Love Hacked by Penny Reid #Review

Love Hacked by Penny Reid #Review

Love Hacked by Penny Reid #Review

Love Hacked: a reluctant romance by Penny Reid


Published by Caped Publishing on March 3, 2014
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Love & Romance, Romance
Size: 390
Format: eBook
Source: Provided by Author
Amazon :: More Info ::
PJV Rating: 4 Stars
There are three things you need to know about Sandra Fielding: 1) She makes all her first dates cry, 2) She hasn't been kissed in over two years, and 3) She knows how to knit.

Sandra has difficulty removing her psychotherapist hat. Of her last 30 dates, 29 have ended the same way: the man sobbing uncontrollably. After one such disaster, Sandra--near desperation and maybe a little tipsy--gives in to a seemingly harmless encounter with her hot waiter, Alex. Argumentative, secretive, and hostile Alex may be the opposite of everything Sandra knows is right for her. But now, the girl who has spent all her life helping others change for the better, must find a way to cope with falling for someone who refuses to change at all.

This is a full-length, 110k word novel and is the third book in the Knitting in the City series. All books in the series can be read as a standalone.
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PJV Quickie: Penny Reid is quickly becoming my ‘go-to’ author for smart, funny romance.  Her Knitting in the City books have been a surprise hit for me and I hope she’s got a book planned for every member of the knitting group…and maybe a bodyguard or two *winks*

Review: 
Sandra Fielding is a 28-year-old psychiatrist who has been really, really unlucky in love. Every date she’s gone on in the last two years ends up with her date crying and Sandra recommending him to her colleague for counseling.  At least she’s got a great ‘first-date restaurant’ where the food is good and one particular waiter is hot, hot, hot. His voice is sexy and if her dates have to end in tears, at least she gets some eye-candy while she’s there and her favorite butter chicken to-go.  She’s never spoken to him about anything personal, until one night, after a late date ends in typical fashion, she walks back to settle the bill and her waiter is sitting at her table, waiting for her.  They talk and drink wine, and then Alex lays the most amazing kiss on Sandra that she’s ever experienced.  So he’s a bit younger than she is, nothing wrong with a quick fling with a hot guy, right?

