The title: For the Love of Pete
The author: Julia Harper (aka Elizabeth Hoyt)
Publication: Hachette, 2008
Got it from: Barnes and Noble, Buffalo, September 2015
Elizabeth Hoyt once again proves she can write like magic with this just-what-I-needed sequel to Hot. Special Agent Dante Torelli, last seen as the hero's partner in the previous book, is on assignment in Chicago. His job is to protect a witness testifying against a mob kingpin. Unfortunately something goes terribly wrong. His partners are killed and a hitman takes off with the witness's baby girl, Petronella, or Pete for short. Pete's aunt Zoey happens to be outside when the baby is taken - she's living in the same apartment building as her rough-around-the-edges sister and brother-in-law. She's also one furiously protective aunt and insists on accompanying Dante as they chase after the hitman and her niece. This being Elizabeth Hoyt, things get a little crazy when two little old Indian ladies being blackmailed by the mob accidentally end up snatching Pete from the hitman.
As in Hot, the author manages to just skirt the edges of a too-crazy plot to make it believable, satisfying and fun. I love a road-trip romance story and this one has one in winter - even better! The story really shines in the middle, when Dante and Zoey are arguing and learning about one another and fighting their mutual attraction (as you do in a romance novel road trip). The action was fast-paced and sometimes too violent, but it really held my attention, which isn't easy for a book to accomplish these days when my life has gotten crazy and stressful. As much as I love Hoyt's Maiden Lane series, I wish she would write more contemporaries if they're all as good as this.