Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Review of Victoria Dahl's Real Men Will

Title: Real Men Will (Donovan Brothers Brewery #3)
Author: Victoria Dahl
Publisher: HQN Books
Format: Mass Market Paperback & eBook
Source: NetGalley
Publication Date: October 25, 2011
Rating: 4 out of 5

Real Men Will is the third book in Victoria Dahl’s Donovan Brothers Brewery series, and while you can read it on its own, I highly recommend that you read the first two books in the series before reading this one. After reading all three, I think Bad Boys Do, the second in the series and Jaime’s story, is my favorite, but Real Men Will is by far the sexiest! (fans self) Whoa, mama! You’ll definitely want to have a glass of ice water close by while reading this one.

Eric Donovan is the oldest of the three Donovan siblings, and he’s been managing the family brewery ever since their parents died in a car crash. During a business convention, he decides to shed his staid demeanor and has a one night stand with Beth Cantrell, manager of a high end erotic boutique, The White Orchid. But because of a misunderstanding when they met, she thinks he’s his younger brother Jaime, and since Jaime has a reputation as a womanizer, Eric allows her to believe he’s Jaime.

You can imagine Beth’s shock when she goes online and realizes that Eric is NOT Jaime, and when she confronts Eric, Jaime finds out, to the detriment of the brothers’ improving relationship. But circumstances bring Beth and Eric back together, and they decide to have a no-strings fling. Eric assumes at first that their chemistry is off the charts because of Beth’s job as manager of an erotic boutique, but he soon learns that appearances can be deceiving. Can the two find a way to trust each other when they’re both hiding secrets about their pasts?

I absolutely loved the chemistry between Eric and Beth! When I first picked up the book, I read about a chapter, then put it down, because I wasn’t immediately drawn into the story, but once Beth and Eric get together, everything gets a LOT steamier! You might assume that the book is full-o-the-smexy because of Beth’s job, but the truth is that she’s a lot less experienced than you would assume. I think one of the reasons Beth is such an appealing character is because she’s willing to try new experiences with Eric, recognizing that the reason she hasn’t before is a lack of chemistry with and trust for her partners.

I actually liked Beth’s character more than Eric’s in this book. She’s really engaging and personable, and frankly her scenes at the boutique show her to be a very open and accepting person, even as she acknowledges that a lot of what they sell at her store is not for her. The traumatic event in her past is really upsetting, and it’s easy to see why she has so many trust issues. She’s an intriguing mix of vulnerability and strength, and I really like that she recognizes her weaknesses and takes charge of her sexuality with Eric in a way she hasn’t before.

The continuing family drama at the brewery could be a selling point or a problem, depending on the reader. I find it extremely believable that the three siblings would fall into patterns of behavior that prevent them from improving their communication. There’s never any doubt that they love each other, but clearly the deaths of their parents established roles for each sibling that have continued into adulthood. Jaime and Eric in particular seem to punch each other’s buttons, and while I found this believable, it also really frustrated me. I’m not sure that a reader who hadn’t read the other books in the series would have this reaction, but I thought that after Jaime’s book, his relationship with Eric would improve, which was not the case. The constant tension between the siblings, while realistic, grew distracting, and I think detracted from my enjoyment of the book overall. Seriously, at times I just wanted to scream at them, “Haven’t you people ever heard of therapy?!!?!”

In spite of a few throw-my-book-at-the-wall moments thanks to all the family drama, I really enjoyed this book. In fact, I love Ms. Dahl’s voice in this trilogy, and I can’t wait to read more of her work. Definitely a keeper!

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