Taking the Heat is book three in Victoria Dahl’s Jackson: Girl’s Night Out series. The book is Veronica Chandler’s story. Veronica is the local Dear Abby, or Dear Veronica, and is really good at giving advice. The problem with that advice is that when it comes to sexual matters she has no experience. Every time she gets on stage- her bosses idea- to do the local Ask Veronica session, she is sure everyone will discover what a fraud she is. Speaking in public terrifies her and the only thing that gets her through is a lot of alcohol. She has lived with a father who is perpetually disappointed with her and that spills over into every aspect of her life.
Gabe MacKenzie is in town for only one year. He has taken a contract with the local library with plans to bring them into the digital age. That will take him the year and then he will go back to New York City where he will take over the family business from his father. He is worried about his father’s health and the only way to get him to step down is if a family member steps in. New York City makes him very claustrophobic and unhappy but for his father he will do anything. He just wants his one year in Jackson, Wyoming to be free and clear.
Upon first seeing Veronica and learning she has been in New York City, Gabe is not impressed. Women there are not his thing. There is something about Veronica though that makes him think about her. She is different from what he expected. Plus she is very sexy and loves the outdoors. He only has a short time to be there so getting into a relationship is off limits but what about a short fling with a very appealing woman?
At one of her Ask Veronica nights, Veronica drinks a little too much and spills her guts to Gabe. Now he knows her secret and she is completely mortified. Gabe is the opposite and offers to help with her problem. Because they fit so well, Veronica easily takes him up on the offer. What starts as a educational fling quickly develops into more. Gabe knows the score, he knows he will be going back to New York but he hasn’t figured out a way to tell Veronica. Part of him doesn’t want to tell her because he is afraid she will fear getting to close and call it off. He should tell and plans on it right up to the moment when he gets the phone call from home telling him his father is sick and he needs to leave.
Before he leaves, he has to tell Veronica he likely won’t be coming back. Veronica is extremely hurt and cuts off contact. She will not go back to New York and she will not be the woman to make him choose between him and family. Both Gabe and Veronica are in deep with no clear way to be together. Will they figure out a way compromise or will they just go their separate ways?
First of all, Gabe, our hero, is a librarian!! How freaking sexy is that??! Second, this book is just plain hot. Gabe and Veronica have such intense chemistry it was rolling off the pages. They are both such likable characters, it is easy to see them together. I wasn’t sure how they were going to get around Gabe needing to be back in New York to run his family business but I was pleasantly surprised with how it played out. It was done very well and made sense for both parties. One person didn’t have to be something they weren’t in order for the other to be happy.
I don’t think there was a thing I would change about this book. It is one of the best contemporary romances I have read this year. After I was finished I even went on a Victoria Dahl binge! Final grade- A-
“Benton, it’s a library, not a preschool.”
“Same thing, right?”
Gabe was used to this, but he still rolled his eyes. “I don’t run the kids’ section. Come on.”
Benton shrugged. “All right. Since you’re in the adult section, any sexy librarians I should be aware of?”
“Yeah,” Gabe said, slipping on his pack. “Me.”
“Tempting,” Benton countered. “But I’m gonna need you to take the lead next time so I can get a better look at that ass.”
“I’ll wear running shorts,” he promised, prompting Benton to groan.
“Now I’ll never get that image out of my head.”
Gabe grinned. “I like that you pretend it’s awful. That’s cute.”
“Good Christ, man,” Benton muttered. “Your hairy fucking thighs.”