Under Her Skin  - Susan Mallery I remembering wondering, when this series came out, why it wasn’t getting the media buzz of Mallory’s previous “Sweet” series. (And later, the “Fools Gold” series.) Perhaps it’s because it doesn’t have a cute hook, like a family bakery or an all-female small town: in fact, the premise is rather off-putting. Texas tycoon Jed Titan has promised his entire inheritance to whichever of his three daughters is the most successful, pitting them against each other; meanwhile, a stranger with a grudge is trying to bring the whole family down. It’s kind of “Dallas” (with shades of “The Big Valley,”) and extremely predictable -- I knew basically how the plots of the other three books were going to go before I even looked at their descriptions. But of course that doesn’t mean the stories aren’t effective, or the books enjoyable. (ETA: After starting the second book, I have to retract what I said -- there's a definite curveball thrown in that one.) Lexi, the eldest Titan daughter, desperately wants to succeed and win the Titan inheritance -- less for money than because she also hopes to win her hardhearted father’s love. But her day-spa business is threatened when an enormous loan is unexpectedly called in. When her long ago first lover Cruz turns up, now very successful and wanting an entree into upper-class society, she enters into a bargain with him: she’ll pose as Cruz’s fiance and he’ll pay off the loan -- and find out why it was called in the first place.I started out without much respect for Lexi, who made an extremely foolish decision; Cruz was hard to like as well, often seeming cruel and insensitive. As the story progresses, both characters improve, especially Cruz, who starts to see his mistakes and learn from them. They never really “popped” for me as a couple, but the smoothly written story was pleasant to read and the tension has been successfully built for the rest of the series.