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Review: Too Hot to Handle by Victoria Dahl

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Too Hot to Handle
Author: Victoria Dahl
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin
Jackson Series #2
ISBN: 978-0373777464
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format(s): Paperback (320 pages), e-book
Book Source: NetGalley

About the book:

      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.

What VampBards talking about:

      Why hasn’t anyone insisted that I read something by Victoria Dahl before?!?!  Her writing is smart, sassy and sultry.  Definitely hot, and it doesn’t insult my intelligence.  I picked up Too Hot to Handle, the second title (with a novella tossed between) in her Jackson series via NetGalley.  I’d always been curious, because Ms. Dahl is so wonderfully outspoken and passionate on Twitter, as to how her books would communicate her passion.  O. M. G.!  Happiness.
      I think I clearly identified with the heroine, Merry, in Too Hot to Handle.  I saw her as someone that every woman on the planet should aspire to become.  Ultimately, as a mom and a teacher and just one of those general people that like to be nice, etc., Merry exemplifies everything I’d like my daughters to be – pretty confident, predominantly OK with who they are, and accepting.  As a mom, that’s one of the reasons I adored Merry.
      Shane treated women – and Merry especially – with reverence and respect.  I want my sons to treat the women in their lives like this when they’re adults.  Overall, I felt that this was a HEALTHY romance read, something difficult to find in books of this nature these days.  Kudos to Ms. Dahl.  HEAT INDEX:  3.5 out of 5.
      Merry came to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to be the curator of a ghost town.  It would be her responsibility to restore the town, publicize the town, and make it successful.  Or so she thought.  Little did she know, she was merely a pawn in a game to control the funds for the town between the governing body and the owner of the property.  Merry really hated the council meetings,   “It could have been like a lovely family reunion when they met every other week.  Instead it was like an episode of Passive Aggressive Theater.”  Merry was informed of her pawn status, and was so shaken she knocked over the mailbox of one of the council members on her way out of the meeting.  A HUGE drama ensued about the mailbox, and how it presented a perceived ‘threat’ to the council.  I didn’t want to believe that people could be that self-absorbed…but unfortunately, it’s entirely true of most people.
      When we see Merry talking about Providence, the ghost town, she lights up.  Her excitement is contagious, and she has a couple of the men on the board for the town convinced she should start seriously working on renovations.  But the funds are tied up in court, with the grandson of the owner, Gideon Bishop, the property owner.  Merry, however, crafty and brilliant, devises a plan to begin work on the town and get the board to see that it can be successful, and prove to herself – and her family – that she’s not just a bit of dandelion fluff blowing in the wind.
      Here’s what I adored about this story.  The relationships.  Grace, Merry’s best friend, opened her apartment to her friend.  It seemed like Grace was her ‘center’.  Like even though her mom was still around, Merry provided the stability and support that she needed at this point.  Her mom had just moved and pointed out that there wasn’t room for her to stay any longer.  I thought mom’s point was in a loving, ‘you need to stand on your own, girl’ kind-of way.  Grace’s boyfriend, Cole, was like a brother to Merry, and very protective of her, even with his close friend.  Those are the types of friendships that need to be cultivated; these kinds of behaviors need to be modeled for our children and our young adults.
      Back to the main storyline…
      Enter:  neighbor Shane Harcourt, hot cowboy-carpenter. I’m not gonna lie.  Shane seemed to be the fairy tale knight in shining armor.  It felt to me like he was there to rescue Merry, whether she knew she needed it or not.  Conveniently, Shane is a carpenter, and the saloon in her ghost town needs repair.  Yup.  Another reason for them to spend time together.
      Merry has had a ‘dry spell’ in the sex department.  She says, “I’m not picky.  I’m just not on the radar.  Anyone’s radar.  I’m the government’s top-secret stealth snatch project.”  I think that Merry’s idea that she’s not pretty, nor that any guy would want her makes her all that much more desirable.  As matter of fact, Merry seems to be everyone’s best friend, “There was nothing worse than being felt out when you really wanted to be felt up.  Nothing.”
      Ultimately, Shane and Merry agreed upon a ‘friends with benefits’ arrangement.  Initially.   “She was not just a friend, but also a sexual being.  It felt nice.  Or she told herself it felt nice.  And it was an option if she really needed access to a friendly penis in the future.”  Even though they were afraid to tell Grace, because she had all but threatened to kill Shane if Merry became involved with him, they did manage to steal some moments in social situations.  At a barbecue, they managed a moment, and an early escape for some hanky-panky,  “Her Wonder Woman t-shirt had worked its charm.  Best superhero ever.”
      I thoroughly enjoyed Too Hot to Handle, the second in Victoria Dahl’s Jackson series.  I’m eager to pick up the first title in this series (I already have the novella between book 1 & 2).  Ms. Dahl’s writing is smart, funny, and truly a delight to read.  I look forward to reading more of her writing, and to continue stalking her on Twitter.

VampBards Rating:

Enjoyed – strongly recommend (A-)

Purchase Info:
Too Hot to Handle

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