Too Hot to HandleToo Hot to Handle by Victoria Dahl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Initial reaction: Whoa. Okay, I didn’t expect this book to be as good as it was, what with a very clumsy heroine (who I’ll admit I liked for the fact she gushed over Doctor Who and Firefly) and a hero who had a secret he kept burning along for a long time before telling the heroine who he really was, but I really liked this story. The steamy scenes were done well, and the chemistry between the leads was palpable and that which I followed well. I think the way the leads came to terms in the end was very well done. Surprised me for how they started out. Probably going to give this between 3 and 3.5 stars.

Full review:

“Too Hot To Handle” is the first I’ve read from the “Jackson” series (though it’s really the second book), and I’ll admit it surprised me. I didn’t expect to be drawn into the narrative and not be able to put it down until the last page. If there’s something to be said in Dahl’s narrative, she writes steamy scenes very well, as well as the play-by-play relationship between her leading characters. Often some of these characters tend to be hit and miss with me whenever I pick up her books, but I do appreciate the fact that she shows the relationships as well as she does, especially as I’ve followed her.

Merry Kade is a good girl – the best friend that anyone would like to have, whether male or female. But Merry feels frustrated for the turn of events that have led her to the point where she starts off in this novel. She’s without a set career path and is crashing at her friend Grace’s place – people have called her “slacker” Merry, and she’s not fond of the term. She tries to keep up appearances within the company of a wealthy cousin, because her mother stresses the importance of family (though Merry’s hurt that her mother has seemingly pushed her away for reasons unknown). She hasn’t had sex in two years, and she doesn’t think any guy will see her as more than the “best friend” and not as sexy or flirty. She’s (extremely, no kidding) socially awkward, but her efforts have landed her a temporary job in Wyoming with a town restoration project.

Merry hires a contractor for the restoration, a “cowboy” named Shane who doesn’t always know how to act around Merry. I actually found their initial interactions pretty funny, as Merry’s really enthusiastic to get the project started and prove herself, while Shane’s like “Uhh….” Shane’s reluctance to do anything with the restoration is noted though, as his family ties have him wanting nothing to do with the project. He keeps this secret from Merry, and ultimately, you get the note that at some point, this will hurt Merry – it’s just a matter of waiting for the other shoe to drop. There are plenty of awkward moments between the two, but it’s worth seeing them interact and noting their subsequent chemistry.

I actually liked how Merry tells off Shane for his wrongdoing though, it made me think more of her character, and for how she shows herself in the latter portions of the novel, it made me think of Merry as more than a klutz (she has plenty of those moments, some admittedly did irk me). Shane’s issues with his family are well shown for what they encompass, and I’ll admit I was surprised at the resolution that showed itself to that thread of the plotline. It was a bit rushed in comparison to the build-up, but I followed it for what it offered.

In the end, this intrigued me enough to see where this series will go.

Overall score: 3.5/5 stars

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Harlequin.

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