Title: Taking the Heat
Series: Jackson: Girls’ Night Out #3
Author: Victoria Dahl
Format: Paperback & eBook, 384 pages
Published: July 28, 2015 by HQN
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Wine Glasses
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
Veronica couldn't wait to escape her small town after years of being bullied in high school but the big city of New York, wasn't all she dreamed it would be. After a couple years she admits defeat and comes back home, to an apartment and job her dad has all arranged for her. Lately, she has felt like she's been taking the saying "fake it until you make it" too far and has lost sight of who she really is. When the hot new librarian in town, Gabe, brings her a desperately needed drink, she starts to think he may be able to fill her other desperate needs, too.
Taking the Heat is third in the Jackson: Girls’ Night Out series and if you have read the other previous books you will remember Veronica; she is befriended by the other heroines of the books and makes fleeting appearances. The hallmark of this series so far has been strong and self-assured women but as Veronica is around ten years younger (27yrs old) than the other women, she hasn't quite had the life experience to gain her confidence and her story deals more with finding her footing in life. Veronica lost her mother when she was younger to cancer and her father was the epitome of gruff, "buck up ", and don't let them know your weaknesses. When her father remarried, her step-brother took out his displeasure on her and verbally and emotionally bullied her at home and school. These instances left scars and has ever since had Veronica doubting her own worth. It takes meeting Gabe and his forthrightness in telling her he likes her wackiness, for her to be able to spread her wings.
Gabe, as I mentioned, is the new librarian in town, he is self-assured, laid-back, and dangerously intrigued by Veronica as he gets to know her better. He also has his own set of family problems, his dad expects him to move back to New York City and run the family business. Gabe feels completely stifled in the city and loves the great outdoors of Jackson, Wyoming where he can indulge in his favorite past time of rock climbing but he feels he owes it to his father, so after this year of freedom in Jackson, he plans on moving back to New York. Gabe and Veronica both have their family issues, which are one of the aspects of Dahl's writing that I love so much, our characters don't exist in a vacuum, and they have layers and depths. The story shows and explains the building bricks of our characters, which creates a richer experience.
Veronica and Gabe have the humorous, witty, sexual banter, and general top notch dialogue that you would expect from a Dahl novel but I did feel they were missing the deeper emotional connection I felt from the previous couples. It's no secret that Dahl's books tend to feature more than the average intimate scene and they way she writes them, I'm definitely not going to complain but in this book, I felt like the focus was too much on this aspect. This could be because I didn’t feel the couple's emotional connection so it started to feel like empty/filler sex scenes. Veronica admits to Gabe she is a virgin and instead of the growing sexual attraction mixed with emotional building up, the focus was a lot on her virginity and losing it instead of their actual joining because of a growing closeness.
Their eventual issues with their perspective families come to ahead and while we don't get direct happily ever afters, you'll feel good about where the characters look to be headed. Gabe and Veronica's relationship issues get wrapped up somewhat easily and again, you'll be left feeling good about where they seem to be headed even if there isn't a nice finished bow on top. Dahl writes some of the best contemporary romance out there right now, I just think compared to the other stories in the series, this one fell a bit short on the emotional connection aspect. However, if you want a heroine learning to accept herself and shine and a bearded good guy librarian who when together make true on their dirty talk, look no further. In fact, go back and read the previous books in the series, Fanning the Flames; Looking For Trouble; and Flirting With Disaster. This series is chalk full of issues that will hit you right in the feels, amazing heroines, and their steamy escapades with their hot heroes.