Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Book Review: Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis

Title: Simply Irresistible
Author: Jill Shalvis
Release Date: 1 November 2011
Number of pages: 684 pages
Publisher: Forever
Source: review copy provided by publisher through NetGalley
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon, Kindle store, Book Depository

Christmas in Lucky Harbor is a 2-in-1 reissue of Simply Irresistible and The Sweetest Thing by Jill Shalvis, this review is only of the 1st story: Simply Irresistible, to read my review of the 2nd book The Sweetest Thing click here.

Grade: 4.5 stars

Novellus superbus!
Goodreads appetizer:

Simply Irresistible - Book #1 in the Lucky Harbor series

Maddie Moore's whole life needs a makeover.

In one fell swoop, Maddie loses her boyfriend (her decision) and her job (so not her decision). But rather than drowning her sorrows in bags of potato chips, Maddie leaves L.A. to claim the inheritance left by her free-spirited mother-a ramshackle inn nestled in the little coastal town of Lucky Harbor, Washington.

Starting over won't be easy. Yet Maddie sees the potential for a new home and a new career-if only she can convince her two half-sisters to join her in the adventure. But convincing Tara and Chloe will be difficult because the inn needs a big makeover too.

The contractor Maddie hires is a tall, dark-haired hottie whose eyes-and mouth-are making it hard for her to remember that she's sworn off men. Even harder will be Maddie's struggles to overcome the past, though she's about to discover that there's no better place to call home than Lucky Harbor.

My Thoughts: I first heard of Simply Irresistible when it came out, it was all over the book blogs with its unique white cover. It sounded like a nice story and I put it on my to-read-one-day-when-I-get-the-time list and mostly forgot about it. Then being the Christmas-aholic that I am I requested the Christmas in Lucky Harbor book at NetGalley I was happy to discover it was actually a reissue of Book #1 and #2 of the Lucky Harbor series, nothing better than to start the series at the beginning and I can't understand why I waited so long to read it!

Simply Irresistible is wonderful. It is heartwarming, cute, funny and sexy. The perfect small town holiday romance. If you haven't yet read the Lucky Harbor series, I urge you to do it! Basically it tells the story of three half-sisters who after the death of their hippy mom get together in the small town of Lucky Harbor (where they haven't been since their childhood) to decide what to do with their mom's run-down inn and their lives.

Simply Irresistible is Maddie's (the middle sister) story. Maddie has been nicknamed as the "Mouse" because she is compliant, shy and rather self-effacing. As the middle child she is the mediator between her older and younger sister who are constantly at each others' throat. Maddie is a nice, relatable heroine: she considers herself average and ordinary, but her kind heart, generosity, vulnerability and compassion make her one of a kind. Maddie is adorable, see for yourself:

After they see the sad state in which the inn is, Maddie and her sisters get drunk and Maddie drunk dials a contractor (who will turn out to be, yep, you guessed it right, the hero of the story):
“Hi,” she said at the beep. “Potential new client here, looking for a master—er, renovation expert. We’re at Lucky Harbor Resort, at the end of Lucky Harbor Road, you can’t miss us. Oh, and we’re in desperate need of mastering. You’re probably busy, seeing as you’re the only master in town, but we’re short on time. Like really short on time. In fact, we’re sort of desperate—” She broke off and covered the mouthpiece because Tara was in her face, waving wildly.


“You said desperate twice. You can’t tell him that— he’ll raise his price! And what the hell is your fixation on being mastered?” Maddie rolled her eyes—which made her dizzy—and uncovered the mouthpiece.

“Okay, forget the desperate thing. We’re not desperate. Hell, we could do the work ourselves, if we wanted. So come or don’t come, no worries.” She paused, turned her back on her sisters, and lowered her voice to speak extra softly. “ But please come first thing in the morning!” And then she quickly ended the conversation and smiled innocently at Tara.

