Tuesday, 11 December 2012

At Last by Jill Shalvis

At Last (2012)
Jill Shalvis
Grade: A-
Genre: contemporary romance
Sex scenes: mild
Source: NetGalley 
Lucky Harbour series: (4) Lucky in Love, (5) At Last, (6) Forever and a Day 

The last thing that Amy Michaels wants is a relationship, yet her Chocoholics Anonymous group are determined to get her there. Now that Mallory has her HEA with Ty and Grace is still trying to get a job, never-mind a relationship, they’ve decided that Amy is next.

Amy has one mission in Lucky Harbour: to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps and find her hope, peace and heart. With her grandmother’s journals committed to memory and her sketchbook in hand, Amy puts her dislike of the outdoors to one side and ventures into the dense countryside that surrounds the town … only to promptly find herself lost. And knowing her luck, who comes to her rescue? Only Matt Bowers, uber hot forest ranger and for the sake of her fickle hormones, a guy she wants to stay well away from.

Matt has been attracted to Amy ever since she set foot in Lucky Harbour and it’s no secret that he takes all his meals in the town’s only diner, Eat Me, when Amy is working. And as Mallory oh-so-eloquently put it, “the way he looks at you is contributing to global warming.” Who wouldn’t want a guy like that?

No strings, they promise to each other when they give in to the inevitable and have truly mind-blowingly unforgettable sex. Matt had a disastrous first marriage as his wife didn’t understand the dangers and consequences attached to being married to a cop; Amy did the rebellious-teenager thing where she slept with a shameful number of guys to get back at her mum. Despite their mutual desire for ‘nothing serious’, it never fails to result in anything but serious …

At Last, like Lucky in Love and Forever and a Day is unbelievably sweet, just stopping short of teeth-numbingly so. I love the characters, I love the humour and Jill Shalvis really is the perfect go-to author for a quick, funny and satisfying read.

The slow development of Amy’s character in Lucky in Love was interesting to read and peaked my curiosity without doubt. She guarded her past like it was a state secret and it was touching to see her finally let her story unfold when she found a friend, lover and confidant in Matt.

Matt is beyond adorable. He recognises that he’s not going to get Amy to open up easily and is as patient and constant as a rock, or her anchor, as Amy refers to him as. He calls Amy ‘Tough Girl’ which I think is the sweetest thing ever and knows not to push her when she’s not ready. He doesn’t even realise that he’s fallen for her until it’s too late to go back and by that time, he’s so in love that he would take that last leap if he hadn’t been there already.

And like I gushed about Alex in Dream Lake, Matt is hot. Even hotter than Alex is. Jill Shalvis can make your mouth water and your eyes glaze over with her character descriptions and she does dialogue in the heat of the moment brilliantly. Here’s an example that I love:

Matt followed her gaze, his own darkening. "I like the way you think" he said, and shoved all the stacks of paperwork to the floor. "Lock the door."
Her nipples tightened into two ball bearings. "Will anyone hear us?" she whispered.
His smile was lethal and filled with nefarious, bad boy intent. "Us?"
She flushed, and he laughed softly. "You're going to have to be quiet. Very quiet," he said.
She quivered and went damp. "I can do quiet."
"The door, Amy."
He nipped her collarbone and headed south towards her breast. "I'm going to be so good to you, you won't care."

Hot, no? If you have Facebook and haven’t already ‘liked’ Jill Shalvis’ official author page, then do so, immediately. Every day, I get updates in my newsfeed from the lovely Ms Shalvis herself and very often, it’s of half-naked men from what she calls the ‘Mixed-Up Files of Jill’s Fantasy Life.’ Boy, are these men hot and the stuff of fantasy. So hot that Ms Shalvis was suspended temporarily from Facebook earlier this week when someone complained that two photos she’d shared were ‘pornographic.’ Read her own low-down of the story and see the offending pictures for yourself here (you know you want to!) As a result, Ms Shalvis is being much more conservative than usual with her pictures, much to the disappointment of us all.

Like Lucky in Love and Forever and a Day, we have our chocolate-themed chapter-header-things. I’m disappointed. More disappointed than I was by Lucky in Love and even there I was able to find one or two epigraphs that I loved. At Last doesn’t have any that I love, but here are two that I do like more than the rest:

13. The calories in chocolate don't count because chocolate comes from the cocoa bean, and everyone knows that beans are good for you
15. Researchers have discovered that chocolate produces some of the same reactions in the brain as marijuana. The researchers also discovered other similarities between the two but can't remember what they are.

All in all, I LOVED At Last and the three books I've read of the Lucky Harbour series have been utterly fantastic; collectively as a series, (because I just don't have room for all three books individually) they definitely make it into my top ten books of the year. Granted, not a hard thing to do considering how pitifully few books I've read in 2012, but this is a major achievement. There's now way that I can choose a favourite between the three and there's no way that I want to. I only wish that I own these in hardcopy so that I can thumb through them whenever I like forever. Ms Shalvis has been consistently great and I've found myself continuing to click through the pages (being eGalleys and all) until I get to the end and realise that I haven't done any work. Oops. Oh well. So totally worth it.

Image courtesy of Fantastic Fiction

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