Book Review: Jill Shalvis’ It Had to Be You

Posted June 24, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Jill Shalvis’ It Had to Be You

It Had to Be You


Jill Shalvis

contemporary romance that was published by Grand Central Publishing on May 28, 201 and has 368 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Instant Attraction, Instant Gratification, Instant Temptation, The Night Before Christmas, "Under the Mistletoe", Animal Magnetism, Simply Irresistible, The Sweetest Thing, Animal Attraction, Rumor Has It, Rescue My Heart, It’s in His Kiss, Head Over Heels, Lucky in Love, He's So Fine, At Last, One in a Million, Forever and a Day, Second Chance Summer, My Kind of Wonderful, "Wrapped in You", Get A Clue, The Trouble with Mistletoe, Chasing Christmas Eve

Seventh in the Lucky Harbor romance series set in a small town in Washington. The couple focus is on Ali Winters and Luke Hanover.

My Take

I am rather surprised that Ali doesn’t have a clue about Teddy’s true self. Four months of this “relationship” and Teddy seems to be more missing-in-action than boyfriend in spite of all the things she did — behind-the-scenes, mind you — to make him look good. She keeps finding excuses for him even as he ignores her existence, and I just hate that. Jerk. I don’t like women who allow themselves to be victims. Fortunately, Shalvis salvages most of this.

I don’t, in general, get annoyed by the insta-love, and Shalvis does try to make this case work except this is one exhausted cop who doesn’t come across as the susceptible type. If I were as tired as Luke is, I’m not sure I’d even notice chocolate or a pizza if someone wafted it under my nose. Yet Luke still allows this person he wants to see gone to stay. It’s not particularly believable, a state which is reinforced with the rest of the odd bits.

Weird loose threads in this: if the senator has skated so far, why would he kill himself? Shalvis keeps saying Edward was married to Luke’s grandmother for three minutes, okay, obviously intended to indicate being married a short time, but the way in which she keeps on about this, I kept thinking he wasn’t a grandfather by blood. That he was more of a ship passing in the night. If Russell wants to spend time with Paul in Vegas, and he doesn’t really care about the flower shop, why doesn’t he just leave it in Ali’s hands for a week or so? Ali keeps telling us that Bree’s perfume makes her sneeze, and she doesn’t make the connection?? Teddy is complaining that they hadn’t had sex in two months when he’s been the one never available? Terror? Ali’s terrified? Of what?? Shalvis goes nowhere with this… The phone call from Angelina Montclair from the Chronicle actually seems like a real call — as opposed to the sensation-chasers earlier, a point which is reinforced by his commander’s demands. Yet Ali doesn’t say a word to Luke. Nor does Shalvis go anywhere with this one. Why does Aubrey feel a need to quit her job when she works for several people?

There’s that eye-rolling moment when Ali plans to creep Teddy’s new place. Ohh, yeah…another brilliant maneuver.

What planet does Teddy live on that he thinks he and Ali are still friends? After the way he treated her before, during, and after???

“Lucky for you, I work with a bunch of little girls.”

“You work with a bunch of firefighters.”

“Who all gossip like girls.”

Oh, doesn’t Ali know that eavesdroppers never hear good about themselves? And it’s still heartbreaking when she overhears that conversation between Edward and Luke.

It’s silly, it’s a tiny bit irritating for all the no-we-can’t/yes-I-want, and it’s sweet.

Read this as a fun, fluffy romance without a lot of sense. And it is sweet with how frustrated Luke gets about wanting to get rid of Ali, but unable to go through with it. Their individual interactions with various people in town. Luke’s issues with his grandfather, and how he feels as though he’s failed everyone around him. Jack is adorable! Lucille’s interest in Ali’s art.

The Story

It’s the big fundraiser for the new community center in Lucky Harbor, and Ali is excited to be going with her boyfriend, Teddy. Too bad he’s so absorbed in all the gladhanding. Absorbed in other activities as well as Ali discovers in too many ways to count that night.

It’s a screaming match over the phone that ends in Ali meeting her landlord. In bra and panties. A very tired landlord who wants her out of his house as soon as possible.

The Characters

Ali Winters has moved to Lucky Harbor to change her life. She volunteers doing all sorts of things at the senior center and generally makes her glowing presence felt everywhere. She’s found a job she enjoys, making flower arrangements at Lucky Harbor Flowers. Mimi Winters is her happy-go-lucky mom, always optimistic, never successful. Harper Winters is her sister. They may be poor, but they’re good people with a strong sense of right. Leah Sullivan is a pastry chef helping her own grandma out, and she’s Ali’s best friend in Lucky Harbor. Zach Mullen is a schoolfriend of Ali’s who just passed the bar.

Russell is Ali’s boss: a technophobe and lovesick for his ex-boyfriend, Paul. (he “inherited” the shop from his sister Mindy who wanted to move to LA with her boyfriend, just like Russell wants to move to Las Vegas to be with his boyfriend), He resists all Ali’s attempts to build up the business and refuses to update his accounting system.

Detective Lieutenant Luke Hanover needs a rest from the disastrous ending of a case he was working with the San Francisco Police Department. He’s also a pie ho. The house where Teddy and Ali lived is his, inherited from his grandmother, Fay. He’s estranged from his grandfather, Edward Gregory, who drives the seniors around; his parents were never there; and, he feels that he’s failed his sister, Sara. Craig O’Neill is Luke’s commander (and a former boyfriend of Sara’s!). Jack Harper and his cousin Ben are Luke’s best friends. Jack is a firefighter in Lucky Harbor whose mom, Dee Harper, is fighting breast cancer.

Teddy Marshall is the town clerk and its golden boy, sliding through life with a grin and a pat on the head. Aubrey is the assistant Teddy shares with other city workers. Tony Medina is the goodhearted mayor who took over for Jax Cullen (Simply Irresistible, 1); he’s a financial advisor in his regular life. Bree Medina is his wife, an interior decorator to the rich and famous. Sheriff Sawyer Thompson. Roger Barrett needs his GTO back. Eddie Kitzky wants someone to catch his nephews.

The seniors…
Lucille is one of the old folks; she keeps the town’s Facebook page updated, to Ali’s dismay. Lyle Lyons is a professional hellraiser ( and ex-postmaster); Cecil Elroy is a former truck driver and now a playboy; Joseph Wykowski is an ex-rocket scientist — and the current ringleader (although that role seems to switch between Wykowski and Luke’s grandfather); and, their friend and driver, Edward. All of them adoring fans of Ali’s.

Tara Daniels Walker is the best chef in the county and runs the local B&B with her sisters. Melissa Mann runs a beauty shop in Lucky Harbor.

The Cover and Title

The cover is sweet with an amazingly young-looking Luke embracing Ali outside the flower shop.

I’m not sure where the title comes from. The best I can come up with is that it had to be Luke for Ali and vice versa; a mutual It Had to Be You.