Friday, August 12, 2011

ARC Review: Good Girls Don't

Good Girls Don't
Victoria Dahl
Contemporary Romance
Donovan Brothers/Book 1
HQN Books/August 30, 2011

From Goodreads ~

Too much of a good thing…

With her long ponytail and sparkling green eyes, Tessa Donovan looks more like the girl next door than a businesswoman — or a heartbreaker. Which may explain why Detective Luke Asher barely notices her when he arrives to investigate a break – in at her family's brewery. He's got his own problems — starting with the fact that his partner, Simone, is pregnant and everyone thinks he's the father.

Tessa has her hands full, too. Her brother's playboy ways may be threatening the business, and the tension could tear her tight–knit family apart. In fact, the only thing that could unite the Donovan boys is seeing a man come after their "baby" sister. Especially a man like Luke Asher. But Tessa sees past the rumors to the man beneath. He's not who people think he is — and neither is she.

I first met the Donovan siblings in the novella Just One Taste, in the anthology The Guy Next Door. They are a close knit trio who love each other but who also have a lot of responsibilities and a difficult past they still need to work through. Being the only girl, you might think Tessa Donovan is coddled and protected but it's really Tessa that does the protecting.

Oh my goodness does Tessa Donovan know how to spin a web! She's so protective of her brothers, so desperate to keep them happy, she spins these intricate lies and half-truths. Of course it will all unravel but Tessa doesn't want to think about possible failure. I was surprised that her lying didn't bother me more. I didn't think she always made the best choices, she acted out of desperation more than once. But Dahl does a good job explaining and showing how Tessa came to be so desperate to keep her family together.

Luke Asher is in for an interesting and amazing ride. He just doesn't know it yet! When he investigates the robbery at Donovan Brothers Brewery, he didn't expect to be blidesided by the sweet and sexy Tessa Donovan. Right from the start I liked Luke. He's protective by nature which makes him a good cop. He's dealing with the rumors surrounding him and his pregnant partner. He still hasn't completely worked through his painful divorce and now he's feeling an odd attraction to a women he thinks he should stay away from. Has in fact been told to stay away from. Dahl gives Luke enough problems to cause him some anxiety while keeping it real. Luke may be the hero but he can't magically fix everything wrong in his life. Some of it he just has to accept and move on. I couldn't help but feel sorry for him and feel his frustration at not being able to fix things. Dahl did well showing this, making the plot far more realistic with Luke making mistakes and dealing with the outcome. Add in his self-deprecating humor and he's a very likable hero.

Tessa and Luke together really worked for me. On first impression they don't seem to fit. Luke is serious and not at all the party animal he apparently was in college. While Tessa is serious when it come to the family business but she knows how to have a good time. And she always has a smile. She's very good at finding the positive while Luke tends to be more on the pessimistic side of the equation. But together they balance each other out. They are funny together with Tessa teasing Luke and Luke trying not to be drawn to Tessa. They don't have an easy time of it with both Tessa's brother's warning Luke away from their sister. But Tessa is stubborn and these two can't resist each other.

Speaking of brothers - lots of tension between Jamie and Eric. I like that the siblings are close and love one another but everything isn't perfect. Perfection is boring and there is nothing boring about the complex relationships of the Donovan siblings. I do hope there are some resolutions in Jamie's book because Eric came off as an overbearing ass and I'd hate to have that impression going into his book. LOL

The police aspect of the story was a distant second to the romance and character development. Which was good since it wasn't a very strong plot, having an obvious suspect and very little suspense. The believable characters and a romance as sweet and sinful as chocolate are what make this an exceptional start to a new series.

Rating: B+

Books in this series ~

Just One Taste (prequel novella in The Guy Next Door anthology)
Good Girls Don't
Bad Boys Do (October 2011/Jamie)
Real Men Will (November 2011/Eric)


  1. I have this one and am looking forward to reading it. Must get on that sooner rather than later after reading your review! :)

  2. Cool. I think this one will be right up my alley! Thanks for the review, les!

  3. Tracy ~ Other than the novella, this is the first Dahl I've read. Will definitely be getting more of her contemps & historicals.

    Nath ~ I can't remember if you've read anything by Dahl. She has an earlier contemporary series that I want to try.

  4. I read Talk Me Down and liked it enough :) but for some reasons, have not read anything else ^_^;

  5. Placed this book in my list of books "to buy," Lesie. It looks good! Thanks for the review. :)