by Jill Shalvis
Series: Animal Magnetism #6
Published by Berkley on April 7, 2015
Format: ARC, Ebook
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I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley.
Darcy Stone is game for anything — except sexy Navy veteran and physical therapist A.J. Colten, the guy who'd rejected her when she'd needed him most. Now the shoe is on the other foot and he needs her to play nice and help him secure grants for his patients. Unfortunately, Darcy can't refuse. She needs the money to fund her passion project: rescuing S&R dogs and placing them with emotionally wounded soldiers.
A.J. admits it — Darcy is irresistible. But he's already been battle-scarred by a strong-willed, vivacious, adventurous woman like Darcy, and he's not making the same mistake twice—until he and Darcy are forced to fake a relationship. Growing closer than they'd ever imagined possible, Darcy and AJ have to ask themselves: how much between them is pretend? What's the real thing? And where does it go from here?
Still the One is Jill Shalvis’s latest installment in the Animal Magnetism series. I’m a big fan of Shalvis, but I didn’t love this book as much as I had hoped I would.
The story is about Darcy, who used to be a travel writer before she was in a bad car accident. The accident put her in a wheelchair temporarily and halted her career.
Darcy’s physical therapist is AJ, for whom Darcy has always held a torch but who has been off limits since he’s Darcy’s brother’s best friend. (Her brother is Wyatt from a previous book in the series.) After her accident, Darcy made a move on AJ but it didn’t end well when he shut her down. Needless to say, it’s been slightly awkward between the two of them. There’s even more tension between them since they’re working together on Darcy’s recovery.
Darcy is probably one of my least favorite heroines from any of Shalvis’s books. She’s extremely stubborn, which is fine to a point, but she repeatedly shuts people out rather than letting them see her vulnerability. She’s a good-hearted person with a huge weakness for dogs–she matches therapy dogs with people who need them, mostly veterans like AJ. But her repeated obstinacy toward AJ really frustrated me.
As their relationship progresses, Darcy keeps telling herself that it’s purely physical for AJ and that he couldn’t possibly care for her the way that she does. Well, why not talk to him and find out? There are several instances where Darcy pushes AJ away when he attempts to communicate with her. Their misunderstandings could have been avoided so easily if she would have just opened up to him. I know that’s part of the plot because of the hardships that Darcy has faced–first with absent parents and then her accident–but as a reader, I found her behavior exasperating.
On the other hand, AJ is a rock, even when the book moves into love triangle territory with Darcy’s friend, Xander. Even though I knew that Darcy and AJ would end up together, I thought the inclusion of Xander was unnecessary. I also thought it was unfair and selfish of Darcy not to make it utterly clear to Xander where their relationship stood. Xander has been holding out hope that Darcy would return his romantic feelings one day. I think that Darcy should have made it clearer to him that it was never going to happen.
And then there’s the matter of AJ having his heart broken in the past by his ex. So while Darcy has her issues with intimacy, so does AJ, to an extent. But I feel that he was able to overcome his issues more easily than Darcy.
“You’re strong, one of the strongest women I know, and that makes it hard for you to let others in, but it’s worth it, I promise you.”
Overall, I have mixed feelings about this one. It’s not a terrible book and maybe the conflict wouldn’t bother someone else as much. But for me, I’m not used to this much drama and angst in a Shalvis book. And in comparison to Shalvis’s Lucky Harbor series, I’d say that series is much more solid than the Animal Magnetism books. There’s just something extra special about the Lucky Harbor series, which is why I’m glad that I haven’t finished reading that series yet.
On its own, Still the One is a decent romance, but I can’t help comparing it to the other books I’ve read by Shalvis. This one definitely isn’t her strongest book, but that’s not to say that it’s a bad one; it’s not. It’s just not my favorite.
Rating: 3 stars