Friday, May 27, 2016

Thoughts: Simply Irresistible

Simply Irresistible

by Jill Shalvis
Book 1 of Lucky Harbor

~ Goodreads ~

Rating:  4.0 Stars

A friend once told me that, when it comes to family, the definitions of and lines between love, hate, resentment, caring, and any other emotion you can think of tend to get really blurred. The love that you have for a family member can be very different from that of a friend; because while you choose the friends in your life, you’ve never really had a choice in the family who are there as well.

Family are those people you can live without, but you can’t live without. Like I said, it’s a very blurry line. Because these people have always been around, it’s hard to imagine them NOT being around, no matter all the negative feelings you may have developed about them over the years. Because these people are always around, you sometimes wish that they were somewhere else, no matter how much you love and care for them.

These are people who are dropped into your life, outside of your own control; however, these are also the very people who continue to be a part of your life by choice--whether yours or theirs.

A friend once told me that when it comes to family, it is perfectly normal to love one of them, but at the same time immensely dislike that same family member.

It’s all about the blurry lines that makes a family unit such an interesting dynamic.

Back to the book, Simply Irresistible certainly manages to portray very fun and intriguing relationships between the characters, specifically the three estranged half-sisters, Maddie, Tara, and Chloe. Because while the storyline itself was standard Contemporary Romance formulaic drivel it had been the humorous quips, crazy personalities, and yes, the fun and intriguing character interactions and interesting relationship dynamics that made the book so much more enjoyable than it might have turned out.

Fun and breezy, this book set out to be, fun and breezy this book accomplished. And then some.

Because I simply loved the weird straddling of those blurred family love/hate definitions presented by the three sisters. They haven’t spent much time together, they are estranged, but at the same time, they are family and they both love and loathe each other for multiple reasons. They spend time trying to annoy the hell out of each other like teenagers, but when it really counts, the three of them are there for each other.

The following quote doesn’t quite describe the full extent of the loving relationship between Maddie, Tara, and Chloe, but I found it amusing. And also, even after all that craziness, at the end of the day, the sisters are still there for each other and love each other enough to continue being there for each other.

Maddie tipped her face up to the stars as if looking for divine intervention. “Some people have normal families,” she said. “They get together once a month or so and have dinner. My family? We have pancake batter food fights, steal each other’s footwear, dye our hair green, and yell at each other over loudspeakers in public.”

The Story:
Told in Maddie Moore’s perspective, three estranged half-sisters arrive at Lucky Harbor Resort, a beachside inn that their equally estranged, free-spirited mother has left to the three of them in her will. With lives of their own to get back to, there was no doubt that Tara and Chloe wanted to get in, divide up the assets for the inn, then get back out.

Maddie, however, was hopeful for more. Having lost her job and her boyfriend recently, she’s looking for a fresh start. And having been the odd-one-out among her sisters and family, she also subconsciously held onto the hope that maybe the three of them could spend some time together being sisters and getting to know each other.

And so Maddie does what she can to convince Tara and Chloe to give the inn a chance before selling it off and going their separate ways. They’re knee deep in debts and Lucky Harbor Resort has certainly seen better days, but with a little work and determination, Maddie is convinced they can make the entire deal work out.

Which is how we factor into the equation the good-looking, “tall, dark-haired hottie” carpenter, Jax Cullen.

Overall Thoughts:
Simply Irresistible is an amusing, fun read with very enjoyable character interactions and relationship dynamics. Those were the very things that kept me loving the book, because, as I’d stated already, Simply Irresistible would have otherwise been a boring Contemporary Romance with the same formulaic story with the same formulaic outline.

Klutzy girl, down on her luck attracts broody alpha with a dark and troubled past. Klutzy girl is actually resourceful and has a heart of gold and her shining spot of development involves growing a backbone and figuring out where she “fits-in” in life (as defined by everyone else in her life). Broody alpha is also a golden boy who has many, many secrets that, when shared with the rest of the audience, just makes him all the more perfect as a typical Romance novel hero.

The two have a sweet, adorbs romance, with obviously mind-blowing sex (that they keep having at the most inopportune times or “just because” since characters in Romance novels are always horny, 24/7). Then there’s the obligatory angst, reconciliation, BIG MISUNDERSTANDING™ with more angst and obligatory sort-of-break-up, and then the standard Happily Ever After™.

