|AMAZON | KINDLE|
Heroine: Aubrey Wellington – Bad Reputation, Owns a Bookstore
Hero: Ben McDaniel – Brooding, Carpenter
Now this is what I’m talking about! Once in a Lifetime reminds me exactly why I continue to crack out on the Lucky Harbor series. With the perfect blend of sexual tension, heart, heat and steam, and humor, I fell in love with this story! And let me tell you something – Jill Shalvis knows how to write a delicious total alpha hero. Ben McDaniel has made my sexy book boyfriend list.
Aubrey Wellington was known as the ‘hot mean girl’ in high school. And that’s how some of the town folk still see her. She has made her fair share of mistakes in life and after accidently walking into an AA meeting she found a moment of clarity to right some wrongs from her past. In the meantime, she’s reopening her aunt’s book store, where she wants people to feel comfortable and relax. She’s doesn’t need any complications as she tries to get her life together. Then her uncle goes behind her back to help her out and hires Ben to help remodel the store. Aubrey has always harbored a crush for Ben since high school but knows she can’t get tangled up with him, especially since Ben is on her list and knows her secret will hurt him badly.
Ben McDaniel has been traveling around the world for the past five years after losing his wife, going from one dangerous place to another, building water systems for war-torn lands. But he’s had enough of that dangerous lifestyle and is ready to go back home. He is still dealing with his grief and not looking for a relationship. However, working for Aubrey has brought out feelings in him he doesn’t quite know how to handle. Ben finds himself drawn to her, becoming oddly protective of her, and is determined to see what she is up to when he discovers her list of names. This is Aubrey and Ben’s story about redemption, acceptance, finding yourself, letting go of the past, forgiveness, and love.
I adored Aubrey right from the start. It’s obvious she has been misunderstood all her life. After her parent’s divorced, she had a difficult time. Her mother tried to make her into a beauty queen and she was always told that her sister had the brains. And her father neglected her. She was lonely, felt unloved, and didn’t have many friends, which was confused with her being a mean girl. She was just a girl in need of affection. Aubrey has a HUGE heart and it shows as she tries to make amends with the people she thought she wronged.
Ben melted my heart and… my panties! I really have a thing for quiet, brooding, dark and sexy men, who know how to use their hammer. (Ha!) He’s a tough and honest man with a great big ole heart made of gold – but he would probably get all growly if you said that to him. He has abandonment issues that stem from his mother. Luckily, he had a great aunt and uncle that loved him immensely. Then he married his high school sweetheart and losing her was painful and had a tough time dealing with the loss, which is why Ben avoided relationships but he was drawn to Aubrey like a moth to a flame.
This unlikely relationship starts with Aubrey accidently throwing a drink in Ben’s face in the beginning of the story then turns into a sexy and emotional love affair. Ben and Aubrey are adorable together. Right from the beginning had they had a push and pull vibe between them. They bantered and bickered non-stop – which made me laugh and smile excessively. You would think these two were more like oil and water, but really the chemistry between them sparked and sizzled…
“Dare me,” he said softly.
“Dare you to what?”
“Dare me, Aubrey.” Oh, how she hated how well he knew her.
“I dare you to kiss me,” she whispered…
“…You drive me crazy,” he said against her mouth. “You taste so fucking good. You always taste so fucking good.”
(DEEEEE-LICIOUS! These two are lip-smacking hot hot hot!)
I love how they both broke down each other’s walls and burrowed their way into each other’s hearts. I love that Ben saw Aubrey for who she truly was underneath the tough and cool exterior. I love that Aubrey never gave up on Ben when her secret was revealed and he was being a great big ass. Gotta love a woman who fights for the man she loves! I felt all kinds of emotions and I definitely shed a few tears for Ben and Aubrey’s beautiful love story.
The characters were fun and loveable, the story captured my heart, the sex was smoking HOT, and the ending was sigh-worthy happy. This is my most favorite of this trilogy but it is the ninth book in the series. If you haven’t read a Lucky Harbor book, what the heck are you waiting for?