REVIEW THREE-FER: Talk Me Down, Start Me Up & Lead Me On

Hey, everyone! I’m missed yapping at/with you via my place on the humongoid interwebs! It’s been a little overwhelming lately at work, where I work all day in a creative field in front of a computer. Those of you that work any kind of computer-related job know what I mean when I say I just didn’t want to come home and work on the computer yet more hours. I also was busy planning kidlet’s seventh birthday festivities, which went great. Her first party with other kids besides her cousin. It was about time she had a real party. And now that it’s past I can spare some brain cells for this place. Maybe. We’ll see if any of this makes sense when I’m reviewing something months after I read it.

What that does that have to do with these mini-ish reviews? Well,I follow Dahl on Twitter and have always enjoyed her humor. It is at times raunchy, refreshing at others, brutal and up front and other times it’s all of that put together. I knew one day I’d need to settle down with some of her books and – preview – I’m glad I did.

Blurb via Goodreads:

Molly Jennings has one naughty little secret: her job as a bestselling erotic fiction author. Until her inspiration runs dry—thanks to a creepy ex—and it’s time to skip town and move back to tiny Tumble Creek, Colorado.

One look at former high school hunk chief of police Ben Lawson and Molly is back in business. The town gossip is buzzing at her door and, worse still, a stalker seems to be watching her every move. Thankfully, her very own lawman has taken to coming over, often. The only problem now is that Molly may have to let the cat out of the bag about her chosen profession, and straitlaced Ben will definitely not approve.…

OK, I’m going to try to make my thoughts on this series fast and dirty. This is new for me…can I not ramble on incessantly and just get to the point? Yup.

This is probably my most favorite of the three books. Molly is an absolutely hilarious character; she just got one of those crazy-funny personalities I appreciate in contemporary romance heroines, yet she doesn’t come off as immature. At first her chosen secret career as an erotic romance writer via a pen name felt a little too convenient a choice for Molly, but Dahl does go on to incorporate it nicely into not only Molly’s character arc, but that of the plot and also Molly and Ben’s relationship. I loved how dedicated to the law Ben is, making him a bit of a stiff, standoff-ish guy when it comes to Molly, and it’s sexy and fun to watch her break down his resolve to keep their relationship on the more friendly side.

The plot in this one is a little thin, though it’s worked in well for what it is. I read somewhere not long ago, a reader opinion that not every contemp romance needs some kind of suspense plot, and I agree. But most I’ve read haven’t had one, so this was at least a little bit of a change for me and I didn’t mind it too much when I began to see the clear writing on the wall as to who the person stalking Molly was.

Despite the easy plot mystery, this was a very enjoyable book. I got pretty much what I wanted from it: great characters, great characters with plenty of sexy sparks flying and lots of hot lovin’ as a result. Dahl’s humor was immensely appreciated and Talk Me Down turned out to be a perfect escape read.

Rating: Four and a Half Scoops

Blurb via Amazon:

Lori had always planned to get out of tiny Tumble Creek, Colorado, but when her late dad left her his beloved auto body shop, she’d stayed. Now, according to her crazy best friend, Molly, what Lori needs is some excitement, in the form of hot, no-strings-attached sex…and lots of it.

Quinn Jennings has buildings on the brain—not love and romance. A serious architect, he’s delighted to discover that Lori is willing to skip dating protocols and head straight for the sheets. And aided by the steamy books on Lori’s bedside table, he’s busy indulging both of their wildest fantasies. But when life in Tumble Creek takes a dangerous turn for Lori, Quinn’s protective instincts kick in.

Suddenly he cares. More than either of them ever expected….

OK, so I admit this one had me at “hot, no-strings-attached sex”. I make no paltry attempts at denial – I enjoy reading some sexy contemporary romance. Dahl proved to me she’s got this down with Talk Me Down. She continues her sexy streak in Start Me Up pretty well. I had to be a little more convinced of Quinn as a hero. He’s Molly’s brother and Lori is her best friend, and Lori eventually succumbs to her wild friend’s suggestion of a hookup. Quinn is such a workaholic. While I thought my husband was bad at this, Quinn takes the cake. He’s forgetful to the point of seeming uncaring. But when he does begin to awaken to what’s been right under his ose all along – rowwwrr.

The problems of the heroines get progressively more serious in tone as we go down the series. While someone trying to kill Molly is of course serious, her lighthearted humor kept the tone of that book from dragging down. Lori’s problems, however, feel much more pervasive in Start Me Up. They kind of take over a lot of the book, which is good for the plot (felt like more of one this time), but I found myself wishing for the lighter feel of the first book. I sympathized with Lori, and it’s usually refreshing to sometimes see the heroine resisting the sexy guy, but after a while Lori’s personal life felt a little too heavy.This isn’t the story’s fault, more just not what I was looking for after a lighter first in the series.