Alex Greene can’t figure out why Sandra comes to the restaurant every other week and makes men cry.  At first he thought she was breaking up with them, but there were too many. Then he thought she was firing them.  After overhearing a few of Sandra’s conversations, he figures out she’s a psychiatrist, and even though he has a severe disdain for psychiatrists, Alex can’t help his preoccupation with her.  Once he makes his move and gets to know her better, Alex knows he wants something real with her, but he has a past that he can’t escape, and he’ll do anything to keep it separate from his relationship with Sandra.

~~~~~~~~~~

Ohhh, I really liked Love Hacked!  Ms. Reid’s signature brand of humor is there, and I found myself laughing quite a bit.  I enjoy her awkward heroines, and while Sandra is definitely awkward (she has an imaginary “Wookie suit”), this time it’s her hero who’s more eccentric.  I couldn’t figure him out until we started getting bits and pieces of his past.  He’s younger than Sandra, 21 to her 28, and she has issues with the age difference.  Honestly, as I read I imagined both characters a bit older (in my head they were about 32 and 25); 28 seems kind of young for a pediatric psychiatrist, unless she’s brand new?  And Alex is very mature for a 21-year-old – but he’s got the swooniest lines I’ve read in a long time. So many sighs while reading Alex, so many swoony sighs…  Ms. Reid has written Sandra and Alex a complicated love story, full of doubts and secrets and heartbreakingly honest discussions.  It was a story I didn’t want to leave when it was over.

The knitting club is still active in Love Hacked, and these women are supportive yet honest; every woman needs a group of friends like this!  We also get to check in on Janie and Quinn (book 1) and Elizabeth and Nico (book 2), and there are a few surprises from the knitting group.

Without going into spoilers,  I found the bitcoin plot to be interesting; I don’t quite understand the concept of bitcoins but they have been in the news quite a bit lately and I thought it made a good storyline.  It tied in to a whirlwind ending, but I’m a hopeless romantic and thought it was sweet – they’ve got enough of an ‘opposites attract’ thing going to keep them from getting complacent with each other.

(I also want to add that they nailed the cover! Sandra’s red dress figures prominently in Love Hacked and I could totally see her in this dress.)

Recommendations: 
Fans of Contemporary Romance, non-traditional heroes, nerdy heroines, and positive female relationships will all find something to love in Love Hacked.  You can read Love Hacked as a stand-alone, but I highly recommend reading the two previous books in the series as well – they’re terrific!

Other books you might like, similar to ‘Love Hacked’:

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4 Stars

Waiting On You by Kristan Higgins #Review

Waiting On You by Kristan Higgins #Review

Waiting On You by Kristan Higgins #Review

Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins


Published by Harlequin, HQN on March 25, 2014
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Love & Romance, Romance
Size: 464
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Amazon :: More Info ::
PJV Rating: 4 Stars
Does being nobody's fool mean that you're nobody's love?

Colleen O'Rourke is in love with love... just not when it comes to herself. Most nights, she can be found behind the bar at the Manningsport, New York, tavern she owns with her twin brother, doling out romantic advice to the lovelorn, mixing martinis and staying more or less happily single. See, ten years ago, Lucas Campbell, her first love, broke her heart... an experience Colleen doesn't want to have again, thanks. Since then, she's been happy with a fling here and there, some elite-level flirting and playing matchmaker to her friends.

But a family emergency has brought Lucas back to town, handsome as ever and still the only man who's ever been able to crack her defenses. Seems like maybe they've got some unfinished business waiting for them—but to find out, Colleen has to let her guard down, or risk losing a second chance with the only man she's ever loved.
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PJV Quickie: Kristen Higgins is a terrific storyteller; she tells a sweet tale that is in turns funny and bittersweet, and I know that once I open one of her books I’m going to be there for awhile.  Luckily for me I planned ahead and had a comfy chair and pillow nest to sit in while reading Waiting On You. There were a few spots I struggled with, but overall I enjoyed my time in Manningsport and am looking forward to visiting again. 

Review: 

Colleen O’Rourke owns the local bar in Manningsport with her twin Connor. She enjoys working at her bar; she’s a ‘people person’ and unofficial matchmaker – she’s had several babies named after her in honor of her successful matches.   She hasn’t been able to make her own match though: she found her one true love as a teen and when he left her heartbroken 14 years ago she never really got over it. Sure she’s had some flings, but nothing serious.  Plus, she’s too busy worrying about her brother’s love life, her divorced parents fighting, and her step-mother’s attempts to turn her half-sister Savannah into a girly-girl.

Lucas Campbell grew up in Chicago, until his dad went to jail and he was sent to live with his Uncle Joe in Manningsport. Joe’s wife Didi treated Lucas as an inconvenience and Uncle Joe was a weak-willed man who let Aunt Didi run the house.  The only good thing in Lucas’ life was Colleen; she made him feel like he mattered.  He’s never forgiven himself for the last time he saw Colleen and how badly he’d ended things.  Now he’s back in Manningsport to take care of his dying uncle, and he can’t resist the temptation to check in on Colleen.

~~~~~~~~~~

I noticed on GoodReads I’ve been giving this series 4 stars consistently, and that’s about right – Ms. Higgins is an auto-buy author for me and Waiting on You is full of the funny, awkward characters and situational hilarity that I love.  I could totally see myself living in this fictional town and hanging out with Colleen for Girl’s Night Out.

Colleen is funny and feisty and has the biggest heart.  She genuinely wants to make other people happy, but has kind of given up on her own happiness.  Lucas’ story was tragic in so many different ways; it’s amazing he grew into an upstanding, compassionate man. As both sides of the story unfold and we learn what happened, it’s impossible not to feel badly for them both; there’s a misunderstanding, and the events that follow are unfortunate and heartbreaking.  When Lucas comes back, the tension between them is wonderful.  Kristan Higgins writes wanting so very, very well.  One thing I was kind of frustrated with was the fact that Lucas didn’t come back at any point in the years he was gone when he had the chance; if his love for Colleen as ‘the one that got away’ was as great as it seemed, I couldn’t figure out why he didn’t at least check on her.

The side-stories running through Waiting On You were entertaining and I love the citizens of Manningsport; her characters are realistic and I found my opinions of certain characters flip-flopping as the book progressed – no clear-cut villains (except Aunt DiDi) and everyone has a story.  Ms. Higgins wrapped things up in a way that left me smiling and satisfied, and I’m already looking forward to visiting Manningsport again in the next book, In Your Dreams.

