ALWAYS ON MY MIND – Jill Shalvis
A Perfect 10
A Lucky Harbor Novel
Grand Central Publishing
Lucky Harbor, Washington – Present Day
Returning home to Lucky Harbor after years away, Leah Sullivan's life is at a crossroads while she runs the bakery for her grandmother, who is recovering from knee surgery. Several months ago, she had filmed a food competition reality show that is currently airing on television. Everyone knows Leah is good, but did she win the top honors? She's bound by her contract not to spill the outcome, even to her to best friend, firefighter Jack Harper. Jack's mother, Dee, is recovering from breast cancer and is a regular at the bakery. One day, Dee bemoans to Leah about how Jack isn't with a woman. Wanting to perk the other woman up, Leah blurts out that Jack is with…her.
Jack's father was a hero firefighter who died at work years ago. His mom, Dee, has never gotten over the death and Jack worries about her mental health, especially after her cancer scare. When Dee congratulates Jack on finally hooking up with Leah, he is stunned. Why would Leah say something like that, and why is she now trying to avoid him? Things soon get out of control when his friends in Lucky Harbor congratulate him on finally dating Leah, and he knows something should be done, but the change in his mother is remarkable. She's happy to finally see her only child settled with the perfect woman...Leah. Jack reluctantly agrees to go along with the charade with Leah, but as he begins to see her in a different light—a woman he'd date—it makes him want to test the waters with her. But will it ruin their lifelong friendship if things end badly?
It's friends to lovers in ALWAYS ON MY MIND as readers return to Lucky Harbor. Leah grew up with little self-esteem as her parents, especially her father, treated her as worthless and unable to finish anything. She wonders if that label is true. She didn't even finish cooking school, and if everyone realized what really happened during the cooking reality show…well, Leah is waiting for that shoe to drop. But the one good thing in her life has been Jack's support since she was a child, and she fears becoming intimate with him will end unhappily, leaving their friendship in shreds. Yet his kisses have her wanting more—and trying to convince herself that they can remain friends once their faux romance is “over.”
Jack likes the ladies, and being connected with Leah has his love life drying up. He's annoyed at first with Leah, but as always, when she asks, he can't deny her anything. Their friendship has endured since childhood, yet now he begins to see her a new light as an attractive woman and one he suddenly has the hots for. Their decision whether to act upon the attraction has both bouncing back and forth and making for some lighthearted moments in ALWAYS ON MY MIND. But once they do cross the friendship to lovers threshold, there's no going back.
Of course, one can't write a review for ALWAYS ON MY MIND without mentioning Jack's dog, Kevin, a Great Dane, who loves people and food, not necessarily in that order. I'm sure Jill Shalvis will get lots of fan mail for Kevin as his antics will make readers laugh out loud. There are also Leah's friends, Ali and Aubrey, who offer a shoulder to cry on, and root for her to make it with Jack. Jack has his own support, namely his cousin Ben who thinks Jack is stupid in not seeing how great Leah would be as his girlfriend. Then there are Jack's buddies at the fire station. Jack is heavily involved in an investigation of a string of arson fires. Will the culprit be brought to justice?
ALWAYS ON MY MIND is pure fun to read and crackles with enough funny and naughty scenes to keep readers glued to the pages and that is a big reason why it deserves a Perfect 10 from Romance Reviews Today. Leah tries to avoid addressing her feelings for Jack, yet actions speak louder than words as she finally gives in to the passion that flares between them. Will Leah and Jack be able to take their relationship to the next level—a happily-ever-after one? Grab a copy and find out for yourself in the highly entertaining ALWAYS ON MY MIND.