Back again with the eighth book in the Lucky Harbor series, written by Jill Shalvis and narrated by Annie Greene. Please read on for my review of
Always on My Mind
I hate to say it, but aside from some wonderful moments with Kevin, the intractable Great Dane, I had more trouble letting go of ‘expectations’ and rolling on with this friends to lovers story that started with a ‘fake’ relationship, added in a serial arsonist for tension, and allowed the heroine to take far too long to grow up. But I truly did adore Leah and understood her issues: it’s well-accepted that children who experience extreme traumas and abuse often circle that young age and have a harder time recovering from the abuse, and Leah had all of those hallmarks. Taking her father’s harsh words to heart, she’s not a finisher, she doesn’t revel in challenges or difficult moments, and while she relies on being ‘everything to everyone’, she’s often caught out stuffing her own feelings in lieu of playing the role.
Jack, for his part had enough issues and one is the four-legged terror named Kevin: eater of everything, single-minded and seeing himself as the world’s most adorable lap dog, yet every inch a Great Dane. Sure, Jack is wonderful with him, but he’s never directly dealing with the out-of-control pup like he should, and perhaps that reflects his own need to ignore his own stuff. His health – as a knee injury makes him less capable and competent at his job as a firefighter, the seeming ‘death-wish’ that he has in disregarding his own safety – perhaps a hangover from his firefighter father’s death on the job when he was young. But, Jack won’t let anyone close enough to hurt him again by leaving – and that includes his friend Leah.
Oh the back and forth in this one was almost interminable – they are so well suited, yet hide behind the subterfuge of a ‘relationship’ that pleases Jack’s mother, yet keep setting rules and guides in place – almost every one of which is soon broken. A serial arsonist purring all of the firefighters in danger, with clues aplenty as to identity yet Jack, the ‘always on’ guy missing near every one. And then their relationship – the slow burn, the attraction that both are denying and not believing in. It all felt overly protracted, and while some of the issues are resolved, I couldn’t wholly believe in a happy ever after ending for them: not without a determination on both sides to be honest, open and share everything – even when it scares them.
Narration for this story is provided by Annie Greene, and she managed to present Leah and her friends clearly and with solid personalities, bringing their emotions, friendship and camaraderie clearly to the front. For this is a story of friends and families, and each stood solidly here. Jack’s presentation was clear as well, and other characters that appeared were distinct and their interactions easy to understand and enjoy. I’m still a HUGE Shalvis fan, and can’t wait to get into the next book – I just didn’t love this one as much as others in the series.
Stars: 4 Narration 4 Story 3
Title: Always on My Mind
Author: Jill Shalvis
Series: Lucky Harbor #8
Also in this series: It's in His Kiss , Lucky in Love , At Last, Forever and a Day, It Had to Be You, Once in a Lifetime
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Narrator: Annie Greene
Published by: Grand Central Publishing, Hachette Audio
Published on: 24 September, 2013
Source: Hachette Audio
Audio Length: 9 Hours: 29 minutes
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Google ♦Audible
THERE'S NOTHING LIKE THE REAL THING
After dropping out of pastry school and messing up her big break on a reality cooking show, Leah Sullivan needs to accomplish something in her life. But when she returns home to Lucky Harbor, she finds herself distracted by her best friend, Jack Harper. In an effort to cheer up Jack's ailing mother, Dee, Leah tells a little fib - that she and Jack are more than just friends. Soon pretending to be hot-and-heavy with this hunky firefighter feels too real to handle . . .
No-strings attachments suit Jack just fine - perfect for keeping the risk of heartbreak away. But as Jack and Leah break every one of their "just friends" rules, he longs to turn their pretend relationship into something permanent. Do best friends know too much about each other to risk falling in love? Or will Jack and Leah discover something new about each other in a little town called Lucky Harbor?
A copy of this title was provided via Hachette Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.