Recommendations: 
I always recommend Kristin Higgin’s books for readers who enjoy contemporary romance.  If you like second-chance romance and small-town settings with quirky characters and lots of humor, Waiting on You is exactly what you’ve been waiting for.

Other books you might like, similar to ‘Waiting on You’:

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4 Stars

Beyond Jealousy by Kit Rocha #Review #BlogTour

Beyond Jealousy by Kit Rocha #Review #BlogTour

Beyond Jealousy by Kit Rocha #Review #BlogTour

Beyond Jealousy by Kit Rocha

Series: Beyond #4

Published by Self-Published on March 17, 2014
Genres: Adult, Dystopian, Erotica, Love & Romance, Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Provided by Author
Amazon :: More Info ::
PJV Rating: 4 Stars
She’s been looking for the perfect man. She found two.

When Rachel Riley sacrificed a life in Eden to protect the O’Kanes, she earned her place in the powerful Sector Four gang. But the former crime princess is tired of being everyone’s sweet little sister . It’s time for her to get wild, to embrace her fantasies as only an O’Kane can—with a delicious exiled soldier and the gang’s wickedly sinful tattoo artist.

A saint...

Lorenzo Cruz is a warrior, taught by his commanding officers in Eden that involvement equals distraction. Emotion is a liability, and desire a sin. In Sector Four, he finds decadence, shameless sex—and his own dark urges. No battle strategy prepared him for how Rachel makes his heart race…or the way his rival for her affections sets his blood on fire.

...and a sinner.

Ace Santana has a dirty reputation and a mind to match, especially where his new lovers are concerned. He’s eager to help Cruz embrace his dominant side, and to explore the lines between pleasure and pain with Rachel. But corrupting them quickly becomes an obsession, a need he can’t deny—and a love he never imagined.

Three hearts on the line means a hundred ways their ménage a trois could go wrong. After all, even O’Kanes do forever two-by-two. One of them could be the missing piece that makes them all whole…or a temporary diversion destined for a broken heart.
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Kit Rocha tour

 

 

 

 

 

PJV Quickie: I’m a huge Kit Rocha fan and when I got the opportunity to review the latest book in their Jealousy series, I jumped on it!  Beyond Jealousy is a sex-fueled tale that takes us back to the O’Kanes and Sector 4, where life is hard but can be very, very good, and love can be found if you’re willing to fight for it.  Although not my favorite in the series, Beyond Jealousy ended with a bang that ultimately left me satisfied and ready for more O’Kane action.

Review: 
Rachel Riley was raised in Eden, always doing the right thing, which included working for her father’s illegal brewing company. When things went bad, she took the fall and was exiled from Eden.  Rachel’s father had contacts with Dallas O’Kane, the leader of Sector 4, and he arranged for Riley to go there.

Lorenzo Cruz has been programmed to be one of Eden’s elite soldiers since he was a small boy.  Being exiled to Sector 4, he still has contacts within Eden and is loyal to the O’Kanes.  He can get all his wildest urges fulfilled in Eden, but his feelings for Rachel are new and he doesn’t know how to deal with them.  Nor does he know what to do about his feelings for Ace, who’s tied to Rachel in a complicated knot that none of them seems to know how to unravel.

Ace Santana is Sector 4′s tattoo guy, and a dirty, dirty boy.  After a cage fight with Cruz that ended with erotic undertones, he’s having a sort-of-relationship with Cruz, but he still has complicated feelings for Rachel and wants her too.  He knows the three of them could be good, at least until they’re done with him… because with a past like his, no one would want him for keeps.

