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Too Hot to Handle
by Victoria Dahl
(Harlequin, $7.99, PG-13) 978-0-373-77746-4
***
Too Hot to Handle is Victoria Dahl's second book in the Jackson series. While the characters from the first book are strong secondary characters in this one, the story can, without a doubt, be read as a stand-along book.

Merry Kade has not yet found her purpose in life. She is a "cup half full" kind of girl even though she had a less than desirable childhood. Many people say this makes her naive, but Merry simply doesn't see the point in dwelling on things in the past that can't be changed. She has just moved to Jackson Hole to be near a close friend and has accepted a job that she hopes will allow her to finally settle down and show her family and friends that she can be strong, responsible, and have a purpose.

Providence is Merry's new job. It's an old run down ghost town that has not been inhabited since the 1800s. She is hired to restore the town as a tourist attraction based on the wishes of the former owner who left his fortune in a trust for that purpose. Unfortunately, she has just learned that the grandson of the owner is suing the trust, which jeopardizes the whole project.

Merry puts all her future in this project so she can't let it crumble now. Behind the scenes she decides to move forward as best she can on a few projects to show the trust and the grandson the potential. Luckily there is a carpenter next door who has agreed to help.

Shane Harcourt just wants the money he feels is rightfully his. He's certain his grandfather created the trust out of spite because Shane wouldn't change his name back to the family name. And he thinks restoring Providence is a total waste. When he is approached by his new neighbor, Merry, to restore a building, he takes the opportunity to get close to the "enemy" and see if he can gather data to contribute to the lawsuit. Little does he know that an attraction to Merry quickly builds and continuing the deception can in no way end well.

Too Hot to Handle is an enjoyable book. The whole ghost town thing and Merry's insistence on her life's worth depending on it is a little goofy in the beginning, but once you get to know Merry and her personality it makes more sense and the story flows better. The climax of the plot is done well, but Shane's perspective in fixing things with Merry at the end is very limited which leads to a quickly wrapped up story line.

Too Hot to Handle is a quick and pleasant read.

--Nichole Howell


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