Taking the Heat

Taking the Heat

by Victoria Dahl

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781488080210
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 09/11/2017
Series: Jackson Girls' Night Out Series , #3
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 87,263
File size: 558 KB

About the Author

Victoria Dahl lives with her family in a small town high in the mountains. Her first novel debuted in 2007, and she’s gone on to write seventeen books and novellas in historical, contemporary, and paranormal romance. Victoria's contemporary romance, Talk Me Down, was nominated for both a RWA Rita Award and the National Readers' Choice Award. Since then, her books have been nominated for two more Rita Awards, and she hit the USA Today Bestseller list with the anthology Midnight Kiss.

Read an Excerpt

Out of all the mistakes Veronica Chandler had made in her life, this was definitely the worst. Worse than moving to New York City after college, worse than dating that guy who'd dumped her via text after a hand job, worse than crawling back home to Wyoming with her tail between her legs and even worse than becoming a complete fraud of an advice columnist.

What the hell had she been thinking? She should have said no to her boss. She should have told him to take his horrible idea back to whatever hellish place he'd found it. But she'd been too afraid to say no.

Veronica lived every single day afraid that her boss was going to realize the truth about her. Each email she received from him seemed to pulse with menace, and when he'd called and asked her to stop by his office two weeks earlier, she'd known that had been the end of her charade.

But instead of firing her, he'd presented her with an opportunity. In her state of shock and relief, she'd stammered out a yes instead of screaming "Hell, no." Maybe she'd been in denial since then. Maybe she hadn't wanted to think about it. But there was no denying the truth anymore. She was supposed to put on a live performance tonight, and now she was racing to the Jackson Town Library as if the stacks of books inside could save her.

She rushed through the glass doors, head already swiveling to scan the main room of the library. Lauren Foster was a great friend, so when she hadn't answered this morning's panicked texts, Veronica had known she must be working. If she could just find Lauren, surely she would say it was okay for Veronica to back out of this mess and hide from the world in her apartment for a week or two.

She walked past the circulation desk and looked into the children's area, but Lauren wasn't hidden between the stacks of kids' books. What if she wasn't really working today? What if she was on a hike deep in the woods and wouldn't be home until late?

"No," Veronica said. No, that wasn't possible. Veronica needed her too much.

She adjusted the sunglasses hiding her bloodshot eyes and took a deep breath. She had to stay calm. She couldn't let anyone see her panic. Veronica Chandler was a goddamn bastion of good sense and cool remove. She'd handled New York City. She handled other people's problems every day. She could handle this.

After smoothing a hand over her newly cut hair, she walked to the circulation desk and did not trip over her own high heels. "Is Lauren Foster in today?" she asked the older woman she recognized from one of her previous visits to the library.

"I think she's over in Periodicals with the new librarian. Wish I could join them."

Veronica wasn't sure what the woman's waggling eyebrows were trying to convey, but she smiled with relief. "Thank you so much."

The smile fell away as soon as she turned and headed for the opposite side of the library. Logically, she knew her friend couldn't save her from this awful mistake, but Veronica's body still strained toward her as if Lauren were a life preserver.

Tucked into the far corner of the building, the periodicals section was arranged around a cozy grouping of armchairs and couches, and in the middle of it all stood Lauren and a stranger. Not a new librarian, though. This stranger had a beard and dark hair and a plaid tie and a hot lean body that immediately dried Veronica's mouth to ash.

The royal blue heel of Veronica's leather half boot caught on the weave of the industrial carpet and jerked her to a halt. She lurched forward, catching herself on a shelf of autobiographies before she could hit the floor.

"Oh, God," she breathed, bent over and staring at the carpet. At least she hadn't landed flat on her face or jammed her skull into the corner of a shelf. She glanced up, face already hot with color, but miraculously, they'd turned away from her. Lauren was gesturing toward a rack of magazines as she spoke, and the man was nodding. Veronica stood straight so quickly that the blood drained from her brain and left her dizzy.

