Reviewed: January 24, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Lucky Harbor, Book 4
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Length: 341 Pages
Formats: Print, eBook
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Forever publisher Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley.
This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
Lucky Harbor's good girl Mallory Quinn hasn't gotten far in life by being the one everyone depends on to handle...everything. She's responsible. Trustworthy. Nice. And okay, a little bit of a pushover. It's starting to drive her crazy, actually.
Stopping at the Eat Me Café after her shift at the hospital as a favor to her mother, Mallory makes it inside just as a vicious storm starts to rage through town. First the power fails, then a fallen tree takes out the window, and before she and the two other diner inhabitants, waitress Amy and town newbie Grace, realize it, the three are huddled up together behind the counter, bonding over mutual fear and chocolate cake. And their exciting evening is just beginning.
When a couple of thuds on the outer wall draw Mallory's attention, she nervously ventures out to see what's causing it. Caught by the storm and wounded, lying feet from the door to the Café, is the handsomest catch in town, Mysterious Cute Guy. Mallory rushes to help him (or...uh...bean him with Grace's cell phone), and the three women manage to get him into her car to take him to the hospital. That's when her two new besties go completely off the rail and start urging her to walk on the wild side. With the nearly unconscious Mysterious Cute Guy, in fact.
Maybe it's all the chocolate she ate (inhaled), or how the restrictive bonds of always being the good girl are starting to pinch, or the way MCG looks at her when he finally opens his eyes, but for some reason, Mallory finds herself suggesting a date to a gorgeous guy who's got his bleeding head in her lap. One who may not actually remember agreeing to the date when he's fully conscious.
Hey, that's Lucky Harbor for you. She really should have at least asked for his name first, though.
Jill Shalvis is one of my favorite authors for light, sexy, awesome contemporary romance. Her books always seem to hit the high points in humor, great character chemistry, and enough solid story to thoroughly entertain. The Lucky Harbor series in particular has really delighted me from the first book, and I'm thrilled Shalvis has taken us back to that quirky coastal town for another set of three.
Where the sisters in the first three books gave us the mouse, the steel magnolia, and the wild child, it appears new best friends Mallory, Amy, and Grace will be more the good girl, the bad girl, and the lost girl. It's the good girl's time to shine with the hunky Ty Garrison, former Navy SEAL medic, current private contractor with the government, on leave as he recovers...or tries to...from an injury he sustained on his last assignment.
Shalvis creates likable, three dimensional characters in both Mallory and Ty. Both have their own personal demons that give the characters depth and add conflict to their individual lives. Both are at a point in their lives that engendered its own push-and-pull in the burgeoning relationship between them. She's a good girl looking to embrace a few bad girl traits, he's a guy...looking to keep his mind off his bum leg. The fact that she's a resident and he's a visitor intent on leaving also set up a lot of the long term conflict, and that felt fairly organic to their situation, if not entirely original or complex.
Still, for all the solidly good things about the book and the characters, this was my least favorite story in the series so far. I wanted to love it, but it felt, to me, that there was some sort of intangible magic missing from either the characters or their relationship. Each of the sisters' books had a spark, a unique sense of something special, but this one fell a little flat in that regard. It was a solid, sexy romance, but it was a fairly traditional solid, sexy romance - in both characters and story - and I'm not used to anything resembling traditional when it comes to Lucky Harbor.
It's not a bad read, I don't think Shalvis is actually capable of writing a bad read, but the plot wasn't as layered nor did I find the story as touching or as well-rounded as its predecessors. The characters didn't seem quite as perfectly suited to one another as other couples have, either, especially not at first. That issue smoothed out a bit in the second half of the book, and I ended up enjoying the latter half much more because of it, but until then, I struggled.
The presence of Lucky Harbor as a wacky little town full of insane residents, one of the major draws in the first three books, wasn't as prevalent, and everything that makes the town endearing seemed muted. Maybe part of that was the shift away from the marina and the sisters' Bed & Breakfast, and it was just an issue I had with new and unfamiliar settings, but it bothered me a little.
I was also bothered by how quickly Ty and Mallory get sexual in this book...and doesn't that just make me sound the prude. Ugh. Anyway, Shalvis has an innate ability to raise the temperature of her romances to sizzling with smokin' hot sex scenes. She writes them very, very well. That said, stumbling over one so early in this book, with two characters who just met, sort of turned me off of them both and took the starch out of my appreciation for the subsequent relationship for a good long while.
Despite my issues with this installment of the series, I couldn't be happier that readers are getting another set of three books in Lucky Harbor. I adore the place and the people in it. Shalvis has created the perfect little home away from home, one that entices readers to crack a book and visit for a while. These books make me laugh a little, love a lot, fan away the sexy heat (or revel in it), and embrace the bonds of family, friends, and lovers. It's a fantastic place for a series of romances, and I can't wait for my next trip.
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