Love After All by Jaci Burton #Review

Love After All by Jaci Burton #ReviewLove After All by Jaci Burton

Series: #4 Hope
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Jove on March 31, 2015
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
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three-half-stars  

This series has been enjoyable as a nice change up from fast and furious and lots of drama. It’s so laid back and easy going with its small town setting, group of friends, the dog characters, and their personal barriers to romance.

In this book, Bash and Chelsea get their story. Both characters are very familiar secondary characters from the beginning of the series. While I liked this story, I wasn’t nearly as taken with it as others in the series.

As to being part of a series that is based on a core group of friends and their extended relations and acquaintances, I would suggest getting it in order. There are secondary story lines continuing from the other books (which I love the follow up on the other characters) and characters’ situations that are laced through the story a great deal. The reader would definitely get the idea that they were missing out.

The story opens with Chelsea determined to do something about her difficulty finding the right guy and getting on with having her own lasting relationship and family. People have told her that she’s too picky, but she will not settle just for the sake of settling and be miserable like her mom. Nope, her solution is to put together a list that will lead her to the perfect man. Unfortunately, Bash Palmer, bartender and so way far from being her ideal of the perfect guy, is the one who catches her eye. As hard as she tries to ignore chemistry and stick to going out with guys who meet the list requirements, it is Bash who is on her mind and makes her heart race.

Bash decided never again after his ex divorced him and left because he couldn’t be the guy she wanted him to be. He focused on his business goals and kept it casual where women are concerned. He’s happy for his friends finding love, but doesn’t think it’s for him. While he has a crazy ex-girlfriend who dumps a little dog on him and the fiery Chelsea Gardner letting him know that he doesn’t even hit one item on her list of the perfect guy. It’s a good thing he doesn’t think much of her silly list and decides not to fight the attraction they share.

As I said, this is an easy going story and I felt I already knew the characters well. This one didn’t quite have the impact of others in the series. It was cozy and sleepy with only a few blips on the scanner. I confess that I wanted to love it more, but ended up with just like. The device of the List wasn’t interesting enough a conflict for me and actually was the reason I didn’t like this one as much. I know the author cunningly made sure that Bash missed every single point on that list, but was still as delicious a guy as they come. However, I wonder if the author also made it so that while Chelsea was on the hunt for Mr. Perfect that the list also served to accentuate her own flaws at the same time.

The characters rated somewhat higher with me particularly Bash. He truly did have a reason to be reserved about getting into anything serious. His dad and he didn’t have a relationship so he was alone other than friends and his ex made it clear that he wasn’t good enough as he was. He’s not super ambitious or flashy so he knows he can’t compete. Bash, his bar, his cute little dog and his enjoyment of simple pleasures and being with his friends is a great guy. I was rooting for him as his good qualities made Chelsea’s perfect men seem stale by comparison because he was her match and he could create some sizzling heat between them with just a direct look or a sensual kiss. It didn’t hurt that he protected her, showed her how to let her hair down and have fun, and loved on a little orphaned dog that he never wanted.

“You know, Chelsea, sometimes you have to go with your gut. And sometimes what’s between a man and woman has nothing to do with a list, or what’s in your head.” He picked up her hand and laid it on his chest. “It’s what’s right here. It’s that feeling of chemistry, that sensation of ‘Wow, if I don’t kiss this person right now, I Might. Just. Explode.”

  1. 23-26 Bash from Love After All

Chelsea is on the high-strung side. She’s a girly girl with decided opinions and she can’t see a good thing even when he plants a perfect kiss right on her ready lips. Her Perfect Man list was amusing to her friends in the ‘oh isn’t the silly girl so cute with her little unrealistic list’ sort of way. Honestly, that list drove me a bit nuts because it really was silly. I get her motives for writing it- she’s frustrated, scared of getting with the wrong guy and she wants something good. And personally, I think it’s a very good idea to have standards like sharing the same values, having a strong moral compass, loyal, etc. but that wasn’t what this was.

I wasn’t enamored with Chelsea and I wanted to like her. She’s a high school math teacher, with good taste in food and clothes, she’s a good friend, and she’s goal-oriented, but since this story was focused not so much on those things as a list that pretty much set up every guy’s faults based on exterior packaging, she lost respect points. She earned them back as she set her list aside to give something real a chance.

I enjoyed catching up with all the other couples including the long scenes that were Logan and Des’ wedding and the South Padre Island trip with Molly and Carter. With each book, I was never quite ready to let go of the couple in the story so its great that I don’t have to as they are prominently show-cased in each new book. I look forward to Reid and Samantha’s story.

All in all, it was pleasant and good for a lazy afternoon cozy read. The setting, the cute animals, the circle of friends, and the low amount of drama are a hit Contemporary Romance fans who enjoy gently paced stories with some spicy romance scenes should give this small town romance series a try.

My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

DiscussionStarter

I’ve never given it much thought before and I’ve read other books that use a list as a device (usually for other purposes like bucket list or naughty list), but for some reason- and maybe it’s because of the stuff she put on it- I was actually angry at the presumption and immediate exclusivity of such a list. It was painful to read how someone who is genuinely interested, like Bash, would feel if they were rejected because of something like ‘doesn’t wear suits’, ‘hasn’t always been single’, ‘doesn’t have a 9-5 job’, ‘doesn’t eat at fancy restaurants or like wine’, and so on. So what do you think about lists for Perfection based on whether someone likes sports or fine wine or wears a suit? Don’t care? Don’t like it? Don’t mind?

