Rumor Has It
Rumor Has It, the latest book in the Animal Magnetism series, echoes many of Ms. Shalvis’s Lucky Harbor novels. Like most of the more recent books in both series, Rumor has It is enjoyable, comforting, and congenial. A year ago, I’d have said there was a slight difference between the Animal Magnetism books and those set in Lucky Harbor. The former, set in Sunshine, Idaho, were a bit more bracing, with more troubled heroes heroes and less honeyed heroines. I’ve been fonder of these books.
So I was disappointed when the heroine of Rumor Has It, Kate Evans, turned out to be, as we say here south of the Mason-Dixon line, sweet as pie. And, like Kate, the formerly (more) fanged town of Sunshine has also become a kinder, gentler place. The word “sappy” came to mind far too many times whilst reading this book.
Kate is so gosh darn good, it’s as if Richard Carpenter had written “Close to You” with Kate in mind. Change the blue to green and stick red in front of gold and it’s Kate: “On the day that you were born/The angels got together and decided/ To create a dream come true/ So they sprinkled moondust in your hair/ Of gold and starlight in your eyes of blue. Ooo/Ooo.” This lovable paragon of womanhood is not just an elementary school teacher, she’s a perfect elementary school teacher who always knows precisely what to do and exactly how to reach and teach each and every student every moment of the day. It was just too much for me.
Pretty as a picture Kate has had the hots for her best friend Holly’s big brother, Griffin Reid, for forever. Not much has come of that lusting because Griffin has spent his adult life as far away from Sunshine as possible without working for the US Army.
Griffin has Daddy issues. His father, Donald Reid, owns the biggest ranch around. When Griffin was young his father and he shared nothing but anger and disappointment in the other. Griffin enlisted when he was eighteen and spent fourteen years serving his country. His military career came to an abrupt end when he was almost killed by an IED in Afghanistan. He’s come home to recover – he still suffers from severe migraines, hearing loss, and PTSD – and to attend Holly’s wedding to Griffin’s best friend Adam.
For reasons that usually occur only in romance novels Kate is a no-fly zone for Griffin. She’s his sister’s friend, her family needs her, she’s too good for him, he’s gotta be moving on, she deserves better. But she’s warm for his form and he can’t stop thinking about her luscious breasts and the really adorable way she spouts obscure scientific facts whenever she’s nervous. So he does what most of Ms. Shalvis’s heroes do: he feeds her hot kisses, whispers naughty thoughts in her ear, and, over and over again, almost has sex with her.
Kate, unsurprisingly, is totally up for heating up the sheets with Griffin. Even though he’s her best friend’s brother, her family needs her, he’s gonna be moving on, she should be with a man who loves her, she wants him bad. Even better, Griffin, like most of Sunshine, is someone she can take care of. If there is one thing Kate does better than being adorable, it’s being a nurturer.
Kate’s mom died in a car crash and since then her family – made up of her dazed father, rebellious teen sister, and weird but wonderful little brother – rely on her to make their world work. Her care-taking doesn’t stop there. She makes coffee every morning for her ex-boyfriend, a lovely guy who steals every scene he’s in. She gives bit of herself to her students. She’s aware she does this; in fact, she dreams of a future available to her if only she’ll take it. But she can’t quite let go of her conviction if she stops caring for her world, that world won’t fall apart.
Theirs is a match made in easy-peasy romance heaven. Griffin will to learn to trust himself and those who love him. Kate will learn loving herself is an integral part of a healthy life. In Ms. Shalvis’s extremely competent hands this certain love affair in in the charming, caring, and entirely fictional community of Sunshine is a winning, soothing read.
There is much to enjoy in this novel – the supporting characters are whimsical and add humor and pathos to the plot, the sex scenes are hilarious and hot, and the writing is assured.
Still, I wished for more.
But perhaps that’s just me. Those looking for an engaging, well written, funny, comforting love story and not much more will enjoy this book. And, let me say again, that despite my misgivings that prodigiously talented Ms. Shalvis could write more complex stories, I keep reading her work. It’s likely we both could do better. But we also could do worse than the enjoyable Rumor Has It. I give it a C+.