Forever and a Day (Lucky Harbor, #6) - Jill Shalvis
Forever and a Day is my first Jill Shalvis novel but the sixth book in her Lucky Harbor series. Grace has spent her life trying to live up to her brilliant parents' image of her. After losing her job as a CPA and moving for a new one that didn't work out she ends up in Lucky Harbor temporarily. While she has been fortunate enough to make great friends, she has been forced to work a bunch of odd jobs to stay afloat. After getting a misdirected phone call about a dog walking job Grace meets Josh Scott, harried doctor and father, whose responsibilities are threatening to overwhelm him.Even though her first day as a dog walker is rather disastrous, Josh, who isn't really a fan of his little pug Tank, is so desperate he hires her again and throws ridiculous amounts of cash at her to take the work. She, obviously, can't say no to this. After another nanny quits, Josh's sister dumps his son off on Grace one afternoon and it seems like he has found his new nanny (don't worry, even though it's a small town and he knew of her already, he gets a highly recommended vouch from a close friend and colleague who happens to be one of Grace's best friends).Though the circumstances that brought them together were pretty ridiculous, I loved Josh and Grace. They were strong characters, humorous, and loving. Their hang-ups would get in the way but didn't overtake the entire relationship. There weren't really any external factors working to keep them apart, it was all internal emotional and psychological issues that threatened what they were building. I liked the balance of Josh essentially being a superhero in the way he had to step up to take care of his family and keep his career going but not being perfect at it. He dropped balls left and right and let people down, mostly because he was having a hard time letting go of the solo practice his father started, and had to be bailed out. Especially when it came to his adorable little "Jedi Warrior", five-year-old Toby, who had started communicating with his father only through barking after he was given Tank by his Aunt Anna. Josh so obviously loves his son, but isn't there for him like he wants to (and should) be. Grace was floundering in life, and her odd jobs. So even though she came in and was the perfect asset to the Scott family, she wasn't perfect herself and quite unsure of her place in the world. There was a decent amount of Josh and Grace talking and getting to know each other, but I still would have liked a greater ratio of talking to sex.Anna, Josh's angry little sister, was my greatest annoyance in this book. The girl has had a hard life, of that there is no question. Five years prior to the events of this book she lost the use of her legs in the car crash that killed her parents. That is a very hard thing to overcome. And trust me, I get angry and bitter, I really do. If she was just angry and bitter I would have understood. But she was stuck in a 16-year-old's mentality (in part because she didn't get the therapy I think she desperately needed) and yet would throw an "I'm an adult!" tantrum anytime she wasn't treated like a 21-year-old. She had absolutely no idea what to do with her life and kept saying that she couldn't do anything (though she refused to try) even though she was adamant about blowing her settlement money on a trip to Europe with her boyfriend. She was incredibly irresponsible, including leaving her little nephew with a complete stranger so she could run off with her loser boyfriend. He was kind of a caricature of the awful boyfriend and she'd still cling to him desperately the more people pointed out how bad he was. The thing that angered me the most about her was the way she treated Josh. He had always been there for her. When the accident occurred he had just started his residency, and was left with infant Toby whose mother abandoned them. So on top of all of that he was dealing with his grief at the loss of his parents, having to take care of this father's practice on his own, and an injured, angry 16-year-old. I think he really was doing the best he could, even if it wasn't good enough, but Anna hurls abuse at him constantly calling him a monster and "heartless". And I never did understand why she so strongly hated her brother. I don't think that was made clear at all. Honestly, in addition to giving up his father's practice, I felt at a certain point he should have just kicked her out. Yes, harsh, I know. But her calling him heartless, accusing him of ruining her life, refusing to talk to him or let him help her in any way, running off his son's nannies, leaving his son with a complete stranger to run off with her boyfriend, not to mention reckless wheelchair races in the house that sent both her and the boy flying…once she became a danger to his son, he needed to consider letting her go be the adult she claimed she was. Part of why I loved Grace so much is that she wouldn't take any of Anna's abuse. She often said the things I thought needed to be said to her and she'd stand up for Josh, while still trying to help Anna if she could (or Anna would let her). I think I was at a slight disadvantage with this being my starting point in this series. That's not to say that this book doesn't stand on its own – it does. I feel like the characters and relationships established in the previous books were sufficiently explained so I wasn't left in the dark. The only thing I didn't get was the Chocoholics and the chocolate quotes. It seemed kind of silly and out of place to me. Especially since Grace's story had very little to do with baking. I kept thinking she was going to end up becoming a baker. I had to keep telling myself, as I assume, that it was something established in previous books and had I read those I would understand it more.Several little things in the writing annoyed me. There was a lot of repetition in the prose, in both references and words (describing things as "sexy", or something being done "with abandon"). I'm not a fan of casual word usage like "vacay" and "bod" in the exposition, especially in third person. That should really only show up in the dialogue. There was an overabundance of cursing as an indicator of "man speak." Whenever men are written like this they end up sounding like a bunch of women who curse and say "man" a lot instead of like a real group of men talking to each other. A little over halfway through the book Josh was explaining his past to Grace but for some reason most of it was exposition to the reader and only a few unenlightening sentences were actually spoken out loud to Grace. After he finished I was very confused as to how she would have any greater understanding of what he and his family had been through.A general problem with romance is the author slapping the reader in the face with the attraction between the Hero and Heroine. It is a romance. Trust me, we understand they're attracted to each other! It doesn't need to be stated over and over and over again. I promise you that we won't forget that fact if it is introduced and described subtlety. Even if sparks, fireworks, thunderbolts, lightning, electricity or flare guns don't go off when they touch each other we will still understand that they're attracted to each other. I'd love to see the entire genre move away from overemphasizing this aspect of the primary relationship. A lot of times I feel like it makes readers erroneously feel like the attraction is the driving force of the character's actions when it may not be (or it, at least, isn't the overarching reason). In this book it seems like Josh's attraction to Grace is the biggest factor in his hiring her to be his son's nanny. Even though I don't believe it was, it is easily interpreted that way. And it also overshadows the all too important other elements that go into a sustainable relationship. It can't all be attraction and sex.Another romance staple I'd like to see fall by the wayside is the unnecessary epilogue. Always the epilogue with the same happy life events that seem to mean ultimate fulfillment to some people. If Shalvis absolutely felt this needed an epilogue I would have liked to have seen a resolution with Grace's parents. As big of an issue pleasing them was for her, and knowing that the life she chose would disappoint them, I would have liked to have seen her presenting her happiness to them and watching that play out however it may. I find myself absolutely bored and somewhat annoyed by the cliché HEA epilogue. Despite the things that didn't work for me this is an entertaining contemporary romance. I will have to read some of the other books in this series to be able to properly compare this book.I was provided an ARC of this book through NetGalley.