Too Hot to Handle by Victoria Dahl

A quick rundown… Merry Kade is new in Jackson Hole, a curator of a Wyoming ghost town exhibit. Trying to settle down into a single, settled life, Merry didn’t could on Shane, her new neighbour. Shane has secrets of his own – that affect Merry’s future.

Strengths: So much fun! A great romance with a bit of sexiness and a solid, multi-dimensional plot.

Weaknesses: The ending was a little sad.

Why I read it: Really enjoyed the first book in the Jackson series, Close Enough to Touch. This copy was sent to me by Harlequin Books Australia – thank you!

Pages: 299

Published: 2013

Publisher: Harlequin Mira

Setting: Wyoming, USA

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Victoria Dahl’s romances are always fun to read, simply because they contain more than just the romance. There’s always other issues going on for the heroine. Merry is definitely not your stereotypical heroine – she likes Star Wars, can’t apply makeup and doesn’t have never-ending legs. Besides the distraction of Shane next door, there’s the fact that her job was formed on false pretences, her mum’s got a secret and she’s trying to prove to the rest of her family that she’s not a drifter. Really, the last thing Merry needs right now is a boyfriend – but Shane is a big, big distraction.

If I had to sum up this book in one word, it would be fun. I hadn’t read a romance book for a while and I had forgotten how delightful they are. Sure, there’s arguments and misunderstandings but you know it will work out to be happily ever after. Dahl takes you on a fun ride through Merry’s eyes – not just her time with Shane as she tries to negotiate a ‘friends with benefits’ relationship, but her fight to save a ghost town and avoid her snooty cousin at the same time. Merry is an awesome character – the type I wouldn’t mind having as a friend. She’s honest with a touch of geekiness. This is a girl who likes video games and fantasy/sci-fi. Her feelings were easy to relate to – always the buddy, never the girlfriend.

Shane’s journey in Too Hot to Handle is also multi-dimensional – there is a scene which I found truly moving as his world crashes around him. He’s more introverted with Merry, with quite a bit of baggage. Despite this, Dahl’s writing skilfully turns him into a hero who’s not only lovable, but likeable. When he is with Merry, he blossoms on the page before your eyes – the mood gets lighter as Merry’s quirkiness brings him out of the gloom of his lawsuit.

This is the second book in Dahl’s series about the town of Jackson Hole. I don’t feel you need to read the first one (which centred on Merry’s friend, Grace) to really enjoy this book. I believe that there will be a third book out later this year, focusing on a new character.

Overall, this is a warm and funny romance that I devoured in just a few midweek days. Highly recommended if you’re looking for something to put a smile on your face.

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