Saturday, September 8, 2012

Minis: Lucky in Love & At Last (Lucky Harbor #4 & 5) by Jill Shalvis

Jill Shalvis is a favorite contemporary romance writer, and last year the first three books in the Lucky Harbor series turned out to be favorite contemporary romance reads for me. It is no surprise then that I was really looking forward to reading the continuation of this series in 2012.

Lucky in Love is book 4 of the series. It differs from the first three books in that it no longer involves the three original sisters, instead the female protagonists of the next three books are friends who meet and bond over their shared love of chocolate, conversation about love lives or lack thereof, and wind up forming the The Chocaholics club. The three women are the town's "good girl," Mallory Quinn, Amy Michaels, a waitress at the local diner, and the new girl in town Grace Brooks.

In Lucky in Love Mallory Quinn is encouraged to meet Mr. Wrong so she can break out of a "good girl" role that hasn't worked out for her in the past. Mysterious Cute Guy, or Ty Garrison, fits that role perfectly as far as everyone is concerned and of course he makes his entrance with drama and flair. Mallory proceeds to do the bad girl act and pretty quickly their affair progresses to the point where mutual feelings are deeper than planned, so that the superficial relationship that began with such heat and promise is no longer satisfying for them. Ty has baggage from his experience in the military that prevents him from making a commitment, and Mallory has her own past guilts and experiences that  helped her evolve into the woman she is, a pleaser and a good, all around caring woman.

I enjoyed this romance, just as I usually enjoy Jill Shalvis' contemporary romances. Lucky in Love has the usual sizzle between the main protagonists and the likable characters. Shalvis deals with PTSD to a certain extent in this installment, but it is not an in-depth look into the issue and it is resolved lightly. Lucky Harbor is a wonderful place with secondary characters that are well known by now and I look forward to meeting them again on the page. What really didn't work for me in this installment was the relationship between the three women. That friendship formed rather quickly so that the intimacy between the women felt forced and lacking. It lacked the push and pull that we experienced between sisters Maddie, Tara and Chloe, the emotional attachment, love and yes, real intimacy. So, although the romance was enjoyable, in many ways this ended up being an average read for me.  Grade: C+

The 5th book in the Lucky Harbor series, At Last, covers the romance between Amy Michaels and Officer Hot Buns himself Matt Bowers. In the previous book there was a hint that something was going on between Amy and Matt, and in this story we find out that well... there's actually nothing going on except that except that there's an attraction between them. That right there was a disappointment because all along there was a hint that something major had happened between them.

At Last is interesting in that it features parallel a storyline between the baggage that Amy carries from her youth as a runaway and a young girl who Amy takes under her wing. The romance between Matt and Amy is something else altogether. Matt is sweet and hot! But Amy is a tough cookie with lots of trust issues that she just can't seem to shed. More than once her judgment leaves a lot to be desired in this story, and I never quite warmed up to Amy even when she showed her vulnerable side. 

The residents of Lucky Harbor once again make this story worth reading, but this installment is missing some of those amusing moments that I so look forward to and there is really almost no build up for Grace's story. Grace Brooks is not a character that draws me so that there is no real excitement and no need for me to rush and read Forever and a Day. Maybe later? Grade: C

In conclusion, I don't have strong objections to Lucky in Love nor At Last and although neither book made a lasting impression on me, as always Jill Shalvis includes likable characters and some pretty steamy scenes in both stories. I enjoyed these reads as more or less average contemporary romances and recommend them as such.

Category: Contemporary Romance
Series: Lucky Harbor
Publisher/Release Date: Forever/May 2012 & June 2012

Series:
Simply Irresistible #1
The Sweetest Thing #2
Head Over Heels #3
Lucky in Love #4
At Last #5
Forever and a Day #6

8 comments:

  1. I think I liked both books but I do agree that the women bonded rather quickly - I think that perhaps it would have been easier to link the stories through the guys who already were good friends.

    :D

    I do like this series though.

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    1. Alex, that's so true! Linking the series through the men would have been a natural progression. :D

      I'm so glad you are enjoying the series, Alex. I loved the first three books, and as follow ups I think these are cute. ;P

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  2. Seems like I enjoyed Lucky in Love more than you did, Hils :) Although reading your review, everything you bring up is valid. And quite frankly, I can barely remember the details of the book right now, so if I had to write this review, it'd probably get a lower grade.

    That's disappointing that there's nothing between Amy and Matt. Why hint at anything if there's nothing? That one, I've decided to skip because it just doesn't draw me in.

    My major issue with this series is that I keep confusing it with Susan Mallery's Fool's Gold series. I think when that happens, it means there's too many small-town series out there ^_^;

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    1. Nath, that's the thing about both of these books... I can still remember details about all three books in the original series about the sisters -- scenes I love and that are memorable to me. Yet, these two books, as good as they are (because I think Shalvis IS good) didn't have that memorable quality for me. As I said I don't really have strong objections to them... they are good, they just didn't jump at me. You know what I mean?

      I know I wrote a big spoiler on this, but couldn't help it because well... it surprised me. The Amy and Matt situation surprised me?! I expected that something happened there, right? There were big, big hints that something had happened between them. I kept waiting for it too... oh well. :D

      I don't know... I've read some of Susan Mallery's books and I think that for me the difference between her series and Shalvis' is in the characters. Shalvis' characters are likable (primary and secondary) and for some reason there's something about Mallery's characters that never quite do it for me. ;P It might be a matter of taste. LOL!

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  3. One of my favorite things about this series are the relationships between the guys. IMO they are so well written. I do like your idea about linking through the guys instead of the women. I think it would have worked well too.

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    1. Leslie, I agree. I really enjoyed the relationship between the guys a lot more than the relationship between the women in these two books. That relationship felt natural and real to me whenever it was highlighted in the stories. Even in the second book, I really liked the relationship between Matt and the Dr. Very nice. :D

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  4. I'm probably going to still try to read Head Over Heels for Chole's story, but stop there. I loved reading the first one and just thought the second one was okay. Fun but not overly memorable.

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    1. Christine, I think you'll like Head Over Heels, everyone else seemed to enjoy it. Plus, hey you have to finish the sisters' romances. They are definitely fun contemporaries. :)

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