Smart and Sexy -- Jill Shalvis
Book 1 of Sky High Air
**This review is a long rambling rant that contains spoilers and a lot of ranting and maybe some crass language. Continue at your own risk.
There is nothing wrong with a Jill Shalvis book, except when there is. I loved the first three Lucky Harbor books I’ve already read, and in fact, one of my favorite couples happens to be Chloe and Sawyer from the third book, Head Over Heels--their relationship’s development is sweet and their chemistry is amazing!
So it comes as a disappointment that I really did not care for Smart and Sexy, the first book in the Sky High Air trilogy. The premise drew me in and it is even a Romantic Suspense, my go-to comfort genre. I was excited. I really, really wanted this book to be great. And it wasn’t even like I over-hyped myself. I’ve read a mediocre Jill Shalvis book before (Room Service (Do Not Disturb)); and I have also dropped one Jill Shalvis book (Get A Clue) because the logic of the story progression did not make sense and the characters were annoying as hell.
I probably would have dropped this book as well if not for the fact that I see potential in the next two books. I’m crossing my fingers that they will redeem this series. Otherwise, I suppose I’ll just have to bury myself in Lucky Harbor to reconnect with my enjoyment of Jill Shalvis.
To the point, the logic in this book was extremely hard to grasp, even with my willingness to suspend disbelief--I read a lot of Romantic Suspense where suspending disbelief for the sake of a sweet and cutesy HEA is typically necessary (though usually those books are enjoyable enough that I’m not bothered).
Unfortunately, when you suddenly start questioning whether or not the heroine even realizes that she’s on the run as she drags out her dangerous scavenger hunt and even has time to get down and dirty with her man at the most inopportune times while dressing all fashionably trendy and admiring her own cute sandals, questions of the book’s progression and logic DO tend to be harder to ignore.
Aside from a huge long rant I’d already written before finishing the book, I’m not sure what else to say. So I’ll just detail my thoughts at three different points in my reading, including 50%, 56%, and 100%.
@50% read on 1/18/2016
First of all, the entire hijacking scenario was stupid. There is no way to mistake the barrel of a gun with a Bic pen. Then again, I assume that Noah has probably never had a gun pointed at him and shoved between his shoulders… so maybe he could make that mistake. Hardest to understand, for me, however, is why Bailey felt the need to hijack the plane in the first place. Noah did NOT know she was aboard and probably would have never known she was on his plane until landing. By then she would have arrived at her destination and could find ways of escaping or sneaking off. She could have just remained hidden until Noah lands in Mammoth and then figured things out from there.
Secondly, this book is teetering on a 2.0 Star rating because I’m fast becoming irritated with our female heroine. I keep asking myself, “What the heck is wrong with this girl?” Because there’s nothing more annoying than seeing a character put another character’s life in the line of danger, and then resolutely refuse to tell said other character what’s going on for well over half of the book (I suspect this is just going to be an endless cycle).
I get the whole Noble Idiocy™ thing--people like to be self-sacrificial with all the good intentions in the world. But they do it with all the intelligence and common sense of a punching bag.
Bailey’s ideals are noble, I’ll give her that. And at the beginning, she came off as more than just a sexy, air-headed model. But as the story progressed, I just really wanted to slap her upside the head and tell her to get over herself. She keeps talking about not wanting to entangle Noah in her mess because she doesn’t want to put him in danger. But the problem with that is that she ALREADY did so when she chose to board his plane and drag him into her mess by pretending to hijack him.
Honestly, it all smacks of her WANTING him to be there to be dragged into her mess.
In which case, he’s already there because you put him there, so why not at least let him know what he’s been dragged into so he can take the necessary precautions to keep HIMSELF safe, even if you don’t want him to keep YOU safe? The logic is irrational with this one. Especially when she keeps feeding him little nuggets of information, thus permanently keeping him in the loop so that he has no choice but to help her, or look like a jackass by sending her off to her death.
Why would you do that to a noble guy like Noah? Aside from some manhandling and the fact that he can’t seem to go thirty minutes without thinking about sex while running from danger, he’s actually a pretty awesome guy. He’s like MacGyver, but sexier and more naive with an overactive libido.
And then the first intimate sex scene… was a little hard to accept. Basically, Noah finger-fucks (excuse my language) Bailey while she’s dead asleep. She is literally completely zonked out when Noah starts feeling her up. This is NOT okay. I mean, okay, she was probably dreaming about him and his sexy talents… but that still doesn’t make it okay for him to just stick things in orifices without consent, even if great orgasms were had by all. But we make matters somehow justifiable because Bailey had wanted him and wanted sex with him anyway. I’ll chalk it up to adrenaline rush, I guess, but it still doesn’t make things okay.
In which case he also seems to be using the good ol’ “sex as manipulation” tool to get answers he wants.
I’m not down with this at all. This honestly DID ruin any sense of me rooting for the romance period. Because, WTF?!
But let’s just let this slide because apparently the two of them got what they wanted in the sex arena anyway.
All the while, Bailey is STILL adamant about keeping secrets and Noah is STILL adamant about muscling his way into her mess. And to be totally honest, if Bailey really was that adamant about “keeping Noah out of danger,” then she really shouldn’t have gotten onto his plane in the first place, because there is a very subtle hint that she specifically waited for Noah to be piloting a plane and that she knew Noah would help her if she stowed away on his plane. And the fact that Noah had already pretty much figured out what’s sort of, kind of going on with Bailey and then for her to STILL hold out all the truth and STILL doubt his trustworthy status despite how he’s putting his life in danger for her… it’s not working for me.
I’m not quite sure how much more fucked-up this story could get. (Again, excuse the language.)
What happened to a good, tried-and-true Jill Shalvis book? Then again, I guess the Lucky Harbor stories came after this little romantic suspense piece. Right?
@56% read on 1/18/2016
When I was wondering whether or not the story could get worse, I wasn’t really challenging it to do so. But with one simple scene, I really just automatically dropped half a star (which is ridiculous because I should have already dropped a full star after the first sex scene), because these two characters are so frustrating and no doubt, will not change.
What really rankles me with some characters are the double standards tossed between them.
Bailey refuses to talk about what’s going on with her, but pushes to find out about what’s going on with Noah. If you’re not parting with secrets, honey, you can’t demand them from others.
Noah, on the other hand, is pushing for Bailey to part with her secrets, but gets tight-lipped and visibly upset when Bailey asks about his secrets. Again, if you’re not willing to share, you can’t force others to share.
Granted, Bailey’s secrets could cause mortal peril as kept secrets, and Noah’s secrets are really none of her damn business; but the situation still stands.
These two were probably meant for each other and will continue on to have one of the most dysfunctional relationships based on keeping secrets from each other and non-consensual sex and inappropriately timed sex and lots of groping while being chased by armed men.
Goodness, isn't this book just chock full of all the romance novel cliches?
@ 100%, finished with book on 1/19/2016
And as a continuation of the previous thought, Bailey and Noah are likely the most ill-equipped people to survive a romantic suspense. Well, at least Bailey is; Noah seems to know how to do everything, so even if his mind is on how great it would be to have sex with Bailey all the time, he’ll still survive a zombie apocalypse, no less running from dangerous goons out to kill. As I already stated, for 90% of the book, I actually spent my time wondering whether or not Bailey realized she was a woman on the run, because apparently she still found time to freshen up, wear cute shoes, and demand character backstory at all the worst possible times.
Yes. In the middle of being chased by the bad guys and being shot at, in the middle of a scavenger hunt for the something that’s supposed to be keeping her alive, Bailey changes into three different trendy winter outfits, cute sandals and stiletto heeled boots included, and even finds time to hassle Noah about one of the most traumatic moments in his life for three pages straight. I don’t believe I’d ever been so frustrated with a heroine within a few select paragraphs (this is obviously an exaggeration, but it applies). She actually refuses to keep moving out of danger territory until Noah answers her questions about what happened to him six months ago that changed his life--and then even after he berates her for choosing the utmost worst moment to play the “Getting to know each other” game, she continues her barrage of questions.
And all this time, she still refuses to tell Noah about what’s going on with her and why there are bad guys chasing her and why he’s putting his life on the line for her. She continues to feed him half-truths and continues to play that “I don’t know if I can trust him” game. And all this time, Noah willingly does what he can to keep her safe without pushing for answers.
Jill Shalvis writing has a certain comedic charm to it when done right. It’s what I loved a lot about the three Lucky Harbor books I’d just recently read. And it totally shows in certain scenes in Smart and Sexy, and probably would have been quite enjoyable if I hadn’t already been frustrated beyond belief with both Noah and Bailey (moreso Bailey). In fact, Shayne, Brody, and Maddie seem interesting enough and I’m actually quite intrigued by the pending relationship and developing romance between Brody and Maddie… which is the last book in this trilogy.
Now those two are a pair with an attractive chemistry I could probably end up liking. At least I hope so. There are reviews that the next two Sky High Air installments are much better than this first one, which is a disappointment since I would like for the first book to be excellent as well (it’s important to draw your audience in with that first book, not frustrate the heck out of them).
But I’m a girl who gives second chances, and I already know that Jill Shalvis can create enjoyable stories out of the most overused romance plots. Maybe she just does Contemporary better than Suspense. Maybe Smart and Sexy was just a fluke.
2016 Reading Challenges:
• Goodreads Reading Challenge
• BookLikes Reading Challenge
• Bookish Resolutions Challenge