At Last by Jill Shalvis

Why I read it:  I picked this up from NetGalley.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  HER LOVE HAS COME ALONG . . .
Amy Michaels loves her new life in Lucky Harbor. A waitress in the local diner, she’s looking forward to her first weekend hike through the mountains. But when a wrong turn takes her off the trail, she finds herself up close and personal with forest ranger Matt Bowers. And even though she’s tempted to kiss that sexy smile right off his face, she won’t make the mistake of getting involved with the town heartthrob.

A former cop whose life went south, Matt doesn’t let anyone get too close. But something about the feisty beauty caught his eye the moment he first saw her in the diner. After a hot night under a starry sky, Matt can’t deny their attraction-or the fact that for the first time in a long time, he feels the stirrings of something more. Now it’s up to Matt to help Amy see that, no matter what is in their past, together they can build a future in Lucky Harbor.

What worked for me (and what didn’t): I think I liked this one a little better than Lucky in Love.  While I found the device of Amy’s grandmother’s journal a bit hokey, I did enjoy the relationship between Amy and Matt very much.  They are both tortured by past mistakes and hurt and each, for their own reasons, believes that they are unworthy of love.  After 6 months of dancing around their attraction, they finally give in and in scratching what they think is only a physical itch (did they ever really think that? Deep down inside?), find that worthy or not, love has found them.

The side plot involving homeless teen Riley was both positive and negative for me.  On the positive side, Riley was somewhat of a mirror for Amy and it served as an insight into Amy’s character and made it easier for Matt to figure her out.  On the downside, I thought it was terribly naive of Amy (whose character has heretofore been a tough girl ass-kicker type) to just let Riley waltz into her home and give her a key (literally).  Given the set up in the previous book of Mallory’s Health Services Centre which included services for troubled teens, I thought it was more a good opportunity gone missing to serve the plot – Amy could have asked Mallory for help to house Riley in a shelter and get some services for her – that would have made much more sense.  But, Riley was a point of conflict for Amy and Matt so plotwise a shelter was out.

Amy and Matt had a more usual type of physical relationship arc – and by that I mean that they don’t just jump into bed.  Given Amy’s history, this made a lot of sense.  I guess I would have liked a bit more exploration of how Amy moved from the physical activity of sex to the intimacy of it and about her comfort level with being physically vulnerable.

I did like the arc of both of them forgiving themselves for past mistakes and coming to believe they were deserving of happiness and Matt gets bonus points for not caring that even if Amy had been selling herself (which she wasn’t) no means no always and no matter what.

What else? There was one section in the book where Matt takes Amy back to his place (which is a bit remote) and wakes in the morning to find her gone.  How she went I didn’t know because she didn’t have her car with her and she didn’t take his and it’s a long way to town.  Given that he wasn’t worried, I expect this was an editing issue which was maybe (hopefully) fixed before publication.  I don’t (generally) refer in my reviews to typos, etc in ARCs  but this was a bit more than that and I thought it deserved a mention.

I appreciated (in all three books actually) that the formatting was really good and the text reflowed beautifully when I upsized the font so I could read more comfortably.  This is one of the few ebooks which kept identical formatting but just made the text larger.  So, props to Grand Central for that.

Grade: B
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