This review contains some spoilers.
Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin for this review copy.
Lead Me On is Victoria Dahl’s third and last book in the Tumble Creek series. It features Jane Morgan, the ever so staunch and polished secretary of Quinn Jennings, the hero from the previous book: Start me Up.
The Blurb below is taken from the author’s official website:
“Primal attraction is a big red flag to prim and proper office manager, Jane Morgan. After a rough childhood with a mother who liked her men in prison jumpsuit orange, Jane changed her name, her look and her taste for bad boys. So why is she lusting for William Chase with his tattoo-covered biceps, steel-toed boots and unadulterated sex appeal? The man blows things up for a living!
She gives herself one explosive, fantasy-filled night with Chase. The next day, it’s back to plain Jane and safe men.But when her beloved brother becomes a murder suspect, and her lawyer ex-boyfriend won’t help, Jane turns to Chase. And she discovers a man who’s been around the block knows a thing or two about uncovering all kinds of truths.”
Lead Me On, I believe, is one of the most emotional books to date in the Tumble Creek series. Jane is an intriguing character who throughout the course of the book, goes on a turbulent and emotional journey of forgiveness, love, facing up to her past, and learning to enjoy and live her life without the fear of reprisals from herself and others.
At first, Jane appears somewhat snobbish – especially towards Chase whom she assumes is not making much money and is low in the working class order, though, we learn later on why she has these views. And it was so much fun seeing the prim Jane unravel in front of Chase, and get all flustered and learning that her perceptions of Chase were so entirely wrong.
Chase was a wonderful and a darn right sexy hero. He was smart, patient, strong, kind-hearted and… oh? Did I mention sexy? 😀
Victoria Dahl has done a great job in role reversal where it’s Jane, the heroine, being unavailable emotionally and it’s Chase, the hero, urging her to let go of the past, and to give him and themselves a chance at happiness. I admit, I did get frustrated with Jane sometimes – especially as she kept pushing Chase away until the very end of the book, but I understood why she was so scared.
Jane’s childhood was very tough with her mother being a prison pen-pal groupie until her stepfather came onto the scene. Jane rebelled at age 13 and became very sexually promiscuous, to the point where she put herself in danger and at the mercy of men much older than herself. My heart clenched in sympathy and compassion at the thought of 13 year old Jane being so sexually aware and active, and I felt anger towards Jane’s mother for not taking charge, and owning some responsibility for Jane at that age.
Because of what happened in the past, Jane keeps her present life away from her family, or shall I say, her family away from her present life. She sort of hides them away like a dirty secret, but despite this, Jane doesn’t hesitate in going back home and helping her brother clear his name from the murder.
I do think the suspense part of Lead Me On pales a little bit in comparison to Jane’s own discovery of self worth, love and happiness, but it still made for an engaging read as it enabled Jane to confront her issues with her family, and brought her and Chase that much closer.
Lead Me On packs an emotional punch and the love scenes are just hawt! *fans face* Though sometimes, I did sense a reckless edge from Jane that was obviously tied into her past, and Chase makes Jane address this before letting her use him again for hot dirty sex, but in a committed relationship where love is a factor.
Dahl’s contemporary heroines defy the normal conventions in romance, where they embrace their sexuality without fear, and I can’t wait to see what Dahl has next up her sleeve!
I give Lead Me On 4 out of 5.