Romance Roundabout #175 CR

Cliché Klatch #96 ‘there was no chemistry’

About Jaci Burton

Jaci Burton is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of over 50 books. She lives in Oklahoma and when she isn’t on deadline (which is often), she can usually be found wrestling with her uncooperative garden, wrangling her dogs, watching an unhealthy amount of television, or completely losing track of time reading a great book. She’s a total romantic and longs for the happily ever after in every story, which you’ll find in all her books.. Visit her website at www.jaciburton.com for excerpts, her blog and contest information.

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • Don’t get mad at me… I got a list too! Lol but it’s not rigid as Bash’s

    It’s not on paper or anything like that. I guess I can just be specific which probably explains why I’m still single. That said I hope I get lucky Like Bash.

    • Not going to get mad. LOL! Especially if your list leaves rooms for a Bash in your life. He’s a cutie!

      Actually, this is the first list that I didn’t like. I’m a list person. So this makes no sense that I didn’t like one.

  • I understand about lists….but when I start dating someone I just have a few questions I ask myself more focused on how he would treat me in the future rather than certain likes or dislikes.

    • That is a good plan and wise to find out if the person’s character is such that they will treat you well.

  • As much as I LOVE characters who won’t settle, the idea of a list including such shallow traits like “doesn’t wear suits.” Like for real… that’s what she bases her happiness on? Men who wear suits? She is obviously NOT going to end up a lonely for the rest of her life with men’s fashion being her deciding factors. *sarcasm*

    • See, that is what got me mad about her list too. There were no internal/character type items on her list. I think the list was meant to be a device to show her that she was looking at things all wrong, but it was still hard to see Bash get hurt b/c he was a nice guy who didn’t tick off any items on her list.

  • Lindy Gomez

    I enjoy small town romance, especially when a series has core characters at it’s center. Poor Bash! Chelsea would irritate me with her “perfect list!” I can understand having a list that has character traits like honest, caring, hard working, etc. but the shallowness of her list would bother me big time! Great Review Friend 🙂

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

    • Yeah, that was my reaction too. She is a really smart, worthwhile gal, but that LIST, sigh…

  • That’s cool you got to slow down and enjoy this book more than it sounds like the other ones. A good change of pace really helps catch the attention. Nice review missy!

    • These do have a down-home-these are all my friends type of feel. I never used to pick up contemporary romances, but now I like a few just for the change of pace and familiar tone.

  • I’ve never given mush thought to a bucket list or the perfect man list. I do like small town romance’s though.

    • Yeah, these are great small town romances.

  • LOL I’m so the opposite. I love lists when done and enjoyed it here. I’m a big list maker though and I have my person list too. Not the same kind as hers but still. Sorry to hear that side was a miss for ya.

    • Yeah, I’m a list gal too and I probably would have been okay with her having a list, but it was what was on her list that bugged me. Oh well, guess its one of those things for me. Not a biggie like some of the huge things you had listed in your recent post- just a little minor thing. I liked the rest of the book.

  • I’ve been getting into more small town books and Jaci Burton has been on my TBR list for
    ages. I don’t mind the list thing—I’m a huge list lover, lol—so I’m going to have to check this out.

    • Yeah, its a cute series and this is a cute story. The list thing is just one of my little niggles.

  • I love lists. I’m a list-addict, in fact, a complete junkie ! With colors, categories, beautifully re-written lists as soon as an item is crossed. But when it comes to emotions and feelings, I’m fully certain lists are absolutely useless, lol ! Maybe it was used as a comic device but turned out wrong, I’ve read other novels like this (Private practice by Samanthe Beck, for example) that were a lot more fun because the heroin couldn’t stick to said list 🙂

    • Oh, I like the lists too and yeah color coding just thrills my soul. You might be right about the list here. Not sure…humor is iffy for me being in step with it.

  • RO

    I try to keep lists in most instances lately so I don’t forget, (which I’m prone to do)but I’m with Red Iza on this one. Every time I see a love list on a Hallmark or Lifetime movie, near disaster follows. (lol) Great review! Hugs…Ro

    • Yeah, I survive on lists, too. LOL, I never thought about it, but yeah those movies have list people frequently.

  • This is why I mix in these type of books, they are mellow, cute, romantic and make me feel like I am visiting home

  • I love couples from previous books fleshed in nicely through a series. It is sad but I am sure there are real men and woman out in the world who have these extreme list like hers.

    • It is fun to have the group of friends stick around through each story in the series. Yeah, I’m sure the List is real and I get why that is, but I just wished that this list had some internal traits on it, too. 😉

  • The laid back pace sounds like a nice change from the more drama filled books. The dog on the cover caught my attention as I love books with animals. This sounds like a fun series, although i am sorry to hear you didn’t like this book as much as you hoped you would.

    I have read one book with a similar plot where the female has a certain idea/ list or plan in that case for how her dream man should look/be and she keeps trying to ignore the amazing guy in front of her that she actually falls in love with because he dosn’t fit her plan.
    It was a bit frustrating at times, she thought she should marry a doctor and just because the guy she fall in love with isn’t a doctor. there is a bit more behind it, but that’s the plot basically. I think that plot can be fun as it illustrates that you can’t plan for love and someone who sounds perfect on paper you might not have chemistry or love with.
    On the other hand it can be a bit annoying as the character who keeps wiht the plan or list might keep holding on to that for too long and almost dismisses the guy she falls in love with because he doens’t fit her plan or list. So I think this plot device can be both fun and annoying at the same time.

    • That is a good way to put it, Lola. It was annoying and fun at the same time. Fun because obviously her ‘perfect’ guy isn’t on her list, but annoying b/c she kept overlooking him to keep to her list.

      Yes, these are less drama-filled and cute. Each book has a dog companion for the hero, the heroine or both so that is always a hit. In this one, the hero keeps this little dog after his ex-girlfriend scared it to death and ditched it. He was so sweet to the little thing even though he never planned to get a dog let alone a little one.