Jill Shalvis returns to the blog with the seventh book in her Wildstone series
Love for Beginners
There’s something special about the community of Wildstone: whether you have been there your entire life or just arrived, there is a place and people there who understand, empathize, cheer, and correct you (when needed), and Shalvis has a bit of all of that here. When we meet Emma, she’s recovering from a horrible accident and a coma, and is working through her physical therapy in the hopes of getting her own place and starting her life over again, albeit a changed one. With her glorious St. Bernard mix ‘emotional support’ dog Groundhog (or Hog for short) the two have a balance that is perfection. He’s there when she needs the comfort and she protects him from all things big, bad and scary – which in Hog’s case is most everything except food. Her therapist, Simon;; dubbed Hardass PT, is stretching himself thin between work, caring for his father after his strokes, being there for family and friends, and workng in his father’s company despite the fact he hates it. Of course, the company is being more than capably managed by his cousin Alison, a hard-as-nails on the outside, super sharp businesswoman who is currently reeling from her own breakup with one of Simon’s friends.
But Emma’s prospects for work are few: no one wants to hire her, she’s got a crush on Hardass PT, and somehow she is feeling that being ‘mostly’ happy is more than enough. Survivor’s guilt has Emma not believing in herself or that she can / she deserves more – and with everything coming to a crunch point without job prospects, she decides to buy the dog training / day care center that she’s worked at part time for ages. But – there are kinks in the works. Her connection to Simon is electric, and both are constantly wondering ‘what if’. But she lives upstairs from he and his father, and Simon is always holding to a ‘hands off’ policy with his patients. He’s never quite made a relationship work between his own commitments to work to his father and to do it all – based on a promise made to his dying mother when he was a teen.
Then we have Ali – Emma’s nemesis in high school (although both see it differently) who had a hard life as a child and learned the value of family and connections only through Simon and his father Dale, even as Simon and Dale’s relationship was fraught and difficult after Simon’s mother died. Alison is a talk tough, resting-bitch face, take no prisoners, cut them off before they can hurt you sort of girl who could hold a grudge for a gold medal, and does not do well with sharing feelings. Lonely without Ryan, who she ran off with her own insecurities, her inability to attempt to be liked lest she be hurt, and her own stubbornness. Then Simon pushes she and Emma together – the two start to work as partners (not friends) with each using bits of the other’s personality and drive to move forward and get what they think they want in life. With Emma’s kind nature and Ali’s hardnosed sense of right and wrong – there are kerfuffles and missteps, but the two discover that they like and rely on one another – friendships that both desperately needed. When you add in Simon and his genuine inability to see that he needs and wants Emma in his life without a solid push from his friends and father, and Ali’s attempts to be open with Ryan, his family and try to be more ‘likable’ – the growth that everyone in this story experiences, with moments of struggle, guilt, hope and healing – you cannot help but want to stand up and cheer them all on – after bopping a few on the head for boneheaded moves that is. The dogs, their personalities and the ‘elder sitting’ that sort of grew from a need of an afternoon and morphed into more – along with answers to long-believed untruths and some insight for all concerned have you wanting to rush to Wildstone to get your own moments of hope, love, cheer, and smiles.
Title: Love for Beginners
Author: Jill Shalvis
Series: Wildstone #7
Also in this series: Lost and Found Sisters, The Good Luck Sister, Rainy Day Friends, The Lemon Sisters, The Summer Deal, The Forever Girl
Genre: Contemporary Woman's Fiction, Animals, Contemporary Elements, Dual Narration, Family Saga, Friendship, Grief, Humor elements, Romantic Elements, Second Chance, Setting: American, Small Town
Published by: William Morrow
Published on: 8 June, 2021
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 9 Hours: 51 minutes
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Book Depository ♦ Google ♦Audible ♦Direct from Publisher
What would you change if you had to start your life—and love life—over again?
When Emma Harris wakes up from a coma she learns that her fiancé and her BFF have fallen in love, she’s lost her job, and the life she knew is gone. Overwhelmed but grateful to be alive she starts over from scratch. Not as easy as it sounds, of course. But she’s never been a quitter, even if she wishes she could quit rehab, where her hot but evil physical therapist, Simon, puts her through the wringer.
Eager for a new beginning, Emma opens a doggy day care. Unfortunately, the only space she can afford is owned by her childhood nemesis Ali Pratt. But hey, she’s been through worse, right? She tries to roll with the punches, but a friend drops his grandpa off at the doggy day care in desperation then on top of that, she and Ali bring the term ‘frenemies’ to a whole new level. And then another grandparent shows up. And another.
In the midst of all that, Emma realizes she’s accidentally fallen for Evil PT. But the most horrifying thing of all is that Ali just might have turned into the best friend she’s ever had. And as Emma grows from the pain of her past and takes on her new path, she comes to realize that life isn’t what you’re given, it’s what you make of it.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.