I received this book for free from Avon in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis
Series: Heartbreaker Bay #6
Published by Avon on September 25, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
Who needs mistletoe?
Most people wouldn't think of a bad Santa case as the perfect Christmas gift. Then again, Molly Malone, office manager at Hunt Investigations, isn't most people, and she could really use a distraction from the fantasies she's been having since spending the night with her very secret crush, Lucas Knight. Nothing happened, not that Lucas knows that — but Molly just wants to enjoy being a little naughty for once...
Whiskey and pain meds for almost-healed bullet wounds don't mix. Lucas needs to remember that next time he's shot on the job, which may be sooner rather than later if Molly's brother, Joe, finds out about them. Lucas can't believe he's drawing a blank on his (supposedly) passionate tryst with Molly, who's the hottest, smartest, strongest woman he's ever known. Strong enough to kick his butt if she discovers he's been assigned to babysit her on her first case. And hot enough to melt his cold heart this Christmas.
Every time I read something by Jill Shalvis, I ask myself why I don’t read more Jill Shalvis. This is the 6th entry in the Heartbreaker Bay series, but I think it’s the first or second of the series that I’ve read. Why?? She’s so consistently good.
Mollie Malone, the office manager at Hunt Investigations, is approached by her elderly neighbors, who have been working as elves in a local Santa’s village. They suspect something is fishy with Santa, as they haven’t been paid in a while, and they want Mollie to look into what’s going on and where the money is going.
Here’s the thing, Mollie is currently the office manager at Hunt, but she wants to be an investigator. Standing in her way is her older brother, Joe, and her boss, Archer, both of whom think she can’t handle the work. This is what I mean about Jill Shalvis being so consistently good. As soon as Joe and Archer started in with their “Mollie can’t be an investigator” bullshit, I rolled my eyes, ready to be fed up with another “my little sister is sacred and it’s my job to be sure she’s covered in fluffy clouds and never leaves her house” storyline, which would just serve to piss me off. And to be fair, Joe and Archer did piss me off at first. Without even discussing the case with Mollie, they decide that Hunt isn’t going to take
But, see, here’s where Jill Shalvis brought it back for me. Because after Joe an Archer decided Mollie couldn’t take the case, they also recognized that Mollie was going to take the case despite their nonsense, so they told Lucas to keep an eye on her and help her out when she needed it. I know I’ve complained before about relationships that start out based on a lie, but I just didn’t see this one that way. Lucas wasn’t lying about his identity, or the reason for being around, or anything else. Mollie asked him for his help, so he helped. The fact that Joe and Archer had told him he should help her out didn’t impact what he would have done anyway.
And Lucas. I really liked Lucas. He quickly realized that Mollie was good at this. Like, really good at it. She’s smart, she’s capable, she knows what she can handle alone and what she needs help with, and has no problem asking for what she needs. He was absolutely there to help her when she needed it, and I thought he did a really good job of actually helping her learn some of the investigation trade. He walked her through options and procedures, helping her to learn as she went. And when it became very clear that this case was so much bigger than just a Bad Santa not paying his elves, he didn’t immediately insist she stop investigating and tell tattle to Joe and Archer. He did try to talk her into bringing them in, but when she didn’t want to, he did what he could to keep her safe while still helping her to learn to investigate and learn.
And any time he heard Joe and Archer, Joe especially, questioning her abilities, or opining that she wasn’t capable enough to investigate, he called them out on their bullshit and told them that they needed to support her and stop trying to treat her like she was still a kid.
And I haven’t even gotten into the crazy chemistry between Mollie and Lucas. As with all of Jill Shalvis’s books, Mollie and Lucas were super hot together. Lucas was more reluctant to get involved than Mollie was, because of that annoying little-sister trope, but once they got to it, he was all in. And, really, he didn’t fight it too hard. But, still, even once they were involved, he still let Mollie run her investigation her way. He didn’t go all caveman on her and insist she either let him do it or bring in the rest of the team. At least not until they got to the point where he knew they needed more resources. And the fact that Mollie decided that at the same time was just more evidence to him that she was really good as an investigator. He never overlooked a single thing she did or move she made.
I really loved this book. I need to go back and read the entire series, and I can’t wait to get into it. I didn’t have any problem reading this as a standalone, though. If you want to jump into this one, don’t let its place in line hold you up. It was such a fun holiday read. If you want that Christmasy feeling, no matter what time of year, you can’t go wrong with Hot Winter Nights.