Posted in: AztecLady Reviews
Tags:Contemporary Romance, Jill Shalvis
This full length contemporary novel is the third of Ms Shalvis’ books that I’ve read, and I will say, right off the bat, that it’s the best so far. Instant Attraction, the first of three novels planned around Wilder Adventures and Expeditions (and about the three brothers who own it) is fast paced, funny without trying for laughs, and with vivid and appealing characters.
And, marvel of marvels, this novel is a pure contemporary. There is no murder, no conspiracy, no supernatural nor paranormal element in sight. People, with all their complexities, idiosyncrasies, and weaknesses, are what drives this book.
Here’s the blurb from the author’s website:
GET WILD… AND THEN GET WILDER…
Accountant Katie Kramer is a quintessential good girl- working hard, recycling diligently, all the while trying to ignore the feeling that she doesn’t fit in anywhere. That’s all she wants. Well, that- and amazing sex, and the kind of daredevil escapade she can look back on when she’s crunching numbers in a dusty cubicle. Which explains why she just took a job in Wishful, California, working for Wilder Adventures and Expeditions. Waking up to find a magnificently built stranger towering over her bed- that part defies explanation…
After wandering the planet for months following a life-changing accident, Cameron Wilder has come back to the only home he knows. Under other circumstances, he might be thrilled to find a gorgeous woman sleeping in his cabin, but now, while he’ll risk his body taking clients on adrenaline-drenched excursions, his heart is off limits. Still, Katie’s killer smile triggers something deep in his gut…among other places. Showing her how exhilarating it can be to stop balancing her life as if it was a checkbook is the biggest rush he’s ever felt – and an adventure Katie’s wishing would never end.
While the blurb is better than many, it still misses a pretty big fact: defying all odds, Katie is the lone survivor of a disaster that killed some thirty people. And the thing is, that event changed Katie’s life, but is still haunting her, giving her nightmares, motivating her to leave her safe and insipid life, to risk life in order to actually live.
In Instant Attraction, the reader is introduced not only to Wilder Adventures and the three Wilder brothers who own it, but to a number of other characters who seem clearly destined to have their stories told later on, as well as to the Sierras themselves. Ms Shalvis’s affection and understanding of the mountains comes vividly through her words. Hell, even this Floridian hothouse flower is now wondering whether freezing one’s toes off would be worth the experience of hiking in the snow one evening…
But I digress.
One of the best things about this novel is how Ms Shalvis shows us what her characters are made of. For example, Katie is not a precious Pollyanna/MarySue, who is aces at everything she tries and whom everyone falls for on sight. While not timid per se, nor incompetent (she’s in fact rather good at her work), she is out of her element in the Sierras and still trying to overcome the many fears her narrow escape has left her with.
Katie has grit, she has a spine, she has determination to overcome the nightmares and fears and panic attacks that are hobbling her. And the reader sees both her struggles and her triumphs, big and small.
Cam, on the other hand, seems both pure extreme sports-crazy guy and real person. He would perhaps seem a tad too good to be real if the reader weren’t privy to his thoughts-his fears, his insecurities, his emotional desolation, his pain.
The chemistry between these two was excellently done, on the sexual tension side as well as on the emotional; their strengths and weaknesses seemed to both mirror and complement each other’s. They didn’t prop each other up as much as catalyzed each other’s healing process.
Of the secondary characters, Serena-Cam’s ex and the would-be villainess of the piece-was actually my favorite. Ms Shalvis does something quite unusual, and oh so very welcome, in making Serena bitter and bitchy but also human, and self-aware enough to understand she must let go of Cam.
And here is where my main quibble comes in.
I didn’t care at all for Annie and Nick’s secondary plot line. It seemed completely extraneous to me, and even though there were a small number of scenes from Annie’s point of view, I didn’t really get to know her enough to really get the depth of her feelings for Nick-and truly, I didn’t see anything of Nick’s for her. I mean, I was told about their feelings for each other through their conversations with other characters, but I didn’t get that feeling at all from their interactions with each other.
It seemed a bit like there was too much history between them for the space allotted to two secondary characters in someone else’s novel, if that makes sense.
Still and all, Instant Attraction is a nice, wild, absorbing ride. 8 out of 10