TBR Challenge Review: My Kind of Wonderful by Jill Shalvis

Format: mass market paperback
Pub Date: December 2015
Publisher: Forever/Hachette
Length: 323 pages

Jill Shalvis is one of the few remaining auto-buy authors I have. But since I'm still digging my way out of the reading slump from hell, I am just now getting around to reading this one. I bought it, then set it in my TBR to get to eventually. I brought this with me to the RT Booklover's Convention, intending to finish it and get my post up ASAP when I got back before our April 20th deadline. Ha. Ha. I knew better. So anyway, my tardy post follows.

This month's theme was contemporary romance, and Jill Shalvis is one of the best at the small town variety. She and Victoria Dahl are pretty much the ONLY authors who can pull off the small town romances and not have me nitpick them. And I suspect it's because both authors live in relatively small ski/tourist towns, so they don't ignore the irritating fishbowl-ness that is small town life.

I haven't read book one in the Cedar Ridge series, but this one definitely stands on its own. The heroine, Bailey, is a cancer survivor. I was a little worried that Shalvis would either be too focused on pity or too flippant with it, but she was neither. She straddles the line by letting us know how much Bailey resented having people in her life simply because they wanted to be needed, and how difficult it was to maintain a relationship with anyone who only saw her as sick and needing help. Her cancer survival is very much just a small part of her story, with the only mentions coming when she gets sick of other people treating her as an object of pity or inspiration. This is not to say that someone well versed in disability themes couldn't find it problematic, but I think it's definitely written with an attempt at care and finesse.

The hero I had a bit more trouble with. Hud is the head of the ski patrol (among other things) and a workaholic. Constantly attached to his phone and constantly busy. His mother is in a long term care facility due to extremely early dementia or another mental illness ( I can't remember whether Shalvis spells out exactly what's wrong with her). And he's very much opposed to a stranger (Bailey) painting a giant mural of his family on the wall of the lodge, although I never felt like that was sufficiently explained.

The book focuses so much on the romance and the main characters that I felt like certain threads were introduced and not explored. The resort is in financial trouble, but that's always in the far background. Maybe that was more front and center in the first book. *shrug* Hud doesn't talk to his twin brother for a decade, doesn't know he's okay for a large chunk of the book, and the reasons given just feel...stupid. I'm sure family squabbles have happened for less, but I don't know. I just didn't buy the reasoning behind the rift.

Overall, this was classic Shalvis. It's relatively light-hearted, filled with quirky characters and fun mountain scenery. It's a nice romance, but not her best.

My Grade: B-


  1. I stopped reading Shalvis--though I'm pretty sure there are at least three, perhaps more in the TBR mountain range of doom--precisely because I got tired of the way some of the stuff that, for me, should have mattered to the characters, ended up being an afterthought. In this case, if the family business is in financial trouble, I would definitely expect that to be front and center in the characters' consciousness. In real life, people lose sleep over money all the time, after all.

    I appreciate lighthearted, and Shalvis' voice is usually very engaging, but when the characters come out as feckless, careless people in order to keep the book light, I can't care much about them.

    1. Normally I'm a character reader, so I can let some stuff go without long explanations, but much of this felt like it should have mattered more. She writes emotion well, but the motivations were a bit thin.