Again, though, this book brings the sexy times quite nicely. Lori and Quinn have an intensely smoking hot relationship and I was happy how it all resolved in the end. Another great set of characters that awaken to each other nicely.

Rating: Four Scoops

Blurb via Goodreads:

Raw, animal magnetism…

…is a big red flag to prim and proper office manager Jane Morgan. After a rough childhood with a mother who liked her men in prison-jumpsuit orange, Jane changed her name, her look and her taste for bad boys. So why is she lusting for William Chase with his tattoo-covered biceps and steel-toed boots? The man blows things up for a living

She gives herself one explosive, fantasy-filled night with Chase. The next day it’s back to plain Jane and safe men.

But when her beloved brother becomes a murder suspect, it’s Chase who comes to her rescue. And Jane discovers that a man who’s been around the block knows a thing or two about uncovering the truth….

This was my least favorite of the three, and it has mostly to do with the heroine, Jane. We meet Jane in the previous books and when I realized she would likely be in her own book, I really thought I’d like her more than I did. Like Lori in a sense, she has some really heavy issues to overcome. I wanted to sympathize with her as much as I did Lori, but I found Jane to be hypocritical and her choice in judging people galling at best, given her circumstances. It felt like she used her past too much like a crutch, knowing her faults yet refusing to face them really. And then when she treats the hero, Chase, as she does, I was fuming.

Chase is one of the quintessential hero types of contemporary romance. He’s heavily muscled (rowwrr), tattooed (rowwrr), a blue-collar worker in construction and he’s got this heart of pure gold. His looks lend him a disservice with Jane, who immediately, to my utter flabbergasted disbelief, treats him like a leper, unworthy of her notice. She judges him, and this was so galling when she is herself terrified of being judged for her sordid past (which wasn’t as big a deal to me when reading; her insistent use of it as an excuse got so old). Chase is at least admirable for seeing right through Jane and holding out till she comes to realize what he means to her.

Lead Me On has its own generous share of the sexy, but after a while with Jane’s continued hypocrisy, I felt like I couldn’t enjoy the romance and sex in this one as much as the previous two and I really slogged through it all trying to get past that but was unable to in the end. I felt like, even in the end still, like Jane didn’t really deserve Chase. This was very different for me because usually I sympathize more with the heroine than the hero, but this time Chase gets all my support.

Rating: Two and a Half Scoops

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  1. Yesss, I love Dahl (although I’m more a fan of her historicals). I’m actually pretty nervous about Molly and reading her book because she drove me INSANE IN THE MEMBRANE while reading START ME UP. But it’s still on the TBR.

    • I’m hoping to try some of her historicals next. I’ll have to hop over to your blog to see what you’ve enjoyed!

  2. I’ve only read Lead Me On (not sure why since I love this author) but I loved that book. Maybe because I had not met Jane previously? I liked her – and I loved loved loved Chase.

    I really need to go back and read the first two!

    • I felt like I was giving Jane a little bit of a hard time while reading the book, but the more she made a big deal out of her problems the less I could sympathize. She drove me crazy lol! Not that her issues weren’t heavy they were, but she also seemed to just make it all seem more problematic in her own mind than it all actually was.

      Chase, hmmmm, totally lickable lol.

  3. “Raw, animal magnetism…”

    Hmm…Why do I always think of Barrons whenever I see this line anywhere? -checks Barrons Memory Bank- Oh right! ~faints~

    Glad to see you liked 2 out of 3 books in this series. Anyway, maybe I’ll read this later this week. I remember trying to read the first book and it did not pique my interest, then again I think my timing was just off.

  4. I loved the first two and the third book left me meh… I was frustrated she couldn’t get over the tats.

    I do love her twitter; she really is funny. I read and enjoyed her series about the brewery. Haven’t read any of her historicals yet but I plan to.

    • Yes! Jane’s hangups about Chase were so unfair. He was such a nice guy, tats and all.

  5. I really liked this trilogy – there’s just something about fantastic girlfriend dialog that will completely hook me. I liked Molly the best too.

    Did you find Dahl’s erotic historical short that was supposed to be by “Molly” ? It’s, um, pretty awesome. If you like that sort of thing of course. ;-)

    • “Did you find Dahl’s erotic historical short that was supposed to be by “Molly” ?”

      Nooooo….but I will be finding it now ASAP. :D Thanks!

  6. Oh, I’ve enjoyed the Dahl contemporaries I’ve read. BUT, I haven’t read this trilogy, although I have Talk Me Down in my TBB (wish list). Thanks for the great Minis. :D

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