When it’s discovered that bootleggers are passing off poor-quality hooch as quality O’Kane liquor, the hunt is on to discover who the culprit is.  It’s a dangerous business, and before it’s over, people will get hurt.

 ~~~~~~~~~~

I love the world Kit Rocha has created in their Beyond series.  Sector 4 is a dark, dreary place full of outlaws, but they’ve managed to carve something of a sanctuary for themselves where pleasure is plentiful and consentual, in other words: HOT!  That being said, I have mixed feelings about Beyond Jealousy;  for me, the first half was kind of slow but the second half flew by.  

I liked Rachel, Ace and Cruz in previous books and have been looking forward to their story; I wasn’t expecting Cruz to be the ‘Alpha’ of the trio and that was a pleasant surprise.  All of which makes my next statement seem a little strange: the reason the first half of the book was slow for me was that there was just too much sex.  It kind of went on and on; it was hot and sexy, but didn’t do much to advance the plot.

Now, don’t get me wrong - No one writes hot, dirty, sensual sex scenes like Kit Rocha.  I liked the sex, especially the angry shower sex scene between Cruz and Ace, and the ‘tattoo sex’ between the trio.  And once the bootlegging plot did move along I was fascinated.  I’ve said in previous reviews of this series that I wish we could see more of the O’Kane world and feel that way again about Beyond Jealousy.  Seeing the tentative relationship between Sector 4 and Eden, and how each faction takes what they need from the other is fascinating to me.  I found myself wondering things like, how do they get hot showers? And wondering about the chemicals fed to the general population that are mentioned in the story.

Of course there was conflict that made a HEA seem unobtainable, and I thought it was well-done: the self-destructive actions from one character was both realistic and heartbreaking.  There was also some drama near the end that had me holding my breath and wondering about the repercussions of certain promises that were made.

I’m giving the first half of the book 3 stars, and the second half 5 stars, averaging 4 stars.  I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, Beyond Addiction.

Recommendations: 
I think fans of dystopian romance or erotic romance will love this; there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Other books you might like, similar to ‘Beyond Jealousy’:

  • Flesh by Kylie Scott
  • Driven by Eve Silver
  • After the Crux by Dani Worth

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AUTHOR BIO
Kit Rocha is actually two people—Bree & Donna, best friends who are living the dream. They get paid to work in their pajamas, talk on the phone, and write down all the stories they used to make up in their heads.
Beyond Shame was their first dystopian erotic romance. They also write paranormal romance as Moira Rogers. You can find them on the web at the following places:

Stalk the authors here:
Kit Rocha

http://www.facebook.com/TheBrokenCircle

http://twitter.com/kitrocha

http://www.kitrocha.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6470635.Kit_Rocha?bf=2000&from_search=true

 

Moira Rogers:  http://www.moirarogers.com/
Bree:  http://twitter.com/mostlybree
Donna:  http://twitter.com/donnajherren

4 Stars

Best Kind of Broken by Chelsea Fine #Review

Best Kind of Broken by Chelsea Fine #Review

Best Kind of Broken by Chelsea Fine #Review

The Best Kind of Broken by Chelsea Fine


Published by Hatchett on March 4, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Love & Romance, New Adult
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Amazon :: More Info ::
PJV Rating: 3.5 Stars
SOMETIMES MOVING ON MEANS MOVING IN

Pixie Marshall wishes every day she could turn back time and fix the past. But she can't. And the damage is done. She's hoping that a summer of free room and board working with her aunt at the Willow Inn will help her forget. Except there's a problem: the resident handyman is none other than Levi Andrews. The handsome quarterback was once her friend-and maybe more--until everything changed in a life-shattering instant. She was hoping to avoid him, possibly forever. Now he's right down the hall and stirring up feelings Pixie thought she'd long buried . . .

Levi can't believe he's living with the one person who holds all his painful memories. More than anything he wants to make things right, but a simple "sorry" won't suffice--not when the tragedy that scarred them was his fault. Levi knows Pixie's better off without him, but every part of him screams to touch her, protect her, wrap her in his arms, and kiss away the pain. Yet even though she's so close, Pixie's heart seems more unreachable than ever. Seeing those stunning green eyes again has made one thing perfectly clear--he can't live without her.
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PJV Quickie: I have mixed feelings about Best Kind of Broken; on one hand the characters were interesting and I wanted to know their story, on the other hand I found the build-up to the “big secret” to be frustrating. Once I got past that however, the story was touching and I enjoyed the time I spent reading Best Kind of Broken.

Review:
Sarah “Pixie” Marshall has just arrived at Willow Inn, where she’ll be working for her Aunt Ellen over the summer until it’s time to go back to college at ASU. Pixie’s mother is an awful excuse for a human being, so she doesn’t want to go home. The only problem with working at the Inn is that she’s rooming next door to uber-hot Levi Andrews. She grew up with Levi and has had a crush on him forever, but knows she’ll never be able to have what she wants with Levi – she has a scar to remind her of the tragedy they share.

Levi Andrews was the star quarterback for ASU, until a tragic chain of events led to his being put on academic probation. He doesn’t really have a home to go back to, so he ends up doing odd jobs for Pixie’s Aunt Ellen at the Willow Inn.  He’s not prepared when he sees Pixie at the Inn and realizes they’ll be living next door to each other in the empty East wing, so he moves into default “jerk” mode – it’s easier to fight with Pixie than to open his heart and beg her forgiveness.

