Series: Jackson Hole series, #3
Format: eBook via Netgalley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Harlequin HQN (September 24, 2013)
Tough to tame, but not too tough to love...
Charlie Allington is supposed to be on the fast track to the top—a small-town girl who was making it big in her career. Instead, she's reeling from a scandal that's pretty much burned all her bridges. Now, out of options, she needs a place to lick her wounds and figure out her future. True, working at a ski resort in rugged Jackson Hole, Wyoming, isn't her dream job. But if there's one perk to coming back, it's a certain sexy hometown boy who knows how to make a girl feel welcome.
Cowboy Walker Pearce never expected a grown-up Charlie to be temptation in tight jeans. She's smart and successful—way out of league for a man like him. But he's not about to let that, or his secrets, get in the way of their blazing-hot attraction. Yet when passion turns to something more, will the truth—about both of them—send her out of his life for good…or into his arms forever?
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Other Books in Series:
When I requested this book, I had no idea that it was part of a series. Or what it was about, really; what caught my attention was the author. I've read one of Dahl's other novels, so I knew that her writing style and I would get along really well. Even after I requested it, I didn't look up any information on it, not even the synopsis, so I went into this reading blind.
And let me start this review by saying: hot damn.
Charlie Allington returns to Jackson Hole, Wyoming after losing her job under rather scandalous circumstances. Walker Pearce is a cowboy that figures he's not meant for anything more than rounding up cattle and driving the herds. When Charlie moves back into town, Walker is enlisted to help convince his grouchy landlady, Rayleen, to allow a woman to live in one of the apartments in her Stud Farm complex (Rayleen likes to keep hot male eye candy in her apartments, and I can't really blame her). Charlie had been Walker's friend and tutor in high school, the good girl contrast to his bad boy, so when he sees her again and discovers that she's not quite as straight-laced as he remembers, his interest is piqued.
More than anything, Charlie is the one who does the pursuing. Walker is attracted to her, but Charlie is the one that goes after him. She sets the limits in their first encounter--though Walker later notes that her definition of making out is definitely one he can get behind. And while she leaves him rather uncertain at first, Charlie is quick to define what is going on between them. Her belief is that Walker is a cowboy who likes his freedom, who would resent being pinned down. Not wanting him to think that she was trying to lay claim on him, she repeats often throughout the book that they are not boyfriend and girlfriend, merely having fun (though exclusive fun).
Remember that phrase, "when you assume, you make an ass out of u and me?" Relevant!
The main forces that kept these two from coming completely together were their own preconceived notions about one another. Charlie believed that Walker didn't want to be tied to one woman; Walker felt certain that Charlie viewed him as a good roll in the hay, some fun between the sheets, and nothing else. This is apparently a refrain he often hears, and Charlie plays into this by often telling him that what they have is just a good time, nothing serious.
There were quite a few moments in this book where I wanted to shake both characters and yell at them to just be honest and damn the consequences. Their reticence, their secrets, are the obstacles that they have to overcome, and while they ultimately do, it's an oftentimes frustrating experience, watching them so often misconstrue one another. If they'd stopped figuring that they knew what the other was thinking and just asked, some of their hurt feelings could have been spared.
But while this might seem like a negative--and for some readers it might be--for me it was just evidence of Dahl's wonderful character building. This is precisely what real people would do; they assume, they keep secrets, they play things carefully. And these two characters did precisely that, for their own reasons, and personally, watching them work through their issues and come together was made all the sweeter by seeing it happen.
As a reader I was slightly annoyed when Dahl would hint at backstory and secrets but not immediately reveal, but this was more a matter of my own impatience than anything else. (And it certainly ensured I kept reading!)
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The characters had great chemistry, the side characters and plots were enjoyable, and the sex scenes…woo. Very hot.
"Oh yeah? God. Teenage boys are such an untapped source of generosity."
"Especially in the 'I'll let you put your mouth around my penis' area of community service."
Reviews for other books in series:
Close Enough To Touch (Book #1)