by Victoria Dahl
Series: Jackson: Girls' Night Out #3
Published by Harlequin HQN on July 28, 2015
Format: ARC, Ebook
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I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley.
Passion this hot can't be faked…
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.
I’ve read all three books in Victoria Dahl’s Girls’ Night Out series and Taking the Heat is my favorite, hands down.
The hero is a super-hot librarian named Gabe. (I’m tempted to just stop there while you run off to buy the book right now, but I should probably elaborate.)
Veronica writes an advice column for the local newspaper in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. She moved back to town when her dream of living in New York City didn’t turn out to be everything that she had hoped. When we first meet Veronica, she’s having a panic attack just before going onstage for a live “Dear Veronica” Q & A. She’s freaking out because she considers herself a fraud. Although she’s great at giving advice to help solve other people’s problems, especially about love and sex, Veronica is actually a virgin. It’s a secret she has kept from even her closest friends.
Gabe works with one of Veronica’s friends, who invites him to the Dear Veronica show. But when Gabe first meets Veronica, he gets the wrong impression of her. He mistakes her nervousness for being cold and aloof, so he intends to keep his distance from her. But when Veronica takes the stage and engages with the crowd, Gabe is charmed. He wonders if he rushed to judgment about her.
No, Veronica Chandler was nothing like he’d thought she’d be. And he was kind of…thrilled.
As a result of nerves combined with alcohol, Veronica ends up spilling her secret to Gabe: Dear Veronica is a virgin and a great pretender. But rather than being scared off, Gabe is further intrigued. In the light of day (and sobriety), Veronica is mortified when she realizes what she’s told Gabe, but he doesn’t let that stop him from wanting to get to know her better.
Maybe she was the perfect girl. Maybe he was in big trouble.
Veronica and Gabe strike up a friendship that quickly escalates into a physical relationship. Since he’s already aware of her secret, it takes some of the pressure off of Veronica. She’s still embarrassed, but Gabe does his best to put her at ease. In fact, on several occasions, Veronica attempts to enlist Gabe in losing her virginity, but Gabe actually tells her that they should wait, so they do. (For a little while.) When Veronica and Gabe finally have sex, their chemistry is explosive. Victoria Dahl sure knows how to write some amazing sex scenes. I loved the fact that even though Veronica was a virgin, she’s not clueless or naïve about sex in general.
He wanted to know, but he also liked her secrets. He liked the honesty of them and the glimpses of her that no one else saw.
But although they’re getting closer physically, there are still some secrets between Veronica and Gabe. When Veronica finds out what Gabe’s secrets are, it’s not pretty. There’s also the matter of Veronica’s family life. Her mother died when Veronica was young and her father briefly remarried. This time was awful for Veronica because her stepbrother treated her horribly. On top of all this, Veronica’s father, a powerful judge, has remained emotionally distant from Veronica her whole life.
So, while Veronica and Gabe are figuring out the parameters of their new relationship, they’re simultaneously juggling their separate family issues. But the main focus of the book is their relationship, which is one reason why I liked the book so much.
Something I also loved about the book is the strong message of sex positivity. When Veronica decides to have sex for the first time, it’s on her terms and Gabe is incredibly respectful of her. As she becomes more and more comfortable with her sexuality, it’s something that she explores freely with Gabe and that freedom, combined with trust, instills more confidence in Veronica. She knows what she wants and she goes after it.
She wasn’t weak and scared anymore. She was brave and real and confident.
There’s some conflict when Veronica discovers that Gabe is only in Wyoming temporarily, but the angst isn’t overwhelming, which I appreciated. Even though they’re dealing with separate family matters, Veronica and Gabe both have to reconcile their desires with their respective families’ expectations of them. Ultimately, they each have to make similar choices with regard to finding what they want in life and not just doing what others want them to do.
I really loved this book. The main characters are relatable and likable, so I rooted for them to figure things out and stay together. It was also nice to see characters from the previous books in the series again. As I mentioned, this is my favorite of the Girls’ Night Out books and I hope there are more planned for the future.
Rating: 5 stars