It Had to be You
By Jill Shalvis
Lucky Harbor #7
I'm a big fan of this series and have really liked every story...until this one. I LOVED it!
It's one of those rarities where you have equally strong feelings for both main characters. Ali Winter has had a tough life but through it all, she's held her head up high and believed life would get better, not in a sappy way but more resolute. You couldn't help admiring her spirit. The town loves her.
Luke Hanover is one of the good guys, the person you can count on to do the right thing but underneath that determination is a bag full of guilt about the three times in his life where he fell short (in his own eyes) and he's starting to collapse under it.
How they meet
Ali was living with her dog of a boyfriend, Teddy, the town darling. He was renting Luke's house in Lucky Harbor, decided he was ending the lease (and their relationship) but didn't tell her until after he'd moved out. Luke shows up and finds Ali in all her underwear glory with nowhere to go. They agree she can stay until she finds another place to live.
Before Ali can begin figuring out a new life plan, money in Teddy's office ($50,000) turns up missing and all fingers point at the scorned ex-girlfriend. Luke's a SF detective who just wanted to come home for three weeks to rest and recover from a really bad case and just doesn't want to get involved.
Despite what his head wants to do, Luke can no more abandon the delightful and beautiful soul of Ali and repeatedly gives in to his heart. Ali knows the last thing she needs is another man to leave her (in three weeks) but their attraction to each other is pretty powerful. They both see each others' true nature and their chemistry is HOT. I don't think they ever made it to a bed until the end of the story.
The bottom line
Everything about this story just rocks! I laughed, cried, got angry, got caught up in the steamy moments... and through it all I cheered for Ali and Luke individually and for their relationship. The dialogue is just perfect and the characters around these two make the story fun and exciting. Don't worry about this being the 7th book in the series...a new round of main characters begins after every three books so you can start here and then go back (I can't believe I'm saying this). You'll thank me for this. It is my favorite of the series and I've enjoyed all of them.