Monday, 24 March 2014

Once in a Lifetime by Jill Shalvis

Once in a Lifetime (2014) (Forever, Grand Central)
Jill Shalvis
Grade: C+
Genre: contemporary romance
Sex scenes: hot
Source: NetGalley
Lucky Harbour: (1) Simply Irresistible … (4) Lucky in Love, (5) At Last, (6) Forever and a Day, (7) It Had to be You, (8) Always on my Mind, (9) Once in a Lifetime
Romance Reading Bingo Challenge 2014: A contemporary romance

Ben McDaniel is Lucky Harbour’s favourite son. Until five years ago, he was married to Lucky Harbour’s favourite daughter until Hannah was killed in a car crash. After her death, Ben left to tour developing countries, designing and building water systems with the Army Corps of Engineers. He’s now back in Lucky Harbour, surrounded by the people who love him the most, but reluctant to embark on this new stage of his life.

Aubrey Wellington possibly wins the title for Lucky Harbour’s most notorious daughter. Her parents split up when she and her sister were young and in the divorce, they were separated like furniture. Brainy Carla went with their father, a surgeon and is now following in his footsteps, while Aubrey went to live with her mum who thrust her into endless beauty pageants. She was a complete bitch in high school and managed to leave bad impressions with too many people, but recent events have pushed her to turn over a new leaf. She’s inherited her aunt’s beloved bookstore and is planning to turn it around ready for her grand opening in a few weeks. The trouble is: she needs a carpenter and Ben has stepped in to do the job.

Aubrey crushed majorly on Ben during high school but he was already with Hannah. All these years later and despite the instinctive mistrust between them, they’re fiercely attracted to one another – and the whole town knows it. A secret in Lucky Harbour isn’t a secret for long thanks to the Lucky Harbour Facebook page and soon everyone knows about the sparks that are flying between Ben and Aubrey – and the majority of them disapprove. Aubrey isn’t anywhere near good enough for their favourite son and Ben acknowledges that Aubrey is nothing that he looks for in a woman. Yet, as he builds her shelves and uncovers her wooden floorboards, they find all the answers that they didn’t even realise they were looking for …

I’ll cut to the chase and say straight off that I’m disappointed. I’ve read books 4-6 in the Lucky Harbour series and loved them – collectively, they made my Best of 2012 list. Once in a Lifetime, though – not so much. I couldn’t identify with Aubrey and while she and Ben are sweet together, the whole story just lacked the magic touch that I thought was infused in Lucky in Love, At Last and Forever and a Day.

There’s a distinct lack of epigraphs (‘chapter-header-things’) that I had loved in the aforementioned books. Mallory, Amy and Grace had bonded over their mutual love for chocolate and while Aubrey also bonds with Leah and Ali (heroines of books seven and eight) over pastries and other sweet goods, it’s not the same without snarky epigraphs to pave the way. That said, I do love their relationship and Jill Shalvis write female friends well, however blatant the sequel baiting.

I follow a lot of authors on Facebook and while there’s a large number who post daily, Jill Shalvis is definitely one of the funnier ones with her mundane and hilarious updates about her unplanned (and often unwanted) adventures. Additionally, there are always posts of hot excerpts between her heroes and heroines and some great hero inspiration on Pinterest. While Once in a Lifetime hadn’t lived up to my expectations, she’s an author I’m going to keep returning too because I’ve seen what she is capable of and she’s just a genuinely lovely person. Check out Ms Shalvis's blog for her antics:

Image courtesy of Fantastic Fiction

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