~~~~~~~~~~

This is my first Chelsea Fine book and overall I did enjoy it. Best Kind of Broken is told from both Pixie and Levi’s point-of-view and it worked for this story; it didn’t feel fragmented or awkward at all.

I finished this book about a week ago and over the past few days I’ve found myself thinking about the book off and on.  It started well – we jumped right in to the back-and-forth between Pixie and Levi and I was interested in their back story. But then, they would each think about/remember the BIG THING in their past, there was obviously some HORRIBLE INCIDENT that the author skirting around but instead of gently teasing that there is a tragic history, it was heavy-handed and not subtle at all – THERE’S A SECRET BUT YOU DON’T GET TO KNOW IT UNTIL I SAY SO. It got to the point that every time it was hinted at I just rolled my eyes. I started worrying I wasn’t going to like the book, but I kept reading, and I realized that even though I was frustrated with all the hints about their past I was enjoying reading about their present relationship. The sexual tension between them was written with the perfect combination of desire and despair and I found myself wondering what could possibly be keeping them apart. As we slowly learn about their previous relationship, the BIG THING is revealed and I’ll admit it is definitely heartbreaking.

Other than the foreshadowing (is that what we would call it in this instance?) I thought the writing was very good. I was able to get a good visual of the Inn and the places Pixie and Levi went.  I liked the Hero and Heroine and the supporting characters.   The tension between Levi and Pixie was palpable and wanted things to turn out well for them.

One thing that slightly diminished my enjoyment of the book is that the author used the word “retarded” in a derogatory way. It’s offensive and I was disappointed to come across it not once but twice. There are plenty of other descriptive words she could have used that would not have been insulting.

The ending wrapped up a bit too quickly, but I was ultimately happy with how things ended up for the characters and I am looking forward to reading Darren’s book next: Perfect Kind of Trouble.

Recommendations:
Fans of New Adult, tragic histories, and sweet romance should enjoy Best Kind of Broken.

Other New Adult books you might like:

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3.5 Stars

Bite Me by Shelly Laurenston #Review

Bite Me by Shelly Laurenston #Review

Bite Me by Shelly Laurenston #Review

Bite Me by Shelly Laurenston

Series: Pride #9

Published by Kensington on March 25, 2014
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Size: 385
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Amazon :: More Info ::
PJV Rating: 4.5 Stars
Livy Kowalski has no time for idiots. When you shapeshift into a honey badger, getting through life’s irritants is a finely honed skill. Until she gets stuck housing her nutso cousin and dealing with her dad’s untimely and unexplained demise.

That’s where Vic Barinov comes in—or his house does. Vic can’t step outside without coming back to find Livy devouring his honey stash and getting the TV remote sticky. It gets his animal instincts all riled up. But he’ll have to woo her at high speed: all hell is breaking loose, and Livy is leading the charge…
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PJV Quickie: You guys, I just love Shelly Laurenston’s Pride series! Bite Me, the ninth book in the series, does not disappoint:  I loved Livy, the honey-badger shifter, and Vic, a bear-tiger hybrid; I thought they were perfect together.  I’m kind of picky about what works for me in Paranormal Romance, and Shelly Laurenston is one of those authors who nails it every time.

Review:

Livy Kowalski is a honey-badger shifter who loves fancy honey and breaking into her friends’ homes when she needs somewhere to crash. She’s not close to her family but is fiercely loyal to her friends. Although Livy’s family is notorious for their thieving ways, Livy is different – her best friend Toni convinced her to follow her passion for photography instead of following in her family’s footsteps. Things have been a little stressful for Livy lately: her dad just died, her awful cousin just got out of prison and has come to stay at Livy’s house, and she’s been asked to be a wedding photographer – a wedding photographer!  When her good friend Vic Barinov asks for her help going undercover to help with a case he’s working on, the last thing Livy expects to find is her father’s body, stuffed and on display in his honey-badger form.

