Book Reviews

New favorite Contemporary Romance author…Jill Shalvis

Ok, so she’s not a new author but new to me and it’s all Kristan Higgins’ fault. Well not really her fault but I wouldn’t have known about Jill Shalvis if it wasn’t for stalking perusing Ms. Higgins’ website and Twitter feeds. I fell into Kristan Higgins’ humorous romance work by accident on Goodreads and was pleasantly surprised by her writing style. I am very picky about romance books…none of this “she could feel his swollen member”, blah, blah, blah, stuff <–yuck!  I want humor, great chemistry and banter, minor drama, realistic love scenes, an HEA and great character development.  I want to read about women with insecurities, brains, a sense of humor and have real jobs while possibly juggling the balancing act of being a mom. And the men in these stories? They are not some possessive gazillionaire who bosses them around or plays games, telling the mousy woman how to style her hair, what to wear, what to eat, how to act and be at their beck and call. Most often they are rugged, hard-working men who have a heart of gold, characters that Higgins and Shalvis create so well. So…I continued seeing Jill Shalvis’ name pop up as a friend of Kristan Higgins and with the nudging of my go-to friend for romance books (Ms. You-Know-Who-You-Are), I read It Had To Be You.

15842374[1]Ali Winters is not having a good day. Her boyfriend left her, everyone in town thinks she’s a thief, and now she’s about to be kicked out of her home. Her only shot at keeping a roof over her head and clearing her name is to beg for help from a police detective who’s as sexy as he is stern….

After a high-profile case goes wrong, Luke Hanover returns to his hometown for some peace and quiet. Instead he finds a bombshell brunette in a heap of trouble. As he helps Ali put her world back together, the pieces of Luke’s own life finally seem to fall into place. Is this the start of a sizzling fling? Or are Luke and Ali on the brink of something big in a little town called Lucky Harbor? (Goodreads)

Because this is a two-fer book review, I’ll keep it short and sweet….I LOVED it! It was light-hearted, sweet, funny and very romantic. There was even a mystery thrown in that had me turning the pages quickly to find out “who done it?” Main characters Ali and Luke were ever so charming and lit up each page with their fantastic chemistry. One reader even mentioned that Luke reminded them of Taylor Kinney from Chicago Fire…and well, that’s not a terrible thing. Thanks for the visual. Jill Shalvis also captures the small-town vibe with great descriptions of scenery that makes you want to travel there and become part of the backdrop as another character in her book. It is part of her Lucky Harbor series but you don’t have to read them in order. This was #7 and it was the first one I read and didn’t feel confused at all. So, after being happily surprised by my new finding of contemporary romance at it’s finest, I had to read another by her to see if I really liked her work or was just in need of something less literary and thought provoking.

Amazon         Barnes & Noble

16115699[1]Co-owner of the town’s only kennel, Lilah Young has lived in Sunshine, Idaho, all her life. Pilot-for-hire Brady Miller is just passing through. But he soon has Lilah abandoning her instincts and giving in to a primal desire.

It’s Brady’s nature to resist being tied down, but there’s something about Lilah and her menagerie that keeps him coming back for more. (Goodreads)

Well, well, well. It wasn’t a fluke. I LOVE her writing! After reading Animal Magnetism, I had to write a review, so here I am typing feverishly.

Lilah Young is one of my favorite female main characters in romance to date. Scratch that. She is just an amazing character, period. She is tough, independent, asks for what she wants and doesn’t apologize, fearless, hilarious and has a huge heart. It’s doesn’t hurt that she works in a kennel and rescues animals for a living. She isn’t perfect but she keeps her drama at bay and lives her life. No tortured characters in Jill Shalvis’ books. Thank goodness.

Brady Miller, the ex-soldier/pilot is just passing through Idaho to catch up with his foster brothers and doesn’t plan to stay or get attached to anyone or anything until Lilah literally runs into him with her jeep. Their chemistry is off the charts and their banter is witty and smoldering but they are also very tender with one another. There were many laugh out loud moments as well as touching scenes between them. It is the first book in her Animal Magnetism series but again you don’t have to read them in order. The two foster brothers, Dell and Adam, leave quite an impression though, so I will be reading books two and three to see what they are up to.

I used to be a romance book snob and I know many of my bookish friends can relate. I thought they were all mushy and gushy with descriptions of “members” and “pistons” and “throbbing”. The women I read about were helpless and needy, throwing themselves at the feet of these alpha-males who were neither tender nor humorous. Then I read Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins and realized my new found affection for Contemporary Romance. I didn’t have a blog then to review it but as soon as I read The Best Man (my favorite Higgins thus far) I had to gush about it. But this post is about another new favorite author, Jill Shalvis. She writes similar to Higgins but with her own flair. I am now adding more of her books to my ever growing “to be read” pile, but since I love her and enjoy her work, it’s definitely a good thing.

Social networking and I have a love-hate relationship. This time I will admit my love for places like Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads because I was able to find a new favorite author. Places like Goodreads is a book lovers playground, if you can steer away from the negative, book-bashing reviewers. You can keep track of the books you’ve read, connect with authors you love, find book recommendations, enter giveaways, become a beta-reader for a new author, meet new like-minded readers and keep track of books you can’t wait to get your hands on. So, if you don’t have a free account, go ahead and sign up. You might just find a new favorite author like I did.

Amazon        Barnes & Noble

To find out more about Jill Shalvis visit her website here at

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