Too Hot to Handle
by Victoria Dahl
Book #2 in the Jackson Hole series
Shane Harcourt can't believe that someone wants to turn a beat-up ghost town into a museum attraction. After all, the last thing he needs is the site of his dream ranch turning into a tourist trap. He'll work on the project, if only to hasten its failure...until the beautiful, quirky woman in charge starts to change his mind.
For the first time ever, Merry has a gorgeous stud hot on her heels. But can she trust this strong, silent man, even if he is a force of nature in bed? When Shane's ulterior motives come out, he'll need to prove to Merry that a love like theirs may be too hot to handle, but it's impossible to resist.
Merry Kade has finally nabbed a job that has promise of a future, something she needs to prove to herself and her family. It also lands her in the same town again as her best friend, Grace. She’s the new curator of a ghost town, Providence, that she will need to develop into a museum of sorts. When the board of the Trust that’s funding the project drags their feet in getting started, Merry hires Shane Harcourt, a carpenter and neighbor in her apartment building, to start some of the work so she can give them a vision of what’s possible. Shane is also the best friend of Grace’s boyfriend and she’s not crazy about him getting romantically involved with Merry. He’s not the kind of guy for commitment (more than one date) and Merry’s sweet, trusting and inexperienced.
Merry really is sweet, always looking at the bright side of everything and has a ready smile. There’s a part of you that thinks initially that she’s going to drive you nuts with her optimism but she’s not as naïve as she appears. She’s had a tough life and chooses to live in possibility. When Shane gets involved with her, I cringed because he was hiding a major secret that I knew would hurt and maybe damage her permanently. But, their “relationship” was lots of fun as he was drawn to this woman who was a completely different experience, one that pretty much brought him to his knees. She was looking for an extraordinary sexual experience and Shane delivered. He was just looking for friendship and she delivered that and then some to this jaded man.
When the time of reckoning came, as I knew it would, it was hard for me to hold back the tears. It was as painful as I thought it would be but Merry surprised me. She had a lot more grit and spine than I gave her credit for. And Shane found himself more invested in their relationship than she was. Regaining her trust and friendship became paramount for him.
I really like this series as the characters aren’t traditional and aren’t weighed down too heavily with a lot of baggage but they have some. They are free spirited and the town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming adds a whole new flavor. I had serious issues with Grace in the first story and it was nice to see her with some of that edge tempered. This was a meaty story, with a fun, fairly uncomplicated relationship that had some really hot, steamy moments until it became complicated. Their emotional reactions rang so true, all perfectly and naturally fitting to the situation and the characters. There were moments where I laughed, cried, and got angry, which is more than I expected to find here. I highly recommend the series and especially this story.
(I received an ARC from NetGalley)