Narrator: Suehyla El Attar
Series: Lucky Harbor #10
Published by Grand Central Publishing on August 26, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Amazon, Barnes & Noble
I really love Lucky Harbor. I understand that this is the first book in the final trilogy for this series. I’ll be sad to lose this place, but Jill Shalvis has several other series that I’m sure will be just as good.
Becca Thorpe arrived in Lucky Harbor after running out on her dysfunctional family. She’s a talented musician, but a pretty bad case of stage fright has left her unable to perform, so she’s currently making a living writing commercial jingles for toilet paper, erectile dysfunction medicine, and feminine hygiene products. Lucky Harbor is just a pit stop for her, a place to regroup and catch her breath and decide her next move, but she needs more to do with herself than sit in her run-down warehouse apartment and brood. She tries waiting tables for a night in an attempt to make a little money, but she’s the absolute worst waitress who’s ever been written. In any form. Book, TV, movies, poems, short stories, you name it. The worst. I was a terrible waitress, too, but Becca was something special. At one point, a table of men ordered a pitcher of beer, and she walked from the table to the bar, picked up a pitcher of strawberry margaritas and brought it to the men. Really, that’s not even bad waitressing, that’s just a terrible short-term memory.
I liked Becca a lot. I was a little frustrated with her increasingly silly attempts to keep her past from Sam, and by extension, the readers, but I really liked her. She and her brother Jace were both exceptionally talented musicians, though Jace was apparently the better of the two. That, combined with the stage fright and other anxieties Becca suffered from resulted in her deciding to walk away from her life and family. Her entire family was terrible to her. Jace was obviously the golden child and Becca just the afterthought there to clean up his messes. I don’t blame her for leaving; she stuck it out a lot longer than I would have. All of this resulted in some confidence issues and some reluctance to let people in, but she had decided she wasn’t going to let her family’s crap ruin her anymore, and once she got to Lucky Harbor, she was absolutely fearless about knowing what she wanted and going after it. And that included Sam. I really admired the way Becca refused to allow anyone to stand in the way of what she wanted. Not even Sam was able to dissuade her, no matter how hard he tried.
And, boy, did he try. Sam Brody grew up in Lucky Harbor, but his childhood has left him mostly unable to connect with other people. He has two really good friends, one of whom is an adopted brother of sorts, but that’s about it. He’s not interested in making any new friends, and he’s certainly not interested in dating right now. He’s managed to make a pretty good life for himself, running a business with his two best friends that charters day trips of various kinds (deep-sea fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, etc) for tourists. And some Lucky Harbor residents, I suppose. Between that and some good investing, he’s doing pretty well for himself. His mom died when he was very young, and his dad wasn’t much of a dad, which meant Sam ended up in foster care several times. He eventually ended up with Amelia, who kept him, and her son Cole, who is still Sam’s best friend. His dad pops up in his life occasionally when he needs money, then he’s gone again, always with a “Thanks, son. Love ya.” Sam has heard that phrase from his dad for his entire life and knows better than to believe it when anyone says it.
Becca answers an ad for an admin job at Sam’s charter company, about a week after she and Sam first have sex. Really, really great sex. She has to convince Sam, Cole, and Tanner that she can do it (they were the bar customers who ended up with margaritas instead of beer and aren’t completely convinced of her competence) and Sam makes it clear that as long as she’s working for him, he’s not going to sleep with her or date her. I completely respect that. As a boss, Sam was absolutely right to not sleep with a employee. Even though he’d previously slept with her once. And he told Becca this before she accepted the job. He told her that she needed to choose between taking the job and continuing to see him. She chose to take the job. However, and this was a big problem for me, even though Sam made it clear he wouldn’t sleep with her, he didn’t stop kissing her and touching her and messing around with her. He just wouldn’t close the deal. This really bothered me. It wasn’t until the end of chapter twenty, about 3/4 of the way through the book that Becca told Sam to cut that shit out.
I really liked the conflicting philosophies of Becca and Sam that Jill Shalvis set up. Becca’s family never told her they loved her, and she craves hearing it. Sam doesn’t not believe in love, he just doesn’t believe the words “I love you” themselves have a lot of meaning. In his mind, a person should be able to tell how you feel by your actions, not your words. This comes to a not-unexpected head when Becca tells Sam she loves him and he can’t reciprocate.
These two were great together. They were both so determined to do their best not to fall in love with each other. Even after they start sleeping together, it’s difficult for Sam to fully commit, partly because of his childhood issues, and partly because it’s clear Becca is keeping a big chunk of herself from him. Trust is a big thing for both of them, and they each refuse to give it, while simultaneously demanding it from the other. But they had such fantastic chemistry together and were so great at bringing out the best in the other and supporting each other. I loved them as a couple even while they were frustrating the hell out of me. Frankly, as far as I’m concerned, Jill Shalvis can do no wrong.
Quick note about the narration: I thought Suehyla El Attar did a good job with it. She was able to make her voice sound a little different for each character without “doing voices”. I’m not sure where she’s from, but I occasionally thought I detected a hint of somewhere in the northeast in Becca, which was a little distracting since Becca’s from New Orleans. But it was only occasionally and I may have imagined it. I would absolutely listen to more narration by her.