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Monday, October 18, 2010:
Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis (2010) - review
Maddie Moore's whole life needs a makeover.

In one fell swoop, Maddie loses her boyfriend (her decision) and her job (so "not "her decision). But rather than drowning her sorrows in bags of potato chips, Maddie leaves L.A. to claim the inheritance left by her free-spirited mother-a ramshackle inn nestled in the little coastal town of Lucky Harbor, Washington.

Starting over won't be easy. Yet Maddie sees the potential for a new home and a new career-if only she can convince her two half-sisters to join her in the adventure. But convincing Tara and Chloe will be difficult because the inn needs a big makeover too.

The contractor Maddie hires is a tall, dark-haired hottie whose eyes-and mouth-are making it hard for her to remember that she's sworn off men. Even harder will be Maddie's struggles to overcome the past, though she's about to discover that there's no better place to call home than Lucky Harbor.

I know I've said this before, but Jill Shalvis is one of my top favorite contemporary romance authors. She effortlessly blends humor, sexual tension, and romance with her own unique sense of the adorable to create stories that most readers can easily relate to. And while I love me some urban fantasy and paranormal romance, sometimes you just need a dose of the simple and real to make you happy.

Maddie Moore has come to Lucky Harbor with the hopes of starting fresh. She never really got to know her mother, a fact that deep-down makes her feel a bit resentful. But she's determined to make the most of what she's been left, even if it's going to take more than a little elbow grease and some tough negotiating with her sisters. Thing is, Maddie's always considered herself a mouse, so going up against her opinionated sisters is not as easy as it sounds, especially since it's been awhile since they've seen each other. But armed with her knitting needles and a recently discovered stubborn streak, she's determined to try.

Enter one very hot 'n sexy fantasy of a man by the name of Jax, and Maddie's got her hands full with getting her life back on track without losing her heart in the process. But before she knows it, Maddie finds herself getting to know her sisters, gaining a confidence she thought she never possessed, and falling for a wonderful man who does she her value. Maybe, just maybe, it's time to have faith in her heart and just take that leap....

My thoughts:

This time around, I really have to commend Jill for taking a stand in her books without getting preachy. She continues to write her really fun, sexy romances, but she's also exploring more serious topics, such as verbal and physical abuse. In Maddie's case, fortunately it didn't get really ugly, though any level of abuse is bad, and we see the afteraffects abuse can have on a person, how it can tear down their confidence and make them feel like they are the one at fault, and not the actual abuser. It takes Maddie awhile - and some time on her own - to finally feel like she can trust her instincts and let herself fall in love with a really great guy.

And that is exactly what Jax is. Not perfect by any means, Jax has his own demons to contend with, but from their first encounter, Jax has seen something in Maddie that draws him, and it isn't long before he's falling in love. It both hurts and angers him that Maddie was in an abusive relationship, but rather than being impatient with her, he takes his time, gaining her trust and showing her what it means to be treasured. He doesn't treat her like a fragile piece of china, but rather as a woman with needs and a strong will of her own, so at times he pushes her to get her to push back. I think Jax ranks up there with one of my favorite heroes of all time. He's gorgeous, smart, and possesses a generous and caring heart that he can't help but share with those he cares deeply about. Having once lived a life devoid of meaning, Jax is grateful he got out before he crossed a line and completely lost his soul.

It's also touching to see Maddie reconnect with her sisters again. Sharing the same free-spirit mother but different fathers, the three young women haven't really spent a lot of time around each other, and have pretty much gone on to live their own lives. Their mother's death forces them to get together and make decisions that will affect each of them, and finding out about themselves in the process. This opportunity gives them a chance to perhaps become friends as well as sisters, and though they go through a series of growing pains, it's pretty evident that all will work out in the end.

I think "Simply Irresistible" is now my favorite Jill Shalvis book, and THAT is saying something. But it was just the perfect balm to make me smile and sigh, and maybe even believe in love a lil bit. It left me feeling exactly the way a wonderful romance story should, and I am absolutely dying to go back and visit Lucky Harbor again very soon!

Rating: ***** out of *****

I'm also jonesing for more of Jill's Pacific Heat baseball series. So I hope many of you will buy a copy of "Simply Irresistible" so that we can get Gage's book! Let's tweet and tell @PenguinUSA how much we love Jill's books!!!!!

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  1. Bang on review Stacy. So much to love about this book: the banter/dialogue, the little wisdoms that start out each chapter, the 3 so different siblings learning each other. The awesome romance just made it perfect.

  2. Great review, Stacy! I read 'Simply Irresistible' over the weekend and loved it. It's my favourite Jill Shalvis book so far, and I've enjoyed them all.

    I thought Jill set the stage for Tara's story in the next book extremely well as it gave us enough information to want to know more, but not so much that it felt like sequel baiting. April can't come soon enough!

  3. Great review, Stacy! I've heard so many wonderful things about "Simply Irresistible." Can't wait to pick up a copy!

  4. I'm looking forward to this one! I've seen such great reviews. Glad you enjoyed it.

  5. Gasp, I need this one!

  6. Loved the review Stacy! I enjoyed this book a great deal and I'm so glad to see that everyone is loving it just as much as I did! =)

  7. I just skimmed this review because I can't wait to read it. It looks like it's a keeper!

  8. Terrific review, Stacy! I loved, loved, loved this book!!! Which is why I gave it 5 stars, as well. I am SO looking forward to Tara and Ford's story!

  9. I think I'd like to try this book. I'm guessing from your review that the author doesn't gloss over the abuse and that the hero doesn't miraculously fix everything? I had a DNF earlier this year that did just that, and I still can't forgive the author for the 'true luv fixes all' trope!

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