Wednesday, March 18, 2015

TBR Challenge: Once in a Lifetime

Once in a lifetime
Jill Shalvis
Contemporary Romance
Lucky Harbor/Book 9
Grand Central Publishing/February 18, 2014


After a wrenching loss, Ben McDaniel tried to escape his grief by working in dangerous, war-torn places like Africa and the Middle East. Now he's back in his hometown and face-to-face with Aubrey Wellington, the hot-as-hell woman who is trouble with a capital T. Family and friends insist she's not the one to ease his pain, but Aubrey sparks an intense desire that gives Ben hope for the future.

Determined to right the wrongs of her past, Aubrey is working hard to make amends. But by far, the toughest challenge to her plan is sexy, brooding Ben - even though he has absolutely no idea what she's done...

Can this unlikely couple defy the odds and win over the little town of Lucky Harbor?

Aubrey is a former troubled teen and beauty queen but if you stop at that simple description, you would be missing out on a lot. After her latest, very public embarrassment, she's reforming herself. Aubrey has decided to atonement to everyone she's wronged. So she makes a list and checks it off as she goes but one name on the list is causing her a lot of problems.

Ben McDaniels' wife Hannah died five years ago and since then Ben has been making himself scarce in Lucky Harbor. Instead, he travels around the world, helping others. Ben works in dangerous places around the world, running from his memories in Lucky Harbor. But he keeps coming back because it's home and his family is there. When he finds himself back in Lucky Harbor he has no plans to stay long but those plans change when Aubrey Wellington runs across his path.

The chemistry between Aubrey and Ben is there but there is also reluctance on both their parts to give in to any desires. That reluctance doesn't last long and soon Ben and Aubrey have moved past their hesitancy into a not-so-serious relationship. It was believable but I didn't like the way everyone warned Ben away from Aubrey, implying she wasn't good enough for him. Ben garnered sympathy because of his dead wife and Aubrey was known as the town screw up but I think that had just as much to do with her mistakes as with jealousy over her looks.

Often there is a secondary relationship which can sometimes be just as interesting, if not more, than the main couple. In this case, the secondary relationship I enjoyed is between Ben and his cousin Luke. They are more like brothers, growing up together after Luke's mom took Ben in when he was left alone in the world. It's a beautiful relationship filled with love, laughter and mutual harassing of each other. I found myself wishing they had more page time which I can't remember ever happening with two straight guys.

Once in a Lifetime, the ninth book in the series, left me less than satisfied. There is a feeling of sameness to the stories. I know where it's going, which isn't always bad but there are few if any surprises along the way. Surprises are good, they keep our interest piqued. I do plan to read the rest of the series in the hopes there are still a few surprises along the way.

Rating: C

Lucky Harbor Series ~

Simply Irresistible 
The Sweetest Thing
Kissing Santa Claus novella in the anthology Small Town Christmas
Head Over Heels
Lucky in Love
At Last 
Forever and a Day
It Had to Be You
Always On My Mind
Once In a Lifetime
It's In His Kiss
He's So Fine
One In a Million

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