Joint review with fellow Book Pusher Lou originally posted here: http://thebookpushers.com/2012/07/02/joint-review-at-last-by-jill-shalvis/
Lou: I’m a fan of Jill Shalvis’ contemporary romances, though I haven’t been able to read all of her Lucky Harbour series as they’re not available in ebook in the UK. But when I saw this for review up on Netgalley, I jumped at the chance to review it along with Minn. At Last features a withdrawn heroine with an abusive and self destructive past, and a Forest Ranger hero who has had a crush on the prickly heroine since she moved into town. I found At Last to be an enjoyable read with a lot of emotions coming from different characters. Whilst I liked Amy, I admit I found it hard sometimes to connect with her because she was so secretive about her past with the hero, Matt. But that did change once her character evolved throughout the book, and by the end I loved Amy for her loyalty to the teenager who turns up in Lucky Harbour in desperate need for help.
MinnChica: I’ve been a huge fangirl of Shalvis for awhile now. The Lucky Harbor books are among some of my favorites, since I’m such a sucker for those small town romances! I was so excited to see what would happen with Amy and Matt after all their dancing around each other in the last book. Their relationship was so much fun to read. I loved their love-hate moments, and Amy’s reluctance to get involved with anyone. And Matt… Oh Matt. He had me almost swooning a few times throughout the book. Loved and adored him!
Lou: Ah hah! This is probably where I missed out on Amy’s character development from the previous book along with her interactions with Matt. I loved how Matt was with Amy, and how in his own way knew how to get past her defences – ones that were heartbreaking – and to show Amy that she was capable of love. I kind of wished we saw more moments from her history as I think it would have solidified her character more. The best of Amy was when the runaway teen came to town, and Amy instantly helped her despite the pain of her own past. Matt was so sweet when he wanted to make sure that Amy was ok with the teen. He was so protective and loving that I wanted Amy to knock down her own defences to see what a great guy he was. I did love the male interaction between Matt and his best friends. I actually felt that there was more dynamic between them compared to Amy and her girlfriends.
MinnChica: I loved Amy’s relationship with Riley. I thought it was so great to be able to see Amy really reach out and provide the kind of support to a teenage girl that she had desperately wanted when she was younger. The support that Amy provided seemed to not only help Riley but also seemed to give Amy a kind of extra strength to really face and deal with her past. I loved that. And yes, Matt was so great with both Amy and Riley, providing a kind of big-brother role and the partner support that Amy desperately needed. That aspect of the whole book was so well done!!
Lou: I felt that it was the bridge, so to speak, between Amy and Matt that Amy was able to see a little of herself in Riley. I could understand why she had to lie to Matt about Riley because she knew how much trust the teenager put in Amy. I did feel that Matt being angry at Amy was a little off and seemed like it was the required separation. I’m glad that Matt returned to Amy and didn’t give up on her. The ending for me seemed a little overbearing with everyone surrounding Amy and Matt when they declared their love. I also felt that Matt’s situation with his job being in danger felt a little too contrived as it easily passed over at the end. I did enjoy the secondary characters, and can’t wait to read the next book featuring Grace and Josh.
MinnChica: Oh, Grace and Josh are going to be so much fun! I agree that it did seem like there were a lot of little sub-plots that seemed to add only a little to the story here and there. The whole debacle with Matt and his job would have been better for me if it had been stretched out earlier in the story. Instead, it seemed to come to light about half-way through the book. Although I have to admit that I do love when small town folks rally behind one another and fight for each other. Watching the town come together to help Matt fight for his job while he went off to fight for his lady love MAY have brought a tear or two to my eye.
Lou: It was sweet how everyone wanted Matt and Amy to get together. I think that with all the little sub-plots here and there, it seemed to fill in parts of the story and that’s where I think the weakest part of the book is. Matt and Amy’s romance was sweet, and the smexy scenes I thought were quite steamy. In a way, this romance book is quite simplistic with no major road-blocks. I was more interested in Josh and his son and sister. I couldn’t figure out if his sister was a teenager or an adult. All in all, I enjoyed At Last. It features a sweet romance with oodles of emotion. I give it a B
MinnChica: I love when contemporary romance authors really focus on the romance at the core of the story. So many other times it seems as if the romance takes a backseat to other sub-plots in the book, or some big conflict that tears the hero and heroine apart throughout the story. But with Matt and Amy, it really seemed as if their relationship was the main focus of the book. Once they decided they wanted to be together, they worked at it, all while Amy found her own place in Lucky Harbor. Although it was simplistic at times, it was sweet and sexy and the kind of romance that makes my heart go all melty.
I give At Last a B+