying for a living, which the Air Force did not provide her. In the meantime, she has come home to work with her father in the business he started, Carr Enterprises, a high level real estate developer. She goes straight to work on the Riverbend Project, the multi-million-dollar plan to take the Santa Marta district of town – the rundown and ramshackle Barrio – and develop the heck out of it into a high-priced community, golf courses and all.
Problem is, a decent sized chunk of the area on which Carr Ent. wants to build is owned by another company, Amorado Construction. Jesse Amorado, who inherited the company from his father, is of Mexican descent, as are the other inhabitants of the neighborhood (for he not only owns the area but lives there), and knows better than anyone how strong the ties of neighborhood can be. This is not something anyone in that district is willing to sell … although the inhabitants who live in homes that have been bought by Carr Enterprises, Jesse tells Tori, have been left with little choice. She is informed that her father's company has refrained from making even necessary repairs on the houses they rent to the inhabitants, leaving them little choice but to vacate. She can't believe it – that's not how her father operates … but she has to believe it. When she goes to the area to see for herself, it's in front of her face.
Naturally, since she is an attractive young woman and Jesse is an attractive young man, the antagonistic sparks between the two of them mutate into other kinds of sparks. Theirs is not the only romance developing, which is rather nice in one direction and unfortunate in another, unrequited, direction. I like the background characters, and I particularly like how the bad 'uns are written, although somewhat as in As the Crow Dies the climax is cinematically dramatic, somewhat much so for my tastes; still, the dollar amounts involved in the plot justify extreme action, the bad guy is very much a bad guy (though I hadn't thought he was that bad), and it gives the hero a chance to be a very good hero indeed without detracting from the abilities of the rescue-ee. It's a satisfying tale – well done.