Triple review: Lucky in Love / At Last / Forever and a Day by Jill Shalvis

The tagline on Jill Shalvis’s website currently says: “Spend the summer in Lucky Harbor.”

I couldn’t draw out the pleasure that long. I had to devour all three of her latest Lucky Harbor novels in one week.

And now I’m jonesing for another hit. Bad. C’mon, Jill Shalvis! Gimme another Lucky Harbor novel, STAT!

So instead of posting a review a week over the next three weeks, I thought I’d give all three reviews to you at once. Because I obviously have self-control issues when it comes to Jill Shalvis’s books.

Lucky in Love

Lucky in LoveE.R. nurse Mallory Quinn has a terminal case of goodgirl-itis. She grew up in Lucky Harbor, in a family so chaotic that she thought she had to be perfect in order to keep everyone together. But that means she’s always played it safe, and now has a reputation for being selfless that she can’t shake.

Bad boy Ty Garrison is recovering from an injury that derailed his career, and from the loss of his closest friends when he was a Navy SEAL medic. He couldn’t save them, and now he thinks of himself as someone who can’t be relied on in a crisis. But he’s drawn to Mallory Quinn like a moth to a flame, and as much as he tries to protect her from falling in love with him, he can’t keep his own heart from taking a tumble.

I’ve been looking forward to Lucky in Love since I read an excerpt nearly a year ago, and the novel was everything I’d hoped it would be and then some. Of the three heroines, Mallory is the one I could relate to the most. She’s spent her life putting other people’s wishes first and trying not to let people down. When she finally realizes that she’s letting herself down, she tries to have a casual relationship with Ty – but soon figures out she can’t divorce her heart from her body.

Jill Shalvis is a master at creating characters with instant, undeniable attraction. Ty and Mallory completely burn up the pages as they fall in love.

Lucky in Love introduces the reader to all six of the characters who couple-up over these three novels. The three heroines – Mallory, Amy and Grace – bond during a moment of crisis and continue to support each other through life’s heartaches and joys. Their friendship throughout the series is just as addictive as their love stories and the chocolate they devour whenever they meet.

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Review: Her Forbidden Hero by Laura Kaye

Her Forbidden Hero by Laura Kaye

Rating: 4.5 stars

Her Forbidden HeroAlyssa Scott returns home from college with only a car and a couple of pennies to her name. With her brother serving in the Special Forces abroad God knows where, and her abusive alcoholic father not someone she can turn to, she decides to apply for a job at a local bar/live music joint. It helps that Marco Vieri – her brother’s best friend and the man she’s had a crush on since childhood – is a bartender there.

Marco Vieri is former Army Special Forces – former because he was injured in Afghanistan in ways that go beyond physical damage. He’s completely changed, and when all-grown-up Alyssa gets a job working in his bar, he’s terrified. He no longer trusts his ability to take care of anyone the way he used to protect Alyssa from her father, and he doesn’t trust himself not to make a move on his best friend’s little sister.

Her Forbidden Hero is the first Laura Kaye novel I’ve read. In fact, it’s the first novel I’ve read by Entangled Publishing, and I thought it was fantastic.

The characters and the story are very realistic. The story never veers into melodrama, instead focusing on building trust between Alyssa and Marco through their sacrifices for each other – which start out small and build into bigger moments requiring them to lean heavily on each other.

There are so many poignant moments, but this was one of my favorites, when Marco realizes he wants to pursue a relationship with Alyssa but he’s hurt her too many times for her to believe it:
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Review: Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt

Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt

My rating: 4.5 stars
Heat: Scorching 

Thief of ShadowsWinter Makepeace is a man with many secrets. The one thing everyone knows is that he’s a serious, somewhat dour manager of the foundling orphanage his late father founded. He works himself ragged taking care of 18th century St. Giles’ most vulnerable residents, children who would be sold or kidnapped into slavery and suffer all manner of unspeakable abuses if Winter didn’t rescue them.

Talk about a hero.

But Winter’s foundling home is funded by a group of well-to-do ladies with more experience of fashion than survival. And when one of them decides that the home needs a more polished manager, the widowed Lady Isabel steps in to educate Winter in manners, so he won’t be removed from his post. Turns out that Winter has a thing or two he can educate Lady Isabel about, too.

I only read my first Elizabeth Hoyt novel last week, and I was immediately drawn in to the Maiden Lane series (of which Thief of Shadows is the fourth book). Since I didn’t have books two and three on my Kindle when I finished book one, I immediately opened my ARC of Thief of Shadows and spent another day in Elizabeth Hoyt’s dark and dangerous St. Giles.

Thief of Shadows contains spoilers that would ruin the first three books of the series, since there’s a mystery that runs though them all, so I’ll be quite vague in what I reveal.

One of the many things I loved about Thief of Shadows is how the class difference between Lady Isabel and Winter Makepeace (son of a brewer, and with many Puritan tendencies) plays out. Winter knows there are more important things in life than ensuring your bow is low enough, but for the most part he doesn’t fault Isabel for the world she comes from. It’s not a world he’s interested in fitting into, and when he falls in love with her he wants her to join his own world.

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Review: Two novellas by Carina Press

In the past week, I’ve read a couple of great novellas from Carina Press. I love novellas when I’m super busy or have lots of things piling up because they take only a few hours of commitment – just enough to help me unwind. They’re also a great way to try out new authors without having to buy a full-length book.

Here are the novellas I enjoyed this week.

Improper Relations by Juliana Ross

From the back cover

Dorset, 1858

Improper RelationsWhen Hannah’s caught watching her late husband’s cousin debauch the maid in the library, she’s mortified-but also intrigued. An unpaid companion to his aunt, she’s used to being ignored.

The black sheep of the family, Leo has nothing but his good looks and noble birth to recommend him. Hannah ought to be appalled at what she’s witnessed, but there’s something about Leo that draws her to him.

When Leo claims he can prove that women can feel desire as passionately as men, Hannah is incredulous. Her own experiences have been uninspiring. Yet she can’t bring herself to refuse his audacious proposal when he offers to tutor her in the art of lovemaking. As the tantalizing, wicked lessons continue, she begins to fear she’s losing not just her inhibitions, but her heart as well. The poorest of relations, she has nothing to offer Leo but herself. Will it be enough when their erotic education ends?

22,000 words

Read an excerpt of Improper Relations
Buy Improper Relations

My two cents

As I’ve said before, I don’t read a lot of erotic romance. Some of the erotic novels and novellas I’ve picked up in the past had a real air of “did somebody call a plumber?” about them. So if I’m going to try a new erotic romance author, I rely heavily on reviews or stick to a novella in order to figure out if I like their style.

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Review: The Officer Says “I Do” by Jeanette Murray

The Officer Says “I Do” by Jeanette Murray

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Officer Says I DoCaptain Tim O’Shay is a bit uptight. Okay, make that a lot uptight. Always the sober, responsible one among his friends, he decides to let loose for once on a guys’ trip to Vegas. Winning a few hands goes to his head – as do the shots he normally wouldn’t touch, and the sexy woman he feels an immediate attraction to. So he gives in to several temptations. What could go wrong, right?

Tim wakes up married. Not just married, but married to a free spirit who grew up on a commune. Totally not his usual type, and not what you – or his commanding officer – would think of as “Officer’s Wife” material.

But his wife Skye believes strongly in fate, and she believes that’s what drew them together in an attraction neither could resist. And the attraction’s still there once the ink’s dry on the marriage certificate, so they decide to give it a chance. Because with everything else going wrong, something has to go right. Right?

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