She was not going to meet this gorgeous man like the spastic mess of a woman she was. In fact… Veronica set her mouth in a straight line. She wasn't going to meet this man at all. If there was anything that could make her current situation worse, it was introducing a hot guy into the equation. She actually winced at the thought.

Nope. She was going to be cool, ignore the way his wavy black hair flopped onto his forehead when he laughed at Lauren and pretend his trimmed beard didn't make Veronica want to pet his face.

Hoping to stay half-hidden in the stacks, she waited for Lauren to turn in her direction. When that didn't happen, she waved a hand, hoping she was at least in Lauren's peripheral vision. If she could just get her friend's attention and lure her away from this bearded wonder…

But of course, he was the one who turned toward Veronica. As his gaze rose toward her, she slapped her waving hand to her head and pretended she was only smoothing down her hair as she stepped forward. She kept her eyes off him and locked on Lauren, and her friend finally noticed her. "Oh, my God!" Lauren cried out in the hushed tone she used only at work. "Your hair looks amazing!"

"Do you think so?" Veronica asked, touching the blunt edges at the back.

"I love it. Did you lighten it?"

Veronica nodded. She was naturally blonde, but she'd had her stylist lighten the front to a shade closer to platinum. She'd been worried it had been another big mistake, spending the last of her savings on such a frivolous expense. "I did it for tonight," she said.

"Good idea. You're going to blow them away."

Veronica shook her head and tried to ignore the fact that Hot Guy was watching her with a friendly smile. "Do you have a minute, Lauren?" she asked. "If you're too busy, I can come back later."

"Sure, I have a minute. This is Gabe, by the way. Gabe MacKenzie, the latest addition to our little library. Gabe, this is Veronica Chandler."

He really was a librarian. Wow.

He reached out a hand, so Veronica had no choice but to take it. His hand was warm and strong and rough at the edges, as if he built the shelves he later stocked with books. "Nice to meet you," he said, his voice pleasantly rough along the edges, too.

Veronica didn't want to know any of that about him. She didn't want to know how he felt or sounded. He was way too tempting. She pulled her hand away as quickly as she could. "You're the new librarian?" she asked, not able to keep the shock from her voice.

"I am," he answered as if he was used to people being surprised by this librarian's hot young maleness.

"Veronica is a bit of a local celebrity," Lauren offered.

"No, I'm not," she said as quickly as she could.

Lauren snorted. "In fact, Gabe, you're standing right by some of her work." She gestured toward the local newspapers spread out on a table. "She's Dear Veronica."

His white teeth flashed in a smile. "I'm afraid I'm not familiar."

Veronica crossed her arms and shook her head, but Lauren kept talking. "She writes the local advice column. A smart take from a big-city girl, that kind of a thing."

"Cool," he said, looking at the papers now instead of Veronica. That was an improvement, at least. She shifted impatiently, jerking her head toward the door of the conference room to try to get Lauren to move along, but Lauren seemed to be on a mission.

"He's from New York," Lauren said. "You two probably have a lot in common. Veronica's a local but she lived in Manhattan for years."

Oh, God. Not a New York guy. No. No, no, no. She shook her head as if that could ward him off. When Gabe looked up, he was shaking his head, too. "I was born there, but I've been away for years. I came here from Cincinnati."

"Right," Veronica said. "Sure." She crossed her arms more tightly and waited until Lauren finally sent Gabe back toward the small office behind the circulation desk to fill out some paperwork. Then she led Veronica to the conference room.

"Good Lord, girl," Lauren said as soon as the door closed. "What the hell is wrong with you? If I was ten years younger and single… Did you see that boy?"

Veronica waved a frantic hand. "I don't have time for that right now!"

"Seriously? I think there really are too many hormones in our food these days, because you're not okay. And here I thought having firefighters right next door was distracting. Now none of us will get any work done."

Veronica shot a mournful glance toward the door as if she could see through it. "Did he just start today?"

