Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis (2017)
Do you have “dependable” and “reliable” authors on your bookshelf? You know, those authors who you can depend on for a good read, no matter what book by them you might pick up? I do, and Jill Shalvis is one of those authors for me. She is reliable in that whichever book of hers I happen to choose to read, I know I’m going to get a good book with characters I like and a charming supporting cast of characters that deepen the story. All I wanted from my day was to sit on the couch and read a book, and Accidentally on Purpose, the third full-length novel in Shalvis’ Heartbreaker Bay series did not disappoint.
What is it about? It’s the story of a woman who is strong and independent, needs no one, and is accustomed to being in control of every aspect of her world and a man who is used to be in control of every aspect of his world and who is the protector–he protects his friends, the people who work for him and his clients. Because of the way she grew up and a shared experience in the past that was mutually defining for both of them,, she has trouble letting people in and letting down her guard, and he is dedicated to making sure she is always safe and protected. They are two strong personalities who clash repeatedly until they learn to work as team and transform from you and me to ‘we’.
Who is in it? Elle is the female protagonist and she is like many of Shalvis’ strong female characters who can and do take care of themselves and find it difficult to build trust and emotional intimacy. Archer is the male protagonist and he is a successful business owner who has until now been emotionally unavailable. Elle and Archer met when she was sixteen and he was a rookie cop. After that, Archer kept tabs on how she was doing, and then eleven years later she takes a job managing the building in which he has his office. She’s been a presence in his life for a year when the story begins, and though all of their friends can clearly see the attraction between them, Elle and Archer have been ignoring it, but that changes when Archer asks Elle to assist him with one of his operations. She agrees, something she has done several times in the past, but this time, neither of them can easily walk away from the other. When trouble arrives in the form of Elle’s sister, Morgan (could she possibly star in her own book in this series at some point in the future?), Archer’s commitment to convincing Elle to take a chance on him solidifies.
The supporting cast of characters will be familiar to you if you have read any of the other books in this series, but it is not necessary to read these books in order. For those who have, Finn, Willa, and Spence make appearances in this book, with Spence’s presence being the strongest of all (I would love to know if his story will be the focus of the next book in the series). In fact, I learned a lot about Spence in this book. He is not as fully drawn, of course, as Elle and Spence, but I felt like there was a good introduction to who he is and sets readers up nicely to anticipate his story.
The story is told in third-person point of view and switches back and forth between Elle and Archer, though I would say a greater proportion of the story is told from Elle’s point of view. I mentioned above that Archer character fits into the protector archetype. That being said, I don’t think he’s a flat character, and neither is Elle. Though they will both feel familiar to readers of romance, they aren’t colorless or cardboard copies of a character type. There really are several moments during the story where I felt the emotion in a particular scene that Shalvis intended to evoke in readers. Another thing that made this book satisfying to me? Most readers of the genre are more than familiar with the typical plot pattern for a romance–girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl gets boy back (or vice-versa, depending on who the main character is). It’s the second part of that plot pattern-girl loses boy–that is quite often the most tiresome and disappointing aspect of most romances I read. I understand why this moment always happen–it’s the crisis moment, the all-is-lost moment, that every book needs. And yet for me it’s often the least enjoyable part because so frequently it’s just unbelievable. But the good news is that the way that Accidentally on Purpose handles this moment wasn’t one that wanted me to throw the book (read: my e-reader) across the room and didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book.
Final analysis? If you enjoy contemporary romance with engaging characters, give Accidentally on Purpose a try. I have also read the first book in this series, Sweet Little Lies, and recommend it as well. Jill Shalvis is a dependable author who will deliver a satisfying read, and if you are interested in reading more by her, I would also recommend her Lucky Harbor series.