I am a notoriously slow reader, stemming from the fact that I hated books as a kid. The closest I came to reading was watching Wishbone on PBS. I figured if a story wasn’t good enough to be on television or made into a movie, then it wasn’t worth the time it took me to read it. It was a long time before I realized that I had it all wrong–that good books aren’t the ones you want made into a movie because whoever is making it never quite captures the book’s essence; the Harry Potter movies came close, but even those weren’t perfect (don’t even talk to me about the ending of the last movie). If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read any one of the Nora Roberts books that were turned into movies and then watch the movie. Carnal Innocence still pisses me off–Gabrielle Anwar?? Really? She was much too old to play that character. Sigh.
The reason for this mini-rant is that I read My Kind of Wonderful in less than 24 hours. I started it about 8:30 last night and read straight to 2:30 when I looked at the time on my phone and was shocked to realize how late it was. At that point, I was at about 50%. I read the rest of it this afternoon. That’s rare for me. One of Jill Shalvis’s strengths is writing a book in such a way that the reader isn’t aware of the pages turning. One minute you’re at 10% and the next, 85% (one of the reasons why I was so happy to see this book available on Netgalley). Then, you realize you’ve forgotten to eat or sleep–or in extreme situations, you’ve forgotten to go to work or school. (I actually did that once. I was sitting in the QC Dining Hall, half eaten egg sandwich in front of me, and I got so lost in the book I was reading that when I looked up, I realized I missed my entire Political Science class and was about to miss my Clinical Psych class. The book was great, but missing class was not a good idea.)
Back to My Kind of Wonderful.
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.
I MEAN IT.
Hudson Kincaid does a little bit of everything: he’s a cop, an EMT, and the head of Ski Patrol for his family’s resort. He simply does not have the time to deal with love. Of course, that’s when Cupid’s Arrow hits him right smack dab in the ass. The moment he first sees Bailey Moore, sitting in her parked car and singing along to an Ed Sheeran song, he’s intrigued by the pure happiness on her face.
Bailey Moore is free for the first time in her adult life, spending the last 10 years fighting off a disease that should have killed her. Now, she has plans. Big ones. The first thing on her list is painting a mural, and she gets the chance to do that when she gets a call from Hud’s mother, asking her to paint a mural on the wall of the resort. If only the gorgeous man would stop being so stubborn and let her paint it…
The biggest thing that surprised me about this book was the fact that Bailey was a cancer survivor. Yes, there have been other cancer survivor heroines, but none were quite like this one. Bailey was visibly a survivor. She’s still bald when the book starts and in the first sex scene she’s nervous about the fact that she has a scar from her port. Then, there’s the fact that she wasn’t even sure if she could want sex again. She is at the point where she is learning how to be alive because she was half dead for most of her life.
I like that her cancer wasn’t just a sad backstory for her to think about and instead was a part of who she was. She’s worried about how people will see her if she shows her bare head. Her cancer made her a stronger person, someone who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go after it. It made her less willing to settle for less than what she wants. Ms. Shalvis could have used the cancer as a way to make the reader sympathize with Bailey, which is what so many other authors do, but instead she made it a part of Bailey. Just another thing that made her who she was, but not the one thing that defined who she was.
I also loved that Hud didn’t baby her. He treated her the same way he’d treat any other woman in whom he was interested, but he also understood how what she’d been through influenced who she was. Of course, he wasn’t perfect and screwed up a few times throughout the book. He wouldn’t have been such a compelling character if he was perfect. Who’d want to read that?
The one thing I have an issue with was the way Hud’s mother was used as a deus ex machina. Carrie had some weird form of dementia that struck her some time in her 30’s. I don’t know of any dementia like that, but I’m no expert, so maybe it is possible. Anyway. For most of the time, she isn’t lucid, her mind somewhere in the past. One minute she’s talking to Hud the child, the next Hud the adult. Usually, he’s an adult when she has some wisdom to impart on him. She was apparently some sort of savant, sensing when Hud needed something. It felt like lazy writing and I hate lazy writing. Why couldn’t Hud figure things out for himself? Why did his mother, who was normally sitting in the corner talking about things that happened twenty years ago, always have to give him the answers? I didn’t get it.
Overall, though, this was a good book. Shalvis doesn’t seem able to write a truly bad book; even her below average books are better than many others out there. This was no different.
My Kind of Wonderful by Jill Shalvis is currently available for pre-order and will be released on December 22nd.