|AMAZON | KINDLE|
Heroine: Leah Sullivan – Pastry Chef, Always Running
Hero: Jack Harper – Fireman, Always the Protector
Ah, it’s like a fresh of breath air being back in Lucky Harbor. I adore this series and the hunky alpha heroes. Jill Shalvis’ writing is addictive and sexy and sassy. I really loved reading as Jack and Leah unravel and crash into a whirlwind of lust, desire, and finally… love
Leah Sullivan has never really known her path, but she’s always loved adventure. She grew up with an abusive and domineering father that expected her to be the best. Perfect. Yet no matter what she did, it was never good enough. When things would get bad, she would find solace in her rock and protector, Jack Harper, her childhood best friend. He always welcomed her with open arms and consoled her when the tears would fall. The relationship between Jack and Leah was incredibly touching and emotionally deep. I could tell they loved each other immensely.
But seventeen year old Leah decides to take off, leaving behind Lucky Harbor, and a broken hearted Jack, without saying goodbye. She attends culinary school to become a pastry chef and, eventually, goes on a cooking reality TV show, Sweet Wars. Leah comes home after the show is done filming to help her ailing grandmother with her pastry shop. As the show is airing, Leah is bound by contract to keep mum about the winner of the show. Of course, everyone in the small town of Lucky Harbor is watching and hounding Leah every chance they get, certain Leah has won because she is kicking ass. Though, Leah is not acting like a winner. So, now that Leah is back in Lucky Harbor, she has a chance to regroup her life, rekindle her friendship with Jack, and has developed good friendships with Aubrey and Ali. But her suitcase is not unpacked, since she has every intention to get the hell out of dodge before the last show airs.
Charming, sexy as hell, Lieutenant Jack Harper has always lived in the shadow of his father, who is now deceased. His determination and loyalty to be the baddest of the bad had him fighting fires as a ‘Hotshot’, but a knee injury forced him to go back home to work at the local fire station. Though, this time, Jack is trying to make a path for himself. Jack was hurt by Leah running out on him, but remained in touch with her over the years and kept their friendship status the same when she came home; always her protector and savior.
When Leah decides to tell Jack’s mother’s that she and Jack are dating to alleviate some of her worries, things suddenly get out of control between them quickly. Jack is not happy with Leah and is not interested in repeating history with her. He was once willing to give her his heart. Now he's not interested in having his heart broken again, knowing that Leah runs when things get too heavy. But he goes along with the charade anyway and creates rules for their ‘pretend’ relationship to keep her at arm’s length. When ‘pretend’ turns into ‘no strings attached sex,’ things become even more confusing between them and the rules start to bend. How long will this little game go on before they realize that it was never pretend but the real thing the entire time?
As Jack and Leah continue with their charade and dance around their feelings, there is no denying the lust and love they've buried for so long. I loved watching the cool and calm Jack brought to his knees by Leah; the one woman that’s always been on his mind. And it was just a matter of time before Leah realized that Jack is more than just her best friend; he’s her everything. But they both have a lot of issues to work through... in other words, they both really needed to pull their stubborn heads out of their asses to see they are perfect for each other.
I will admit to being a little concerned with this couple at first, when the chemistry between them felt lacking. Oh, there is an attraction, but I was worried with the way Jack was so angry with Leah over the ‘pretend’ relationship. Some of his harsh words absolutely slayed me. However, with one long overdue smoldering kiss between them, the lukewarm chemistry turned from to simmering to boiling in 0.2 seconds. Yeah, I was no longer concerned at this point. That’s what you call a slow panty melting burn that will make your toes curl.
“Now you,” she said desperately. “You have to lose something.”
“But you’re not finished.” He leaned back on his elbows, all long, sprawled-out grace. The caged leopard at rest…
Good lord. “Fine.” She shoved off her jeans. Dammit. To go with her sports bra, her panties were laundry day panties, faded yellow, and worse, they had “Thursday” printed across the butt.
It was Sunday.
(LOL… I love this scene!)
Always on My Mind is the eighth book in the Lucky Harbor series. You can read this as a stand-alone, but it’s totally worth starting this series from the beginning. There is nothing like a good friends-to-lovers romance - one of my favorite tropes. And, once again, Jill Shalvis has created another page turner that will make you groan in frustration when her hero and heroine don’t play well together, but also melt your heart at the same time. There is also a dash of mystery added to the story that had me trying to guess who the villain of Lucky Harbor is. I love this town and its endearing, quirky people that put a smile on my face. It’s like coming home every time I read a Lucky Harbor book.
P.S. As a dog lover, I have to give a shout out to Kevin, Josh’s dog. That big oaf had me laughing like crazy with his silly antics. I can SO relate with that crazy dog, since I have two silly furry dudes, who drive me batty, but I love them to pieces.