Review: Instant Attraction by Jill Shalvis

I'm a sucker for stories set in the Sierras because, quite frankly, there really aren't that many of them. Rockies, yes. Sierras, no. So I was delighted to hear about Jill Shalvis's Instant Attraction which is set in the fictional town of Wishful, located somewhere in the general area of South Lake Tahoe.  Once I started reading, though, it wasn't the setting that captured me. It was the writing.

I haven't read  many contemporaries that have appealed to me lately. They're either romantic suspense, paranormal, or so filled with sex scenes that the romance gets lost. No so with this book! The romance takes center stage as we watch two people recovering from life-altering tragedy muddle their way through a relationship while struggling to redefine themselves and their altered reality.

Cameron Wilder is part owner of Wilder Adventures, an outdoor adventure company co-owned by the three Wilder brothers. But up until now, he's been an owner in name only, living the high life as a famous winter athlete. A career ending injury forces him to reevaluate who his is and who he wants to be. That quest leads him back home to Wishful without finding an answer. And into that uncertainty pops Katie Kramer, a temporary office worker running from her own tragedy but determined to live life 'balls out' instead of settling for the mundane life she had been living.

What makes this book is the dialogue and Shalvis's quirky sense of humor. I caught myself grinning  through most of this book. That's not to say that there's no substance here, but Shalvis's writing style is so witty that even the serious situations are written with a bit of a twinkle.

   She blinked. "My file says I'm uptight and cautious?"
   "No, that part was me."
   When she looked into his green eyes this time, they were definitely smiling, accompanied by a quick quirk of his mouth.
   Oh boy. If she'd thought him attractive when he was all edgy and badass, it was nothing compared to how he looked when he smiled.
  Note to self: Don't make him smile again.
  "I'm not uptight and cautious."
  She deflated like a popped balloon. "Okay so maybe I've been uptight and cautious, but that's in my past."
  At that, he out and out chuckled, and every single inch of her reacted.
  Amendment of note to self: And don't even think about making him laugh.

I was thoroughly charmed by Katie. I remember the move from city girl to mountain girl vividly, despite the fact that I was much younger. It's a definite culture shock--especially the weather. The weather is almost another character in the mountains: capricious, dangerous, beautiful. And Shalvis manages to convey that without hitting you over the head with it.

My only complaints are relatively minor and nitpicky. And setting related. Nextel coverage in the Sierras (how do I put this politely?) sucks. As does cell reception. So while I'll believe the short wave radio scenario, I'm not buying that anyone would use Nextel to communicate in that area during an emergency situation. I'm also not really believing that a lodge in the high, high Sierras (ie 6-7,000 feet) wouldn't have a generator back up system. Most of the ski resorts in that area are ENTIRELY run off of diesel generators. They are self sufficient precisely because the weather often closes the roads and downs power lines.

I told you it was nitpicky. And subjective.

This is a fairly simple story about two people learning to love each other and finding their places in the world. But it feels real. It feels believable. I could not put it down, it was that good.

My Grade: A

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