Saturday 18 November 2017

#CBR9 Book 101: "It Had to Be You" by Jill Shalvis

Page count: 368 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars

Ali Winters discovers in short order that the lease to the house she was living in with her boyfriend has not been renewed, that her boyfriend has already moved out and doesn't seem to want her to continue being with him, in fact he has been cheating on her for some time. She's discovered in a state of partial undress by the actual owner of the house, while she's leaving a very strongly worded voice mail on her boyfriend's answerphone. When she's also accused of stealing a large amount of money from her boyfriend's office, her life really seems to be unravelling at the seams.

Luke Hanover is a San Francisco police detective and has returned to his hometown of Lucky Harbor for a much needed vacation. After an extremely high profile murder case went horribly wrong, the detectives involved in the case are under a lot of media attention and Luke just needed to get away from it all. He returns to the house he inherited from his grandmother and finds a half-naked woman in it, yelling at someone on the phone. After hearing Ali's story, he takes pity on her and agrees to let her stay for a day or two, until she can find somewhere new to rent. That she seems very adept at scaring away the reporters who keep calling is a handy bonus. Then Ali is accused of stealing a large amount of money, from an office she had access to and a man she had a very real and understandable grudge against. The evidence against her is not looking good, but Luke is pretty convinced she's innocent. Of course, he's on vacation and has no intention of getting involved in any sort of new investigation, even to help someone as cute as his new temporary roommate.

While I've read a few Jill Shalvis books before, this is the first one I've read set in Lucky Harbor. I read it during October's 24-hour Readathon and it was a fairly quick, entertaining and easy read - but honesty also forces me to admit that about a month later, I can barely remember any significant details about it, be it about the plot or the finer sides of character development. Ali and Luke go from strangers to friends to lovers really rather quickly, which is never one of my favourite story lines, but at least they are thrown together and get to know one another while involved in some pretty dramatic stuff, which romance would have me believe frequently heightens and increases passionate emotions.

This is book 7 in an ongoing series, but there seems to be little continuity from book to book and the town is clearly a very picturesque and quaint setting for a romance series. There's a number of colourful locals to fill out the supporting parts and I'm sure several of the people mentioned were quite probably featured in earlier books. There's also quite obviously sequels being set up, with one of Ali's best friends (who runs the local bakery) and a firefighter (who is one of Luke's childhood buddies). It would not surprise me that one of the women who it turns out Ali's douchy ex had been sleeping with, but who over the course of the book becomes a tentative friend to her will also have her own book later.

While I am fuzzy on specific details, I can tell you that this is not a bad way to spend a few hours. The setting is nice, the protagonists have good chemistry and some good banter (although I seem to recall Luke taking far too long to come to his senses about Ali and his feelings for her). Both protagonists are good at their jobs, the hero is protective, but not an alpha douche. There's a fun cast of supporting characters, and reading this book made me interested in checking out further Lucky Harbor books, which has to be a good thing, right?

Judging a book by its cover: The cover seems pretty much like a generic contemporary romance cover to me (and I can't remember the physical descriptions of either of the protagonists, so I can't tell you if they look like the cover models - although I think Ali was supposed to be rather petite?) Although the cover designer has put what looks like the shopfront of a flower shop in the background, which is appropriate, as Ali works in a flower shop when she's not teaching ceramics at the community rec centre.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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