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Taking the Heat (Girls' Night Out) Mass Market Paperback – July 28, 2015
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"Dahl's romances succeed because she is fearless in creating quirky, touchingly unique characters whose love affairs are anything but predictable." -RT Book Reviews on Flirting with Disaster
"Readers can't help but hope these endearing characters will embrace their emotional and sexual chemistry, overcome their rivalry and find love in the balance." -Washington Post on Flirting with Disaster
"Quirky characters with atypical reactions lend a spark of intrigue and reality to Dahl's trademark merry raunchiness." -Publishers Weekly on Flirting with Disaster
"Sassy and smokingly sexy, Talk Me Down is one delicious joyride of a book." <Br>-New York Times bestselling author Connie Brockway
"Victoria Dahl never fails to bring the heat."-RT Book Reviews on Too Hot To Handle
"Dahl adds her signature hot sex scenes and quirky<Br> characters to this lively mix of romance in the high country." -Booklist on Too Hot to Handle
"This is one hot romance." <Br>-RT Book Reviews on Good Girls Don't
"[A] hands-down winner, a sensual story filled with memorable characters." <Br>-Booklist on Start Me Up
"Sparkling, special and oh so sexy-Victoria Dahl is a special treat!" -New York Times bestselling author Carly Phillips on Talk Me Down
"Hits the emotional high notes.... Rising romance star Dahl delivers with this sizzling contemporary romance."<Br>-Kirkus Reviews on Close Enough to Touch
About the Author
Victoria Dahl lives with her family in a small town high in the mountains. Her first novel debuted in 2007, and she’s gone on to write seventeen books and novellas in historical, contemporary, and paranormal romance. Victoria's contemporary romance, Talk Me Down, was nominated for both a RWA Rita Award and the National Readers' Choice Award. Since then, her books have been nominated for two more Rita Awards, and she hit the USA Today Bestseller list with the anthology Midnight Kiss.
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Oh, man. This book was so good. I said in my last post how tired I am of the virgin heroine, then picked this one up, knowing Victoria Dahl has never done a virgin heroine and I'd be safe. Then I met Veronica Chandler.
Veronica Chandler followed her post-college dreams to New York City, hated it, and now she's back home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. She writes the Dear Veronica advice column for the local paper, usually giving advice on relationships and sex, occasionally weightier matters if they come up. When we first meet her, she's absolutely terrified someone is going to find out her secret, namely that she makes a living giving advice on sex and relationships, but has had very few relationships, and zero sex.
Gabe MacKenzie is new to Jackson Hole. He's the new librarian, transplanted from the public library system in Cincinnati, and can't wait to spend the next year doing exactly what he wants. He has family responsibilities waiting for him back in NYC, so his contract with the library is only that long. Then he meets Veronica.
One thing I loved about this book (and I'm going to stop using that phrase because I would just use it over and over) is that when Veronica and Gabe first meet, sparks do not fly. They both think "Yum", but there's no sizzling skin or sudden flaring of heat. They're not unattracted to the other, but they're introduced using their common experience in New York as an ice breaker, and neither of them is interested in dating what they consider to be a New Yorker and all the stereotypes that go along with that. Gabe's initial incorrect impression of Veronica is helped along by the fact that Veronica is already dressed for her evening, and is trying to hide the fact her exhausted, bloodshot eyes behind huge sunglasses in the middle of the library.
She's tired and nervous because, despite an almost crippling case of stage fright, she's agreed to do a live reading of her advice column. It's set up for Thursday night in a bar - she'll read questions audience members have written down and answer them there. She downs a few drinks to loosen herself up and goes out there on that stage and owns it. She's fantastic. Her advice is great without being preachy, it's irreverent while being totally true, and everyone loves her. Obviously, her boss and the bar want to make this a weekly event.
And Gabe. Oh, sweet, delicious, bearded Gabe. As a woman very happily married to a non-lumberjack, non-hipster bearded dude, I can tell you without hesitation that there are not enough of them in romance novels. Gabe was so perfect for Veronica. Not perfect. Just perfect for her. He could not have cared less that she was a virgin. It didn't scare him off, nor did it make him swell up in manly pride. Everyone should have a Gabe for their first time. He was so kind to her, funny, direct, and so, so sexy.
And the sex. Good lord, the sex. Victoria Dahl writes some of the hottest sex in contemporary romance. First of all, Veronica was a virgin because Veronica was a virgin. There was no past trauma anyone had to overcome, there was no deep-seated hatred of herself. It happened the same way it happened for millions of other people. She didn't have a ton of friends in high school, mainly because her more popular step-brother was such a jerk to her, and when she got to college, it became a "THING". Since she'd waited so long, she wanted it to be right and special. Then college ended and she hadn't found that guy yet. Then she went to New York by herself, and being somewhat shy had a difficult time meeting someone. Then she moved back to Jackson Hole, and here she is. It's just a thing about her, not THE thing about her.
