Sunday, January 11, 2009

Recent Read

Book 4 of 2009

Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl

Why this one: I’ve seen good buzz on it and it’s a contemporary and I want to help the cause for this genre.

Steam Level: This’ll burn your tongue if you aren’t careful!!

Amazon Blurb: Molly Jenkins has one naughty little secret: her job as a 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 bag about her chosen profession, and straitlaced Ben will definitely not approve.…

My Thoughts: This one has been getting good buzz and I can see why. It’s immensely readable; it took me no time to get through it. It has a Great hero – I adored Ben. He was macho with soft edges. He was Very Sexy!! Yummers. He wore a cowboy hat – any hero gets bonus points for that. It’s a great story line – friends turned lovers. The writing is excellent and it had me smiling in more then one place.

And I really do hate to go on because one would think that I too, am going to give this one high marks. Sadly – oh so sadly I’m not. I go into each book wanting to love it. I mean I pay good money for books and who does that wanting the book to be found lacking? Not me. But I had SERIOUS issues with Molly, the heroine.

Although I love a good hero, it’s the heroine who makes or breaks the book for me and *heavy sigh* Molly broke this one. After I finished it, I went looking for other’s opinions and there was an interesting discussion concerning Molly at Dear Author. It appears that some of the low grades for this book at other places may have been because Molly is quite open and honest about her sexuality and the thought is this turns some readers off. Not so for me. Although at moments, Kristie, my middle-aged self thinks she’s a bit too strong in what she wants, Krisite – my much younger alter ego was thinking ‘We are women, hear us roar! We are going after what we want ‘cause we aren’t middle aged women”

(You can see the two of us have a lot of differences, but Krisite always wins out in these mind battles and I agree – she should!)

So that wasn’t the issue I had with the heroine. Nope – it was that I found her to be a self-centered young woman who put her own needs ahead of Ben’s time and time again without giving his feelings so much as a thought. Ben’s feelings? P’ffffttt – what do they matter to Molly as long as she get’s what SHE wants? She keeps secrets from Ben – for the flimsiest of reasons. She plays with him – just for the heck of it. And by playing with him, I don’t mean in a sexual way – though she does that too – and I like that part of it. I wouldn’t mind a bit of sexual play myself. No – I mean she keeps from telling him things just to mess with him ‘cause it’s fun to her. For example, she gets a nasty note pinned to her door. Now by this time Ben knows that there are strange things going on. So she goes to see him and then at the end of the conversation she just kind of lets slip, ‘oh, by the way, someone stuck a hate letter to the front of my door.’

She has an ex-boyfriend that’s stalking her. Does she tell Ben? Of course not. Instead it’s all about her and how she thinks he will react. She doesn’t have enough respect for him to be honest despite knowing him most of her life. So instead of leveling with Ben and saying ‘look, this is what’s going on and this is what’s happened in the past’, she just ignores the situation until the ex shows up in town and Molly, in order to defend herself against something really indefensible, feels the need to tell everyone within hearing distance, about her and Ben’s sex life, in explicit detail, because she’s upset about a situation that she created in the first place. And then she goes on to tell about a trashy episode she had with said stalker after she broke it off with him. In front of all Ben’s coworkers. Yep – if I were a guy, that’s just what I’d want my girlfriend to shout to my co-workers. Yikes! What a self-centered little witch. She knows Ben has issues about privacy because years ago, he was humiliated by the fall-out of his father’s indiscretions. But does Molly care about this?? No, of course she doesn’t because in her universe, she’s the only one who really matters –not those around her.

Honestly, there were times when I was reading this book I picked it up and slammed it down on the counter and thought enough!! I just can’t read another word about this childish, self-centered woman.

If she had shown any signs of maturing at all, I might be a bit more lenient – but she doesn’t. Instead right near the end, when all has been exposed; what she does, what she’s done, and it involves Ben, wonderful, adorable Ben, he is Very Angry with her – with due cause. So – does she wait until he has some time to figure things out? To forgive her? Of course not. ‘Cause it’s all about her don’t you know. Instead, she tries to make him jealous by seeing other guys. At one point she says to a friend, ‘I can take it back to junior high as easily as he can.”

Uh, no. First of all, he’s not getting junior high. He’s taking time to work out his feelings of betrayal of the deepest kind. And second, it’s not junior high on her part – its kindergarten!!

Often readers wonder about a HEA for the couple after the book is over. I never do. I just assume it’s a given. But for the first time in longer than I can recall, I doubt a HEA for this couple. Once Ben get’s past his stimulated hormones, I think he will sit up and notice what Molly is really like; a liar, immature, self-centered and not even close to being worthy of someone like him.

Now – if you’ve made it this far, I want anyone reading to do something unusual. Forget what you just read. If you were planning on getting this book still go ahead and get it. Because it truly does have some excellent things going for it. Ben, Ben, Ben, Ben – what a great hero he is; serious but with a wicked sense of humour. The dialogue was snappy and when I didn’t have my hate on for Molly, I was laughing. She really had some funny moments. I can totally see why this one is getting good buzz. I’d be rating it very high myself if it wasn’t that this kind of heroine really hit’s a hot button. And very probably a lot of readers will have a totally different take on her then I do.

