Once in a Lifetime (Lucky Harbor #9)
By: Jill Shalvis
Published date: February 18, 2014
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5
How hot is it: Moderate steaminess.
Hero: Ben McDaniel
Heroine: Aubrey Wellington
This is another cutey cute read by Jill Shalvis. I listened to this one on audio so it took a couple of weeks to finish, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Mostly because Aubrey was such a bitch, or supposedly was one anyway. She didn’t really seem all that bitchy to me, but I guess because she was pretty without being apologetic about it people didn’t like her much. Who knows, but it does get boring reading about girls with not great self-esteems waiting around for guys to make them feel better about themselves all the time, so it was a nice change of pace to see a self-confident heroine.
So when wounded widow Ben McDaniels starts hanging out with Aubrey, the Lucky Harbor Facebook page blows up with shock and loads of haterade against Aubrey. She’s got a bad reputation, but she’s trying to turn things around by making amends. She makes a list of people she’s wronged and sets out to make things right. She does a pretty good job of this, and of course, most of her so-called “wrongs” are nickel and dime stuff that barely deserve the description of “wrong.” I think one of them was not returning a library book to the school library. Been there, done that, still have Monet’s Water Lilies from my 5th grade lending art library. I feel the opposite of compelled to return it to my school librarian. And I’m a librarian. So yeah, the wrongs were just a pretty cheap tool to get us to like Aubrey, but I bought it because I understand that, unlike me, not everyone likes a bitch.
Well, anyway, Ben’s on Aubrey’s list. And therein lies the little snag in their budding relationship. Aubrey’s got a secret (romance novel pet peeeeeve alert!!), and it causes a misunderstanding! I know, it’s difficult to imagine that this could happen in a romance novel. Turns out Aubrey broke Ben and his wife up in high school, so Ben lost two years of life with his wife (they got back together eventually). It’s pretty flimsy, but Ben is emotionally closed off and uses this info to break things off with Aubrey. Until semi-racy catalog photos of her come out and he gets super protective and they make up and live happily ever after in a town with just a strangely high number of successful locally owned businesses.
Seriously though, Jill Shalvis is among the best writing contemporary romance today. This book was funny and light, and the chemistry between Aubrey and Ben kept me engaged. Ben was just quiet enough to be interesting and managed to throw out a couple of clever zingers, on top of being honest and damaged and smart, a great combination for a guy. The “best of” cast of Lucky Harbor was in full delightful force, adding another layer of ooey gooey goodness to an already chewy brownie of a read. It’s set in winter too, so grab a fuzzy blanket, a cup of tea and be thankful to be inside, warm and reading a good book.