So Tough to Tame - Victoria Dahl

1.) Listen to Rascal Flats

2.) Live in Wyoming

3.) Go running

4.) Buy a stetson

5.) Drink a pomegranate martini

6.) Listen to George Straight


With the bonus:


7.) Watch Steel Magnolias. (There's a crass old woman that is recurring who MUST be Shirley MacLaine)


Honestly, half the list probably has more to do with all of Dahl's books set in Jackson, Wyoming. Her talent isn't really in painting a picture of landscape or atmosphere but more about creating characters that you'd want to hang out with in this mountain town. Her bread and butter theme seems to be about overcoming the feeling of not being good enough, or tackling personal guilt or shame. It just makes you feel like there's this magical place in this tourist town where you can conquer anything, or face any demon, with your new BFF that you met at the local saloon after ordering identical martinis Some place where you can find this totally hot, totally ripped outdoorsy single guy with his own personal demons who just needs the right sex to make it all right. 


So they're not totally realistic. And they're not even that romantic. But Dahl still is a lot of fun.


Walker, having been beat down by his father and life due to (what must be) severe dyslexia, spends a lot of time feeling used and stupid. But he's a hell of a nice guy, and very easy on the eyes. So when Charlie (Charlotte) drags her wounded pride and humiliating past back to her home town to start again, easing her pain with an old high-school friend sounds like the perfect way to get her groove back.


In true-to-form Dahl formula, both characters deal with their own closets of ghosts with little more than a strong nudge or suggestion from the romantic interest - which is good. Dahl seems to want the reader to know that people need to figure their crud out on their own, lest they be co-dependent.


The problem with that is that sometimes I miss the little connections that make a love story feel really good. Sometimes, like as in this case, I feel  like I like the individuals separately more than as a couple - or at least I know them better that way.


Still, I was so pleased with the resolution that I couldn't discount my stars too much. Dahl is pretty much an auto-check out for me - I don't need the reviews anymore as I know I'm going to get an easy read (without over the top angst), with smart characters and healthy relationships -- which sounds so dry until I say that she always has some really steamy sex in there too.