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Victoria Dahl

REVIEW:  Looking for Trouble by Victoria Dahl

REVIEW: Looking for Trouble by Victoria Dahl

Looking for Trouble (Jackson: Girls' Night Out #1) by Victoria Dahl

Dear Ms. Dahl:

It was twitter chatter that made me pick this book up and I was really glad I did. Sophie Heyer is the local librarian who lives a quiet life full of secret desires for the rough and ready type of men. In walks Alex Bishop whose motorcycle boots and tattoos are as tempting as ice cream to a woman on a diary free diet. 

The conflict for Sophie and Alex centers around a twenty-five year old scandal when Sophie’s mother ran off with Alex’s father. It was learned that the two died rather than completely abandoning their families but the affair has had lasting repercussions on both families.

Alex’s mother spent his childhood chasing down phantoms, trying to locate his father at all costs. When he returns home at the request of his older brother and the promise that his mother is better. On his arrival he is already beset with regret. His mother seems more mad than ever. He feels disconnected with his brother. The one thing he does like is Sophie.

He doesn’t realize right away that she’s the daughter of the woman Alex’s mother blames for ruining their lives. Sophie has her own family problems. Her brother is having his own identity issues and starts pressing Alex’s family is uncomfortable ways.

Sophie looks like her mother and is the subject to vile things from Alex’s mother on a regular basis. Neither Sophie or Alex blame the other for their parents’ issues (although I think Sophie does a better job of this than Alex, particularly later in the book). The conflict was compelling and I bought into the resolution.

The other reviews of this book mention the sex as hot but confusing and I agree. Sophie, the subject of such onerous abuse in her hometown, dresses like the stereotypical puritan with modest clothes and hairstyles. She lives a quiet life yet no matter what she does, there are those who call her a whore, just like her mother.

In the bedroom, Sophie enjoys being called the same thing. Given her past and the way she lived her outside life, I would have liked some internal monologue on this subject. Alex’s immediate assumption of Sophie’s sexual preferences (good thing he guessed right) was also a little convenient. It reminded me of another book where the hero said that he was able to smell the heroine’s submissiveness.

It’s possible that some of this was explained in the prequel novella but I didn’t read that.

The ending is very much a HFN or leading up to a HFN which I didn’t mind. Their romance was based mostly on a physical attraction and the way in which their lives were changing, it made sense that the conclusion was a bit up in the air.

Probably the sweetest male in the book is Sophie’s dad who takes the abuse of being a cuckholded husband, raising two small children, and never ever getting angry at his kids not matter how provoked he was.

It’s not the same romance that I’ve read before. It’s very sexy. I liked both characters. It’s got flaws, but it’s a good way to spend an afternoon. B-

Best regards

Jane

 

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REVIEW:  Too Hot to Handle by Victoria Dahl

REVIEW: Too Hot to Handle by Victoria Dahl

This good girl’s going bad….

Merry Kade has always been the good girl. The best friend. The one who patiently waits for the guy to notice her. Well, no more. Merry has just scored her dream job, and it’s time for her life to change. As the new curator of a museum in Wyoming, she’ll supervise a lot of restoration work. Luckily she’s found the perfect contractor for the job.

Shane Harcourt can’t believe that someone wants to turn a beat-up ghost town into a museum attraction. After all, the last thing he needs is the site of his dream ranch turning into a tourist trap. He’ll work on the project, if only to hasten its failure…until the beautiful, quirky woman in charge starts to change his mind.

For the first time ever, Merry has a gorgeous stud hot on her heels. But can she trust this strong, silent man, even if he is a force of nature in bed? When Shane’s ulterior motives come out, he’ll need to prove to Merry that a love like theirs may be too hot to handle, but it’s impossible to resist.

Dear Ms. Dahl,

I thought it time to try one of your books since so many of my fellow reviewers adore your work and Jane had sent me this arc. While the story is competent and the dialogue is good to very good – especially the guys – I finished it with a “that was okay but not great” feeling. Or should I say the scenarios were good when I first read most of them years ago but I’ve read similar versions of this book far too many times to feel it was much beyond checking off the boxes.

Too-HotMerry, bless her heart, is the type of eager to please yet unsure of herself puppy dog heroine who ends up annoying me because she’s so sad sack and down on herself. Then I get upset at myself for not loving this sweet little heroine who only asks to be loved, though she doesn’t believe she’ll ever get that from a man, and who tries so darn hard to be upbeat about it anyway. She has no self confidence, which she tries to mask by almost hyper enthusiasm, and continues to almost the end of the book almost cringing about how she’s not really good enough for her job. When she told the board members that if they fired her she’d stay on as interim manager until they found someone else I wanted to yell through the pages “Merry, grow a pair!” I found little to get me involved or caring in this aspect of the book and merely looked forward to the end of these scenes.

Shane is a wounded man who was left scarred by his father’s abandonment which of course means he’ll never be able to settle down or offer a woman anything other than some short-term hot sex. He’s also never truly felt connected to the area because he’s rejected it due to the fact that his father left the family and his grandfather was a controlling dick. By the third or fourth time I’d read another variation of his thoughts, my eyes ached from rolling. Poor, sad, pitiful Shane. True he stood up to his grandfather’s humiliating demand that Shane change his last name back to Bishop in order to get all the family money and he’s going to contest the will that instead handed the money over to the Board but Shane enjoys being the victim so much it was hard to swallow his last minute change despite the two events which precipitated it.

Merry and Shane’s relationship is one I’ve read a hundred times or more. “He’s so hot and I’m just the not hot girl next door type who’s never attracted men.” Never mind that Shane’s been looking her up and down and showing his interest in sex. No, Babble Mouth Merry has to go and spout things to Shane which embarrass her such as how she hasn’t had sex in 2 years. As her verbal humiliation dragged on my next mental comment was “if you’re already in a hole, stop digging.” Blessedly she eventually did but not until after the standard they’re-in-a-crowded-place-and-must-yell-over-the-noise scene when Merry screams to a friend that “SHE JUST WANTS TO GET LAID!” right, of course, when the music dies down and everyone within 10 feet hears her. The sex, when it happens, is hot and it’s obvious that Shane wants it to continue but of course Merry has to think otherwise because, well see the above paragraph.

I could peg exactly when Merry begins to feel at home with the people in the town although she’s never felt this connect to anywhere or anyone before. Ditto with Shane’s change of feelings about the ghost town his grandfather left all the family money to in order to restore it and turn it into a tourist attraction. The show down from the initial set up of Merry and Shane’s conflict came right on schedule though I was pleased at how Merry finally stood up for herself and verbally let Shane have it right in the kisser. Which of course was the “light bulb” moment for Shane when he realized how much she meant to him and cued his Big Gesture We All Saw Coming.

The dialog – especially between the men – is good and crudely realistic. I like how Merry and her best friend Grace stick up for each other – especially in the face of Merry’s bitchy cousin. The sex is hot and I was mildly happy to see the HEA but honestly by the final third of the book, I was in skim mode because I’ve read it all before and though it’s competently done, there’s nothing new here at all. C

~Jayne

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