"Yes, Jean-Marie sprung him on me. I knew she'd been interviewing for Sophie's replacement, but I didn't know she'd decided to import a little testosterone from Cincinnati. He's here to drag us into the twenty-first century, I gather. Ebooks. Digital audio. Maybe even a 3D printer. Basically, he's going to be a giant pain in my ass, but regardless, I'm going to hook you two up if it kills me."

"What?" Veronica gasped. "No, you are not! I have problems. Big problems!"

Lauren immediately sobered. "What's wrong?"

Veronica grabbed her arms. "You know what's wrong!"

Lauren looked so surprised by Veronica's freak-out that Veronica felt immediately embarrassed. This was who she was on the inside. This wasn't the Veronica she let other people see. She didn't want even her friends to know how weak she really was. She managed to lower her voice but she still couldn't stop the fear from bubbling up. "That stupid show is in eight hours and I can't do it."

Lauren rolled her eyes and then carefully extracted her elbows from Veronica's grip. "Calm down. You're going to be great. We're all coming."

"No. You don't understand. I… " She stared at Lauren's face, wanting to tell her the truth. Wishing she could. But this lie was all she had anymore. It felt like all she'd ever had.

She'd spent the first twenty-one years of her life waiting for her real life to start, planning and saving for it. She'd put off making close friends and falling in love and doing crazy things and taking chances, because she'd thought she would do all that once she got to New York. And what if she got so cozy and tied down in Wyoming that she never went? No. Too much of a risk. So she'd waited.

But then she'd finally gotten to the big city, and…none of that had been real, either. And now here she was back home, living the biggest lie of all.

So instead of saying, I'm a complete impostor, and I can't pull that off in a live show, she went with the almost-true version of it. "It takes me days to write a column and do research and get everything right and still be entertaining. I can't do all of that in front of people!"

"Then why did you arrange these shows?"

"I didn't! It wasn't my idea. My boss told me I was going to do them, and I needed the extra money, so I said yes instead of sobbing and running into the hills!"

Lauren was clearly trying to look patient, but she had to press her lips together to hide a smile. It didn't work.

"Help me," Veronica begged. "Laugh if you want to, but tell me I can back out."

"You can't back out," Lauren said immediately. "And you're going to be great. People like you. You're nice. You're funny. And it's at a martini bar. Everyone will be drunk and ready to laugh at anything."

Veronica nodded, trying to psych herself up. "Yes. All right. Count on drunkenness."

"Exactly! And didn't you say that you get to choose the questions?"

"Yes, but I only have a few minutes. Everyone will put their questions in a bowl, and I get to read them before I start."

Lauren's face brightened as if the whole problem were solved. "Perfect. Just pick some questions that are close to ones you've dealt with in the paper. Death of a parent, cheating spouse, best-friend drama. You already know those answers."

Lauren was right. Veronica did know those answers. Maybe she could handle this. "So I shouldn't back out?"

"Oh, my God," Lauren groaned. "Get out of here. I'll see you tonight."

Veronica didn't move. She couldn't actually think of a way to back out of the show, but she'd thought her more experienced, smart-as-a-whip friend would come up with a plan, and all she'd come up with was encouragement. "I have to do this?" Veronica tried one more time.

"Yep. No choice."

"Okay," Veronica whispered. "I'll be fine, right?" When Lauren's eyebrow rose in impatience, Veronica nodded. "I'll be fine," she said more firmly.

"You'll be great," Lauren insisted.

"Right. Thank you for the good advice. And thanks for trying to fix me up with the new guy. He really is hot, but I can't deal with that right now. Still…a boy librarian?"

"A supersexy boy librarian. Who just moved to town and probably needs new friends."

Veronica waved her hand. "I can't. Really." For so many reasons. "I'd better go. I've got to spend an hour picking out an outfit and then I'll reread my old columns. You're a genius."

"I know. See you tonight."