And when she and Gabe finally have sex, it so, so good. It's so good because it's so real. Veronica may be a virgin, but that doesn't mean she's never done anything. At one point, she tells Gabe that he doesn't have to worry about her hymen because she owns a vibrator and knows how to use it. She knows some things she likes, but she doesn't just turn into this amazing porn-star sex goddess the minute her clothes come off. She asks Gabe questions and he answers her. He gives her direction and tips, which she tries. He tells her exactly what he likes. She's willing to do all of it, she just wants to know that she's doing it right and that he enjoys it. And, yes, she has an orgasm her first time out, which most women don't, but it was believable because of the aforementioned vibrators. And even though she's had orgasms before, and she knows what to expect, she still gets all up in her own head about it and has to stop and reset herself. Which women do sometimes. Our orgasms are much more tied to our emotions and our brains than men's are. Usually.
This was definitely Veronica's story. In the beginning she let very few people see who she really was. She refers to her clothes and makeup as a costume more than once. It was so great to see her take everything she learned about herself from her relationship with Gabe and use it come out of her shell. She helps a bullied teenager, stands up to her father, and branches out to try new things. I loved it. Gabe changed some, too, but he didn't have as far to go. He took a hard look at his family obligations and made some tough decisions about how much he was willing to sacrifice for those obligations, and how he wanted to live his life.
Veronica and Gabe were one of my all-time favorite couples. They just had so much fun together. In the bedroom and out of it. I can't remember a contemporary couple who spent so much time just being together and laughing together. So many authors skip that part, going straight from meet-cute to first sex to BIG MISUNDERSTANDING to groveling. Very few of the couples have genuinely fun dates and a lot of lovely buildup to the rest of it. I just loved this book. It was exactly what I needed exactly when I needed it. I'm so happy I bought it instead of borrowing it from the library (sorry, Gabe), because I'm going to read this one over and over. I haven't read everything by Victoria Dahl yet, but I'm slowly making my way through her backlist. Slowly because I'm going to be so sad when I've read them all and have to wait for new ones. And I'm not going to demand new ones from her, but I'll probably stalk her on social media waiting for news of them.
I really enjoyed this story- starting with the characters. I liked that although Veronica was a virgin, it wasn't a corny situation. And Gabe didn't have a meltdown or make it a huge thing. It felt really authentic. It just made sense and everything it added to the dynamic was great. Ms. Dahl does a great job of explaining where the characters are coming from, you understand what makes them tick and why. It makes sense. it makes you more invested. Gabe and his beard, so adorable. I really liked them both. And they both had realistic issues that caused conflict for them- sometimes in books the requisite conflict is so contrived or absurd. This was pretty natural and it just made sense.
I love the sexy time in this book (per usual, for a Victoria Dahl book). The scenes are descriptive and fun and HOT. There's pretty much nothing bad about a sexy growly hero, am I right? (That was completely rhetorical, I KNOW I'm right). I love that when I read this book I alternated between mumbling "get it girl" and fanning myself saying "oh my word" like an elderly southern woman (when I am in fact a 30 year old woman from NJ).
Moral of the story: The book made me laugh, it was sweet, it was super sexy, and it's just a lot of fun to read. Definitely one of my favorites by this author. Ms. Dahl always writes such different characters, sometimes the heroines are super confident or more sexually forward or more reserved- I'd say of ALL of her characters, I related most to Veronica so maybe that's also an added reason to why I liked it so much.
Also as an aside, Victoria Dahl is hilarious and delightful on twitter! She engages with fans and she also speaks her mind on current events and things happening in the world (but not in an obnoxious or preachy way- she just shares her thoughts). She also did a great job of promoting this book with cunnilingus Gabe. I mean, I was already going to read it, but that promotion didn't hurt (and was totally accurate!).
I love telling my friends to read her books and have gifted her books to them (bless the practicality of the Kindle, I send books to friends all the time!)- I always describe her/her books with some version of: "Her books are hella sexy. She doesn't use a formula- her heroes/heroines are always different and unique. And she just seems like the type of girl we'd be friends with. Like, she'd be awesome to get drunk and chill with." That usually gets them.
Can't wait for her next book/series as this was the last one in the Jackson Girls' Night Out series. Wherever you go, Ms. Dahl, I'll follow!
I love that she felt like she was a lot of work for a guy in bed, and he showed her that not only did he enjoy the work, but she just needed the right things from a lover. She was so wrapped up in her head, but he made her feel comfortable. So good.
This entire series by Dahl is great reading for those of us who love steamy rom. Her historicals are also very good. Dahl is the absolute best at what I consider girl-power romances. There is none of that 18-yr-old-virgin-and-guy-who-can't-control-himself-old-school-rapey-bodice-ripper BS in any of Dahl's stories. I respect her style.
One more note: If you enjoy Dahl's "Taking the Heat" characters and their relationship, you may also like "The Wicked Deeds of Daniel MacKenzie" by J Ashley. It's a historical and not nearly as hot--I'm not sure how anything could ever be as hot as this Dahl story--but still very sexy in a sweet way. The characters and story in both novels remind me of each other quite a bit.
I liked that you got to catch up with some characters from previous books but that they were not a big focus in the current story. This book can definitely be read as a stand-alone.
I highly recommend that you read this book. You won’t be disappointed.
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I thought Veronica’s Dear Veronica gig in the...Read more