Simply Irresistible is a typical love story that could have been boring and it could have been that one Romance story that has been told hundreds of times. After all, I DID feel as if the romance in this book could have been curbed a little in favor of the character dynamics, specifically the development of the relationship between our three half-sisters.

We spend so much time with Jax and Maddie, and we spend so much time watching their love story develop from 0 to 100 within the first couple chapters that the Romance in this Contemporary, in my opinion, lacks originality and inspiration. Don’t get me wrong, Jax and Maddie were adorable together (and I somehow found Maddie’s klutziness kind of endearing despite the fact that I normally hate when female characters are like that).

And I know that this book is a Contemporary Romance first and foremost; however, I repeat, I think I would have liked to put more exploration into the relationship between Maddie, Tara, and Chloe, as well as dive into their issues about their mother and their separate lifestyles before coming to Lucky Harbor.

Unfortunately, this book focused a bit more on Maddie and Jax than I would have liked, without actually getting into a more maturely developed relationship between them. But I’m going to let that go.

Because, fortunately, it turned out to have a little more substance than the standard formula, and for that, I found myself enjoying the heck out of it. With humorous quips, strange antics, small town warmth, and sweet, heart-warming relationships, I think it’ll only be a matter of time before I come to fully fall in love with the people of Lucky Harbor.

The reason this book didn’t get a lower rating is because I’m having one of those moments where, whether or not this book is an objectively good one, I found personal enjoyment, and dammit, that’s all that matters to me right now!


This book is a pre-chosen participant in the following Reading Challenge(s):

This review was originally posted at Ani's Book Abyss / BookLikes in May 2015.

A First Impression (Originally posted on May 1, 2015)

Hot Biker looked at Maddie and smiled.  "Trying to impress a woman here, Ford."

Ford turned to Maddie speculatively.  "I suppose you already know that this guy here has got some charm.  But did he tell you that in our freshman year we nicknamed him Hugh because his stash of porn was legendary?  Yea, he had more back issues than eBay.  And maybe he mentioned that he can't pee his name in the snow anymore because the last time he did, he gave himself a hernia trying to cross the X at the end of his name?"  Ford turned back to Hot Biker and slapped him on the back.  "There.  Now you have no hope of impressing her, so get cranking on that puzzle--you owe me."

Hot Biker grimaced, and Maddie did something she hadn't in weeks.

She laughed.

And I laughed too.  Out loud.

Jill Shalvis is an author I've been curious about for some time now.  I've read one book of hers to completion already, Room Service, which was steamy and cute and breezy, but a little bit 'meh' even though I DID get hooked to it.  The other book I tried to read was Get a Clue, which had an interesting premise, a promising romance, but fell short because I didn't like the way the female main character was being treated... nor did I like that she was letting herself be treated like a doormat.

Anyway, Lucky Harbor has been on my radar for some time now, because, for all that Contemporary Romances aren't my favorite genre in the world, they ARE my go-to genre if I'm feeling like I need something light, breezy, and fun.

And so far Simply Irresistible is proving to be very much so the light, breezy, fun type of book I'd love to curl up in front of a fireplace with a cup of tea or a glass of wine to read all day on a snowy afternoon.  And do nothing but read this book.  (Except that it is the beginning of May, I don't have a fireplace, and I don't have all day long to do nothing but read, though I'd love to.)

We've already met the three half-sisters and they seem down-to-earth enough for my interest to pique.

Maddie is described as socially awkward and mousy, with an obsessive organization compulsion borne from years of being an assistant to five different producers at a production company in L.A.  I'm not sure she's quite shy, but she's also not the type who would willingly jump onto the dance floor without first being dragged... though she would go willingly because she seems a bit of a pushover and readily persuaded.

So I'm interested to see where this story takes her.

There's a nice spark going for the romance already with two chance encounters with Jax Cullen wherein Maddie accidentally to pulverize his motorcycle by knocking it over.  It's a good "Meet Cute".

But mostly, I like that we've established a pretty good air of friendships and relationships between characters already.  The three half-sisters seem estranged, but there's an underlying hint of caring between them.

And the Hot Biker, Jax, can't be too bad if his friends are anything like Ford (see above quote).

Anyway, between some amusing quips and some potentially good character interactions, I think I'm going to really enjoy this book.  If anything, it'll at least be a breezy Contemporary to pass the time in enjoyment.

This update was originally posted at Ani's Book Abyss / BookLikes in May 2015.

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