In order to give this one a fair representation, I hunted down a number of reviews

Kati of Adventures in Katidom - C-

Romance Novel TV - Andrea Williamson - 4.5 (out of 5)

SB - Sarah - B+

Dear Author - Jane - B+

The Romance Reader - Mary Benn - 4 *'s (out of 5)

AAR - Ellen Micheletti - D

*delaying tactics*

So you can see, there is a wide range of opinions on this book which is why I say to give it a try.

Now for the grade. This is the toughest one I've done in a LOOOONG time. Ben gets a 5 out of 5. The storyline a 5. The writing a 5. But I just can't get past how much I disliked Molly. Again I have to emphasize it's not because of her love of sex. It's....her.


*still thinking*

This is really tough!!

Grade: 2.5 out of 5

I WELCOME any one who's read this one and wants to disagree with me on Molly because I'd love to be turned around and rate this one higher!


jmc said...

I agree with you about Molly -- she killed this book for me. I've kept the book, rather than trading it, and will give it another try. But I don't have high hopes.

Lea said...

Hi Kristie:

I've never heard of this book, and thank you for the review.

I won't be reading this one, I think we have similar taste in books from what I've read on your site and I can't afford Molly. I hate books where I feel like ripping pages out in frustration.

Great Review
Thanks again

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

I keep hearing how great the book is overall but the main issue is the heroine. Molly doesn't seem to be a nice person overall.

Kristie (J) said...

Katie: That's part of the frustrating part of this book. She IS a nice person as long as she's getting what she wants. She's funny and she makes a great friend for a secondary character. It's the way she treats Ben that makes me so mad at her. Even though she's AWARE of his feelings, it's as if they dont' matter to her at all as long as she gets what she wants. I'd be curious if a hero were to treat a heroine the same way, whether we would think him hero material. I'm thinking not. And if she changed or grew even, I'd be willing to give her credit - but she doesn't.

Lea: *chuckle* I'm not giving this one a thumbs down 'cause it does have a lot going for it. This is one of the toughest reviews I've done!!!! And I was going to say if it didn't, I would have thrown it out the door into a snowbank, then put on my boots and followed outside and stomped on it. But I couldn't do that. Even as I was hitting the counter with it, I had to stop and keep reading 'cause parts of it are that good!

JMC: Yep - I know EXACTLY how you feel!! That's why I hope someone can make me see Molly in a different light - but I don't know if they can.

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

So Molly acts like a bratty 13 year old most of the time?
I also find it silly that her big secret is the fact that she writes erotica. Why is she so ashamed?

Kristie (J) said...


I have no idea!! I think part of it is just a game with her. She feels like an under achiever against her older over achiever brother, who by the way is a hoot even though we only 'meet' him over the phone. Once Ben gets past his anger, even he agrees she's a good writer and he reads her books and sees how she gets better with each one (which makes her game to make him jealous so childish - he was getting there)- so if she had been honest with him in the beginning, he would have been angry with her over her first book, which was about him - but it wouldn't have come out for the whole town to know - you see she uses a pseudonym - it would have just been between them, and I'm sure he would have loved to have helped her in 'research' *evil grin* - but because she loved to play games - everyone in town found out and Ben once again became the topic of gossip, something that had bothered him greatly when he was younger.

Kati said...


I'll just be sitting over here with you, Kristie. :grin:

Kristie (J) said...

Kati: *laughing* After reading your review, I thought you might. I think this one has a very good chance of biggest disappointment of the year for what it COULD have been if the author had reworked Molly a bit - without taking away any of her love for good sex ;-)

Brie said...

I was in the bookstore contemplating buying this book today, I am so glad that I didn't now. I wouldn't have been able to stand a heroine like that. Just no way.

Ana T. said...

Hi KristieJ, I just left you an award on my blog :-)

Barbara said...

Wow, it's so funny how widely everyone's opinion varies. I've seen this book a few times at the store. I'm still trying to warm up to Contemporaries. I've been reading historicals for so long. It's what I know and what I know I love.

I even joined a Contemporary reading challenge to get me motivated, so maybe I'll pick this one up.

Thanks for the review, Kristie :)

Seneca said...

Oh wow, what a wide range of reviews for this book. I have got to pick this one up!

It's sad when a sucky heroine ruins a book. A really, really good author can think up a horrible heroine but still write am amazing book. Think Judith McNaught's A kingdom of Dreams. GREAT book- but I wanted to kill the heroine.
It doesn't sound like Ms. Dahl can pull off that type of magic in with her writing yet.

sybil said...

LOL kristie vs krisite


first you are a doll because you so want to like it didn't you

I adore the author but honestly couldn't make it through the first pages of the book and knew from the back it wasn't for me. At the same time was pretty sure I had a reviewer who is going to adore it once she gets a chance to read it.

Tis with her now I think.

Some books work for some others don't I tis nothing but a thing. Don't beat yourself up over it.

nath said...

This is a bummer, because I really liked the synopsis of the book LOL :) Ah well, it's already at home... I'll read it eventually :)

PeggyP said...

