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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Winner of February’s Contemporaries to Covet giveaway!

I was so happy to see everyone’s recommendations for contemporary romance releases in February. Looks like it’ll be a very romantic month!

The winner of a $10 book gift certificate is…Suz Glo!

And since Suz Glo said she loves Jill Shalvis’s novels, I’m also sending a $10 gift certificate to Jill on Suz’s behalf.

Thanks for commenting, everyone!

Contemporaries to covet in February – & giveaway!

Every month, I’m giving you the chance to win a $10 book gift certificate for yourself AND one of your favorite contemporary romance authors.

How? Easy. Just let me know which contemporary romance novel being published this month you’re looking forward to reading. You can even mention one of the ones I recommend below. I’ll choose one winner and send that person a gift certificate. I’ll also send a gift certificate to the author they mention in their comment, on their behalf.

Giveaway details are at the bottom of this post. But first, there are a couple of contemporary romance novels I’ve read advanced copies of and can totally recommend. They’re both really fun, funny and entertaining books, so I hope you get a chance to read them!

Time Out by Jill Shalvis

(Read an excerpt on Jill’s blog)

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Class: How to Drive Him Crazy

Instructional program for women unexpectedly facing the totally dishy guy from their past. Everyone Welcome!

Time OutNHL coach Mark Diego’s plan to spend his off-season volunteering in his hometown goes awry when he learns that not only is he coaching teenage girls, but that the program is coordinated by energetic (and five feet two inches of trouble) coordinator Rainey Saunders, his childhood friend–and the woman he could never stand to see dating any other guy…

When their tempers flare, Mark and Rainey discover their fireworks don’t just burn angry–they burn very, very, hot! But that’ll just sweeten the victory. Because Mark always plays to win. And with Rainey, he’s planning on playing very dirty too…

224 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Blaze
Publication date: 21 Feb 2012

My opinion:

4 out of 5 stars!

Not only is this novel super hot, but it has all of Jill Shalvis’s trademark snort-out-loud humor and gut-twisting emotion. I absolutely LOVE Jill Shalvis and am convinced she couldn’t write a bad book.

This is her first Blaze for a while, and it’s wonderful to see how much conflict and energy she can pack into even this shorter format.

Her Lucky Catch by Amie Denman

Her Lucky CatchRecently divorced kindergarten teacher Jazz Shepherd is starting a new life in the quaint lakeside town of Bluegill. After taking a summer job at the local marina to help make ends meet, she’s stunned when the chief of police enlists her help in solving a crime.

Money has been disappearing from the city coffers, and a trail leads from Bluegill’s mayor to Damien Cerberus, a rich boat owner—and possible killer. The police chief is short-staffed and in need of someone to keep tabs on the suspect. Jazz’s job at the marina puts her in the perfect position to help—and puts her in the path of Kurt Reynolds, the hottie who mans the fireboat.

When things with Kurt start heating up, how can Jazz keep her investigation undercover while enjoying time under the covers with her summer flame?

67,000 words
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication date: 27 Feb 2012

My opinion:

4 out of 5 stars!

Told in the first person by a heroine with a wonderfully quirky voice, this novel is a highly entertaining read. Amie Denman manages to keep it hot and exciting without being overly descriptive in sex scenes, making this a wonderful book for those of you who get uncomfortable reading about detailed sexual encounters.

Fans of Kristan Higgins will really enjoy Her Lucky Catch. I read it while traveling from Denmark to the Netherlands, and it had me laughing out loud instead of pissing myself with fear on the flight or throttling a conductor when my train home was delayed by an hour. Seriously, it takes a lot to keep me in a good mood through a journey like that, and Amie Denman accomplished it.

Giveaway!

Answer one of the questions in bold below. By “contemporary romance” I mean romance between human beings set in the present day. It can be romantic suspense, inspirational, erotic, category-length or whatever.

I’ll choose one winner on Tuesday February 7th. That person will get a $10 gift certificate to the online book retailer of their choice, AND I’ll send the same to the author they mention.

If the winner mentions more than one author, I’ll ask her to choose which one gets the gift certificate.

This is open internationally.

Questions:

What contemporary romance novel(s) are you looking forward to in February? Have you read anything by the authors I mentioned? Which of their books do you like best?

Review: Head Over Heels by Jill Shalvis

In nearly two years of reviewing, I’ve never given a single perfect score. Head Over Heels deserves to be the first.

Head Over HeelsChloe Traeger has a reputation for being Lucky Harbor’s wild child—a reputation she’s earned by saying “Screw you” to her severe asthma and living dangerously. She does extreme sports, frees dogs from notorious animal abusers…and taunts the town’s sheriff by nudging the line between legal and stupid.

Bad-boy-turned-sheriff Sawyer Thompson gets annoyed when people cross the line into stupid. But for some reason, it particularly bothers him when cute, curvy, mouthy Chloe Traeger does it. That couldn’t have anything to do with the fact he feels he has to live an exemplary life, which doesn’t come naturally to him. Nor could it be because Chloe’s condition makes it nearly impossible for her to have sex without dying.

But Sawyer’s sure tempted to explore ways of helping Chloe work up a sweat without getting herself killed.

I know there’s still over a month left in 2011, but so far Head Over Heels is my hands-down pick for best contemporary romance of the year.

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Sisters are doing it for themselves

I don’t have any sisters. I have a “little” (i.e. younger, but now well over six feet of muscles that belong on a romance cover) brother. You might remember him from my post The problem with having an alpha male brother.

Sister gets little brother in a headlock
© Christopher Low/istockphoto

My brother and I never got along when we were kids, though I can’t imagine why. I mean, I put so much effort into parenting him because my parents clearly weren’t doing a good enough job of it. As his big sister, I made sure he knew exactly what he was doing wrong at all times. He didn’t know as much as I did, and I pointed out all the things he was ignorant about so he’d learn.

Yes, I was the kid who spent weekends playing “school” and planned lessons for the neighbor kids to sit through. I also borrowed my brother’s motorized mini police car and drove up and down my street handing out tickets to kids who rode their bikes too fast.

In other words, I was a friendless loser for much of my childhood. And my little brother has always been the exact opposite.

Having another girl in the house would’ve been torture. I had to be the best at something, and if I couldn’t be the best at making friends then at least I could be the best girl in the house. No one else could be a girl the way I could—that meant shopping with Mom and my grandma, going on dates with Dad, and just generally smelling good and avoiding roughhousing.

If I’d had a sister? I’d have had to discover something else to be best at.

Girl pretends to push brother off a cliff
© M. Eric Honeycutt/istockphoto

By having a second child, my parents forced me to suffer decades of sibling rivalry—but I never regretted that it was a boy child (I just, y’know, regretted his entire existence sometimes. Hey, I’m not proud of myself for it).

Growing up with my biggest rival living in my own home and sharing my parents’ love has given me a deep affection for fictional heroines who have to endure bratty siblings—even if those siblings are grown up.
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