Head Over Heels is Jill Shalvis’s third novel in the Lucky Harbor series, and I hate to say this, but it’s my favorite. I loved the first two, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve been waiting to see Chloe and Sawyer get together since I first met them two books ago. There’s something so satisfying when a couple you’ve been watching and hoping for over the course of a few books finally get together—plus who doesn’t love a slow, long, tense, smoldering Ha cha cha?
If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know I’m not a typical romance reader. But Jill Shalvis had me at Potato Chip. Yup, you heard me: Give me a heroine with a little junk in her trunk and a bag of chips and you got me. That was Maddie from the RITA-award winning, Simply Irresistible. In book two, The Sweetest Thing, teenage lovers reunite. (That is my all-time favorite trope, in any story. Must be because I married my high school sweetheart. But I digress.)
In the third installment, Head Over Heels, we finally get to see the romance we’ve been drooling over, waiting for with potato chip bated breath, to come to fruition. And Jill makes us wait even longer for said romance to be literally consummated. With every single page you feel the attraction, the sexual tension, and every hot as hell Ha cha cha moment, and there are lots of those.
That’s what I LOVE about this novel.
Chloe and Sawyer don’t drop the drawers in the first chap, or even the second or third. They take their time, building up something more than attraction, and it made my heart pound with every page.
You see, Sawyer, well Sawyer is all kinds of sex-on-a-stick with a badge and a conscience. Chloe is an adorable trouble seeking accident prone asthmatic who can barely run, let alone get laid, without reaching for her inhaler. It makes them a yin and yang kind of couple. In the very first chapter they get to under each other’s skin, pulling the other’s respective yang, so to speak. Chloe had been out the night before rescuing dogs from a fighting ring and got a little bumped up in the process. Sawyer, being the sheriff and all, is wise to her shenanigans.
...She didn’t understand it, but everything about him reminded her that she was a woman.
And that she hadn’t had sex in far too long. “Seems a little early, even for you,” she noted.
“Could say the same to you.”
Crap. Crap, she’d underestimated him. He was onto her, and the nerves quivered in her belly...Sawyer moved before she could, blocking her escape. His hips wedged between her legs, one hand on her thigh, the other on her opposite ankle, holding her in place.
“Romantic,” she said dryly, even as her heart began to pound. “But I should get breakfast first, don’t you think?”
“You’re bleeding through your sweatpants.” He shoved the sweats back up her legs to her knees, careful to avoid the wounds. His eyes fixed on the deep gashes, the only sign he felt anything being the bunching of his jaw.
She tried to pull free, but he was twice her size and tightened his grip on her thigh. “Hold still.” He looked over the injuries, expression grim. “Explain.”
“Um, I fell getting out of bed?”
He lifted his head and pinned her with his sharp gaze. “Try again, without the question mark.”
“I fell hiking.”
“Yeah,” he said. “And I have some swamp land to sell you.”
“Hey, I could be telling the truth.”
“You don’t hike, Chloe. It aggravates your asthma.”
Actually, as it was turning out, living aggravated her asthma.
We find out that sex is what really aggravates her asthma, that and the sight of Sawyer. Awww, poor Chloe! Sawyer is the perfect Alpha Male, the Protector, and Chloe always seems to be in need of saving. But, and this is another thing I love about this novel, this isn’t some clichéd damsel in distress trope. She is the one who saves Sawyer in the end, in all ways—mind, body, and spirit. And he gets Chloe to let her guard down long enough to finally let love in. He even researches ways for her to keep her asthma under control, especially, um, during some activity where lots of oxygen is used. You know, all that yang pulling action. Ha cha friggin’ cha!
Later, when they get to know each other better, Sawyer is perplexed at how sex really stirs up Chloe’s asthma. So much so that she has no sex life. Well, the only sex life she has is with her own personal Hand Solo. The one time Sawyer and Chloe fooled around a little she passed out from an attack. Not wanting that to happen again Sawyer did a little re-con. This scene is sexy, erotic, and heartwarming at the same time. Yes, it is all three.
The erotic part comes in when Sawyer asks Chloe to show him how she services herself. Chloe demonstrates her lightning fast hand motions; the reasoning for fast is that she can still get off before any attacks happen. Sawyer stops her, instructing her how to enjoy the pleasure of a slow build up. And that is the oh so sexy part. As the scene goes on we find out how Sawyer researched asthma and sex, how doing it slow allows for pass out free climactic experiences. That’s the heartwarming sigh. How amazing this guy is. All he does for his damsel in orgasmic distress. He thinks of her needs first, her safety, her pleasure.
“Oh no, you don’t.” Gripping her hips, he held her still. “I want you to stay with me this time.”
“I’m with you,” she promised. “All the way with you, my lungs are good, see?” She inhaled deep as she could and let it out.
“Good. Keep doing that, keep breathing,” he ordered softly. I’ll do the rest.” Biceps flexing, he lifted her up and then allowed her to sink onto him, and exquisite pleasure washed through her as he slid home.
“Your pace,” he said. He sounded a little rough and strained, but his hands loosened their grip on her.
Her pace. Normally she’d kick into gear, desperate to get to the finish before it was too late and she couldn’t. But he’d already proven that she didn’t have to rush. So for the first time, she set an achingly slow rhythm, letting herself get lost in his eyes as she moved on him, feeling each emotion as it shimmered through her.
Love or lust?
Hard to tell.
Sigh and swoon! Besides the hot sex there is also the actual romance part. The tough Sheriff and the spunky trouble maker, each convinced they don’t need the other, but unable to stop what’s blossomed between them: Love.
Shalvis gets a full HA CHA CHA from this girl. The HA is for the side splitting comedy that made me snort. The first CHA is for the thigh shifting, dog-ear this page for later with the hubby, sex scenes. And the final CHA, the heart-smiling, lift the book to my chest on the last page and maybe even sniffle a bit.