Jill Shalvis’ Lucky Harbor series is one I enjoy returning to again and again: I know I’m going to get well-written characters, engaging storylines, and sweet romance with just the right amount of heat. Once in a Lifetime delivers on all fronts and is one of my favorites in the series so far.
Aubrey Wellington is having a bad day. Not only is her ex-boss/ex-lover featuring her in his scandalous tell-all book, but she’s just had an accidental run-in with sexy Ben McDaniel, her high school crush. Fleeing the scene of her run-in, she accidentally ends up at an AA meeting, and after listening to some of the members speak she decides perhaps they’re on to something: She’s going to fix her karma by using Step 8 – making a list of people she’s wronged and make amends.
Five years ago, Ben McDaniels’ wife was killed in a car accident. After her death, he spent his time in war-torn areas of the world, trying to make a difference for the people who live there. Now he’s back in Lucky Harbor with some free time on his hands and has been suckered into helping renovate the old bookstore that Aubrey’s reopening.
When it’s clear that they can’t deny the tension building between them, they agree it’s got to be just physical. The whole town knows Aubrey’s not the girl for Ben, and while she’s busy writing her past wrongs, she knows Ben is the one person who she’ll never, ever be able to make amends to.
There were several things about this book that make it one of my favorites of the series:
- The chemistry between Aubrey and Ben is hot!
- Aubrey is not the town sweetheart and has a reputation (whether deserved or not) as a troublemaker
- Former main characters are still around and still awesome
- Craft Corner!
In this 9th installment to the Lucky Harbor series, we are reminded that small-town life is not always picturesque and people don’t always forgive and forget. The townsfolk don’t know about Aubrey’s personal life, they only know the public face she’s always worn while she keeps her feelings locked up tight. When she starts trying to fix her past transgressions, she’s not always forgiven, but she’s determined to make amends any way she can, and because of that, I really, really liked Aubrey’s character – she’s real and slightly tarnished and still manages to have a sense of humor about life.
I enjoyed Ben’s character – a genuinely good guy who is afraid to go all in and have his heart broken again. He’s got great, honest support from his buddies and is genuinely interested in Aubrey, even though he tries to deny it to himself. And when he’s with Aubrey…heat rises off the page.
There are really only two reasons Once In A Lifetime is a 4 1/2 and not a 5-star read for me:
- Ben’s dead wife Heather is portrayed as perfect by the town but is really horrible to Aubrey. I had a hard time buying it; and
- The ending is really abrupt. Like… BAM! The End. I would have liked more dissection of the problem and reactions of the characters before the ending.
Overall though, I thoroughly enjoyed Once In A Lifetime – there were some laugh-out-loud moments and some heartbreaking history for both main characters. As always, I can’t wait for my next “mini-vacation” to Lucky Harbor!
I’ll always recommend the Lucky Harbor series to fans of Contemporary Romance, or someone who wants to try Romance for the first time. If you’re looking for something sweet with a bit of sizzle, a non-typical heroine and a swoon-worthy hero, Once In A Lifetime may be just what you need.
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