Thursday, May 19, 2016

Blog Tour: HELL TO PAY by Pamela Fagan Hutchins

Hell To Pay
Pamela Fagan Hutchins


Disclaimer: I downloaded a free Kindle version of this book from the link sent by the author via The Book Club, in return for my honest review.

Hell to Pay is #7 in a romantic thriller series by Pamela Fagan Hutchins. I grabbed the opportunity to read and review this one since we are getting a book by a western author after a long interval.

When I read the first few pages, I was kind of confused. There were a slew of characters and way too many things happening, all together. It was difficult to navigate. This is probably because most of them have travelled through the first six books. A regular follower of the series would have been able to jump into the book immediately. But then, the book is also recommended as a standalone. I gritted my teeth and plodded on.

After the first 2-3 chapters, things became clearer and I could follow the story. Emily is a paralegal who works with her lover Jack. Jack has already proposed marriage and there’s a vague plan for them to be married in a month’s time. Emily is unsure. How could she wed a guy who hasn’t told her he loves her? But the sex is great. When they are in bed, it seems the future can only be amazing. But out of it, Emily remains unconvinced. Then there’s the backlog. Jack had been married to the beautiful Lena and two kids too, until all three were murdered in a bomb blast.

Dennis is murdered, in a gruesome fashion. Of all people, his best friend and partner, Phil, is the prime suspect. Phil’s fiancée Nadine is shattered. The District Attorney office seems to have a watertight case. Things get from bad to worse when Phil goes into a diabetes induced coma.

In the meanwhile, Emily, who had lost a baby (she had been married to a guy who’s bisexual, and prefers his boyfriend), is keen to adopt Betsy, a little Mexican girl who’s lost her parents. But Betsy is in a foster home belonging to Mary Alice and Trevon, who are part of an extremist church group.

The author takes the reader through some nail-biting moments in this racy thriller with a dash of romance. I liked the way Emily, Wallace, Emily’s father, Betsy, Michele and many others were characterised. I wish there had been more on the dashing Jack. But then, the story is tightly written and well presented.

The background, the scenes, and the relationships, have been well handled. I enjoyed the dialogues, especially between Wallace and Emily. Then there was the endearing Clyde. And many others, though blink and miss, were absolutely necessary to make the story complete.

One tiny peeve though: The story was running superbly well till the last major scene. After that, though things were tied up perfectly, the last bit was all rush rush. I wish there was a bit more there.

I found the final court scene adorable.

VERDICT: Readers of both romance and thrillers will love this one.   


USA Best Book Award-Winning Series, Cross Genre Fiction.
Third book in the Emily series, a spin-off from Katie & Annalise.

Big-haired paralegal and former rodeo queen Emily thinks she’s got her life back on track. Her adoption of Betsy seems like a done deal, her parents have reunited, and she’s engaged to her sexy boss Jack. Then client Phil Escalante’s childhood buddy Dennis drops dead, face first into a penis cake at the adult novelty store Phil owns with his fiancée Nadine, one of Emily’s best friends. The cops charge Phil with murder right on the heels of his acquittal in a trail for burglarizing the Mighty is His Word church offices. Emily’s nemesis ADA Melinda Stafford claims her witness overheard Phil fighting with Dennis over a woman, right about the time Phil falls into a diabetic coma, leaving Nadine shaken and terrified. Meanwhile Betsy’s ultra-religious foster parents apply to adopt her and Jack starts acting weird and evasive. Emily feels like a calf out of a chute, pulled between the ropes of the header and the heeler, as she fights to help Phil and Nadine without losing Betsy and Jack.

She says her first book came out in 2012 and that her latest, Hell to Pay, is the seventh book in the series. The books all have ties to Texas, with “an interrelated cast of kick-ass female protagonists.” She says the novel's heroine (“a former rodeo queen turned paralegal”) returns to her home town in west Texas and discovers an extremist cult has set up shop and is terrorizing the local townsfolk.

Read a Teaser 

Chapter One

Disco lights whirled around me, or was it the room? My inner party animal had atrophied, not that I’d ever been a real heavyweight. If it wasn’t for the fantastic people-watching—and the fact that this was the celebration party for the burglary acquittal of our firm’s client Phil Escalante the day before, and his engagement to Nadine, one of my best friends in Amarillo—I've bagged this shindig. Instead, there I was with tendrils of fake smoke floating past my face, ten

feet from a DJ dressed in a black latex fetish costume and spiked dog collar and A tall woman maybe ten years older than me appeared out of the low lights and sidled up to me, engulfing me in the odor of cigarettes. Her vanilla hair sported a generous dollop of dark chocolate roots, which was pretty funny to me since she had a body shaped like a cone. A waffle cone. A waffle cone with sparkly sprinkles from the spinning ball overhead. Behind her trailed a paunchy man of roughly her height. His eyes had locked on me in a way that made my skin crawl with leeches that weren’t there.

Rick James’s “Super Freak” ended. The silence in the cavernous L-shaped room was immediate and complete, but short-lived. A clamor of voices from the one-hundred- or-so guests resumed, their voices echoing off the bare walls and “Hey, Foxy Loxy,” the man mouthed at me. Or did he? Surely not. It was hard to tell with the lights playing tricks on my eyes.

The woman spoke past me. “You and your wife got any plans later?” Her bellow seemed to fill the room to its farthest corners, even with all the other voices. I winced and shrank under the eyes that shifted our way.

Not Jack, though. The horse rancher cum criminal attorney was nothing if not unflappable. His topaz eyes twinkled. “Emily’s not my wife.” 

The man surged toward Jack. “You’re not together?”

“I’m his fiancée,” I said through my recently tightened braces and painfully rubber-banded teeth, leaving out “and he’s my boss.” I waved my big, fat teardrop-shaped diamond at him to accentuate my point, then I pinched Jack’s arm where my hand was looped through its crook. I’d capitulated to the mouth gear when my childhood orthodontist saw the gap between my front teeth and insisted needed Invisalign then, filled my mouth with metal instead. Payback for never wearing my retainer, I guess.

The man and woman looked at each other and nodded. She asked, “Care to join us? We’ve got a room at a no-tell hotel nearby.”

Jack’s whole body shook and I didn’t dare look at him. I was a sucker for his laugh. In fact, I was a sucker for everything about him, from his lived-in boots to his permanent tan to his Apache cheekbones. Before either of us could think of an appropriate response, Phil interrupted.

“Millie, Pete, leave my poor friends alone.” He clapped a hand on my shoulder and gently pushed me aside to clap his other onto Jack’s. “They’re not swingers. And this isn’t a swingers social. I’m out of the business.”

The space between Millie’s eyebrows narrowed and puckered as drops of

light rained down on her face. “It’s a free country, ain’t it?”

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Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes overly long emails, best-selling, award-winning mysteries (WINNER USA Best Book Award, Fiction: Cross Genre, Finalist) and hilarious nonfiction. The Houston Press named her as one of Houston's Top 10 Authors (2014).

She is a recovering attorney and investigator who resides deep in the heart of Nowheresville, Texas and in the frozen north of Wyoming. Pamela has a passion for great writing and smart authorpreneurship as well as long hikes with her hunky husband and pack of rescue dogs, traveling in the Bookmobile, and her Keurig. Visit her at or drop her a note pamela at pamelahutchins dot com. 

And if you would like her to visit your book club, women’s group, writer’s group, or library, all you have to do is ask.

Stalk Her  @


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