This week Morgan and Whitney head back to their romance reading roots for some pure contemporary fun with Victoria Dahl’s new series starter Good Girls Don’t. This tale introduces readers to Eric, Jamie and Tessa, the three siblings who have run the Donovan Brothers Brewery since their parents died over a decade before. But now that Tessa has caught the eye of a local police detective, are Eric and Jamie ready to let their little sister grow up?
Whitney: Morgan, I adore Dahl’s steamy contemporary stories. We’ve both been reading her since 2009’s Lead Me On and I think she’s the perfect pick for our final Dish of the summer. This straight-up contemporary romance is like having one final night with your summer fling.
Morgan: Okay let’s put the breaks on that idea before this gets R-rated. But I’m pretty sure we can both agree that Good Girls Don’t isn’t your run-of-the-mill contemp. In the usual contemporary romance, it is all boy meets girl, they date, have fun and get into a relationship. The book ends with a strong HEA vibe. This just doesn’t happen that way in this book.
Whitney: Um, I’m not following you. I’m hopefully not ruining the surprise for everyone who is reading this week’s Dish, but all of those things happen in this book.
Morgan: Well yeah, but not the way they do other contemps that I have read. I mean, here there’s lots of sex without commitment, brothers bickering takes precedent over love lives, a sister Tweets out her frustrations. It’s like we are getting a snapshot of the characters’ lives while our hero and heroine fall for each other rather than the romance being the story’s main attraction.
Whitney: Oh come on, dis-a-gree! The juicy romance/love/lust scenes positively drip off the pages of this one.
Morgan: If you mean that all of the characters have sex on the brain, then I agree. That type of action makes the book go ‘round.
Whitney: Hmmm, now that you mention it, it’s totally true that all of the entanglements and misunderstandings lead back to sex.
Morgan: Absolutely. You have the brewery that the heroine, Tessa, owns with her brothers, Eric and Jamie. They have an important business deal in the works and Jamie puts the deal in jeopardy by sleeping with the daughter of the head honcho who they are dealing with.
Whitney: And the hero, Luke, is having problems of his own because his (female) police officer partner is pregnant and everything thinks he is the daddy.
Morgan: Don’t forget the little misunderstanding between Luke and Tessa. He thinks she is a virgin.
Whitney: Because in his world a blond ponytail plus a perky attitude equals starry-eyed innocent.
Morgan: That and her brother’s tell Luke that Tessa has never been with anyone before.
Whitney: Which makes it even more hilarious when she calls and asks him out on a date. Very forward for a “virgin”.
Morgan: I loved the lack of subtly Tessa shows:
Luke: So what can I help you with?
Tessa: Well, I don’t seem to have a dinner companion. Could you help with that?
Luke: Pardon me?
Tessa: Dinner? I’m driving up from Denver right now, but I’m almost home. I could be changed and ready in forty-five minutes.
Whitney: Despite everything that stands in their way, the rumors the two very big and protective brothers, Tessa and Luke have a very natural connection. They even say at one point, “I feel like I don’t have to think with you.” They could totally be themselves.
Morgan: But they don’t. They both have serious boundary issues. As in “don’t cross my boundaries — or else” issues.
Whitney: But I think that’s only natural because Luke’s weighed down by the rumors that he’s (pardon my French) knocked up his partner but refuses to make an honest woman out of her. And then on top of that there’s his history as a womanizer and all of the crazy drama created by his totally messy divorce.
Morgan: But he’s not the only one bringing baggage to the table. Tessa’s parents died in an accident when she was just a young teenager. Her issues abound and she has gotten into a habit of lying when she thinks her family might be upset by something she does.
Whitney: This really sets off Luke’s trust issues because he’s a cop. So clearly neither of them really know how to be in a healthy relationship.
Morgan: So they just start out with casual dating.
Whitney: And lots of sex. Lots and lots.
Morgan: And while they are busy “casually dating” the misunderstandings between them build and build. The more they won’t talk about their pasts, the more they come between them.
Whitney: For me this was how Dahl really nailed the story. Because at it’s heart it’s about a novel about family and the fears we all have about being abandoned. Although let me tell you I got my hands on an Advance Reader Copy of the next book in the series and I am stone cold loving it. It’s Jamie’s story and it’s all about living up to your family’s expectations.
Morgan: Oh really? When it comes to Jamie in Good Girls Don't, it is a pretty serious Barney Stinson situation up in there. Like every night he’s got a new girl, or two, or three … that seriously got on my nerves.
Whitney: Yeah, he’s a big ole flirt. But a lot of that is just a business ploy perpetuated by Tessa to get customers in the brewery.
Morgan: He goes beyond just flirting.
Whitney: Maybe. Then again, maybe not. But I seriously can’t put down Bad Boys Do!
Morgan: If it’s that good, then you know I am going to be reading it when it comes out the end of September. So what do you say we meet back here, same time same place a month from now to discuss it more?
Whitney: It’s a date.
In the meantime, let us know what you thought about this series starter — or why you can’t wait to read it. And you can read along with us because next week we will be devouring No Proper Lady by Isabel Cooper.