Despite my finding the title Ms. Shalvis gave this book confusing/misleading, “Once In A Lifetime” is a hell of a lot better than the two books preceding it in the author’s “Lucky Harbor” series. Hence, the 4 out 5 stars rating I gave it on Goodreads.
Ben McDaniels is the local Boy Whom Everybody Loves. Aubrey Wellington is the local Girl Who Everybody Likes To Hate. She tries to right her past wrongs (following step 8 in The Twelve Steps of Alcoholic Anonymous – but she’s not an alcoholic), and he tries to get over his dead wife. Sounds simple? That’s because it is.
Simple does always do it for me, though. In book #8 in the Lucky Harbor series, the heroine, Leah, was just plain annoying. Here in “Once In A Lifetime,” however, I surprisingly found Aubrey likable, in spite of how she was first portrayed in Shalvis’ previous books (e.g., seductress, cheat, thinks she’s better than anyone else). Aubrey also acknowledges that she was a bitch, which in some cases, I also thought she was. But, then again, in real life, who amongst us haven’t been a bitch at one point or another? Ben, on the other hand, is a classic Shalvis-hero: sexy, owns abs of steel, handsome, quiet, macho, and alpha. Because the main characters are relatable and likable, I have to say I really liked this book.
I have to say, though, that some of the “wrongs” Aubrey’s been trying to correct are overly exaggerated. For instance, the one where she cost her look-alike sister, Carla, an internship/job because she was late to an appointment where she was supposed to pretend to be Carla? Pfft. That was a non-wrong. Hello? The favor she was supposed to have done for Carla was ethically wrong. Carla should’ve woman-ed up in the first place, and re-scheduled her conflicting appointments, just so she didn’t have to ask Aubrey to pretend to be her. Why was Carla carrying a grudge anyway? She got the same internship the next year. Jesus.
And then that “wrong” she did to her hero-counterpart, Ben? The one where she caused Ben’s first love, Hannah, to break up with him just before the end of high school? That was a bit pathetic, to my mind. Ben used it as an excuse to break up with Aubrey. Granted, this little plot twist was the climax of the story, but it was still a weak one. Ben thought things through, concluding that Hannah did not fight for him in high school (ironically, he and Hannah met again two years after the break up and eventually married each other). He also determined that Aubrey was willing to fight for him (proven by the fact that she said so, while she was drunk), despite making him lose two years with Hannah – two years, which he used to fullest extent of his sexual freedom.
Ms. Shalvis has a tried-and-true formula in her contemporary romance books. I think you either like it or hate it. Her writing style is smooth and easy-to-read. Some of her characters can be annoying (e.g., the gossips of Lucky Harbor, Leah in book 8), but despite these hiccups, Ms. Shalvis’ books would always spaces in my e-bookshelf.