Desert Isle Keeper

Dirty Dancing at Devil's Leap

Julie Anne Long

As I looked back over my notes so as to be able to write this review, two words kept popping out: relatable and refreshing. Relatable because the characters are just that and refreshing because that’s how this book felt. In Dirty Dancing at Devil’s Leap, the third installment in her Hellcat Canyon series, Julie Ann Long delivers an engrossing story of second chances and enemies shifting to lovers, full of heart, banter, and sexytimes. What more can anyone ask for?

This is the first book by Ms. Long that I’ve read, but I’ve been reading my fellow AAR reviewers rave about her for a while. Based on those reviews, I expected to enjoy myself, but I didn’t expect to literally be unable to put this book down. Seriously. I started after dinner one evening, expecting to read a few chapters before getting ready for bed. The book gods laughed at that one, y’all, because the next thing I knew it was midnight and I was nearly hugging my Kindle for love of this book.

Maximilian Coltrane was born into money – assuming you can’t tell that by the name. However, his fortunes have shifted since a childhood spent in Hellcat Canyon and he’s found himself on the opposite end of the financial spectrum. We meet him as he’s putting his family home up for sale at auction to cover familial debts (his father made some atrocious decisions, which leave Mac with some of the choices he’s forced to make now). He’s got a plan all worked out to buy it for himself, quietly, when he’s outbid by none other than the girl he’s never forgotten, Avalon Harwood.

Avalon has come a long way since the days of playing with the rich boy who lived next door. When we meet her, she’s got a fabulous boyfriend and a successful business. About five pages after we meet her, she finds said boyfriend in bed with an intern and her foundations crumble. Fleeing home, she discovers the Coltrane house is up for auction and decides to buy it and flip it (i.e, fix it up and sell it at a profit). She spent much of her childhood at that house, growing up with and falling for Mac. Mac, whom she hasn’t seen in nigh on a decade after overhearing him call her a hick.

So imagine her surprise when she buys the house and discovers it comes with a groundskeeper who also happens to be Mac. A much different man than the boy she fell for, Mac is now a military veteran who runs a small farm and is successfully carving a life for himself out of the ruins of his father’s fraud convictions and very public downfall. They spar immediately – Avalon is feisty because Mac broke her heart, Mac returns the sass because Avalon is the girl who got away.

They soon declare war on each other, but it’s a mischievous, banter-filled war. Avalon is  determined to get Mac off her property, and Mac is determined to buy his house back from her. He reasons that as she’s never flipped a house before, she’ll surely give up.  Little does he know that brokenhearted, adult Avalon has more grit than he could have ever imagined. As they fall for each other, we’re along for the ride of self-discovery and the building of a happily ever after.

I adored the time I spent with these folks. I loved their banter and how they each gave as good as they got. I loved their brave choices about their own lives, but also the moments they had to choose to trust each other. I loved Avalon’s slow realization that perhaps reality is more complicated than her memories, and Mac’s that redemption may look different and be just as complete. Throw in a delightful cast of secondary characters from previous books and I am completely sold.

As we near the end of the summer, it might be that perhaps you’re not looking for another vacation read. However, if you’re planning one last escape, throw Dirty Dancing at Devil’s Leap into your bag or onto your e-reader and enjoy. Avalon and Mac are grand friends to spend a few hours with and I’m sure you’ll enjoy your time with them as much as I did.

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Book Details

Reviewer :      Kristen Donnelly

Grade :     A

Sensuality :      Warm

Book Type :     

Review Tags :     

Recent Comments


  1. Dabney Grinnan
    Dabney Grinnan July 27, 2017 at 10:38 am - Reply

    I just finished this and think it’s the best in this series. I love the way Ms. Long uses music in her works–Roxy Music, be still my heart. This is the funniest book she’s written since What I Did for a Duke and it made me giggle again and again.

  2. Blackjack
    Blackjack July 27, 2017 at 4:23 pm - Reply

    Long is an auto-buy for me and I’m reading this regardless of reviews as soon as it comes out. However, it’s really good to know that you all enjoyed it this much!

  3. Em Wittmann
    Em Wittmann July 27, 2017 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    I admit, I haven’t read any of these because I was nursing a grudge against Ms. Long for daring to stray from historicals. Yes, I’m crazy.

    But all the good feedback leads me to believe the only one I’m hurting is myself. Shocker. Picking this series up this evening.

  4. Em Wittmann
    Em Wittmann July 27, 2017 at 7:06 pm - Reply

    Can these be read as standalones? Seems like it.

    • Blackjack
      Blackjack July 27, 2017 at 11:12 pm - Reply

      I think so, Em. They are loosely connected via the small town in N. Cal in which they are set. There are recurring secondary characters but the main stories have been standalone.

    • Kristen Donnelly
      Kristen Donnelly July 31, 2017 at 10:16 am - Reply

      This is the very first one I read and wasn’t lost at all, Em. I’m now gonna go back and glom her entire back catalogue.

  5. Amanda
    Amanda July 29, 2017 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    I’ve really enjoyed this series so far! JAL has transitioned well to contemporary.

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