Vic Barinov is a bear/tiger hybrid and freelance investigator.  He’s been asked to work a case finding the man responsible for running a resort that offers clients the chance to hunt shifters.  Vic knows Livy’s been having a hard time with her family lately, and when he finds out about her father, he’s there for her…because they’re good friends.  Now that they’re both working towards the same goal of catching the person responsible for the horrific death of so many shifters, they’re spending more time together.  But he’s been feeling protective, and missing her when she’s not there.  And when they find out just how deep and dangerous this case is, he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her safe.

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First of all – I LOVE this cover!  I don’t know what it is, something about the blue eyes on the tiger and the man, maybe – it’s striking and it draws my attention. 

I would describe Ms. Laurenston’s Pride series as fun, sexy, and addictive, and Bite Me hits all three points.  There are so many things I loved about Bite Me that I don’t think I’ll be able to include them all here:

  1. I loved Livy and Vic together!  This is definitely a ‘friends-to-lovers’ story:  Livy‘s got a dysfunctional family and commitment issues, and Vic had a more stable childhood and the patience to let Livy work through her issues.  I love how when Livy gets stressed he shares his honey and his cabinets (you’ll get it when you read the book) with her. 
  2. Vic’s “partner” Shen is a panda who is constantly eating bamboo.  He’s also the perfect sidekick for Vic.
  3. We get to see Toni’s younger brother Kyle, from Wolf With Benefits again.  This young prodigy doesn’t have many scenes, but when he does, he steals them completely.
  4. Ms. Laurentston has written nine books in this series and they’ve all been characters I adore.  She brings so many of them back it’s like going to a reunion where only people you like were invited.  The different packs working together to track down the bad guy kept me entertained as each variety of shifter loves to annoy the other species.  I especially liked Livy and Vic’s families agreeing to work together.
  5. The writing is entertaining and outrageous and consistently well-done. While reading Bite Me, there may have been breathy sighs, awwwws, laughs and an “oh snap!” or two. This is a world I enjoy visiting and at the end of every story I’m looking forward to whatever comes next.

Ms. Laurenston writes books that pull off the triple threat of great characters, a good story, and sexy chemistry between her heroes and heroines.  For what it’s worth, I am somewhat of an introvert and so I don’t usually see myself in the kick-ass heroines I like to read about.  For some reason though, Livy was different and I found myself identifying with her character, which for me was a nice surprise.  

Recommendations: 
Fans of quirky, over-the top writing and sexy paranormal shifters will love this series.  I think you *could* read this one as a stand-alone, but there is a lot of world-building and previous character appearances that would make more sense if you’ve read other books in the series.

Other books you might like, similar to ‘Bite Me’:

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4.5 Stars

Once In A Lifetime by Jill Shalvis #Review

Once In A Lifetime by Jill Shalvis #Review

Once In A Lifetime by Jill Shalvis #Review

Once In A Lifetime by Jill Shalvis


Published by Grand Central, Hachette on February 18, 2014
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Contemporary Women, Love & Romance, Romance
Size: 353
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Amazon :: More Info ::
PJV Rating: 4.5 Stars
SOMETIMES WRONG IS OH-SO-RIGHT

After a wrenching loss, Ben McDaniel tried to escape his grief by working in dangerous, war-torn places like Africa and the Middle East. Now he's back in his hometown and face-to-face with Aubrey Wellington, the hot-as-hell woman who is trouble with a capital T. Family and friends insist she's not the one to ease his pain, but Aubrey sparks an intense desire that gives Ben hope for the future.

Determined to right the wrongs of her past, Aubrey is working hard to make amends. But by far, the toughest challenge to her plan is sexy, brooding Ben - even though he has absolutely no idea what she's done . . .

Can this unlikely couple defy the odds and win over the little town of Lucky Harbor?
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PJV Quickie:
 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.

Review: 
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!

Recommendations: 

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.

Other books you might like, similar to ‘Once In A Lifetime’:

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4.5 Stars

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