In Once in a Life Time by Jill Shalvis, after a significant loss, Ben decided he was better off alone. He escaped memories and heart ache by working in dangerous, unstable, war torn areas of the world. He's had enough though, and is back in Lucky Harbor. Ben is ready to be home again but he is a bit lost and not quite sure what to do next.
Aubrey is the girl most people love to hate - deserved or not. She has some family issues and unhappy family dynamics, but she has chosen to remain in Lucky Harbor despite everything. She has plans. Big plans. She is going to re-open her late Aunt's bookstore, even if she has to do most of the renovation work herself. Aubrey is determined her bookstore will be more than a store, it will be a place for people to belong...herself included. Aubrey has rarely felt she belonged anywhere, and to move forward she feels she needs to ask people for forgiveness for past digressions so that she can move on, away from the past that follows her.
The last person she expects her Uncle to hire to work on the renovations in her store is Ben. Strong, sexy Ben. Aubrey is determined to keep her distance from Ben. Ben definitely does not want to keep his distance from Aubrey. Her reputation precedes her, but that won't stop Ben, he makes his own decisions, not based on others' judgement. Aubrey does not want to fall for Ben, but the chemistry between them is impossible to ignore for long. Neither of them expected to find the other, but they have. Aubrey is keeping a secret from Ben though, and it's one that she fears will push him away from her forever. When her secret is revealed and Ben's heart is aching again, will Aubrey have the courage to fight for him? Or will she let him go?
Jill gives us a fantastic return to Lucky Harbor in Once in a Life Time! Jill will take you on a fun, heart warming journey to where ever things go - whether or not they end up together. The hero and heroine in Once in a Life Time are strong, unforgettable people who could be your best friend, your neighbor, or your book store owner, they are so realistic and easy to relate to. I really felt for Aubrey...especially when Jill gives us glimpses of the little girl she was. It was easy for Aubrey to work her way into my heart. On the outside she is confident and strong, and she says what she thinks, but on the inside it's a different story. She is trying hard to better herself, even if the more we read and see things from outside her perspective she's not a bad person at all. As I said earlier, Ben is strong and sexy. I did really like Ben and how he pursued Aubrey despite her resistance. Can he be as forgiving and open as we hope?
I love the small town feel of Lucky Harbor, where even though everyone knows everything and there are meddling senior citizens,even the people you least expect have your back. It was great to catch glimpses of people from previous Lucky Harbor stories, but Once in a Life Time can definitely be read as a stand alone. (Though it's much more fun if you read all of the Lucky Harbor books!) Jill writes a great contemporary romance in Once in a Life Time with a lot of sizzle and entertainment. At the same time Jill manages to make you think - about perceptions, relationships, and love. You will laugh and you will want to cry!
I highly recommend Once in a Life Time to any romance reader, you won't be disappointed!
5/5 stars :)