Title: Head Over Heels (Lucky Harbor #3)
Author: Jill Shalvis
Format: Mass Market Paperback & eBook
Publication Date: November 22, 2011
Rating: 4 out of 5
Jill Shalvis’s contemporary romances are sweet, fun books with characters you’ll want to visit over and over again. The third book in her Lucky Harbor series, Head Over Heels, is no exception. I read the first in the series and loved it, but for some reason I didn’t read the second. I’m happy to report that I like Head Over Heels even more than I did Simply Irresistible. Despite a lack of strong conflict, this irrepressible romance was a delight, and I highly recommend it.
Chloe is the youngest of three sisters whose free-spirited mother has left them a Bed and Breakfast. Chloe was the only sister of the three raised by their mother, Phoebe, and exhibits much of her mother’s unbridled spirit and resistance to settling down. Despite her irreverent personality, Chloe has matured over the past year and she’s starting to see the attraction of remaining in Lucky Harbor and spending time with her sisters.
Straight-laced Sheriff Sawyer Thompson is the last person anyone would pair with the free-wheeling Chloe, but there’s no denying the attraction between the two. Despite numerous run-ins with Chloe and his own troubled youth, Sawyer and Chloe start an affair. But Sawyer’s involvement with a local DEA investigation and the interest in Chloe displayed by one of the men under investigation places the nascent affair under a strain. Sawyer needs to protect Chloe but wonders if he’ll be able to protect his heart at the same time.
I really enjoyed seeing how much Chloe has matured since the first book. She’s still light-hearted and carefree, but she’s less self-centered in her interactions with her sisters, Maddie and Tara. I also loved seeing how the relationship between the sisters has developed since the first book. Maddie and Tara are busy with their significant others, Jax and Ford (Sawyer’s best friends), and Chloe feels a bit left out but reacts in a mature way, which I wouldn’t have expected from her in the first book.
Chloe’s acute asthma plays a central role in the novel, particularly the romance with Sawyer, which I found really interesting. I think Ms. Shalvis handled this well, because her treatment of Chloe’s respiratory difficulties was matter-of-fact. I also thought it was clever how the asthma forced Chloe and Sawyer to be more thoughtful in their intimacy, since any physical exertion could cause a flair-up. Sawyer won major points with this reader in his sensitive treatment of Chloe’s nature and her condition.
My absolute favorite scene takes place when Chloe pushes her way into Sawyer’s house and “helps” him paint the living room. The scene is sexy and hilarious, especially when Jax and Ford discover the two the next morning, with strategically placed paint handprints. Very, very funny!
The majority of the conflict in this novel stems from Chloe and Sawyer’s diametrically opposed personalities, which made for a pleasurable, relaxed read, but there’s some tension surrounding his involvement with a DEA investigation. Unfortunately, this conflict felt a bit artificial to me, almost as though it were tacked on at the last minute, and I’m not convinced that it was entirely necessary.
I also felt that the resolution to the problems in Chloe and Sawyer’s relationship was a bit abrupt. The epilogue tied up all loose ends nicely, but I’m not sure that a Happy-Ever-After was necessary, when a Happy-For-Now would have sufficed and been more in keeping with Chloe’s character.
That said, this was a delightful read with personable characters that I highly recommend. I’ve enjoyed the few contemporary romances I’ve read by Ms. Shalvis, and I’m very much looking forward to reading more of them.