Victoria Dahl, author
Rating A-, Hot
Victoria Dahl is a favorite author of mine, and these books are another excellent offering of her work. The Donovan siblings, Tessa age 27, Jamie age 29, and Eric who I believe to be 37 run the Donovan brothers brewery, which was founded by their late father. The parents were killed when Tessa was 13, making that event about 14 years ago. Eric returned to the homestead, and took over the brewery and raising his siblings.
This first book is about Tessa. Eric is negotiating a contract with Roland Kendall, whose wealthy spoiled daughter accompanies him to Boulder for a tour of the brewery. She has a few too many beers, so asks Jaime for a ride home. She hits on him, and they proceed to her apartment where they have sex. In Jaimie’s mind, he feels he did not have sex with her as he did not want to but was forced to by this woman. The same night a robbery goes down at the brewery, and Eric accuses Jamie of not locking up correctly, with Jamie saying he did. Jamie, being the black sheep of the family, is accused of a lot of things, and has earned nothing but distrust from Eric.
Tessa is sure she can fix this, since she is the family peacekeeper. However, she tells so many white lies to cover things up, that she forgets what she told whom. Enter Det. Luke Asher to investigate. Luke was a party boy like Jamie in his younger years. Zing – there is an instant attraction between Tessa and Luke, and the brothers aren’t going to like this at all. They think their little Tessa is sweet and innocent. Haha! Were they ever wrong, as Luke is about to find out.
I really liked Tessa’s role of peace keeper, and thought her character was well drawn out. She is a difficult person, who believes her family will leave her if she screws up any projects at the brewery. The relationship between Tessa and Luke grows, as do the lies she ends up having to tell him. Their liason is hot and intense, given all the emotional baggage these characters carry around with them.
The setting is awesome too, all this taking place in Boulder CO. A secondary mystery is Luke’spartner and her pregnancy. She won’t tell anyone a thing, but one night Luke figured it out. This was one of the more serious parts of the book.
Tessa tells lies, and rationalizes it as keeping her brothers from getting angry, especially Eric. Luke lies by omission and this drives him and Tessa apart.
The story is realistic and believable with a marvelous cast of characters. This was just a fun book that once started was hard to put down. Bravo Victoria Dahl! Moving right on to Jamie’ s story now .
Bad Boys Do, by Victoria Dahl
Rating: A-, Hot
From Tessa’s story, we learn that Jamie is really trying to clean up his act and become the responsible brother Eric and Tessa need him to be. Jamie is enrolling in a class at the college to learn more about the restaurant business. He has his own dreams for the brewery that include more than just being the bar tender. He meets the prim and proper Olivia at the bar, and low and behold, when he shows up for class the next day, she’s the teacher!
Olivia is still reeling from her recent divorce, from a college professor who thought she was boring, and proceeded to have affairs with his students. Jamie asks Olivia out, but since she sees herself as the older woman at age 35, and not fun, she declines. Then there is a faculty party that her x-spouse Victor is sure to attend with his younger girlfriend, so Olivia invites Jamie to escort her to the party. It doesn’t take long for Jamie to come to the conclusion he is being used, to put Victor in his place. So after a heart to heart talk with Olivia, and the outcome is that he will teach her to have fun in return for her advice in starting up his restaurant.
Jamie takes his classes, and meanwhile he and Olivia become quite close. He opens Olivia up to all kinds of different experiences, and Victor can’t stand it. Olivia stands up to Victor, so he does not become a dominate part of the story, but just enough for the reader to always remember he’s just around the corner, if Jamie screws up with Olivia. Olivia does kind of have an age hangup, but it was hard for me to see her as a 35 year old woman, because in some areas of her life she was a bit childish. I do not like cougar stories, but in this book age really was not a factor at all.
Jamie’s happy go lucky exterior hides how he really feels about himself, which is being quite worthless. Brother Eric constantly throws Jamie’s mistakes back at him, which adds to Jamie’s guilt throughout the book. Even Olivia does this, though not as a conscious effort. Jamie is always challenging her to try new things, while Olivia could never define their relationship enough to believe Jamie would be interested in her in the long run. The one thing I did not care for was that Tessa and Eric were not able to see beyond Jamie’s exterior, and all the things he has done on his own, such as his house, yard and gardens, and the time he spent doing those things.
However, through the entire story they grow as a couple and as individuals. In the end, I wanted to stand up and cheer for Team Jamie and Olivia! Honestly, the character growth was amazing. And talk about steam quotient – this book has it in spades. I never thought I would say this, but I can’t wait for Eric’s book and what wringer Victoria Dahl will put him through. Nasty as his character has been through the first two books, Eric’s book should be nothing if not amazing.
Jamie's book was provided by NetGalley for review purposes.