Maddie just got out of an abusive relationship and tries to get herself together. I found it stunning how despite being such a shy and peaceful person she had this inner strength and drive to build herself and her self-respect back all alone, without the help or knowledge of anyone else, just on her own.

Jax, our hero, is simply put dreamy. In Maddie's words:
he had a voice that went down like smooth whiskey, a way of looking at her that tended to get her to say more than she should, and oh, yeah, he kissed like heaven on earth.
He is considerate, warm-hearted, and droolworthy handsome *dreamy sighs* The attraction and then later sweet and sizzling love story that develops between Maddie and Jax gave me both heart palpitations and delicious shivers, my favourite combination when reading a romance novel :-)

For me one of the highlights of the novel were the one-liner recipe cards the girls' mom left them with advice on life, love and everything in between. They were all completely unique and made me chuckle without exception:
“The easy road is always under construction, so have an alternate route planned.”

“If you’re going through hell . . . keep moving.”

“Smile . . . it makes people wonder what you’re up to.”

“Remember, it’s always better to be the smartass rather than the dumbass.”

“Men are like roses. You have to watch out for the pricks.”

“Men are like parking spots. All the good ones are taken, and those that aren’t are inaccessible.”

“I chose the path less traveled, but only because I was lost. Carry a map.”

And the chuckle out loud humour permeated the novel, be it dialogues between Jax and his friend:
He was still struggling with his own temper when Ford strode into the office and kicked Jax’s feet off his desk.

“Get up. Water’s calm. Wind’s kicking. We’re going sailing.”

“Not in the mood.”

“I’m looking for a first mate, not a sex partner.”

or Jax and Maddie:
“Yesterday you said you wouldn’t be my escape.”

“That was a stupid statement by a very stupid man who wasn’t thinking clearly.” “And you’re thinking clearly now?” “Yes. This isn’t just sex between us. So if you want escape, and you want to use my body to do it, then I’m your willing victim.”

“Magnanimous of you.”
or the sisters:
“I want sympathy!”

“Are you kidding me? You have the sexiest man on the planet wanting you. You’re getting laid regularly. No sympathy for you!”
The relationship between the sisters was fantastic: it was explosive, with lots of screaming and hair-pulling, but deep down the love and sense of belonging was what mattered.

I loved how the holidays were incorporated in the story. It didn't feel forced and added something to the basic story of love and family. I'm sure you'll have a blast reading about the sisters' holiday decorations and Christmas tree (I know I had), here is just a teaser so you get a first taste:
She couldn’t help it. The top of her head was bumping up against the scrawny trunk of the tree, and she was breathing in the scent of pine. Above her, she could see a set of barbecue tongs dangling off the branches next to a picture of Jon Bon Jovi, a whisk, a Tupperware lid, and a near-naked shot of a very young Johnny Depp. “I’ve never had a more beautiful tree,” she whispered reverently.
My only minor complaint about the book was that Jill Shalvis ended chapters at the most interesting scenes and the next chapter picked up at a later place, leaving the reader out of anything that happened between.

Verdict: Simply Irresistible was the first book I read for the Book Lovers Inc's Holiday Reading Challenge (if you'd like to join the fun: CLICKIE), and loved it to pieces! Jill Shalvis' narrative flows freely, the story is engaging, the characters are entertaining and the dialogue is the best! I just loved all the chuckle out loud funny quips between the sisters and then there is the melt-you-on-the-spot love story between Maddie and Jax *dreamy sigh*

Simply Irresistible is the perfect cute and light romance for the holidays to savour with a mug of hot cocoa curled up on the sofa, I'm sure you'll love it! :-)

Plot: 9/10
Characters: 9/10
Writing: 9/10
Ending: 8/10
Cover: 8/10

Buy it:

The BookDepository 

Books in the series:

Book #1 - Simply Irresistible (Maddie's story)
Book #2 - The Sweetest Thing (Tara's story) - Read my review
Book #3 - Head Over Heels (Chloe's story)

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