Once In A Lifetime by Jill Shalvis
Published by Grand Central, Hachette on February 18, 2014
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Contemporary Women, Love & Romance, Romance
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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?
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.
Other books you might like, similar to ‘Once In A Lifetime’:
Misbehaving by Tiffany Reisz
Published by Cosmo Red-Hot Reads, Harlequin on February 11, 2014
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Love & Romance, Romance
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Wanted: Adventurous, open-minded man willing to try anything…
As a popular sex blogger, Beatriz gets paid to have orgasms. So being on deadline the week of her sister’s wedding isn’t as rough as it sounds. There’s just one hitch: Bea’s assignment is to write a review of a sex position manual, but she doesn’t have a plus one to play with.
The good news: Ben, the one who got away back in college, is also attending stag--and he's as temptingly gorgeous as ever.
The bad news: Ben turned down Bea’s offer of graduation night sex five years ago.
The best news: He’s not planning on making the same mistake twice.
A red-hot retelling of Much Ado About Nothing for people who love Shakespeare but thought his plays could use a few more sex scenes.
PJV Quickie: Misbehaving is a short, sexy read by an author better known for her darker, kinky stories. I was surprised at how light and fun it was and had to check the title page to be sure I had the right book!
Beatriz was a freshman in college with a crush on her sister’s boyfriend’s best friend, senior Ben. On graduation night, she threw herself at him and he turned her down – gah! It’s five years later, and now Beatriz does a weekly column reviewing sex toys and books. Her sister is getting married (to the same boyfriend from college) and Beatriz is traveling to the wedding. At the last minute, her boss tells her he needs a new column written ASAP, so she grabs a review book off the table and heads out, not realizing she’s grabbed a sex-position manual.
Ben is a groomsman in the wedding, and when he hears Beatriz is going to be there his ears perk up – he had a thing for her in college but did the “nice guy” thing and didn’t act on it. When Beatriz asks him for a favor, he’s happy to help her out – for research purposes, of course *winks*.
Even though I knew going into it that Misbehaving is a contemporary romance, I guess I still expected some of that delicious darkness that Ms. Reisz writes – and it wasn’t there. Misbehaving is unexpectedly fun, and overall I enjoyed it. Ms. Reisz did a wonderful job of laying the groundwork for the story and giving us layers of backstory in a short amount of time, which is sometimes tricky to do without losing the reader. I liked Beatriz and Ben, and definitely rooted for them as a couple, but they seemed to be missing that certain something that makes me fall in love with fictional couples. Maybe it was how they talked through the sex in an almost clinical way? I know they were reviewing the book but it still felt a bit stiff *snickers*. I also liked Beatriz’s sister and her fiancee, but I really didn’t buy the misunderstanding, so I was a bit frustrated there, although I do understand that as a retelling of Much Ado About Nothing, it had to be so. Overall, the story was cute and I had fun reading it.
I have to add that Keaton the bellhop absolutely stole the show! I would absolutely love is she did a collection of short stories about other couples with Keaton as the common thread.
This is not your typical Tiffany Reisz book, so if you’re expecting a story with the feel of The Original Sinners, you’ll be disappointed. I would definitely recommend Misbehaving for readers looking for something light and sexy (don’t confuse “light” with “no sex”, because there’s plenty of that), fans of second-chance love, and story lines that involve misunderstandings.
Other Red Hot Reads you might like:
Believe by Erin McCarthy
Published by InterMix, Penguin on January 21, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
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Robin used to be a party girl… until she got black out drunk and woke up in bed with her best friend's boyfriend. Now she's faced with being THAT girl, and couldn't be more disgusted with herself. She can't even tell her friends the reason for her sudden sobriety and she avoids everyone until she meets Phoenix—quiet, tattooed, and different in every way that's good and oh, so bad…
Phoenix is two days out of jail when he meets Robin at his cousin's house, and he knows that he has no business talking to her, but he's drawn to her quiet demeanor, sweet smile, and artistic talent. She doesn't care that he's done time, or that he only has five bucks to his name, and she supports his goal to be a tattoo artist.
But Phoenix knows Robin has a secret, and that it's a naïve dream to believe that his record won't catch up with them at some point. Though neither is prepared for the explosive result when the past collides with the present…
PJV Quickie: Believe is book 3 in Erin McCarthy’s New Adult series, True Believers, and I am thoroughly enjoying reading these books. They’re dark, but hopeful, with flawed characters who are trying to create a better life for themselves and the people they love. Ms. McCarthy’s writing beautifully captures the struggles her characters face, allowing you to experience their triumphs, and failures, as you read their stories.
Robin is a girl who is living the college life – parties all night, drinking hard and having fun. She’s getting ready to make the move from dorm to apartment with her best friends, when one mistake changes everything: She gets black-out drunk and wakes up in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend. While she doesn’t remember anything, he certainly does, and after a few fuzzy memories slip through, Robin is horrified and ashamed. She immediately stops drinking and partying and is trying to make plans to move out of the apartment but doesn’t want to stiff her friends out of the rent. Guilt makes her turn in on herself and away from her friends, who notice the change.
