All revved up for bright lights and steamy nights, writer Veronica Chandler chased her dreams to New York City. When she hit a dead end, reality sent her back home to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Saving her pride and her new gig—writing a relationship advice column!—requires some faking. No one can know the truth about her big-city flop or her nonexistent sex life. But the town’s irresistibly rugged librarian is determined to figure her out…and give her hands-on lessons in every wicked thing she wants to know.
Gabe MacKenzie’s heart might be in Wyoming, but secretly his future’s tied up in his family’s Manhattan legacy. Getting down and dirty with Veronica is supposed to give him a few memorable nights—not complicate his plans. But the thing about heat this scorching is there’s just no going back…and it might be too hot for either of them to take.
Taking the Heat is a deliciously fun and sexy novel I guarantee you’ll want to devour in one sitting. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books (Looking for Trouble and Flirting with Disaster), plus the novella (Fanning the Flames), in Ms. Dahl’s Girl’s Night Out series. This one just may be my favorite. To be fair, I say that after each of her books. Her female characters are smart, talented, and independent in a subtle way that knocks the wind out of the alpha men who pursue them and eventually win their hearts. It’s never an easy ride, because where would be the fun in that? But it’s a gleefully good ride full of steamy encounters (sex), giggle and sigh inducing banter, and characters who ultimately learn quite a lot about themselves.
Veronica. Dear Veronica! I loved her. As a matter of fact, many of her quirks and insecurities are strikingly similar to mine so I immediately appointed her a kindred spirit. She felt like a loser in high school, and developed the absolute worst opinion of herself. Running off to NYC after graduation didn’t change anything as she’d hoped. (It never does, does it?) She didn’t make those close friends or fall in love or take chances and do crazy things like she’d dreamt of doing. It’s five years later, and she’s returned home to Wyoming dragging along the same dismal opinion of herself. To make matters worse, her disapproving father, the town judge, uses his influence to get her a job; as Dear Veronica, no less, the local paper’s advice columnist. What the heck qualifies her to be an advice columnist? At 27, she still hasn’t found her own identity! Veronica is scared to pieces she will be found out as the fraud she believes she is. But she’s done with being ruled by insecurities. I fist pumped Veronica and the Post-it note affirmations she slaps on the fridge. I cheered as, one by one, she kicks her insecurities to the curb with an f-you to everyone who thinks she’s weird.
I loved the way Ms. Dahl played this out with Veronica’s amazing talent for giving advice. Through cleverly crafted letters and answers for Dear Veronica, we see Veronica’s instinctive grasp of her reader’s troubles and how to solve them. She may not have a wealth of life experience, especially in the sex department, but she darn well knows first hand how doubt and a lack of self confidence can hold you hostage. Dear Veronica’s bold, sassy, and jaw dropping advice is priceless and funny, resulting in overwhelming popularity. Advising her readers to go after what they want and stand up for themselves pushes Veronica to follow her own advice, especially with the hot new librarian. He makes her feel like the person she always hoped she’d be. Their chemistry was so hot it gave me delicious butterflies in the tummy. Watching her let loose her inner vixen and boldly flirt is so much fun!
Gabe MacKenzie is….adorable. I wish you could hear my sigh. Admittedly, I love my guys to be alpha, grouchy, sexy talking Neanderthals who take charge and are kind of clueless until someone knocks them over the head. So when I heard that the hero of this novel was a librarian, I cringed. But I knew if anyone could pull this off it would be Ms. Dahl. And boy, did she pull it off. Gabe is somewhat of a Renaissance man. He’s a librarian, but of the techie variety, in Jackson for one year to get the library up to speed with digital books and all the accoutrement that accompany. Even though he’s from NYC, Gabe is an outdoorsman at heart. He chose this job in Jackson so he could pursue his rock climbing passion. In other words, Gabe is no Pillsbury doughboy. He’s built; major upper body strength, muscled thighs, strong hands. He plays basketball with the firefighters at the station and trains with Search & Rescue. He’s all rugged good looks; beard and floppy hair included. He’s got the kind of sexy that sneaks up on you. And he’s crushing hard on Veronica. Mr. MacKenzie loves to whisper sweet somethings in Veronica’s ear and he’s a verra dirty talker, telling her exactly what he wants to do to her. As if that’s not enough, his dirty talking tongue has other talents, if you know what I mean. I loved Gabe’s maturity and honesty with Veronica. He truly cares about her and loves her crazy mixture of shy, quirky, unsure of herself, and goofy.
Of course, this story wouldn’t be complete without a dilemma that may tear Gabe and Veronica apart. It’s the perfect amount of uncertainty and drama. No dragging it out or making it ridiculous. Best of all, Veronica proves to be stronger than even we thought her to be. I loved this book for so many reasons! Not the least of which being Ms. Dahl’s subtle alpha hero who is thoroughly sexy, sincere, and all man. Plus, he’s a really good dirty talker.