Sunday, March 29, 2015

Review: So Tough to Tame by Victoria Dahl

This is the last Victoria Dahl book I have on my kindle, and after spending the last two weekends with the first and second book in her Jackson Hole series, I wasn't sure I wanted to read this yet.  Because after I read it, I'd be done, and then what?  Her new one isn't coming out until this summer.  Could I really go that long without another of her books?  And here is where I tell you I have a long, horrible history of saving things I want until later.  I was the child who put aside my favorite Halloween candy for later, only to discover it had all gone bad by the time I found it again. I never learned my lesson.  I did this every year.  I still do this - not that I still go trick or treating, but you get the idea.  This is a problem.  A problem I need to stop.  So what the hell, I decided I'd read it now and not save it for later because why am I always putting off the things I want in life?  Okay, well, that got a little too intense for the beginning of a book review.  Anyway.

No surprise, I very much enjoyed this book.  Read a few chapters last night, and began my day with it, doing absolutely nothing other than make coffee until I'd finished it.  Perfect way to spend a Sunday - or any day for that matter.

While I didn't love this book as much as I liked the other two books, it's important to keep in mind that I loved those books just about more than I've ever loved any romance novel.  With the other books, I felt as though I could relate very well to both Grace and Merry.  Not the case with this story.  So while this book didn't turn me into a sobbing mess as the other two had, I still thought it was a very good book.

Charlie (short for Charlotte) has returned to her hometown after an embarrassing embezzlement scandal.  She's taken a job at a ski resort owned by the husband of an old high school friend because it's pretty much the only place that will hire her.  But things aren't going so well at the job.  Her old friend is behaving strangely.  Charlie decides to move out of the apartment provided at the resort and get a place in town.   That's when she runs into another friend from her past - Walker.  She'd crushed on him in high school, but she was never anything more than his friend and more importantly his tutor.  Walker was a flirt, everyone loved him and he didn't waste his time on "good" girls.

But Charlie's all grown up now, and she wants to make sure Walker knows that a lot of things have changed since high school.  Along the way, she also discovers that Walker is a lot more than the carefree, good old boy cowboy she imagined him to be.  They both have their secrets, which are revealed gradually, causing the expected disagreements and heartbreaks.  Part of the fun is seeing them get through all of this.

After reading this series, I guess I have to stop saying I don't like cowboy romances.  But maybe that's because Dahl's cowboys have a bit more depth than the cowboys with which I'm familiar.  Walker is such a funny, nice guy.  Like Charlie, he's also left his last job after a bit of a scandal.  He's trying to find work and feels like he doesn't have many options.  Charlie sees more in him than he sees in his self.  Sometimes that's the main thing a person needs - someone who believes in him - even though at first Charlie's attempts at helping him are met with anger.

Besides the very steamy scenes - and she writes some of if not the best - I think what makes Dahl's books so strong is the real way her characters behave.  They're real people.  They have real jobs.  They have real flaws and they're scared to death to fall in love.  I suppose the part where they divert from reality is that they are willing to face their flaws and try to overcome them because someone in their life has convinced them it's okay to want a better life.  But it's books like this that provide hope that even real people can move past their mistakes and have a good life.  You don't have to be a princess or a billionaire to deserve love and a satisfying job.  That's another thing I appreciate about these books - it's never a simply "love solves all" but rather a process showing that accepting love also means correcting the other things that are messing up their lives - things like screwed up family relationships and bad jobs.  These are not stories of heroes sweeping in to rescue someone in trouble, but rather the characters learning to rescue themselves.

I loved this series, and if I was a really, really nice person, someone like Walker, I'd buy multiple copies of these books, and I would give them to my friends any time they were having a bad day.  Seriously, I think they're more enjoyable and way more healthy than chocolate or cupcakes.  But instead, I will just strongly recommend that you get yourself a copy of these books.  Start with Close Enough to Touch and work your way to this one, and then move on to the Girls Night Out series.  (I actually read those books before these, now I may need to re-read them because I know some characters from these books appeared in those.)

I received a review copy via NetGalley.

No comments: