Simply Irresistible -- Jill Shalvis
Book 1 of Lucky Harbor series
2010 Release -- Forever (Hachette Book Group)
Adult, Contemporary Romance, Humor, Chick Lit
A friend once told me that, when it comes to family, the definitions of and lines between love, hate, resentment, caring, and any other emotion you can think of tend to get really blurred. The love that you have for a family member can be very different from that of a friend; because while you choose the friends in your life, you’ve never really had a choice in the family who are there as well.
Family are those people you can live without, but you can’t live without. Like I said, it’s a very blurry line. Because these people have always been around, it’s hard to imagine them NOT being around, no matter all the negative feelings you may have developed about them over the years. Because these people are always around, you sometimes wish that they were somewhere else, no matter how much you love and care for them.
These are people who are dropped into your life, outside of your own control; however, these are also the very people who continue to be a part of your life by choice--whether yours or theirs.
A friend once told me that when it comes to family, it is perfectly normal to love one of them, but at the same time immensely dislike that same family member.
It’s all about the blurry lines that makes a family unit such an interesting dynamic.
Back to the book, Simply Irresistible certainly manages to portray very fun and intriguing relationships between the characters, specifically the three estranged half-sisters, Maddie, Tara, and Chloe. Because while the storyline itself was standard Contemporary Romance formulaic drivel it had been the humorous quips, crazy personalities, and yes, the fun and intriguing character interactions and interesting relationship dynamics that made the book so much more enjoyable than it might have turned out.
Fun and breezy, this book set out to be, fun and breezy this book accomplished. And then some.
Because I simply loved the weird straddling of those blurred family love/hate definitions presented by the three sisters. They haven’t spent much time together, they are estranged, but at the same time, they are family and they both love and loathe each other for multiple reasons. They spend time trying to annoy the hell out of each other like teenagers, but when it really counts, the three of them are there for each other.
The following quote doesn’t quite describe the full extent of the loving relationship between Maddie, Tara, and Chloe, but I found it amusing. And also, even after all that craziness, at the end of the day, the sisters are still there for each other and love each other enough to continue being there for each other.
Maddie tipped her face up to the stars as if looking for divine intervention. “Some people have normal families,” she said. “They get together once a month or so and have dinner. My family? We have pancake batter food fights, steal each other’s footwear, dye our hair green, and yell at each other over loudspeakers in public.”
Told in Maddie Moore’s perspective, three estranged half-sisters arrive at Lucky Harbor Resort, a beachside inn that their equally estranged, free-spirited mother has left to the three of them in her will. With lives of their own to get back to, there was no doubt that Tara and Chloe wanted to get in, divide up the assets for the inn, then get back out.
Maddie, however, was hopeful for more. Having lost her job and her boyfriend recently, she’s looking for a fresh start. And having been the odd-one-out among her sisters and family, she also subconsciously held onto the hope that maybe the three of them could spend some time together being sisters and getting to know each other.
And so Maddie does what she can to convince Tara and Chloe to give the inn a chance before selling it off and going their separate ways. They’re knee deep in debts and Lucky Harbor Resort has certainly seen better days, but with a little work and determination, Maddie is convinced they can make the entire deal work out.
Which is how we factor into the equation the good-looking, “tall, dark-haired hottie” carpenter, Jax Cullen.
Simply Irresistible is an amusing, fun read with very enjoyable character interactions and relationship dynamics. Those were the very things that kept me loving the book, because, as I’d stated already, Simply Irresistible would have otherwise been a boring Contemporary Romance with the same formulaic story with the same formulaic outline.
Klutzy girl, down on her luck attracts broody alpha with a dark and troubled past. Klutzy girl is actually resourceful and has a heart of gold and her shining spot of development involves growing a backbone and figuring out where she “fits-in” in life (as defined by everyone else in her life). Broody alpha is also a golden boy who has many, many secrets that, when shared with the rest of the audience, just makes him all the more perfect as a typical Romance novel hero.
The two have a sweet, adorbs romance, with obviously mind-blowing sex (that they keep having at the most inopportune times or “just because” since characters in Romance novels are always horny, 24/7). Then there’s the obligatory angst, reconciliation, BIG MISUNDERSTANDING™ with more angst and obligatory sort-of-break-up, and then the standard Happily Ever After™.
Simply Irresistible is a typical love story that could have been boring and it could have been that one Romance story that has been told hundreds of times. After all, I DID feel as if the romance in this book could have been curbed a little in favor of the character dynamics, specifically the development of the relationship between our three half-sisters.
We spend so much time with Jax and Maddie, and we spend so much time watching their love story develop from 0 to 100 within the first couple chapters that the Romance in this Contemporary, in my opinion, lacks originality and inspiration. Don’t get me wrong, Jax and Maddie were adorable together (and I somehow found Maddie’s klutziness kind of endearing despite the fact that I normally hate when female characters are like that).
And I know that this book is a Contemporary Romance first and foremost; however, I repeat, I think I would have liked to put more exploration into the relationship between Maddie, Tara, and Chloe, as well as dive into their issues about their mother and their separate lifestyles before coming to Lucky Harbor.
Unfortunately, this book focused a bit more on Maddie and Jax than I would have liked, without actually getting into a more maturely developed relationship between them. But I’m going to let that go.
Because, fortunately, it turned out to have a little more substance than the standard formula, and for that, I found myself enjoying the heck out of it. With humorous quips, strange antics, small town warmth, and sweet, heart-warming relationships, I think it’ll only be a matter of time before I come to fully fall in love with the people of Lucky Harbor.
The reason this book didn’t get a lower rating is because I’m having one of those moments where, whether or not this book is an objectively good one, I found personal enjoyment, and dammit, that’s all that matters to me right now!
This book is a pre-chosen participant in the following Reading Challenge(s):