Title: Lead Me On
Author: Victoria Dahl
Genre: Contemporary Romance
My rating (10 max) : 9.25
Lead Me On is the third book in a three book series, the first two being Talk Me Down, and Start Me Up. Though all the books are stand alones, it would help if you read Start Me Up before this book because it introduces Jane and tells her boss, Quinn Jennings' story.
Ms. Dahl's books are always full of a delicious assortment of characters who interact with each other with humor, pathos, and realism. The characters in Lead Me On are all that is found in previous books and so much more. They are flawed and most are from the trailer-park side of the railroad tracks.
The heroine, Jane, is a judgmental, conservative, and snobbish woman who is not very likeable upon first appearances. But, as the story unfolds, we learn that Jane is not really Jane at all, but a woman previously named Dynasty Alexis who completely reinvented herself, down to changing her name, in order to leave her difficult past behind her. Jane wears very conservative, nonflattering clothes, her hair is pulled tightly back into a bun, her intention is to draw as little attention to herself as possible, which includes her chosen "vanilla" name. She also dates only conservative, professional man who can give her the white-picket-fence kind of life. As the story unfolds, the back story of Jane explains her unbending attitudes and her obsession with changing herself and her life.
Jane's world gets rocked when big, tall, muscular, tatooed, dusty-t-shirt-wearing, ground-in-dirt -jeans wearing William "Billy" Chase walks into the Jennings office and into her life. Chase, as he is called, represents everything Jane does not want in a man except his joie de vivre and great passion. He has managed to put his difficult childhood behind him and has learned to cope with his father's alcoholism.
There was instant chemistry between Jane and Chase which she tried fighting against and he kept striving for throughout the book. Family complications and personal challenges kept the relationship from going to where Chase wanted. He fell in love with Jane, whose other persona he had known when they were younger. Jane resisted a deepening relationship even though, as the narrative progressed, she could not see that she had fallen in love with Chase who had quickly become her best friend.
Jane's stubborn lack of acceptance of the good man Chase was for prejudiced and ignorant reasons and Chase's insistence that Jane needed to accept him without his intense pursuit became grating at times. These two characters belonged together. By the end of the book, everyone had figured that out, including them.
I enjoyed Lead Me On. It read quickly, caught my interest immediately, and kept me interested the entire narrative. I love the secondary characters and Chase, and, through Ms. Dahl's skillful writing, I even learned to like Jane.
I highly recommend this book to any reader who appreciates the intricacies of family relations and cheers for a happy ending for two people whose paths have crossed time and again because of the generous hand of fate.