on June 28, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Series: Heartbreaker Bay #1
Published by Avon
Copy for review provided by Avon in exchange for an honest review.
Choose the one guy you can’t have . . .
As captain of a San Francisco Bay tour boat, Pru can handle rough seas—the hard part is life on dry land. Pru loves her new apartment and her neighbors; problem is, she’s in danger of stumbling into love with Mr. Right for Anybody But Her.
Fall for him—hard . . .
Pub owner Finn O’Riley is six-foot-plus of hard-working hottie who always makes time for his friends. When Pru becomes one of them, she discovers how amazing it feels to be on the receiving end of that deep green gaze. But when a freak accident involving darts (don’t ask) leads to shirtless first aid, things rush way past the friend zone. Fast.
And then tell him the truth.
Pru only wants Finn to be happy; it’s what she wishes for at the historic fountain that’s supposed to grant her heart’s desire. But wanting him for herself is a different story—because Pru’s been keeping a secret that could change everything. .
Sweet Little Lies is the first book in Jill Shalvis’s brand new Heartbreaker Bay series, with the lovely setting of San Francisco as the backdrop. I’m a pretty big fan of Ms. Shalvis, having thoroughly enjoyed her Lucky Harbor, Animal Magnetism and the more recent Cedar Ridge series. With a new cast of characters in a decidedly different setting and trusting her writing style, I knew this was a story I would be interested in reading.
Prudence (Pru to her friends) is a day cruise ship’s captain on the lovely San Francisco waterfront. Eight years earlier, her parents died in an accident that affected the lives of several other families. Pru’s spent her time and money working behind the scenes to make things right for those others affected by the tragedy. On her list is Finn, a bar owner who lost his father. Though she secretly had a hand in helping him and his brother get financially stable, it’s not enough. She wants to know that they are happy. To that end, she’s found an apartment in the building that houses the bar, and she’s started hanging out there. Plus, she’s put a wish in the wishing well (a well-known tourist trap) for Finn to find a special someone. She never thinks of wishing for something for herself, but it turns out fate has other plans. As she and Finn start to interact, first in a neighborly fashion and then as more than just friends, she begins to realize that Finn could be the anchor to her own happiness. But she can’t bring herself to tell him about why she ended up there in the first place. When he finds out, will he abandon ship altogether?
What a treat! From the very first introduction to Pru and the wishing well, and the gradual reveal of what she’s doing there and why I was hooked. Pru comes across as a genuinely lovely person, with a generous heart. She feels tremendous guilt over the accident that her parents were involved in, and though she grieves their loss, it’s not enough. She needs to make amends. Yet through it all she has, for the most part, a humorous and upbeat attitude. Her internal monologue constantly made me laugh. She has a pet, a woebegone dog who has a very particular nature and he is very much a main character in the story (almost a scene stealer at some points). The author clearly loves animals and it shows in the writing. Pru’s ability to look for the best in people and situations makes her a very worthy heroine. Plus it was great to see a female in a traditionally male-dominated field, as captain of the pleasure cruises around the Bay.
Finn, on the other hand, is a more reserved fellow. This is partly from an upbringing that was less than ideal. The death of his father in the accident was in fact to Finn and Sean’s gain, letting them out from under his abusive thumb and into a world of their choosing. Running the bar is more than just a pastime for Finn – it’s his life. He’s no time for emotional entanglements (and his last girlfriend really pulled a number on him). He does his best to keep his younger brother Sean on the straight and narrow (a sometimes challenging task). He might dream of meeting a woman to settle down with, but he’s not actively looking. But Pru, now there’s a woman who catches his attention. Sometimes eyebrow raising, always entertaining, Pru’s determination to be Finn’s ‘Fun Whisperer’ makes him realize just what he’s been missing. The two of the them definitely share some chemistry and there are several sexy scenes between them. But more than that, it’s clear that they are both falling for each other, for better or worse. Secrets have a way of coming out, though, and the reader is left on pins and needles for a while, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
As much as I enjoyed the romance in this story, the camaraderie between Finn’s friends makes up a huge part of the appeal of this story. Finn’s close friends Spence and Archer have clearly been in his life for a while and make no bones about telling him when he’s being an idiot. Similarly, the females in his circle, Elle, Haley, and Willa are an entertaining group who are quick to befriend Pru and show her how good it can be to have female friends you can confide in. Pru’s best friend and boss Jake, a wheelchair-bound veteran is also key to the plot and there are several other amusing characters that bring the story to life.
This story had everything going for it that I look for in a contemporary romance – an eclectic and fun group of characters, a lovely setting, lots of humour and enough drama to bring on a few tears. I can’t wait to read more in this series! 5 stars.
Audiobook Review: I’ve been a fan of Karen White’s narration since first listening to her reading of Julie James FBI/Attorney series. Shortly after that I started picking up Jill Shalvis’s Animal Magnetism series, also narrated by Ms. White. She’s now a go-to narrator for me, so I was thrilled to see that she’d be working with this series from Jill Shalvis as well. I listened to the audiobook a few months after reading the digital copy I got for review, and as always it’s very enjoyable to listen to the combination of Jill Shalvis’s words and Karen White’s voice. Ms. White differentiates the male and female characters with ease, and similarly, imbues each of the individual voices with their own nuances so that it’s easy to follow along with the story and know who is speaking. The right pacing and appropriate inflection is so important when narrating an audiobook and the most successful make it look (and sound) natural. It was just as good listening to the story as it was reading it the first time around. I’m looking forward to listening to more of this series in the future!