Double Review - Talk Me Down & Start Me Up by Victoria Dahl


Those who recommend romance novels to me (i.e. my mother) have been at me to read Dahl's contemporaries for several months now, since I got back into the Romance Swing. I was in a Historical Romance kick for a while and needed a good contemporary to spice things up, so I finally picked these up. And I am SO glad I did!

Tumble Creek is a little town in rural Colorado where everyone is in everyone's business, few secrets are successfully kept, and you see the same faces every day. Talk Me Down centers around Molly Jennings, who moves back from Denver loaded with secrets and the need for inspiration for her super-sekrit work - she's an erotic fiction writer. She finds it, as she has for years, in her oldest crush, Ben Lawson, now the police chief (fitting name for a police officer, y/y?). Since she's back in Tumble Creek, her fantasy is there in the flesh, not in her dreams, and she can't resist trying to get a little taste. Only he ends up needing more from her than a steamy affair, and her need to keep secrets could ruin everything.

Start Me Up is about Molly's friend, Lori Love, who inherited her father's car shop after a terrible accident, and Molly's brother Quinn, a successful architect. Lori feels stuck in a rut, and fills her nights reading books from Molly's genre of literature. She realizes that she can take some control back in her life if she can fulfill some of her wildest fantasies, and decides it is time to have a crazy sexy affair. Quinn is an old friend, though always absorbed in his work, and has never done well in relationships. Lori offers him sex on a platter and he takes it with glee, not knowing that he would find himself caring way too much about what is supposed to be a casual summer fling.

One of the things I adored about these two novels is that these women are unabashedly horny. They have a sex drive, and they're not afraid to use it. Molly is more outspoken about it, and often says more than she should, but once Lori gets started - whew! It's nice after reading several historicals in a row where women are taught that sex is an uncomfortable "duty" to switch over to novels where a woman's sexuality is celebrated. The most beautiful part is that it is celebrated, but Ben and Quinn don't take advantage.

While I loved both novels, I liked Lori more as a character. Her journey to rediscover herself after sacrificing her dreams for her responsibilities is one I can strongly relate to. I know her. Molly was a bit silly, but not silly in an "I'm going to throw you into the wall" kind of way. More like the friend you have who always gets too tipsy at the bar (or acts like it anyway) and makes you snort Coke out your nose with outrageous comments. But her growth as a character didn't interest me as much, though she was dreadfully amusing in both novels.

I felt the suspense in Talk Me Down was more well-developed and way more exciting. I genuinely feared for Molly. Dahl kindly gave us mind-blowing love scenes followed by fear-inducing stalker scenes so I went from one emotional extreme to another in a heartbeat. Start Me Up's suspense felt almost like excess, except that it was important for Lori and Quinn at a couple of key points.

Overall, these two novels are both HOT. Naughty, delicious, and completely unapologetic. Woo hoo! And Dahl has an incredible sense of humor. There were many laugh-out-loud moments, both in and out of the bedroom. There was a joy in these two couples' stories that touched me, though each couple had their unique qualities and discoveries. I am very excited for Lead Me On next year, the third in the series. :)

For some more of my rambles on these two novels, check out my GoodReads page.

You can check out Victoria Dahl's official website at where you can find snippets from her historical romances (also hot) and The Wicked West, the story written by Molly (aka Holly Summers) in Talk Me Down.

Review - Fool for Love by Eloisa James

Fool for Love Fool for Love by Eloisa James

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Another James that I will re-read, for sure!

The Woman

Lady Henrietta Maclellan longs for the romantic swirl of a London season. But as a rusticating country maiden, she has always kept her sensuous nature firmly under wraps -- until she meets Simon Darby. Simon makes her want to whisper promises late at night, exchange kisses on a balcony, receive illicit love notes. So Henrietta lets her imagination soar and writes...

The Letter

A very steamy love letter that becomes shockingly public. Everyone supposes that he has written it to her, but the truth hardly matters in the face of the scandal to come if they don't marry at once. But nothing has quite prepared Henrietta for the pure sensuality of...

The Man

Simon has vowed he will never turn himself into a fool over a woman. So, while debutantes swoon as he disdainfully strides past the lovely ladies of the ton, he ignores them all... until Henrietta. Could it be possible that he has been the foolish one all along?

Henrietta is a delightful heroine, despite the fact that she is ignorant about matters of making babies. Considering her particular circumstances, and the fact that she is naturally intelligent (helping prepare the school's lessons for the week, etc), I thought she would be the type to find out everything she could about makin' babies and having them, but she stuck to raising them. That was one thing that didn't quite click with me.

Despite all that, I thought Simon and Henrietta were delightful together. Simon is mysterious, full of mischief, and obviously admirable of Henrietta's intelligence. One of the many things I loved about this novel is it was about these two people finding their way to love - no super-sekrit plot, no ex jumping from the shadows. They were very sweet together, and together the two of them have to overcome Henrietta's fears about having children.

Their dialogue is quick and clever, and is the best kind of foreplay! Simon is obviously smitten with Henrietta's intelligent banter, and he never questions it. Henrietta enjoys making him react, and so is encouraged to speak her mind - something I definitely appreciate.

Because this one was so sweet, and I almost never felt any actual danger for either of them, it was an easy read and warmed me down to the tips of my toes. I will definitely re-read this one, especially when I need to connect to a couple that so obviously fits well together.

View all my reviews >>

ETA: I will be seeing Candy from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books today at Bay Books in Concord! So excited!

Sailing new waters..

Since this is a new blog, I thought I'd do a requisite introductory post to give you a little taste of my visions.

I may be small, but I've got GIANT plans...

I have a blog for my knitting projects, ChickyKnits, but I realized that one blog is not sufficient for my many passions. I will shortly be moving closer to Chicago and will have the great opportunity (if I have time while getting my MFA, that is) to see a bunch of amazing theatre. I have also recently started to review the insane number of books I read, which range from Sci-Fi/Fantasy, to Historical Fiction, to Romance, to Biographies. I also have a sweet tooth that likes to rear its ugly head, and when it does I become a baking fanatic. So this my opportunity to take all the ingredients that make up my crazy life and put them into one big pot. You can expect to see all kinds of reviews (theatre, film, television, books, recipes), and see pictures posted of the actual kitchen experiments I take part in.

To give you a taste, here are some photos of some of my baking experiments:

Irish Car Bombs v. 2.0

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes, made for St Paddy's day this year - Chocolate Guinness Cake, Chocolate Whiskey Ganache filling, and Bailey's Swiss Meringue Buttercream.


I often bake for the cast of the show I'm working on, and these were my "Ninecakes" - Black & White was the theme of the first act, so that was the theme for my cupcakes. Simple chocolate minis with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream, but oh so tasty! And they popped easily into mouths backstage!

Thanksgiving 2008

Last year's Thanksgiving cupcakes - Sweet Potato-Pecan cupcakes with Maple buttercream frosting. These were some of my favorites!