Veronica tried not to feel panic at those last words, but she was a failure at that, too. There was no escaping the fear, but at least Lauren had talked her out of an outright breakdown. All Veronica had to do was pick already familiar topics and she could fake her way through this just as she'd faked her way through everything else.

Tonight was going to be fine.

Customer Reviews

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Taking the Heat 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Under_The_Covers_BookBlog More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Angela and posted at Under The Covers Book Blog It feels like it has been a while since I last read any of Ms. Dahl’s novels, and I’ve missed her work. Her books always have characters whom I can relate to in one way or the other. Laugh out loud situations and banters are always a part of her book recipe along with sexy heroes and witty heroines. Taking the Heat is the prime example of that. Veronica is back to her hometown of Jackson, Wyoming after her failed attempt at a successful life in New York. With the help of her father, she now has a job she thinks she’s not quite qualified for. Job description…an advice columnist. It’s not what she was hoping, but she will take what she can get. Gabe, on the other hand, is the town’s male librarian and very proud of it. He is great at it and loving Jackson’s small town feel. Unfortunately, his current occupation and place of residence is temporary. His time to take over the family business in New York is almost up. Can this town manage to keep Gabe as their permanent guybrarian? Perhaps the town’s Dear Abby can convince him. I enjoyed Veronica and Gabe’s story. They are both on their way to finding their right place in life. Unfortunately, before they can find that right place, they have to make life altering decisions and stick with it. The issues that they had with insecurities, imperfections and expectation of themselves were relatable to me. The support from their friends and family or lack thereof was the same way. It was just so easy to connect with them both. Veronica made me laugh with her attempts of faking her way into her current job. Despite her lack of experience, she is exceptional. Gabe, on the other hand, was great at owning up to his career as a guybrarian. His serious, nerdy demeanor was very sexy. I thought the pair was perfect for each other. I didn’t feel a hint of insta-love between Veronica and Gabe. I think they had plenty of time getting to know each other. The romance leading up to the very intimate moments had such a great build up, which I find Ms. Dahl is very good at procuring in the books she writes. It’s one of the reasons I keep coming back for more. Her books are always hot and fun reads.
christalvp More than 1 year ago
This was a really good addition to Dahl's Girls' Night Out Series, probably my favorite so far. Veronica Chandler and Gabe MacKenzie were great characters. I really enjoyed watching them get to know one another and develop a relationship. I thought Gabe as a sexy librarian was the perfect man! I enjoyed the storyline and thought it had a great setting. Veronica Chandler has returned to Jackson Hole as an advice columnist after feeling like she crashed and burned in New York City. She feels like a fraud giving relationship advice when she has no love life. When she meets new ultra sexy town librarian Gabe MacKenzie, the attraction between them is off the charts. Gabe believes that he and Veronica can have some fun times, but that there is no reason to share his future plans to head back to the family company in New York City. Once things heat up between them so much that they are suddenly involved in a real relationship, Gabe's future plans threaten what he could have with Veronica. Great characters, smoking hot chemistry between them, interesting storyline, and fitting setting make this a worthwhile contemporary romance. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, and am looking forward for what comes next in the series. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an ARC in return for an honest review.
beckymmoe More than 1 year ago
I just loved the bearded librarian hero. (Clearly, the cover is from the fifteen or so pages of the book after his mother made him shave, however. Tragic.) Why aren't there more sexy librarian heroes? Clearly an oversight... ;) Veronica was an interesting mixture of humorous sassiness and near-crippling insecurities. I respected the fact that she knew she was a mess and was resolved to improve herself--her "to do" list was a particularly nice touch. At the same time, her determination to help the people that wrote to "Dear Veronica" was one of my favorite things about her. I was actually moved to tears by the resolution of the storyline with the teenager who called himself "Nobody"--and loved how she got her negligent father involved in helping students at her former high school. Veronica definitely came into her own as the story progressed, enabling her to have the strength to give Gabe the old heave-ho when he needed it. Sadly, he did need it. If anyone ever needed a wake-up call, it was that guy. Being dumped worked for Gabe, though, because he turned his life around and made an adorable gesture to try and get her back--absolutely sigh worthy :) Altogether, a very satisfying read and great addition to the series. Rating: 4 stars / B+ I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
