Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Lucky in Love by Jill Shalvis

Lucky in Love (2011)
Jill Shalvis
Grade: B+
Genre: contemporary romance
Sex scenes: hot-ish
Source: NetGalley
Lucky Harbour: (4) Lucky in Love, (5) At Last, (6) Forever and a Day

Mallory Quinn is tired of being good. In the small town of Lucky Harbour, she’s heralded as the only sane Quinn family member against the backdrop of her parents’ divorce, her sister Karen’s suicide when Mallory was sixteen and her remaining siblings Tammy and Joe’s hoyden and wild ways. She might love her job as a nurse at the local hospital and she’s content in her grandmother’s old house, but being good hasn’t got Mallory anywhere in the boyfriend department and she thinks it’s time to try out a Mr. Wrong for a change.

Mallory wasn’t expecting Mr. Wrong to land in her lap. On a late night stop to Eat Me, Lucky Harbour’s diner, Mal, the waitress Amy and new-in-town Grace get stranded during a freak storm. They calm their nerves with chocolate cake and as Mal is about to make a run for her car to grab her phone, she slams into Mysterious Cute Guy (what Lucky Harbour’s facebook page calls him) who is injured and looking worse-for-wear. Mal is compelled to help him, despite the fact that he’s a somewhat mystery in the town where no one’s lives are private and while they’re waiting for the ambulance, Mal somehow manages to find herself – courtesy of Amy – with a date for the charity auction that she’s organising.

Ty Garrison was a little out-of-it that night of the storm, but he’s not about to turn down a date with a beautiful woman who he can’t get out of his head. He’s in Lucky Harbour recuperating from a leg injury and is counting down the days until local doctor Josh Scott gives him the all-clear and he can return to work. He still has nightmares about not being able to save his friends four years ago when he was still a Navy SEAL medic and has forced himself completely out of the profession since in order to suppress his guilt. In the meantime, he’s getting through the days by keeping up with a punishing exercise regime and fixing cars.

There’s no privacy in Lucky Harbour, especially when it concerns the population’s love lives and a certain Mysterious Cute Guy. He literally saves Mallory’s ass at the auction both by turning up so that she’s not dateless as well as kick-starting the bidding that will raise money for the Health Services Centre that she is intent on setting up so that she can provide help and advice on issues such as teen pregnancy and alcohol and narcotics abuse. Mal and Ty are unbelievably attracted to one another and when he follows her up to the attic storage room during the bidding, Mal more than makes it up to Ty …
And so begins the biggest non-relationship that could ever have not-existed. All Mallory wants is a guy to give her a little taste of the wild side and Ty won’t commit when he’s due to leave Lucky Harbour any day. With all of Lucky Harbour watching their non-relationship with bated breath, and some very pesky locals who aren’t afraid to let either of them know what they think about their non-dating, will Mal and Ty be able to walk away when the time comes?

I managed to get book six, Forever and a Day on NetGalley first, which explains why I’m reviewing this non-chronologically. If I had managed to get all three (Lucky in Love, At Last and Forever and a Day) at the same time, there’s no way that I wouldn’t have read them in order. While I’ve managed to get along more-than-fine, it would have definitely contributed to my peace of mind if I had been able to read in-order. Anyway, even after two books, I love Jill Shalvis. If FaaD hadn’t told me this already, then Lucky in Love has certainly cemented that love. On the whole, I preferred FaaD, but LiL is not to be missed.

I love Mallory. Her passion for her job is wonderful and I’d love to be able to feel the same about my work in the future. Her dysfunctional family has messed her up and in their dysfunctionality, they weren’t able to see that she had her own problems and couldn’t cope with them. It’s great to see her break out of her good-girl shell and give the town a reason to be shocked, because she deserves it.
Ty is adorable. Okay, so perhaps not the best word when describing an ex-Navy SEAL, but it’s true. The tortured-hero story was realistic and strung out nicely to keep it forever niggling in the back of my mind, yet not completely overpowering their romance. I love how Mal teaches him about love, while the whole time she was trying her hardest not to fall for him. He’s a pretty good alpha: a guy that you can feel safe with and depend upon, yet knows how to grovel when he’s in the wrong. To the best of my knowledge, this is my first ever SEAL and he makes a good impression. I have the feeling that most others won’t be so accommodating, but I’ll let Ty be my SEAL-posterboy until my illusions are shattered; he’s a great one.

Chocoholics Anonymous is awesome; I want my own group like that, but I don’t think I eat nearly enough chocolate to be able to qualify. Grace may be completely new to town but Mal and Amy don’t hesitate to let her in and their unwavering friendship and support in the good times and bad times is really something to crave. Plus, having friends buy you Bad Girl Shoes to cheer you up and help you get lucky is surely something that every girl needs.
I’ve finally figured out the proper word for what I’ve been calling chapter-header-things for much too long: epigraphs. It’s nice to know if I do ever get asked for the real name,  but I don’t think that ‘epigraph’ has quite the same ring as ‘chapter-header-things’ and so I’m going to stick with the latter. Also, I can’t help but want associate the word with the meaning for epitaphs – possibly not good. Anyway, the chapter-header-things were one of my favourite features of FaaD; I was a little disappointed by the variety in LiL. The focus was still on chocolate (Mallory, Amy and Grace’s friendship being grounded in a love of chocolate, after all) but I just found the FaaD ones better. That being said, these are my favourite two:
Exercise is a dirty word. Every time I hear it I wash my mouth out with chocolate.
Strength is the ability to break up a solid piece of chocolate – and then eat just one of the pieces.”

I didn’t care that Ms Shalvis was setting the scene perfectly for Amy and Grace to be the next heroines of the series; some readers have an issue with Sequel Baiting but not me. I’ve already read Grace’s book and it was wonderful. Tbh, I’m a little confused by the way that the series works. I’ve read the summaries of each book (LiL being the fourth and FaaD being the sixth) and while the characters of books four, five and six are very interconnected, I don’t see the heroines of books one, two or three anywhere. There’s a mention of the Sheriff and his new wife who are the protagonists of book three, but we never get to meet Chloe. Clearly, it would have made a lot more sense had I read the books in order, but I just want to know why these characters have seemingly dropped off the face of the earth. Then onto the main characters of book seven, It Had to be You: I’ve never heard of them before. The book is still set in Lucky Harbour, but I’m thinking that Ms Shalvis is simply starting with another circle of three friends with nary a mention to Mal, Amy and Grace. That’s just my theory and I haven’t read enough of the series to know where I stand on that, but there you go. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to see if I’m right.

I’m looking forward to Amy and Matt’s story like crazy. The animosity between the pair is electric and so I’m desperate to find out what went wrong between them before. It’s like another Dana-Jordan Key of Light thing all over again and I’m just as enthusiastic to get my hands on the next book to find out why. Only difference is that I actually have At Last but I haven’t dared to put my hands (or at least, cursor) on it yet because of the number of book reviews I’ve got backlogged, amount of reading I’ve got to do for upcoming seminars and just work in general. So At Last will definitely be the next book that I crack open, but I’m hoping that I manage to get a dent in my backlog first. 

So go and read Lucky in Love. It’s a lovely contemporary that manages to be fresh and familiar at the same time with plenty of lines and scenes to make you laugh out loud. Ms Shalvis’ characters are wonderful, very relatable and you won’t be able to stop yourself from lusting after Ty, Matt or Josh, or all three. A brilliant funny to while away the day and night.

Image courtesy of Fantastic Fiction

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