Oh my, I was up until 12:30a last night reading this and... I liked it, I really did. I wasn't put off by Molly, we get alot of her internal dialogue and rationalizations for her actions, that was good enough for me. She's goofy but not mean or vindictive, she's not hateful towards Ben. I really hadn't given her another thought until I read your review.

I took this story for what it was - a light, steamy romance. It entertained me for a few hours and, to tell the truth, that's all I was expecting. Hmmmm, when I'm reading this type story - I'm just along for the ride and "in" the story for that time, not much thinking involved, just on auto-pilot.

I thought it was good entertainment, well-written, a good pace and a little twist to a seemingly predictable story with an A1 hero. I recommended it today to a co-worker and gave it a B+.

Ah, variety (and opinions) it's what makes life interesting.

M. said...

haven't read this so I've no clue how I'd feel about it -
but it seems kind of remarkable that people who don't like the book, or parts of the book, feel compelled to make clear that it's about the heroine's personality instead of her behavior. I read the review at AAR that was described, i think, as 'non-sex-friendly' but the impression I had of it was similar to yours - that the reviewer didn't like the heroine's personality.

Still, I guess any kind of buzz is good buzz for an author. There sure is a lot of interest in this title.

Kristie (J) said...

Brie: The thing is - I think readers should read this one - unless the heroine is the big thing - because a lot of readers love it - and I can totally see why!

Ana T: ((hugs)) Thanks You!! *blushing*

Barbara: It is curious on this one. And I really wanted to be fair and that's why I included others opinions - cause when I was writing up my thoughts, I kept thinking 'this is just me.'

Seneca: I really encourage you to do that!! 'Cause others have loved this one and I think it's one you have to decide on your own and not really rely on others

Sybil: *laughing* Oh they are constantly at odds with each other. Thanfully Krisite, being the stronger of the two, usually wins ;-)
I haven't had this strong a negative reaction to a heroine since Meg in The Defiant Hero and I haven't read a Suzanne Brockman since!! I don't want this to happen with TMD - 'cause it did have quite a bit I loved about it. I'm glad you found a reviewer who will find this one right up their alley - cause I think it will be right up quite a few people's alley. And Ben really IS a great hero!!

Nath: And if you have it read it!! And then I'd love to see what you think of it - if the same things bug you that bugged me. 'Cause if they don't - you could really enjoy it :)

PeggyP: I'm glad you posted! See - yours is the other side of the coin and I think this books needs both. She isn't cruel to Ben - but for me, she just doesn't really acknowledge his feelings. But other readers - such as yourself *g* - don't see it the same way. And I'm glad 'cause that way you enjoyed the whole book. And it is very readable isn't it? I'll agree with you on that one 100%! And a very readable book is always a good thing.

M: From all the reviews I've seen - good and bad - it seems it's the character of Molly that gives them issues. I think it's the level of HOW much readers have issues with her that. I do disagree with the AAR review though on the character of Ben. I ADORED him while the reviewer thought he was average.

Holly said...

Ok, I'm about 1/2-2/3 of the way through this book right now and I have to say - I'm furious at Molly.

I really like her character. I think she's fun and interesting and has a great sense of humor. The problem? I also think she's sliding - very quickly - into TSTLville.


The thing is, I'm not really annoyed with her about keeping her writing a secret. I keep reading all these reviews where people are outraged that she won't tell Ben what she does. But I completely understand. First of all, she admitted in the beginning that her first book is 100% about Ben and he's 100% recognizable. Dude, if that was me? No way in heck would I want him to know about it! How embarrassing. Or my parents reading it and knowing? Or my brother? EEP! It's not about her being ashamed about what she does, because it doesn't read that way to me.

Also, I think she's gotten so used to NOT telling it's become second nature to her. Plus, I think the silly, fun side of her likes keeping the mystery of it.

So that part is fine. What isn't fine is why she refuses to tell Ben about her ex. And even more, why she lied about him and keeps lying about him. That just makes me angry. She's being stalked and suspects it's her ex, but won't tell the chief of police about it?

Her "excuse" for it - that her ex has seduced all her other potentials away from her - is just ridiculous and limp. I think it's dumb.

I'm hoping I feel differently by the end of this book, but I had to set it aside for a bit before I continued.

Kristie (J) said...

Holly: LOL - that's where I really started loosing it with her too! Up until then I thought she was a bit self-centered, but she hadn't 'broke' the book yet as a character. But it was around this point the cracks started to really appear - and it doesn't sound like you've quite reached the point where the book slammed that counter for me. But after she broke - all the previous things she did really irked me. It was a cumulative number of things for me.

Casee said...

Great review, Kristie. I found myself nodding while reading your thoughts on Molly. I wanted to like her, I really did. But she made it oh-so hard.

Anonymous said...

I had read it because I have missed reading contemparary romances and I had only seen the good reviews.

I was so disappointed. I don't mind out there scenarios but I could not handle her lack of "common sense".

I also thought some of the erotic scenes started to take away from the story.

Sorry I cannot stand up for Molly.