Talk Me Down

Start Me Up by Victoria Dahl
(HQN, $7.99, R) ISBN 978-0-373-77390-9
Start Me Up is an extremely sexy, well- written modern love story with realistic characters. I appreciated their real-life problems and reactions. Life isn’t perfect in Tumbler Creek.

Lori Love, girl mechanic of Tumbler Creek, is looking for a no-strings affair to get her through the summer. She left Tumbler Creek ten years earlier, thinking that her dad, his garage and her old friends would stay the same while she studied international business and traveled the world. Instead, she had to return home swiftly to care for her sick father, which led to a mountain of medical bills and his sudden death. Now, Lori has a pile of debt, an ugly bachelor’s house, a broken down garage and a room full of travel posters. She’s lost her way and doesn’t know how to take everyone in town telling her she doesn’t belong, that she should move on.

Quinn Jennings is a successful architect, so into his career that he often forgets dates or even to eat. He’s the brother of Lori’s best friend, Molly, and he’s in Tumbler Creek for the summer to build his dream house by the mountains.

Quinn and Lori run into each other, and quickly fall into the steamy affair that Lori’s been searching for. While Lori tries to keep their relationship light, Quinn quickly realizes that his feelings for Lori run pretty deep, especially when a series of awful coincidences add up to Lori’s life falling apart even more. He wants to protect Lori, care for her, but she’s having none of it.

When Quinn counsels Lori that she should go find her lost dreams, she’s had enough. She won’t leave the only home she’s ever had to go off in search of something she’s not sure of anymore…Lori’s afraid of her old dreams, and of figuring out who she is now.

Start Me Up has a lot of chemistry, loads of charm and plenty of laughs. Quinn and Lori’s love affair works from the beginning because their old friendship morphs into something much hotter very naturally. It seems that they have a spark that’s just been waiting to be ignited.  The most interesting thing about this love story is that the reader gets to read both character’s reactions throughout the events. Quinn becomes much more than a two dimensional hero through his honest thought process. His ability to openly care for Lori through her trials, unafraid of what others say, is endearing. Quinn’s sexy, dominating side in the bedroom is equally unexpected.  What woman wouldn’t want a smoldering, loving man?

But Lori isn’t sure that she wants him. The depth of emotion that Quinn offers is not what she was looking for. Lori’s desire for independence and happiness of her own choosing are understandable. It’s easy for the reader to sympathize with her plight as she struggles to make some really major decisions while it seems that everything in her life is going wrong.

The background story of Lori’s father’s death, and the mysterious land he left as her inheritance are floated into the story as a secondary plot. The sad truths that Lori discovers only add to her already complicated life. I found that part of the story to be a little extraneous, almost a bit of fluff to lengthen out the plot of Quinn and Lori’s affair, but it was heart-wrenching just the same.

For a sizzling, romantic read that’s a bit on the dramatic side, pick up a copy of Start Me Up.  

--Amy Wroblewsky

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