Phoenix has been out of jail for two days and has nothing to his name but the clothes on his back. He’s got nowhere to stay since his mom moved out of their apartment while he was in jail and left no forwarding address, so he’s crashing on his cousin’s couch until he can get a job and get back on his feet.
Robin and Phoenix meet in an awkward manner, as each overhears a personal conversation the other is having, so they both know other is having a rough time of things, although not really how bad things are. A relationship between them slowly begins, but then proceeds to move forward quickly as they both realize they’ve found someone special. Neither thinks they are deserving of the other but they both want to hold on tight before they have to let go.
Believe may be my favorite of the series so far. Ms. McCarthy is a skilled writer: I didn’t want to like Robin – she slept with her best friend’s boyfriend – but as I continued to read, I started to feel bad for her; she made a horrible mistake and it was killing her inside. I loved that Phoenix knew what her secret was and wanted her to know that he didn’t judge her based on one night of her life, that she was making positive changes to ensure nothing like it happened again, and that she is worthy of being loved. Really, I just loved Phoenix and Robin together: they were both so damaged – Phoenix by his drug-addicted mother and Robin by her betrayal of her best friend – and they each saw past the faults to see the good in each other.
There were a few things I didn’t like, such as Robin not confiding in her male friend, who knew what happened, that Nathan was still contacting her, and there was a scene with Phoenix where I thought “wow, it’s a little early in the relationship for something you cannot change your mind about”, but for the most part I was totally involved in the story. Ms. McCarthy tackles some difficult subjects in Believe, and shows a cautionary tale of how personal behavior and the choices you make can affect the people around you. Every single book in this series to date has left me wanting the next book immediately.
I would definitely recommend Believe for fans of New Adult, or someone wanting to try New Adult. If you enjoy stories where the characters come from a difficult past and try to change, and like reading about imperfect characters who struggle to do the right thing, Believe may be a good fit for you. You don’t have to read the first two books in the series first, but it would add to the reading experience if you did.
Other books you might like, similar to ‘Believe’:
Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid
Published by Caped Publishing on March 14, 2013
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Buy it :: More Info ::
There are three things you need to know about Janie Morris: 1) She is incapable of engaging in a conversation without volunteering TMTI (Too Much Trivial Information), especially when she is unnerved, 2) No one unnerves her more than Quinn Sullivan, and 3) She doesn't know how to knit.
After losing her boyfriend, apartment, and job in the same day, Janie Morris can't help wondering what new torment fate has in store. To her utter mortification, Quinn Sullivan- aka Sir McHotpants- witnesses it all then keeps turning up like a pair of shoes you lust after but can't afford. The last thing she expects is for Quinn- the focus of her slightly, albeit harmless, stalkerish tendencies- to make her an offer she can't refuse.
PJV Quickie: I had so much fun reading Neanderthal Seeks Human – Janie is so full of self-doubt and awkward and I totally identified with her character. I spent a good portion of the book racing ahead to see what happens next, then forcing myself to go back and actually read the page – for me, that’s a sure sign of a great read.
Janie Morris is a number cruncher/architect who works at an unfulfilling accounting job. She discovers her boyfriend is cheating on her and then loses her job on the same day. To make things worse, security walks her out of the building – specifically, Handsome McHotpants, the hunky security guard she’s been drooling over for the past month. Worst. Day. Ever.
Quinn Sullivan is in the security business, and the sexy redhead in his building has his full attention. After escorting her from the building on the day she was fired, he discovers her personality is just as enticing as her looks are and he wants to get to know her better.
They keep running into each other and as the attraction grows, Quinn knows there are things he needs to tell Janie, but he knows it may drive Janie away, and he’s grown to love her geeky, quirky personality and doesn’t want to lose her, especially not to the jerkface ex-boyfriend who won’t stop sniffing around her.
You know it’s going to be an unusual book when the opening scene takes place in the bathroom with the heroine losing her mind as she realizes there’s no toilet paper. And yes, Neanderthal Seeks Human is unusual… in a good way. A very good way.
Janie is so geeky and when she gets nervous spouts off random facts and it’s fun ‘watching’ her brain go from what seems like random subject to random subject like a pinball machine. Her social quirks are embraced by her knitting group and I love the support these ladies give each other: they’re so much fun and their love for Janie shines through. Her total ignorance of Quinn’s feelings for her may annoy some readers, but as you read along and get to see how people treated her when she was young (especially by her family) you understand why she’s like this and I totally identified with this aspect of her personality. Her reaction to Quinn’s “dating” style was hysterical. Quinn is your typical smoldering, sexy hero, but his reactions to Janie totally endeared him to me. I like a hunky, possessive hero so he worked for me. But really, it was Janie who carried this book and I absolutely loved her for it.
