From the BLURB:
Lori had always planned to get out of tiny Tumble Creek, Colorado, but when her late dad left her his beloved auto body shop, she'd stayed. Now, according to her crazy best friend, Molly, what Lori needs is some excitement, in the form of hot, no-strings-attached sex.and lots of it.
Quinn Jennings has buildings on the brain - not love and romance. A serious architect, he's delighted to discover that Lori is willing to skip dating protocols and head straight for the sheets. And aided by the steamy books on Lori's bedside table, he's busy indulging both of their wildest fantasies. But when life in Tumble Creek takes a dangerous turn for Lori, Quinn's protective instincts kick in.
Suddenly he cares. More than either of them ever expected…
I loved this book. I adore the ‘Tumble Creek’ series and I’m pretty sure I have a girl-crush on Victoria Dahl.
‘Start me up’ focuses on Lori Love, a character introduced as the heroine’s best friend in book #1 ‘Talk me down’. I really liked Lori, mostly because Dahl had me sympathizing with her from the get-go. Lori’s been dealt a bad lot in life – she was all set to escape Tumble Creek and take up an international college scholarship when her father was severely injured in a bar fight and she was forced to care for him. Then he died, and she inherited his mechanics garage and started working there to pay off all the hospital bills. Pretty soon 10 years had flown by and Lori found her life stagnating.
Even though it’s quite a sob story, I never pitied Lori. She’s a fiery, independent woman and not at all prone to ‘woe is me’ syndrome. I also really liked her interactions with Molly (heroine from ‘Talk me down’) – these two are kind of a laugh-riot and I want to be fictional best friends with them!
Dahl has written a fantastic hero for Lori’s feisty lady-mechanic in Quinn Jennings. Quinn is a bit of a beta hero. He’s definitely not like Alpha-male Ben from ‘Talk me down’ – instead Quinn is a little bit serious, nerdy and a self-professed ‘dork’. He gets plenty of female attention, but his work commitments translate to aloofness in relationships and he’s never been with one woman for very long. In his fling with Lori he explores another side of himself, taking on the role of dominant in Lori’s ‘tie me up, tie me down’ fantasies. It’s a nice switch-up – from seeing Quinn’s sweet dorkiness in social situations, to witnessing a bedroom transformation. As Quinn describes it at one point after a bedroom romp with Lori;
“I was a fucking sex ninja.”
One of the reasons I am enjoying Dahl’s contemporary romance series so much is the fantastic writing. She writes dialogue beautifully, as evidenced by the sharp rhetoric between Lori and Molly. But she also just writes vividly and beautifully, and some of her passages really grab me;
Lori was scared. She’d been scared for years, ever since her father’s injury. Little bits of her courage were scattered across the country. Some of it in Boston where she’d received the phone call. Some of it floating high in the sky in the trail of the plane that had flown her home. But most of it had fallen away in Grand Valley in the hospital where she’d spent weeks by her dad’s side.
Just as in ‘Talk me down’; ‘Start me up’ has a mystery plot running alongside the romance. Dahl once again does a masterful job of balancing out romance, smut and mystery so that while you’re invested in Lori and Quinn, you’re also keen to know the whodunit plot. She never lets the mystery overtake the romance, but keeps it interesting enough that you do care about the outcome.
And once again she writes impressive smut. In this book there is tame bondage play as Lori explores her sexuality – it is very tasteful smut, but hot nonetheless.
I love, love, love this series. Thanks again to Patti from ‘book addict’ for introducing me to Ms. Dahl.