Start Me Up

Start Me Up - Victoria Dahl I think "Start Me Up" had elements in it that were much better than the first book in this series, and it read much nicer overall to me than "Talk Me Down". For one, the story begins more on a gradual development of the characters and their interactions, and the suspense elements are more believable to start. Sex scenes in this book are written a little more evenly throughout, though there are some odd scenes that Lori reads in her erotica perusals that are peppered in the chapters - I thought that was an interesting way to write them in because it goes to show how the character reacts to reading trashy romances. :P But some of them were still heavy cheese, to be honest. Ah well. I'll focus on how the story evolves.This book in the Tumble Creek series tells of Lori Love, a mechanic who has feelings for her best friend's brother, architect Quinn Jennings. The two leads are interesting to follow, and the characters from the previous novel I found more enjoyable in this book (Molly surprised me because I really didn't like her character in the first book, but I found when she took more of backing role in this one - she seemed more amusing and a fun contrast to Lori's personality - probably because while she still retained elements of her character, they were less over-the-top).Lori and Quinn end up together by deciding to use each other for casual sex, but have an attraction to each other even when that relationship started. Quinn is a bit of a "hot nerd", something I felt fine with because his personality initially appealed to me, and it's interesting how his character transforms when he's interacting with Lori - and I don't just mean it in the sense of intimacy. There are times when Lori's own personality is brash (and downright rude) in contrast, and she tends to push him away abruptly - but I didn't mind it as much because it seemed like a part of her own internal conflict and character, which was surprisingly done well considering this genre. There really aren't a lot of tomboyish/nerd leads in romances like this, so it was a brownie point for the original portrayal on behalf of both characters. And some of the character reactions when Lori and Quinn are having an open discussion about how they should approach their relationship is realistic, so another brownie point there (I added a half star to this story where I wouldn't have otherwise because of those elements).I still have a problem with the writing style Dahl employs on occasion - it's not that she doesn't tell a decent overall story in some considerations - it's that the internal dialogue and descriptions aren't as "hot" as it claims itself to be at times, and her diction and scheme of events could weave better than what it does. Her humor is actually really funny when it's subtle and woven in equal balance, especially where it doesn't try to outdo itself (I laughed when Molly embarrassed Lori in the middle of the restaurant asking about Quinn). At the very least, it's easier to care about the characters in this book than the last. I liked the book starting out, but I saw flaws come across more prominently as the book went on, and it doesn't completely shed its cliche elements. In the end I thought there could have been a better since of closure as the book ended - notably in the sense of the character relations.For about a 2 hour read, this was a casual one that was okay in spurts. I give it that, and it convinces me well enough to read the next installation of the series as well. This might be the best book in the series, in my opinion so far.Overall rating: 2/5