Too Hot To Handle (Jackson #2)
Copy courtesy of Harlequin AUS
Merry Kade has always been designated as the “friend”. The “buddy”. Guys don’t see her as desirable or sexy. She’s the girl in jeans and the funny T-shirt, the girl who doesn’t ever wear make up, the girl who has a bump in her hair from the permanent ponytail. Guys don’t notice her as a woman and as a result, it’s been a while since Merry has seen a little action.
Merry is living with her friend Grace in Jackson, Wyoming having secured the position as the new curator of a museum in Providence, Wyoming an old ghost town. Merry is somewhat desperate to prove herself, tired of being seen as flaky and unreliable. She’s always the one to take a chance and sometimes those chances don’t work out – but now she’s determined that this one will. Unfortunately for Merry, the money left to fund the museum of the ghost town is tied up in a lawsuit and mostly Merry is just cooling her heels. And waiting.
Shane Harcourt has land but no money. He just wants what is owed to him and when Merry asks him to help her out with some construction on the site of the museum, he at first sees it as a chance to get himself some information. Information that will help him. But the more time he spends with Merry, the more he gets swept up in her enthusiasm and her zest for life. She’s very passionate about the town and about what she can create here and Shane finds that incredibly…erotic. It doesn’t take long before he’s feeling very interested. And wondering whether or not he’s got his priorities straight.
Merry finally has a man who seems to find her everything that she wants to be – sexy and desirable. She is also the type to give her trust to someone completely and utterly and there are times that this has come back to hurt her. When Merry finds out about the secret Shane is keeping, that’s going to test the boundaries of her faith and trust to breaking point.
Too Hot To Handle is the second of Victoria Dahl’s novels set in Jackson Wyoming, following on from Close Enough To Touch which I reviewed last year here. In this book we focus on Grace’s (the main character from Close Enough) friend Merry and one of the cowboys residing at the “Stud Farm”. Merry is perhaps the antithesis to Grace – whereas Grace is edgy and hard and not afraid to use a man for a good time, Merry is happy and sweet and definitely not the confident type with men. She’s used to always being the pal, the one that guys talk to about girls. Merry’s had rather a long dry spell and she wouldn’t mind that being broken, preferably by Shane, the hot cowboy across the corridor. However Grace is perhaps a little too protective of Merry, not wanting her gentle natured friend to get hurt by a cowboy who has never committed to a woman in his life.
Whilst I loved Merry and Shane and the way in which they progressed to some form of friendship before taking the next step, the way in which Grace bulldoggedly watched over Merry like she was some sort of naive 16yo seeing a boy for the first time was a little irritating. I get that she didn’t want Merry to get hurt but Merry was a big girl and if she’s old enough to make the decision to sleep with Shane in a clearly no strings attached arrangement then she has to be old enough to deal with the potential fallout. No one starts off a relationship head over heels in love and getting hurt is pretty much a chance every time you get close to someone. I liked Grace and her attitude in her own story but she really just needed to dial it down a notch in this one.
Shane was a well-fleshed out hero and I like that Dahl took the time to give him a very solid backstory that plays in to the fact that he is not the type to commit. He’s had a relatively traumatic sort of life in terms of family and he’s never really had the benefit of seeing what a stable and loving relationship can be like. However Shane is also a decent man and when he realises that he has hurt Merry deeply, it affects him an awful lot. I love men who aren’t afraid to admit when they’ve been stupid and who make attempts to fix their mistakes and Shane definitely fits that bill.
If you like masturbation scenes (which aren’t particularly common in romance novels) then I definitely recommend Victoria Dahl as an author to explore and this series in particular. There’s a scene in Close Enough To Touch and another couple in this one that are extremely well done. I found them relatively refreshing in terms of sexy scenes because they’re not something I’ve read a hundred or more times before. They seem to be something the author enjoys writing into the story and they work!
I enjoyed this revisit to Jackson Hole and I’m looking forward to any more volumes in the series – I think there was a cowboy in this one who might just pop up front and centre in the next!
Book #92 of 2013