JeriTRyan More than 1 year ago
There are already a lot or reviews talking about the writing style and storyline of “Taking the Heat” by Victoria Dahl. So I would like to leave a more personal comment in my review. This book was very special to me. Because I felt the same, when I was in school. Maybe not to this extent, but I was a nobody in my class. I did not have many friends. In front of my parents, I pretended that everything was cool, but the truth is that I felt scared and alone in this big World. I wish I had such an advisor when I was back in school. This book made me also look at some situations differently. Because in the end - all that matters is to be true to yourself and show who you really are. Read my full Review here : http://jeri-ryan.wix.com/jerisbookattic#!Taking-the-Heat-by-Victoria-Dahl/cu6k/559bce420cf2ae09c19b1a47 For more Reviews check out/like my Blog & FB Page http://jeri-ryan.wix.com/jerisbookattic#!blog/cwcx https://www.facebook.com/JerisBookAttic
TheSassyBookster More than 1 year ago
Veronica Chandler looks like she has it all together. Gorgeous, well-dressed and confident, she offers advice to the people of Jackson as the resident advice columnist, Dear Veronica. Only, she knows that she is a fraud. Under of all this is a scared, insecure woman just waiting to be outed. Veronica lost her mom as a young child and was bullied and tormented in school by her stepbrother and his friends, resulting in her insecurity and self-esteem issues. Even her move to New York for fours years did not help as she had hoped. So far, she's been able to fake her way through her job but now that her column has been expanded to include weekly live interactive sessions, Veronica is terrified that this is the beginning of her downfall. Until a sexy and cute librarian helps her learn to embrace her quirks. Gabe Mackenzie is taking a year to enjoy his freedom and indulge in his love for rock climbing and hiking because at the end of the year, he has to return to New York and take over the management of the family business from his father and Jackson Hole, Wyoming is the perfect place to do that. His first impression of Veronica Chandler? High-maintenance. As he gets to know her, he realizes that she really is cute and very sweet and her wackiness is very endearing. And the sex? Very hot! I really enjoyed Gabe and Veronica. Gabe is confident and laid-back, the perfect person to draw Veronica out of her shell and it doesn't hurt that he finds all her quirks attractive. With Gabe, Veronica learns to love herself and embrace the things that make her different. While Veronica does not appear to fit in with the self-assured and confident heroines Ms. Dahl is famous for, she is perfect for her job because she has experienced pretty much everything she offers advice on and her friendships with Lauren and Isabelle and relationship with Gabe help grow her self-assurance. Their conversations and witty banter were very humorous and fun to read and I really liked how Veronica was unafraid to ask for what she wanted in the sack. TAKING THE HEAT got me thinking about family and relationship dynamics, the importance of honesty and support and how these affected the relationships both Gabe and Veronica had with their families and each other. This is a really cute story, not just about a sweet and smart but insecure woman and the seriously sexy guy that helps her overcome her insecurities, but also about the importance of following your dreams even if they don't align with family expectations. Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
BooksAndSpoons More than 1 year ago
Touching and inspiring story about growing up and finding your voice, and claiming your place in the world. Veronica feels fake, and the fear of people seeing her true self is petrifying. She was bullied and tormenting in her youth, and those scars are set deep in her. She is holding lots of secrets, and constantly scared someone will figure it out. Gabe has one more year, living the life he has chosen, before giving it all up to help the family business. He is not looking for a relationship, just wants to fully live that one last year, doing what he loves. And then he meets Veronica. The story is interesting, has a unique touch. The advice column Veronica writes, brings a lot fun moments, as well as deep conversations and possibilities to really help people. Veronica has a low self esteem, and to fix that, she writes notes to herself