Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl

Title: Talk Me Down

Author: Victoria Dahl

© 2009 HQN

Why this book? Dear Author and Smart Bitch Sarah reviewed the book, then ran a contest for it as part of the on-going Save the Contemporary. Since I am always on the look out for straight contemporaries, I picked up a copy on Tuesday. [I confess, I bought something for myself during the holiday season. My excuse is that all gifts were purchased, if not wrapped.]

What about the cover art?
The cover suited the contents. It wasn’t particularly distinctive, but it worked.

What happens with the girl next door isn’t so innocent?

Molly Jennings has one naughty little secret: her job as an bestselling erotic fiction author. Until her inspiration runs dry – thanks to a creepy ex – and it’s time to skip town and move back to tiny Tumble Creek, Colorado.

One look at former high school hunk chief of police Ben Lawson and Molly is back in business. The town gossip is buzzing at her door and, worse still, a stalker seems to be watching her every move. Thankfully, her very own lawman has taken to coming over, often. The only problem now is that Molly may have to let the cat out of the bad about her chosen profession, and straitlaced Ben will definitely not approve . . .

What did I think? As usual, the backblurb bent things a little out of shape. Ben isn’t straitlaced, really, as much as he is averse to being the subject of gossip, due to an ugly family situation that exposed him to gossip in his youth. It is hard to be a public servant in a small town that knows all of your family’s dirty laundry, and he wants to make sure that none of his is ever aired.

The book read very quickly. The prose was engaging and flowed well. The plot moved easily and was never clunky.

There’s still a big “but” coming, though. Molly bothered me. A lot. On one hand, I appreciate a character who feels real and contemporary . Molly is a sexual being and not shy about it. She has a job that she’s good at, in which she has gained success. What’s the problem then? Well, first, the huge secret about her writing got very old, very fast, and felt like a gag left running too long. Her reasons for keeping it secret screamed of shame and embarrassment to me, which was disappointing and not consistent with Molly’s character otherwise, not to mention that it felt dishonest. The attempt to make it about the family pressures just flopped for me. Second, she came across as manipulative — this is a result in part of her Big Mystery, but is also specific to how she interacted with Ben.

I could’ve gotten over both of these characteristics, but the biggest problem was that she was Too Stupid To Live. If you have moved because your stalker ex-boyfriend has made your life miserable and suddenly stalkery things start happening again, wouldn’t you mention the problem to the cop you were dating? Molly blowing her ex off as a risk seemed about as dumb as a scream queen going into the basement to investigate a thumping noise in a slasher movie. TSTL.

Keep or pass on? I might keep my copy for a bit, see if it works better for me upon a second reading. If not, it’ll be passed on.

Would I read this author again? Sure. While Molly grated on my nerves, I liked the author’s voice and style, so I’ll be checking out future releases. I’ll also be checking her website to see what sort of backlist she has, NY-published or e-published.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl

  1. Anonymous

    HEY! HEY! I just read a TSTL heroine in a contemporary too. Maybe the contemporary is dying because the heroines are being winnowed a la Darwinian.
    The other thing I just read in TWO contemporaries (I had a month-long contemporary binge): soppy heroines. Someone makes a passing mention of a dead grandmother or father–a grandmother who kicked it about ten years earlier, a father who died maybe three years earlier–and the heroines have to wipe a tear from their eyes. Sheesh. Sure, a bit of cold sensation in the stomach or maybe even a sigh. But instantaneous crying? Out in a crowded restaurant or somewhere? Come on.

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