Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis (2018)
Hot Winter Nights is the sixth full-length novel in Jill Shalvis’ Heartbreaker Bay contemporary romance series. Each novel in the series can stand alone and be read in any order. If you want to pick up the first book in the series, it’s Sweet Little Lies. Thus far, Accidentally on Purpose (find my review here) and Chasing Christmas Eve are my favorite books in the series. On a budget? Here’s the info you need to know: Hot Winter Nights is not in the Kindle Unlimited library (as far as I know, none of Shalvis’ work is) but it was available through my local library in e-book and paperback format. I’ve also been able to find Shalvis’ books in my local used bookstore. I haven’t ever been disappointed by one of Shalvis’ books (I also love the books in the Lucky Harbor series) and haven’t regretted spending my book dollars on one of her novels. She’s one of my go-to authors who I trust to give me a good romance novel, and if you’ve been around my book blog for a while, you know I don’t say that about a lot of romance authors.
This is the story of Molly and Lucas. Molly works as the receptionist at Hunt Investigations and is sort of an investigator-in-training. “Sort of” because she has to fight the misogynistic tendencies of the male investigators who work at the firm and prove she is capable of doing the job. As a teenager, Molly suffered an injury to her back that has caused chronic pain in her leg, and yet she proves time and time again that the injury isn’t going to keep her from living life on her own terms. When the story opens, we discover that Molly has agreed to take on a case her neighbor has brought to her, and in spite of objections from her boss (Archer) and her overprotective brother, Joe (who also works at Hunt Investigations), she refuses to be deterred from taking on a Bad Santa case. For the remainder of the novel, Molly’s character arc moves her from investigator-in-training to full-fledged investigator. Lucas also works at Hunt Investigations and is recovering from a gunshot wound and waiting to be cleared to return to duty. His character arc is defined by the ghosts that haunt him. As a result of the loss he’s suffered, Lucas is stopped like a broken clock, unable to move forward. His challenge is to come to terms with the past so that he can truly live in the present and look forward to the future with hope.
The story is told through the alternating, third-person POVs of Molly and Lucas. As I mentioned above, this book can be read as a standalone, but you should also be ready to see characters from the other novels in this series make appearances and comprise the supporting cast. Eddie, who I have to imagine is a reader favorite, pops up in the story and fills his role as comic relief and wise fool. Like all the other novels in this series, the fountain that stands in the courtyard of the Pacific Pier Building, which is the primary setting of the story and where all of the characters run into each other, comes into play as one of the characters tosses in a coin and wishes for love. The case of the Bad Santa Molly and Lucas work on together is well-crafted and keeps the story moving along while also giving both characters a chance to develop, and of course, providing Molly and Lucas reasons to spend time together and fall in love. I was invested in them as a couple as well as “the case of the week” plot, and though I read this over the course of a few sittings, I could have easily spent a rainy day reading it from start to finish. Shalvis’ characters are real and she delivers a romance with emotion and depth.
I left Hot Winter Nights as a satisfied reader and more than glad that the next book in the series is already available. If you are looking for a romance novel where the female protagonist is real, independent, and capable of taking care of herself and the male protagonist is an alpha male but not a dominating jerk no woman would tolerate in real life, then I think you’ll like this book and the Heartbreaker Bay series.
Have you read Hot Winter Nights or any of the other books in the Heartbreaker Bay series? What did you think? Do you have a favorite Jill Shalvis novel?