Ms. James had me at New Zealand. I don’t know what it is about New Zealand or Australia. Both countries are on my bucket list but I think New Zealand would wins hands down in the contest of what country to see first. Maybe I’ve watched too many House Hunters International. The scenery is breathtaking and the way of life is slower. Ms. James vivid descriptions of the country, culture and national sport just make me that much earnest in getting down there to visit. I want to go to the beach, watch a rugby match and see the countryside. She paints a picture of New Zealand that is not hard to imagine. The story is realistic, poignant and heartwarming. The setting is a character in the book.
Hannah, oh Hannah. How I wanted to throttle you at times, hug you at times and cry with you at times. I understood her feeling of inadequacy in herself. Dealing with family issues, an ungrateful boss and a social life that just isn’t there, how was she supposed to truly open up to Drew. She didn’t know how; closed herself off for so long. When she decided to take the trip, she never imagined that she would meet someone, let alone fall for him? It was only three weeks for a well deserved vacation; not a lifetime. For this reader, Hannah was a well thought out character. Yes, she could be stubborn but that was one of her coping skills. In the end, Hannah realized what she wanted and went for it. Good girl!
Drew was perfect. Yes, perfect. He played rugby, fished, loved his family and his country. And he loved Hannah. What more could a girl want, right? Well, in a romance novel the hero usually has a flaw or two and they are big. Obstacles to overcome, right? What’s his truest black moment in the book? I know what it is, but you will need to read the book to find out. In this book, Drew is the rare hero that you instantly care about from the beginning. He’s simple (in a good way) man, motivated in his actions toward Hannah and lord, he could probably benchpress a small car. Ooooo, how I love rugby players for that alone. I know that most readers want their hero flawed in some way, will I don’t. Yes, I admit it. Sometimes, I want the hero to be perfect and Drew was perfect. Not ever hero in a book needs to be an a**hole for half the book before we really get to know him.
The introducation of the secondary characters are rich, understated and move the story. They are not just window dressing; sounding boards or lackeys. Hannah’s sister and brother deserve their own happiness one day and I hope I get to read about it. *wink* The scenes at the family farm with Drew’s parents are poignant and heartwarming. It was also nice to see a “normal” family with a great relationship with their superstar son. No airs, no upgrades to their lifestyle; it was home, Drew’s refuge from the world of rugby.
Just This Once in a nutshell, is a story of one scared American woman that decides for once to something for herself. Take the bull by the horns and live; drink too much; buy shoes she can’t afford; and have a fling. When she meets the perfect man for her, she throws up road block, after road block, after road block. Our hero is determined though and manages to break down the walls that she has built. Its sexy, funny, dialogue driven and I swear I could feel the breeze off the beach. By the way, how did this sand get in my shoes?
*I received this book as part of a blog tour for a fair and honest review*