ONCE IN A LIFETIME by Jill Shalvis (February 18, 2014; Grand Central Publishing Mass Market; $6.00)
SOMETIMES WRONG IS OH-SO-RIGHT
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 Wellington is on a mission. She wants to fix up her aunts bookstore and make it a place that many different groups can use and socialize. She's got her work cut out for her though as she's not got the best reputation in town.
First there's her old boss who she slept with until she found out she was only one of many. She quit but not before the affair became common knowledge. She's on the edge one day and ends up in a church and in an AA meeting. The pastor of the church misread what she said but when Aubrey's in the meeting she hears step 8 of the 12 Step program – making amends. This appeals to her on many different levels and she goes home to make a list of people she feels she needs to make amends to for one reason or another. One of those people is Ben McDaniel.
Ben is back in Lucky Harbor to stay. He's been on the road with his work for 5 years trying to get away from the grief of losing his wife. He takes a temporary job as a handyman (he's so much more than that) helping to fix up Aubrey's bookstore. He likes the way that Aubrey looks and wouldn't mind being in her bed but he's a non-commitment kind of guy. The problem is that although he says he's not a man to settle with one woman he can't stop thinking about Aubrey and goes out of his way to spend time with her – which only brings them closer.
This was such a great book. I loved the who premise with Aubrey seeking out those she felt she'd wronged in life and trying to seek forgiveness. Was the forgiveness always given? No, but she realized that while she might have thought she screwed up, and she DID indeed screw up, that some of her actions brought better things in peoples lives, rather than ruining them. I loved how Shalvis had us on edge wondering what the next person on the list would say – especially Ben. We don't know til later in the book exactly why Aubrey needs forgiveness from Ben but when we do it's kind of a big deal.
The forgiveness that Aubrey is seeking had to do with Ben's ex-wife, Heather. Now Heather, imho, was not the town star that everyone portrayed her to be. Maybe it was because she'd died, IDK, but in the flashbacks that Aubrey had she was actually a real bitch to Aubrey. Obviously this is only one persons memories, but still... Anyway, Aubrey is considered the town bad girl and yeah, as I said before, she'd screwed up on multiple occasions. I had to admire the strength of will it took to go face to face with all of those she'd wronged as I know it couldn't have been easy.
The story felt different from past LH books and while I love those books I liked this one as well. It showed us a different side of LH and I really enjoyed seeing it. There were other parts of the story I loved as well (Craft Corner, Ben and the way he helped those two foster kids) but I could go on and on and you just need to read it to see all the goodness inside. The book is great and one that I definitely recommend.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Aubrey got a look at the man she’d inadvertently drenched and stopped breathing. Oh, God. Had she really thought her day couldn’t get any worse? Why would she tempt fate by even thinking that? Because of course things had gotten worse. They always did.
Ben McDaniel slowly stood up from his barstool, dripping vodka from his hair, eyelashes, nose… He was six feet plus of hard muscles and brute strength on a body that didn’t carry a single extra ounce of fat on him. For the past five years, he’d been in and out of a variety of Third World countries designing and building water systems with the Army Corp of Engineers. His last venture had been for the Department of Defense in Iraq, which Aubrey only knew because Lucky Harbor’s Facebook page was good as gospel.
He swiped his face with his arm, deceptively chill and laid-back.
In truth, he was about as badass as they came.
Aubrey should know, she’d seen him in action. But she managed to meet his gaze. Cool, casual even. One had to be with Ben, the man could spot a weakness a mile away. “I’m sorry,” she said.
She felt herself flush. He’d always seemed to see right through her. And she was pretty sure he’d never cared for her. He had good reason for that, she reminded herself. He just didn’t know the half of it. “Yes, I am sorry,” she said. Her heart was pounding so loudly she was surprised she could hear herself speak. “Are you okay?”
He ran his fingers through a sexy disorder of sun-streaked brown hair. His eyes were the same color, light milk chocolate marbled with gold caramel. It was hard to make such a warm-colored gaze seem hard, but Ben managed it with no effort at all. “Need to work on your aim,” he said.
About the Author:
5 Things Jill Shalvis Does While Writing
1. Eats cookies
3. Fills out job applications for Taco Bell and Target
4. Neglects the laundry and house keeping
5. Talks to herself. A lot.
New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill's bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.
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