RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Lucky in Love by Jill Shalvis


Title: Lucky in Love
Author: Jill Shalvis
Publication Info: Forever 2012
ISBN: 9781455503728
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book Lucky in Love This RITA® Reader Challenge 2013 review was written by Anna. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Contemporary Single Title category.

The summary:     

Mallory Quinn has had enough of playing it safe.

As a nurse and devoted daughter, she takes care of everyone but herself. And as the local good girl, she's expected to date Mr. Right. But for once, she'd like to take a risk on Mr. Wrong.

And who could be more wrong than Ty Garrison? The mysterious new guy in town has made it clear that he's only passing through, which suits Mallory just fine. Besides, his lean, hard body and sexy smile will give her plenty to remember once he's gone . . .

For the first time in his life, Ty can't bear to leave. Helping this sexy seductress-in-training walk on the wild side is making him desire things he shouldn't – including leaving the military for good.

As their just-for-fun fling becomes something more, Mallory and Ty wonder if they could really be this lucky in love. After all . . . anything can happen in a town called Lucky Harbor.

And here is Anna's review:

Before I start my actual review, I should describe the setting. Lucky in Love is the 4th book in the Lucky Harbor series, so if you haven’t read the first three books, understanding the setting will help clarify the heroine’s motivations. Lucky Harbor is an idyllic place. It’s picturesque, it’s tight-knit, and every inhabitant knows each other’s business. In Lucky Harbor, privacy is not a right. It’s not a privilege. It’s nonexistent, thanks in part to quirky octogenarian Lucille and her Lucky Harbor Facebook page. This environment strongly influences the actions of our plucky heroine, Mallory, because she is hyper-sensitive of the community’s perceptions. Now, moving on to the review. 

Lucky Harbor’s Goody Two-Shoes nurse Mallory Quinn wants to be a little bad. Ty Garrison has excellent credentials for this endeavor. First, he’s from out of town and he isn’t planning to stay. He’s only in Lucky Harbor while he recuperates from major trauma, both physical (which is healing nicely) and mental (which isn’t healing as well). He remains aloof of the community, causing the local busybodies* to dub him the “Mysterious Cute Guy.” This means he has no history in town, i.e. no baggage. Second, Cute Guy Ty is mega-hot and he thinks she’s pretty smokin’ too. Theoretically, Mallory can have fun with him and part ways without a backward glance. Of course it doesn’t work that way because, well, it never does.

My favorite aspect of this novel was the characters. I liked both Mallory and Ty. Mallory is a sweet woman with genuine compassion for those in need. She isn’t assertive enough with obnoxious people, but she isn’t super-submissive either. I was pulling for her. I wanted to shake her a few times, but only in a “you deserve better!” kind of way. Happily, she grew and changed through the book and developed a spine by the end.

Ty is of the wounded warrior archetype. Oftentimes, when you meet this type, he is an angry man whose suffering is expressed as abuse of the heroine. Ty is in serious pain and in denial about many things but despite his problems, he never treats Mallory badly. They have misunderstandings. He freaks out sometimes. He’s counting down the days until he can skip town, but he never abuses Mallory verbally or physically. I love that about him. Ty is a thoroughly sympathetic character, even when he denies how deeply he cares for her.

There are plenty of things to appreciate about the book. Their naughty scenes are fun. (Who knew dusty storage spaces could be so conducive to shenanigans?) The minor characters are often funny, especially Amy, Grace, and Lucille.  There are lots of obvious hooks for future Lucky Harbor books, which is a plus for me because I’ve enjoyed this series and I look forward to more sexy escapades. 

That being said, there were two items that, while technically working, still irritated me. The first is a freakish snow storm that occurs early on.  I ranted about it at length, until my smarty-pants husband explained the specifics of Sierra Nevada weather patterns. Now I know a lot more about thunder snow and the damage potential of straight line winds and you’ve been spared lots of ranting. Still, as much as I hate it, the snow storm is the vehicle through which Mallory finds Ty and it provides a fine opportunity to demonstrate Mallory’s nursing skills. It also introduces Grace, sequel-bait for the 6th Lucky Harbor book. So I’m giving the storm a pass.

The second problem is not so easily explained so it will receive my written fury. Mallory meets Ty when he’s hit by a falling branch and passes out in the snow. After adding to his injury by accidentally throwing a phone at his head, she springs to action and aids him. He’s in and out of consciousness, forgetting where he is between these gaps of wakefulness. Still, in this impaired state, Mallory’s new besties Amy and Grace pressure him to be Mallory’s date to the big fundraiser she is throwing.  (Which makes perfect sense, because I know I like all my dates to have impaired judgment and memory problems when making plans with me.)

He agrees. Sort of.

“Unbelievably, her patient interrupted her with what sounded like a murmured ascent.”  (pg. 31). 

I agree. I don’t believe it either. He doesn’t actually use words to make the date. But wait, he agrees again, when Amy keeps talking. 

“Another sound of ascent from Mysterious Cute Guy. Which actually might have been more of a moan of disbelief that he’d agreed to this craziness” (pg. 32).

