Sunday, June 2, 2013

It Had to Be You by Jill Shalvis - A Duel Review

It Had to Be You (Lucky Harbor, #7)
Grade: C+/B
Hotness Level: Blaze
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Lucky Harbor #7
Reviewed by Anne and Kate
266 pages

Anne and Kate had differing views on this book, so we decided to present their reviews together.  Dueling reviews!

Ali works at a flower shop in Lucky Harbor.  She's a fairly new resident of the small town, but very much loved by all, especially due to her work with the senior citizens of the community.  Luke grew up in Lucky Harbor, but has been gone for years - since his grandmother passed away.  Since her death, and because of a time when he feels he let his sister down, Luke has decided to focus on his career and stay away from relationships.  After a rough spell at work (he's a policeman) he takes a two week vacation and returns to Lucky Harbor to get away from an investigation gone wrong.  When Ali is accused of stealing money for the town's new Senior Center, Luke is the only one who believes she couldn't possibly have done it. And their adventure begins...
I'm a Lucky Harbor fan and I've read the six books that come before this one.  I liked them, and I liked this one, too, but it wasn't my favorite of the bunch.  I love that with each new trilogy Shalvis starts in Lucky Harbor she sets the books apart from the trilogy before.  So in this case we hear about other characters, and even have scenes with Sawyer, but we don't have a cameo from every character we've ever met.  I thought that was very well handled.  I love the people of Lucky Harbor. The Senior Center folks are fun.  The fact that Lucille has a Pinterest page made my day.  (In my opinion, Lucille is the one Lucky Harbor resident who MUST appear in every book.  She's awesome!)  I really liked Luke and Ali, too, but I thought their relationship was weak.

A low conflict romance is one of my favorite reads, and this one IS a low conflict romance.  There is a story line where Ali is accused of stealing some money, but that doesn't really color their relationship, other than providing a practical reason for them to be together.  Luke never thinks even for a moment that Ali took the money.  So, despite the mystery, this was a low conflict romance for me.  The thing that I missed was the relationship development.  They seemed to magically get to know one another.  I don't know if it happened off page or what, but every once in a while I'd come across a line like this:  (Luke is thinking about Ali)
"He knew damn well that being with a man meant something to her. Lots of things meant something to her." p.132
And such thoughts would leave me thinking "How does he know this?  He seems so sure she wouldn't just have casual sex.  Why is he so sure?"  This kind of thing happened a few times and it bothered me.  
The book was still enjoyable, though, and sequel bait for the next book has me sure I'll keep reading.  

See, I didn't come away with the same feeling. I really liked this one a lot. Probably my second favorite (after Tara and Ford's story). And while there wasn't a lot of struggle in Ali and Luke getting together, I got it. He was very up front about what he wanted and didn't want in their relationship (read: nothing long term). She is definitely a wear-your-heart-in-your-sleeve kind of gal. So it didn't bother me that he knew what she was thinking, because I think she was telegraphing it.
There are some authors' books that I don't hesitate to shell out money for. I feel I'm almost guaranteed a good read. Jill Shalvis is one of those authors. At the same time there are some series that grow tiresome after a while. It seems like the characters are simply given different names in each installment. Lucky Harbor is not one of those series. Since the first book, I have looked forward to the next book, and the next, and the next...but I was skeptical that this seventh book would be able to his my interest the way the last six have. I was proven wrong.

Things I liked:
  • I liked that Ali seemed so sure if her path in life. Even when things weren't going her way, she was a keep on keeping on kind of gal.
  • I liked that Luke was the one who was more unsure in their relationship, Ali was the stronger on the two in that aspect.
  • I liked Luke's grandpa Edward and how he became a sounding board for Luke.
  • I liked that the characters we've come to know through the other books didn't begin to overshadow the relationship of Ali and Luke.
  • I liked that I wasn't able to guess who-dunnit. In fact I was way off base (I thought it was Ali's boss Russell) but it was still believable.
  • I liked that Ali was the glue that held her sister and mother together.

Things I didn't like:
  • Why didn't anyone tell Ali to keep her nose out of police business? Seriously. And Sawyer seemed a little too willing to share info with Luke.
  • I didn't like that Luke felt responsible for everything in his past (couldn't someone just smack him upside the head already?).
  • The beginning went kind of slow for me. Although I think a lot of that had to do with being re-introduced to Lucky Harbor and its inhabitants. Kind of like the old Baby-Sitters Club books, I just wanted to skip the intro part and get right to the story.

Of course you've worked a BSC reference in.  I remember those books well!  It's interesting that we had pretty opposite experiences reading this book. Honestly, when I look at your list of what you liked, I totally agree.  When I look at what you didn't like, I totally agree.  But my overall experience was just meh, and it was one of your favs of the series.  Go figure.

1 comment:

  1. Well, you know I DO like a higher conflict romance but it's Jill Shalvis so I'll suffer through. Kate, Tara and Ford's book is my favorite too!