Misery, Texas, Spring 1880
Hannah Louise Barkley left Misery, Texas five years ago after her engagement with Attorney Travis Bodine ended in disillusionment. Now she is back from New York to care for her sick father, with a law degree of her own. Hannah has arrived just in time for the biggest trial ever held in Misery. Travis is fighting to clear his brother, Rafe, from a murder charge. With his brother's life in his hands, his ex-fiancÚ is the last thing Travis needs on his mind. However, Hannah feels as though she can contribute to the defense case and knows Rafe can't afford to turn her down. Although Travis would never admit it to Hannah, he knows that he is in over his head with his first murder trial and reluctantly accepts her help.
Working together to find a way to save Rafe, Travis and Hannah find that the feelings they thought were dead, have a life all of their own. But the problems that caused their break-up five years ago remain unsolved - Travis hasn't changed his mind about wanting a wife who will stay home and raise their children and Hannah still finds being an attorney preferable to shopping and reading the Ladies Home Journal. And if those problems aren't enough, there is the seemingly impossible defense of Rafe, a jealous corrupt prosecutor and two spinsters in pursuit of Travis to really mix things up! In addition, there two other couples in Defiant that have their own troubles to work out - those being Hannah's estranged parents and Travis' father and stepmother.
Although I realize that supplemental characters often add depth to a novel, I found all the action on the sidelines in Defiant rather distracting from the main storyline. I felt as though Criswell should have focused more on Travis and Hannah and the court case rather than muddling it up with additional romances. It's much more fulfilling to read a thorough account of two people falling in love, than barely brushing the surface of several couples' love lives. More is not always better.
That being said, there were several things I did enjoy about Defiant. One being the subtle humor Criswell injected into many scenes. Also, the strong family ties between the Bodine brothers was touching, especially after getting to know them from the first two novels of the Lawmen Trilogy. It's highly recommended that you read the two previous novels, Desperate and Dangerous, respectively, before reading Defiant, the last novel of the trilogy. It is best to be familiar with the characters from the preceding novels since they have quite an active role in Defiant. If you do pick up the first novel, you will most likely finish the series since several issues remained unresolved until the end of Defiant. This is a great marketing ploy, but unfortunately, after reading the last novel of this series, I didn't feel as though it was worth the time it took to read the entire trilogy.