Review: Once in a Lifetime by Jill Shalvis

Lucky Harbor, we meet again.  Nine books into this series and I still look forward to each one.  This series provides a certain level of comfort for me.  I know I am going to enjoy the book.  I know I will like the characters and there will be good sexy times.  There is no stress or that guessing game of will I or won’t I like it when I open these books.

Once in a Lifetime by Jill Shalvis Lucky Harbor series #9Once in a Lifetime is the third book in this trilogy.  This round of Lucky Harbor focused on Jack, Luke and Ben, all hometown heroes.  Ben McDaniel is our latest hero and he has finally returned to Lucky Harbor after spending several years trying to bury his grief over the loss of his wife.  After trying to fix the world’s problems he has given up and returned home where he belongs.  Ben was raised by his aunt, Jack’s mother, and spent most of his teenage years causing trouble with his friends but now he is mature and only wants to settle.  He isn’t looking for love or a relationship because he will never again put himself out there like he did with his wife.

Aubrey Wellington is the town bad girl.  She was in Ali and Luke’s book where she slept with the same man as Ali, the man also who happened to be her boss.  When the trouble went down she dumped him and quit her job but the small town rumor mill had her getting dumped and fired instead.  When she finds out her boss/ex wrote a tell all book Aubrey knows she has to change something in her life and in a moment of insanity she wanders into an AA meeting.  The theme of the meeting is asking forgiveness and Aubrey takes the message to heart and makes a list of all the people she has wronged.  No matter how daunting the task, in order to have her fresh start she needs to make things right with these people.

When Aubrey’s uncle asks him to help fix up her book store, Ben takes the job because he has nothing better to do.  Aubrey has always got on his nerves so he works early mornings and late nights in order to avoid her.  Before long he doesn’t want to avoid her and becomes strangely fascinated by everything she does.  He is especially interested in the little book she carries around with her that has his name listed.  Aubrey and Ben cannot resist the attraction and agree to one night together knowing it won’t mean anything.  With all of Lucky Harbor telling Ben she is not good enough for him and his decision to never be in a serious relationship again, that is really all it can be.

The first three Lucky Harbor books will always be my favorite but Once in a Lifetime gave those books a run for their money.  It is always the third book in each trilogy that gets me too.  The last one was Dr. Josh and I adored him.  Jack and Luke were ok, but Ben really stepped up and shined.  This book has some poignant, heartbreaking moments when we follow Aubrey in her quest for forgiveness and acceptance.  She is a flawed character I found easy to identify with because she put all her emotions out there for people to see.  This often lead to those emotions getting trampled but she never gave up.

“Oh, my God,” she said on a moan after her first bite.  “So good.  I’ve been tearing up that back wall and forgot lunch.”

“I hate you,” Leah said.

Aubrey felt herself go still and, out of a lifetime habit of hiding her feelings, schooled her features into a cool expression that she knew was often mistaken for bitchiness.  “What?”

“You just worked for hours without getting a speck of dirt on you?”

Aubrey looked down at herself. “Well-“

“And your hair is perfect,” Ali broke in, taking in Aubrey’s appearance.  “I hate that about you.”  Leah nodded.

Both of them had businesses running in the black, hot-as-hell boyfriends who loved them madly, and their lives on track.  And they were jealous.  Of her.  It was just about the nicest compliment they could pay her, and she went back to breathing.

Her biggest challenge was Ben and how she had wronged him.  When the story finally came out it was disappointing to see Ben use it as the reason to not be with her even though it was clearly a poor excuse.  My one niggle with the story would be how Ben’s dead wife was portrayed.  She didn’t come across as bad and evil but there were some things she did that I didn’t care for.  I am not a fan of the previous women in a man’s life being put down in order to show how well the new woman fits.  It wasn’t overly dramatic here and I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea, but there are things that made me pause and consider.

Overall, this was a really enjoyable Lucky Harbor book and one of the best of late.  I have heard that Ms. Shalvis is going to do one more trilogy and then stop the series.  The next hero was introduced here but we didn’t learn much about him.  I will be a little sad when there are no more of these books because they have become a sure thing for me.  Final grade- B

Favorite Quote:

“It’s the neighborly thing to do,” he settled on.

“We’re not neighbors.”

“Okay, it’s the thing to do for someone who screamed your name as she came.”

Rating: B
Once in a Lifetime by Jill Shalvis
February 18th 2014 by Grand Central Publishing
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