OR, could it be a moan of pain because he’s concussed and losing consciousness again? His POV paragraphs show us that he is aware of some things, mostly involving Mallory’s comfortable bosom, but he’s definitely not capable of a full conversation, let alone making decisions. By the time Mysterious Cute Guy leaves in an ambulance, they haven’t even exchanged names, let alone confirmed a date.

Now, it would be one thing to have this silly conversation with a confused patient and let it go. Mallory is an experienced nurse. She has observed that Ty’s injury is causing memory problems because he asks more than once where he is. She should know better than to have faith in any agreement he makes, be it through words, grunts, moans, or interpretive dance.

This is when Lucky Harbor’s gossip machine starts churning. Amy tells Mallory’s sister Tammy about the date. Lucille overhears Tammy teasing Mallory and posts about it on Facebook. Soon Mallory gets her hopes up, thinking that she maybe, kinda, sorta does have a date.**

Unfortunately, he doesn’t arrive in time for the dinner and thanks to Facebook, people assume she’s been stood up. She’s fighting for a cause of enormous personal significance, and rather than shaking people down for donations, she paces in the hallway because of the public humiliation of being stood up for a date she didn’t actually make.

When he does show, he has no recollection of making a date. He only remembers her sexy voice. He can’t even remember what she looks like.

Mallory fears the scrutiny of the nosiest community in Washington State. This community exerts fierce social pressure and she is a sensitive woman who cares what people think of her. I understand that and I sympathize. What I do not understand is how she ignores her medical training and common sense in favor of getting her hopes up. That doesn’t make sense. She should know better.  The whole episode is just a sloppy way of creating conflict for her character. It’s not a character flaw; it’s a glaring flaw in logic. This is the main reason I’ve given Lucky in Love an A- rather than an A.

This one irritation aside, I genuinely enjoyed Lucky in Love. I like Mallory. I appreciate Ty. I wanted to see them together because they complement each other perfectly. I wanted them to reach Happily Ever After because they belong together.  That’s highest praise I can offer a romance novel.

* Lucille and her cronies unabashedly stalk him report Mysterious Cute Guy sightings on Facebook, including PICTURES.  It seems harmless as long as it’s a bunch of old ladies, but if it was a dude taking pictures and the subject was a pretty lady, then it would be creepy. But I digress…

**Albeit one whose name she didn’t know until Tammy violated HIPAA and looked at his medical chart. Like I said, even legally assured privacy is no match for Lucky Harbor’s collective sense of entitlement.

This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Kobo | iBooks.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Rebecca says:

    Is “murmured ascent” some kind of foreplay?  (I’m thinking penis whisperer.)  In his condition, Ty definitely should not be ascending anything.  Whatever Ty does or does not murmur while concussed should be an “assent.”  Did this actually make it into the book?  Twice?  Blergh.  (That was the sound of an English teacher’s brain exploding.)

  2. 2
    Kelly S says:

    Rebecca, I just checked and yup, wrong word was used.  Luckily, I’m a stereotypical engineer and hadn’t noticed the oops at all when I read the book.

    I love the Lucky Harbor series! Mallory is a great heroine.  Ty, I don’t really feel like I know him.  Sawyer is my favorite hero in the series. (See Head Over Heels)

    Anna – you are absolutely right about Lucille.

  3. 3
    Marina says:

    Well, I am glad I read this review, so that I can avoid this book. I am afraid I cannot agree that, when anyone posting photos of someone else on the internet, it can be shrugged off as “harmless”, regardless of who the perpetreator and the victim is. I am not ignoring the fact that it is not the same situation with a man posting photos of a young girl, but it still wrong and, yes, kind of creepy. And I am not sure how harmless it is for someone who is suffering from PTSD to find out that people are sort-of-stalking him.

    Mostly, though, I just dislike the whole concept that it counts as a walk on the wild side for an unattached woman to have a casual fling with an unattached man, that by doing so she breaks out of her good-girl person. Especially when the only thing that makes this guy “Mr.Wrong” is that he is not willing to share his lief-story with a lot of stalkerish busy-bodies. Ok, maybe it’s not wise, maybe she ‘ll get hurt, but why on earth is it a “bad” thing to do?

  4. 4
    sarrible says:

    Anna, you’ve hit on the problems I have with the whole Lucky Harbor series. I like Jill Shalvis’s books a lot (I believe I once recommended Slow Heat and Double Play to a friend by saying I was worried they’d get me pregnant) but the constant cutesy references to the small-town busybodies just get on my last nerve. Clearly the author thinks it’s adorable. I do not.

    I also find that her books have an unusual number of typos and incidents of homonym confusion (like “ascent,” referenced above). Which drives me bananas.

  5. 5
    Jen says:

    I love Shalvis and can genuinely say I’ve never disliked any of her books (and believe me, I’ve read many, many of them). She’s my go-to author when I really just want to read something that makes me sigh. All that said, the Lucky Harbor books are not my favorites. I too am a little tired of the small town silliness. And this totally made me laugh:

    “Like I said, even legally assured privacy is no match for Lucky Harbor’s collective sense of entitlement.”

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