Victoria Dahl was a keynote speaker at a writer’s conference I attended a few months ago. She introduced herself as an unsympathetic heroine, a woman with a few close friends but not a lot of friendly acquaintances, a woman who would rather receive dirty pictures and jokes while her husband was in the hospital than casseroles cooked by neighbors.
“She’s so cool,” I though to myself. So I followed her on Twitter, and have been treated to lessons on female anatomy, lots of curse words, and a Tumblr full of NSFW gifs. She keeps on giving, obviously. So when her latest book was released, and I was told over and over about a scene with ladder sex, I knew that I had to read it.
Isabelle is an artist, and although she is not a mother, she totally has mom-brain, that thing where you have a running list of things to do but you can’t remember any of them, and you get distracted by one task while in the middle of another, and you never remember to change the lightbulb even though you remind yourself to do it every single day. Maybe that’s just my mom-brain. Isabelle lives in a semi-isolated house in Jackson Hole, content to be alone and paint and eat the food that her chef-friend Jill conveniently feeds her.
Isabelle also has a past that makes her very leery of law enforcement. Tom is a federal marshall, precisely the kind of man that she needs to avoid but can’t help being attracted to. And, unluckily for Isabelle, Tom has a savior complex and he thinks she needs to be rescued. Since Tom is only in town for a couple of weeks for work, she decides that a little fling won’t hurt.
Now, based upon this book, the novella at the end of it, and Twitter, I’m going to say that Victoria Dahl does not write a timid heroine. Her women like sex. They are comfortable seeking their own pleasure if a man isn’t around. If a man is around, the heroine will appreciate his body, ask for what she wants, and enjoy it completely. Isabelle and the heroine of the novella are both over forty, and they totally embrace the idea of a woman’s sexual peak arriving late but fierce.
Isabelle gives voice to our cultural double standards. When Tom asks her why she’s not married, she fires back and asks him why he isn’t. She explains the hypocrisy of her first boyfriend, who liked that she was a virgin (before he slept with her) and talked smack about girls who put out. Then there’s this:
“Some men can make it hard to feel good about [sex] afterward, no matter how much you liked it. Men say things like ‘I got some’ or ‘She put out,’ or whatever that dialogue is. Girls are stupid cows giving the milk away for free. And suddenly you feel like you were conquered….It takes a lot of self-possession to know that a man’s attitude doesn’t change what you wanted. It doesn’t change what you got out of it.”
So, all that empowerment plus some sex on a ladder! (And in a bed, and in a kitchen.) This book probably used the word cock more than any other book I’ve read, which made me feel prudish in a way. But I fully support all the shenanigans. The plot was exciting, too, and the ending was just what needed to happen.
Click to purchase: Amazon
Flirting With Disaster
by Victoria Dahl
Release Date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: HQN Books