Saturday, January 21, 2012

Review: Head Over Heels by Jill Shalvis

Title: Head Over Heels (Lucky Harbor, #3)
Author: Jill Shalvis
Published: December 2011 (Forever)
Rating: 4.5/5
Summary: Free-spirited Chloe lives life on the edge. Unlike her soon-to-be married sisters, she isn't ready to settle into a quiet life running their family's newly renovated inn. But soon her love of trouble--and trouble with love-draws the attention of the very stern, very sexy sheriff who'd like nothing better than to tame her wild ways.

Suddenly Chloe can't take a misstep without the sheriff hot on her heels. His rugged swagger and his enigmatic smile are enough to make a girl beg to be handcuffed. For the first time, instead of avoiding the law, Chloe dreams of surrender. Can this rebel find a way to keep the peace with the straitlaced sheriff? Or will Chloe's colorful past keep her from a love that lasts . . . and the safe haven she truly wants in a town called Lucky Harbor?

My Review: Jill Shalvis is easily my favorite recent discovery. Her Lucky Harbor series is exactly what I needed in my life right now. I will review the first two soon, but I just finished this one. Since I actually have time to write a review, am inclined to do so, and am seriously feeling the need to gush about this book, though, you are getting the reviews for this series out of order. Sorry!

Last night, I was at a leadership overnight, and everyone went to bed at 4 AM. Despite having been exhausted half an hour earlier, I was wide awake. I decided to relax by reading for a few minutes, then go to bed. I finally went to bed just after 5, having finished reading The Sweetest Thing (Lucky Harbor #2) and the first chapter of Head Over Heels. And let me tell you: If I had had Head Over Heels at that moment, I absolutely would have stayed up the rest of the night. No doubt in my mind. That is how invested I was in Chloe and Sawyer. From the first time they appeared in the first book of the series, I wanted to know more about them, both as separate characters and together. The dynamic between the two of them fascinated me, and by the end of the second book, their chemistry was practically sparking off the pages of my book. I have been impatiently waiting for their book since I first met them less than a week ago, and after reading the sneak preview last night (this morning?), I was absolutely rabid in my desire for this book. Let me put it this way: Hallowed FINALLY came into the library today. I read Head Over Heels first without even a second thought.

As excited as I was for this book, though, I was equally nervous. Sometimes, an amazing couple is built up in the background of a series. Then they finally get their own book, but it's disappointing because even if the book itself is fine, it just doesn't live up to the build-up. This has happened to be twice in my recent reading history. I didn't want that to happen in Head Over Heels, or I would be heartbroken. Thankfully, this was absolutely not the case. I loved this book! I loved everything about it. Every character, every argument, every so-much-sexual-tension-it-will-curl-your-toes-and-they-haven't-even-had-sex-yet interaction, every scorching kiss, every family bonding moment, every joke, every revelation, every piece of advice, every romantic moment. Here, have a list. Lists are always the answer.

Things I loved in/about Head Over Heels:

    • Chloe. Oh, Chloe. She is one of those characters that you start out the series thinking she's just another free spirited character. Then, as you learn more and more about her, you understand all these layers and complexities that make her unique and fun and wonderful. I usually despise the "I can't say 'I love you,'" hang-up. But she had legitimate reasons, and Shalvis made me believe it. I also like how she used it, but I won't go into that.
    • Sawyer. His confusion about Chloe and how he felt about her in the beginning was just so adorable. He was so stoic and straight arrow, and she disturbed his world. Always one of my favorite tropes. He was just such a legitimately good guy.
    • Chloe and Sawyer's relationship! I don't frequently read law enforcer/trouble maker romances, but this one was wonderful. Even though the relationships are quite different, they reminded me of Stephanie and Ranger (my OTP) from the Stephanie Plum series a couple times, which was a definite plus for me. But they were completely unique, and their relationship just had such an endearing quality. I loved the progression of it, from the confusion and the fighting against their feelings and the arguing and cautious stand-offs to the moment they finally cave to the HEA. I believed it every second of the way.
    • Lance's background story, even though it made me happy and broke my heart all at the same time
    • Severe asthma is not generally an issue addressed in books. I know practically nothing about asthma, but I thought it was handled well. Chloe's asthma was also something different about the book that made it memorable.
    • It dealt with everyday things like morning breath in a cute and realistic fashion.
    • Maddie, Tara, Jax, and Ford all stayed the same. They were friends and family and cracked jokes and picked on each other and interacted like people really do. They didn't become sickeningly sweet or corny or unrealistically wise. They just were.
    • They referenced Friends! ♥
    • Shalvis continued starting each chapter with a little bit of wisdom, and the wisdom selections she chooses somehow really fit the main character of the book. Chloe's cracked me up, of course. Exhibit A)
Always remember, you're unique. Just like everyone else.
    • While I do, of course, enjoy the sexy!times, I like that this one was a little lighter on them than the first two. It worked better with the story that way, although I can't talk about why without going into spoilers. Let me say, though, the sexy!times that were there? I definitely needed a cold shower a couple times!
    • Chloe's continuing obsession with the Magic 8 Ball app.

    • This one specific moment in the book that just hit me. At one point in the book, Chloe wakes up, and the first thing she feels is Sawyer. She thinks he is there, even though there's no reason for her to think that, but once she opens her eyes, she realizes he isn't. This was the moment I truly believed she had fallen for him. I've read the "reached for him but he wasn't there and it felt wrong" scene a million times, but this was different. Even though it could be explained in a dozen ways -- she had been dreaming about him, she subconsciously recognized his lingering scent in the room, etc. -- I just felt like this revealed her innate desire to be with Sawyer. All the time, both sleeping and awake. And this was a huge step for her, so far beyond all previous relationships. Her expectation and disappointment were tangible, and I felt what she felt at that moment. It was a brilliantly written little moment.
    • This quote. It is from Sawyer's POV after Chloe passed out from lack of oxygen due to her asthma during sex with him. Normally, I wouldn't bring something like this up because I try to keep spoilers to the minimum. But this was another of those little lines that got to me with its simple, stark power.
Earlier, in his shower, her breathing had started out quiet like this, but then she'd gone up in flames for him. He'd loved it, loved the way she'd panted for more, clutching at him as if she was afraid he'd stop... And then in the very next beat, when she'd started to suffocate, all he'd wanted to do was breathe for her.
[/end of spoilers]

Overall, Head Over Heels was a wonderful read! I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a cute, fun romance with depth and sizzling chemistry. I would also suggest that you read the first two in the series first because Chloe and Sawyer have fantastic build-up, particularly in the second one.

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