Series: Lucky Harbor #8
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Grand Central Publishing on 24 September 2013
Reading Challenges: 2013 In Uniform Challenge
Jack and Leah first met when they were teens and quickly became friends. At one point they could have been something more but Leah ran. Now Leah is back in Lucky Harbor to help out at her grandmother’s bakery after finishing a cooking competition. Jack’s mother isn’t doing too well and Leah tells her that she and Jack are secretly dating. Unfortunately she forgot to let Jack in on her bombshell first. Who would have thought a little white lie would cause so much chaos?
Leah is lacking direction and like all heroines in Lucky Harbor, a man is there to give her the confidence she needs. Her pastry chef skills are bad-ass and bit by bit she is pulling her grandmother’s bakery back from financial ruin and modernising the shop. She just came off from fairly disastrous relationship and Jack slips past her defences because she’s used to him.
Jack is very protective of both his mother and Leah. He can’t confess Leah was lying as he’s afraid it might cause his mother’s health to deteriorate again but at the same time, pretending to be a couple is awkward as he is used to loving and leaving the ladies. At work we see that he is a born leader who has a strong rapport with his team but this decisive nature doesn’t carry over into his personal life.
Both Jack and Leah have quirks that make it difficult for them to have successful relationships. Jack’s fire-fighter father died when he was young which affected his greatly so Jack doesn’t want to commit to someone in case he dies and leaves them a widow. I can appreciate that being in a high risk job could make you worry about dependants but Jack seems to use this more as an excuse so he doesn’t have to get intimate with anyone. Leah on the other hand had a father who verbally abused her when she was growing up and she has very low self-esteem. The self-doubt and perfectionist streak meant she rarely finished what she started if she thought she couldn’t be the best of the best of the best. I got a bit tired of their inability to work out whether they wanted to continue their non-relationship, have a real relationship or call it quits. If they can’t be fully invested in their relationship, it is hard for me to be excited over it.
I’m pleased that Shalvis is trying to shake things up a bit with the mystery sub-plot. but I don’t think it got enough page time. It seemed as if more effort was put into the (admittedly) cute dog Kevin. I love reading mysteries but for them to be successful, we need a sprinkling of red herrings and we didn’t really get that. There is another sub-plot based around whether Leah won the cooking show or not and this too wasn’t capitalised on. As usual there is gentle humour and some really sweet scenes.
The Lucky Harbor series is a definite comfort read for me but this one isn’t my favourite. All the aspects were there but it wasn’t strictly greater than the sum of its parts.