Grand Central Publishing | September 2013 | 352 pgs
When was the last time I've read a contemporary romance? I love thrillers, but there are also times I need my comfort reads and for this I chose Always On My Mind by Jill Shalvis. You know, Ms. Shalvis really knows what a romance reader wants and she has all the right elements packed in this story.
Leah Sullivan returns to her home town, Lucky Harbor, after learning that her grandmother needs help at her bakery shop after her knee surgery. Leah tells herself she won't be staying long, and that she needs to accomplish something in her life after hearing all the negative remarks from her father since young. She takes part in a baking competition and if she won, she would have her dreams come true - using the prize money to set up her own pastry shop. As much as she misses Lucky Harbor, she isn't ready to meet her long-time best friend, Jack Harper. Jack and Leah used to be there for each other on many occasions; and there might be a time where they could be more than just friends but Leah chose to run away. And she had sure ran far, leaving town and left Jack very hurt.
Jack, on the other hand, has always lived in his father's shadow. Since young, Jack looked up to his father as a firefighter and when his father died in his job he felt he should carry on his father's legacy as a hero and strives to be the best firefighter he can be. After his father's passing and seeing how his death affects his mother still, he decided relationship would be the last thing on his mind, not especially when Leah had left him and fled.
As fate could have it, Leah blurted in haste to Jack's ailing mother to cheer her up; that she and Jack are together so she could rest her mind and concentrate on her cancer treatments. Although Jack isn't enthusiastic about the pretend relationship, truth is he does have feelings for Leah all this time. It is Leah who keeps having doubts, be it her own self or their relationship. It didn't take long for both Jack and Leah to find themselves questioning about their relationship, since the pretence feel more like reality the more they are with each other. Will Leah admit to her own heart this time around?
Aside from the romance, there is a little mystery about a serial arsonist case which has a few Lucky Harbor old buildings in ruins. Although this didn't take up too much of the story, I was still surprised by the outcome (and the culprit) in the end. Of course, Jack being a firefighter led me into thinking about all the brave firefighters out there and how they risk their lives to save ours. Overall I had a fun time reading this book. And if that's not enough, I also ordered two more books of this series, featuring Leah's best friends, Ali (It Had To Be You) and Aubrey (Once in a Lifetime). Although they are part of the Lucky Harbor series, each book could be read as a standalone.
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