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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

ARC Review: Rumor Has It by Jill Shalvis

Jill Shalvis is one of my two go-to contemporary authors for a fantastically-written, humorous, and sexy read (the other is Julie James). I have read most of Jill’s extensive backlist and have devoured every book in her two most recent contemporary series. So when RUMOUR HAS IT, book four in her acclaimed Animal Magnetism small-town contemporary series, came up for review, I jumped at the chance to read it. I had thoroughly enjoyed the glimpses of both Kate and Griffin in the previous instalment and had been anxiously waiting for their story since last November. And RUMOUR HAS IT did not disappoint—it is vintage Shalvis, with the perfect amount of humour, heart, sexytimes, small-town charm, and two great characters you will want to take home. Is it formulaic? Yes. Does it have a broody, sexy alpha that will rock your socks? Absolutely. Is there an adorably endearing heroine that will have you rooting for her much-deserved HEA? Definitely. Will it have you alternately laughing your ass off and fanning yourself due to the scorching chemistry? Unquestionably. It is impressive how Jill can juggle two long-running small-town contemporary series that are in essence incredibly similar but manage to feel fresh and enjoyable every time.

I absolutely LOVED Kate Evans as a character, almost even more so than the hero. She’s used to taking care of everyone after her mother’s death—her recovering addict of a father, her whiny teenage sister, her somewhat special baby brother, her ex-boyfriend (even 2 years after their breakup), her fourth graders, the homeless man in town… anyone but herself. She’s been putting off a dream year-long Master’s programme in science education at UCSD for years to be the glue that holds her family (and, seemingly, her town) together and is torn between wanting to spread her wings and leave tiny Sunshine, Idaho for the first time in her life and staying put in case her family implodes. Though I sometimes felt like strangling her for putting everyone’s hopes and dreams above her own, her situation is definitely one everyone can relate to: the fear of taking a chance and leaving the familiar behind holding us back from pursuing what we most want. Kate is a quintessential Shalvis heroine: endearing, funny, quirky (her tendency to spew inane science facts when nervous is hilarious), unknowingly sexy, unexpectedly strong, and looking for a bit of a walk on the wild side. I seriously want to move to Sunshine and have her be my BFF—we can be self-professed boffins together. To top it off, Kate’s had a lifelong crush on one Griffin Reid, her best friend’s older brother and former town punk turned elite Special Ops demolitions expert.

Grif is in in town for his sister’s wedding and to figure out where his life is headed. He’s at a crossroads after a near-death experience with an IED: a civilian for the first time in his adult life, back in the town he couldn’t wait to escape from as a teen, and unsure of who he is and where he belongs (but definitely not in Sunshine!). He’s the love ‘em and leave ‘em type and believes Kate is hearth and home to the core so he does his best to resist the scorching attraction between them. Watching him try to be a gentleman when Kate repeatedly throws herself at him in her quest for her one night of Griffin-fueled fun is both hilarious and heartwarming… but resistance is futile, even in the face of his sister’s warnings to stay away from Kate. I really enjoyed the chemistry between Kate and Grif, which starts off as purely physical and quickly grows into something more. Those dates to give Kate more than just a (very hot, earth-shattering) roll in the hay? The way he makes her feel sexy and desirable and in charge of her sexuality? Be still, my heart! Jill does a great job of having Grif begin to find his place and believe he belongs in Sunshine with Kate and Kate finding the courage to grab onto her dream of going to San Diego with both hands… and then she throws them under the (emotional) bus with some family drama and a major man moment that will have you wanting to slap Grif upside the head. Repeatedly. But it’s hard to stay mad at him because he grovels like a champ and his momentary asshattery really makes Kate come into herself. These two make a fantastic couple you genuinely want to root for and may be one of my favourite Shalvis couples yet!

As always, Jill has a knack for setting and secondary characters. Tiny Sunshine, Idaho feels remarkably different than quirky Lucky Harbour, Washington (the setting of Jill’s other contemporary series) but comes equally to life in the pages of each Animal Magnetism novel. Reading RUMOUR HAS IT is like being a part of the community and the energy of the town, and catching up with the other former protagonists of the series is a treat. And the secondary characters almost steal the show—from Grif’s ornery dad, Donald, to Kate’s adorable fourth graders and somewhat dysfunctional family (teen sister Ashley is spot on, and quirky seven-year-old brother Tommy is equal parts adorable and hilarious) to the town hobo, or the town asshole. Every character, even those that appear only in a couple of scenes, is well developed and three-dimensional and incites an emotional response from us readers—no easy feat!

Overall, RUMOUR HAS IT is Jill Shalvis at her (already superb) finest, and a fantastic addition to the Animal Magnetism series—my favourite one yet! It is a fun, feel-good read with just a touch of angst and a heaping dose of heat that feels like hanging out with your (fictional) best friends. Definitely recommended for all Shalvis fans or anyone looking for sexy contemporary romance done right. Can’t wait for the next instalment!

**ARC provided by Publisher**

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository |


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