Dear Ms. Cassidy,
Ok, I’ll admit it – I’ve been binging on your books again. After losing myself in “Talk This Way,” I went in frantic search for “Talk Dirty to Me.” You set the plot up beautifully in the novella, and I wanted, no, needed, to know more. I fell in love with Landon and you were offering a chance to see the town that gave him to the world. While we didn’t see much of him, his reach was felt in every corner of the book – as you intended. I don’t think you meant for readers to fall in love with him, but, well…too late! Where can I find my very own Landon?
Now on to the reason people are reading the review – the rest of the book, including the romance between former mean girl Dixie and town angel, Caine. Years ago, in the small town of Plum Orchard, there were three friends – bright, vivacious and manipulative Dixie, competitive, loved and sexy Caine, and gay, charismatic, devoted Landon, the glue that held them all together. Then Dixie’s mean girl ways caught up with them all, in a way that tore them apart. Dixie fled to Chicago to lick her wounds in every high end store she could find while Caine chose to build his fortune in Miami. Landon made the world his playground, yet played Switzerland in the trio, maintaining his friendship with both of them, dispensing love and wisdom as needed.
It’s ten years later and a tragedy has brought Dixie and Caine back to Plum Orchard – to very different receptions. Caine is welcomed with open arms, happily continuing his tradition of quietly helping the townsfolk. Reformed and highly remorseful mean girl is, predictably, treated with kid gloves and poison darts, trusted less than Satan himself would be. Of course, Satan doesn’t have Dixie’s reputation as the Mistress of Southern Poison Sugar.
Thanks to Landon, however, Dixie gets to develop a new reputation – as Mistress Taboo for his phone sex company! And Caine gets to shed his angelic shine as Candy Caine, the man of a million impersonations. Landon has set them against each other in the competition of their lives – whichever one of them gets the most calls wins the company and the mansion in Plum Orchard. It’s a contest the destitute Dixie can’t afford to lose and competitive Caine can’t let her win.
As much as I wanted to love the book, there were times when I felt actively uncomfortable. So much of the focus was on what Dixie had done when she was young that there wasn’t enough room for development. You showed Dixie’s transition from who she was to who she is now, but it didn’t feel quite like there was any growth with Caine or one of the secondary characters, Em. I had the impression that you tapped the manuscript with your shiny, sparkly, authorly Wand of Awesomeness and *poof,* character change happened because you needed it to. Caine, especially, was one-dimensional. By focusing so much on Dixie, everyone else kind of got lost in the background. The heat between the pair rated somewhere around habanero on the Scoville scale of pepper heat. Usually, your scenes rank somewhere around ghost chiles. In this case, however, I think you were more focused on the relationship rather than just the sex. The intimacy advanced the story rather than the other way around.
Dixie’s metamorphosis from the bitchiest thing in heels to humble and principled DID ring true. I loved the way you set up the story to slowly reveal what happened. You didn’t just dump it all on me at once, but ensured I’d keep reading because I just HAD to know. I truly enjoyed how you showed who she was and who she’d become – and how she achieved that. While that level of personal development is impressive, I wanted to see a little more of how other people factored in to her change. As it stood, there were just two people mentioned, and that included Landon’s loving words of ass-kicking.
The strength of this book is in the story, there’s no doubt about that. Put a major, successful phone sex operation in a tiny town and sparks are going to fly in every direction. Put two people who strike flame off of each other in the same small town, and an explosion is imminent. The plot is tight and flows beautifully, setting up future books and instilling in readers the driving desire to know more. For those who watch the CW network, I got a very decided “Hart of Dixie” feel – with the old Dixie starring as Lemon Breeland. C
Still Wanting My Own Leland, Sanjeev and Toe,