22 Feb '14

A Nix Contemporary Review : Once in a Lifetime by Jill Shalvis (4.5 Stars)

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Once in a Lifetime by Jill Shalvis
Series: Lucky Harbor #9
Published by Grand Central Publishing on 2014-02-11
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 368
Format: eBook
Goodreads
four-half-stars
Amazon USAmazon UKNook
New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis continues with the ninth installment in her beloved Lucky Harbor series.

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?

FTC : I requested this book as an avid reader of the series. I went in expecting to adore it which may have influenced my review but I stand by it; the book is fabulous!

Jill Shalvis has created another fantastic feel-good read in her Lucky Harbor series with Ben and Aubrey’s love story. I wasn’t sure that I would like Aubrey’s story (she always seemed so cold) but I was positive that I would love Ben’s. What I actually got was the story of a woman who wanted to rectify her past wrongs and who found love along the way.

I walked into this book with a preconceived idea about Aubrey and the annoying thing is, so did the characters.Every person in that book, bar her friends, treats her like she is a pariah. When she starts her “karma cleansing list”, the majority of the people on it are resistant to her apologies. Man, they pissed me off.  I get it, she wasn’t very nice as a teenager (not many people are … darned hormones and peer pressure), but it annoyed me that they were completely horrible to her when all she was trying to do was make amends for her past wrongs. The worse reactions happened when people started realising that she and Ben were knockin’ boots; she really wasn’t good enough for the town golden boy in their eyes and boy did they let her know it! I liked Aubrey a hell of a lot. I wanted to read her story, to see how she managed to get the HEA that she so thoroughly deserved. I also changed my opinion of a couple of other characters during this book, which made me a little sad, but I suppose that was to be expected eventually.

All the way through this, Ben is watching from the sidelines, changing his surface opinions of Aubrey but not his core ones. He doesn’t want to get close to anyone, wants to stay attached to the past and his grief so he doesn’t get hurt again. I liked that he emotionally supported Aubrey through her quest but it hacked me off that he didn’t truly let himself like her. He couldn’t deny the attraction between them so he let himself sleep with her, but that was all he willing to do. He used excuses to keep her at arms length and push her away but I could understand it because he was grieving. This didn’t mean I liked it but my fondness for Aubrey was probably the cause of my disgruntlement; I just thought she’d been through enough to have to have a romance so full of emotional barriers. Their romance brought out the best in her and, although there were moments I thought he showed the man that he would be without his grief, it often brought out the worst in him. I applaud the author for picking a widower as her hero; it made for such a angsty romance cleverly disguised within the sweet wrapping of a Lucky Harbor novel.

This is a Jill Shalvis novel. There is a sweet(ish) romance, there is small town shenanigans, there is friendship at its core and there is lots of fun. There is also quite a bit of hot smexy lovin’ and the chemistry between them is amazing. I love this series and that the romance elements are so strong. Every single sex scene is hot but completely fitting within the plot, making it much more satisfying and good to read.

This is another fantastic lucky harbor novel. It has an individual story arc but if you read it as a standalone you risk the previous HEA’s being ruined. If you like your romances a bit more angsty with a small town angle, this could be one for you.

four-half-stars

Nix

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