on the fridge, that end up being like steps she is taking to grow, and deal with the problems she has from her childhood. The relationship between Gabe and Veronica develops fast, but is believable. They challenge each other, in outdoor activities, in bed, and in life with the choices they make. The story is hot, the 'sex education' Gabe is giving to Veronica is steamy and detailed. But there's more to their relationship than just that, the feelings grow, and they find a true connection with each other, that is tender and adorable. Veronica's reaction to the conflict was, in my opinion, a bit too strong, considering their short history together. But understandable from the point of view, how fragile she still was in her healing. Fascinating and engaging story ~ Four Spoons
Maria-Rose More than 1 year ago
Kudos to the author for putting a male in a relatively non-traditional role as a librarian! It was great to see that, as it's more often that romance novels will feature women in male centric roles, as opposed to the other way around. Gabe is a handsome and confident man, well rounded with his interest in outdoor activities like camping and rock climbing (including becoming involved in outdoor rescues) while at the same time being excited about library science and the new role of digital media. That's the reason he's been hired to work at the Jackson Hole library, to help upgrade their systems and it's clear that he loves his job. He really comes across as a nice guy, fun to be with, friendly and caring. It took me a little while to feel the chemistry between Veronica and Gabe, and I think that was because her outward appearance as a successful New Yorker didn't feel right - and indeed it was just a mask. Once her real character starts to shine through, the attraction between her and Gabe was totally believable. Their obvious attraction to each other leads to several very steamy scenes. Gabe is an 'ahem' "oral" expert and his skills are definitely at play here. For Veronica, who's had limited sexual experience it's a brand new world, one that Gabe delights in teaching her. But he does it in a sweet and understanding way, never making Veronica feel embarrassed or foolish for her lack of knowledge. I really liked that about Gabe's character, that he took things at a slower pace with her to let her be comfortable with him, at the same time challenging her in other areas of her life. He takes her rock climbing, something that is completely out of her comfort zone and challenges her while keeping her safe and giving her confidence in herself. This confidence begins to leak into other areas of her life as well, into her relationships with her friends, her father, and in her job. Her transition from the start of the story to the end was wonderful to read. Interestingly as she gains this confidence, it's Gabe who struggles. His feelings about his family and his father and their restaurant business back in New York are at odds with the life he is enjoying with Veronica and his friends here. The weight of his perceived responsibilities is heavy and when his father becomes ill, he has to make some decisions, ones that will affect his future with Veronica with whom he is falling in love. And Veronica isn't satisfied being second, or last anymore. She's learned to stand up for herself thanks to Gabe, which may be his downfall or his salvation. Of course we can't have a story in a series called Girl's Night Out without some girl time. Veronica's friends Lauren (also Gabe's work colleague) and Isabelle ( an artist) have been featured in previous stories, but here they are the support group for Veronica, encouraging her with her advice column and in particular her once a week bar stint where she answers customers questions in a live version of her column. At the beginning, she keeps most things to herself, but in opening herself up to Gabe she realizes that she should be doing the same with her girlfriends too, and it makes their friendship richer and more meaningful as a result. With a beautiful setting, fun and interesting characters and a very sexy romance, this is a great addition to the series. 4 stars.
Lashea677 More than 1 year ago
Victoria Dahl is an author that I have read a couple of times in the past. Her writing I enjoyed. Found it to be sultry, sensitive and comedic. She takes deep subjects and writes her interpretations on paper. Her stories are actually quite good. I received an ARC of Taking the Heat in exchange for an honest review. Veronica allowed others perceptions of her to shape who she became. As an adult she was still trying to prove herself to people who didn't even matter. Gabe is determined to show himself and his family he is more than what they want for him. Perception plays a big part in this story. However what neither realized is that in order to become who you were meant to be, you have to allow your heart to guide you. This is a really awesome story with a beautiful underlying message.