I have a generally serious personality and no one would ever describe me as “funny” (I am a horrible joke teller), so I don’t think I can effectively convey how absolutely laugh-out-loud funny Neanderthal Seeks Human is. Oh, and about that title; it’s totally not what you think and just one more reason I adored Janie’s character. Read it and find out for yourself why Neanderthal Seeks Human made my ‘Best of 2013 Reads‘ list. As soon as I finished this book, I immediately went to the second book, Friends Without Benefits (Elizabeth’s story) and loved it. I am now obsessively waiting for the 3rd book, Love Hacked, and judging by the preview scene in Ms. Reid’s newsletter it’s going to be worth the wait.
Fans of fun Contemporary Romance, nerdy heroines, and stories with supportive women friends instead of backstabbing b!itches will enjoy Neanderthal Seeks Human.
Other books you might like, similar to ‘Neanderthal Seeks Human’:
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Dystopian, Dystopian, New Adult, Paranormal Romance, Romance, Young Adult
Patti’s Favorite Reads from 2013
Hey all! Patti here – I know Rachel said she wouldn’t be back until next year but I just couldn’t resist posting my favorite books that I read last year. I hope some of them are your favorites or that you discover a new favorite after reading my list.
I can’t believe tomorrow is 2014!! Where did 2013 go? It was an up and down year for me reading-wise – I had a few book slumps but hopefully I’m over them and am looking forward to some excellent reads next year. I’m pretty excited that so many of the books on my list were new-to-me authors and I ended up loving their books; I plan to try more new authors in 2014. I know a “Top 7″ is a weird number (it’s prime!) but 5 wasn’t enough and 10 seemed like to many… I do have some honorable mentions at the end though.
So, without any further ado, in no particular order, I give to you my favorite Romance reads from 2013:
(links through book covers are amazon affiliate links)
Jessica Clare’s ‘Games’ Series: OMG ya’ll, this series is soooo addictive! I love the concept of each book following the format of a reality show (Survivor, The Amazing Race, Dancing With the Stars, Big Brother). The romance is just right – not too steamy but definitely enough to make my HEA-lovin’ self very happy. (My review of book 2 here)
The Last Hour of Gann by R. Lee Smith: Oh yes – lizard romance for the win! Have you heard peeps talking about this book on twitter and their blogs? Believe the hype – it’s so. freakin’. good. Worth every penny. (My totally gushy, fan-girly review here)
Fading by E.K. Blair: This is a dark read, a little traumatic, but oooohhh how I loved it. In the midst of this heartbreaking story a beautiful relationship emerges and absolutely took my heart and ran with it. (my review here)
Neanderthal Seeks Human: A Smart Love Story (and book 2 – Friends Without Benefits) by Penny Reid: I just read these books last week so they’re still fresh in my mind but after reading them Ms. Reid is officially an ‘auto-buy’ author for me. Smart, funny, sexy stories. I’m in book-love.
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy: Kind of a dystopian/sci-fi; I fell right into this and loved it. Riveting story, excellent writing, and an ending that left me wanting MORE!!!! As soon as I closed the book I ran to my computer to find out if there would be a second book – thankfully the answer is yes.
Real by Katy Evans: An underground fighter hero with bipolar disorder? Doesn’t sound promising but Real really delivers. (insert ‘one-two punch to my heart’ joke here). Seriously though, sexy brooding hero and the heroine who ‘saves’ him. Sounds trope-y, I know, but I assure you it’s not.
Rush Me by Allison Parr: This one hit all the right buttons for me – sports hero, newly graduated/young professional heroine, just the right amount of angst, and plain old good writing. Just thinking about Rachel and Ryan’s story gives me happy shivers.
I started reading Maddy Barone’s ‘After the Crash’ series and glommed that this year. It’s a good time travel/shapeshifter/dystopian series.
Another dystopian series I started was Kylie Scott’s Flesh series; it’s erotic and the worldbuilding is interesting. There are only 2 books so far but I’m hoping for more. I think she stopped to do her new NA series – Stage Dive – which I am also enjoying so far. She was a new-to-me author this year that I am keeping my eye on.
What were your favorite 2013 reads? What are you looking forward to in 2014?
These are the best books to read for Christmas, or at least the ones I like to have read or read to me for Christmas. These are mainly great books to read to your kids, the books I loved to have read to me…but some are fun Christmas stories that I loved as an adult.
The Cajun Night Before Christmas is a classic in my household. My dad used to read this to us in his best Cajun Accent. It made my Christmas Night….
This Cajun Christmas classic is in full-color. Take the traditional story of jolly old St. Nicholas, dress him in muskrat from his head to his toes, pile his skiff high with toys, and hitch it to 8 friendly flying alligators.
If You Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Joffe Numeroff illustrated by Felicia Bond is a very cute “new” Christmas tradition that we’ve started with my daughter. She loves this book and we enjoy reading it to her.
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