BOOK REVIEW: The Family You Make (Sunrise Cove #1) by Jill Shalvis

BOOK REVIEW: The Family You Make (Sunrise Cove #1) by Jill ShalvisThe Family You Make (Sunrise Cove #1)
by Jill Shalvis
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Synopsis:

Beloved New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis begins a new series—Sunrise Cove—set near beautiful Lake Tahoe, with a heartwarming story of found family and love.

During the snowstorm of the century Levi Cutler is stranded on a ski lift with a beautiful stranger named Jane. After strong winds hurl the gondola in front of them into the ground, Levi calls his parents to prepare them for the worst…but can’t bring himself to say goodbye. Instead, wanting to fulfill his mother’s lifelong wish, he impulsively tells her he’s happily settled and Jane is his girlfriend—right before his phone dies.

But Levi and Jane do not.

Now Levi’s family is desperate to meet “The One.” Though Jane agrees to be his pretend girlfriend for just one dinner, she’s nervous. After a traumatic childhood, Jane isn’t sure she knows how to be around a tight-knit family that cherishes one another. She’s terrified, and a little jealous. But an unexpected series of events and a host of new friends soon show Jane that perhaps this is the life she was always meant to have.

As Jane and Levi spend more time together, pretend feelings quickly turn into real ones. Now all Jane has to do is admit to herself she can’t live without the man she’s fallen in love with and the family she has always dreamed of.

Review:

The Family You Make had joy, heartache, laughter and hope laced throughout the pages.  With a story that was filled with richness and depth, intricate characters and a happily ever after, this book had it all.  Fans of adult romance, fake dating and emotional stories should definitely add this book to their tbr!

“I didn’t want you to get hurt,” he said quietly, sucking in a breath when she applied pressure.
She didn’t want to react to his statement, but she honestly couldn’t remember when anyone had done such a thing for her, stranger or otherwise.

The beginning of this story had me glued to every single word.  As someone who snowboards on the weekends and lives in the Lake Tahoe area where this story takes place I now have a new fear of gondolas LOL!  But the beginning completely pulled me in and I was obsessed.  With Jane and Levi finding themselves in a life or death situation on a gondola, I was beyond nervous for them.  And even injured, Levi tried to crack jokes and I couldn’t stop smiling.  So when Levi called his family to say goodbye, he couldn’t do it.  He told them instead that he was finally happy and had a girlfriend named Jane.  But then Jane and Levi ended up surviving, and their lives would never be the same again.

His laugh floated down to her. “Thoughts you weren’t afraid of anything.”
Turned out, she was afraid of plenty, including how just looking at him could change the rhythm of her heart.

Jane was the queen of running.  She didn’t ever stick around long enough to form attachments, or for her to be told she wasn’t wanted anymore.  Which suited her perfectly because that was how her childhood went.  She was shuffled from one place to the next and it hardened her heart.  So going into this story, I’m so glad Sam @ WLABB told me to have patience with Jane.  Because she desperately needed that from not only those in her life, but from us the reader too.  Her past had damaged her, and she didn’t see herself worthy in others eyes.  Her walls were impossibly high.  But as the story started to unfold, Jane realized that others did care for her, and want her in their lives.  That she had formed friendships with Charlotte, Cat and even Levi.  She just wasn’t sure what to do with that, especially when it came to Levi.

“Maybe another time.”
“Why?”
“You’re not ready.”
And then he walked off. She found herself watching him go. “When will I be ready?”
He turned and caught her staring at his ass, and the smile hit his mouth. “Maybe sooner than I thought.”

I loved Levi right away.  Even when he was fighting for consciousness in the beginning, he cracked me up.  He was so charming, but like Jane, he also felt alone.  Levi was different from his family.  Even though they loved him deeply, he hadn’t ever fit in.  And with a heartache past, he tried to distance himself from those that cared for him.  So Levi had a lot of healing to do too.  But being back in Sunrise Cove, he started to find life again and mend relationships with his mom, dad, sister and even an old best friend.  I loved every single thing about Levi.  He was patient, kind, sweet, caring, thoughtful and considerate.  Sigh.

She put her hands on her cheeks. “Are you always such a flirt?”
“No.”
“So why me?”
He smiled at her. “Because when I’m with you, I feel like . . . me.”
Everything inside her softened at that.

 I couldn’t stop smiling when Levi and Jane were together.  They were both outcasts in a way, and understood one other.  And with a life or death situation pushing them to a friendship, I loved watching how they progressed.  They were comfortable around each other and it all felt so seamless.  So when they continued “dating”, to keep up the lie to Levi’s family, I absolutely loved it!  Throw in Levi’s in your face family that pulled some funny antics, and friends that cared deeply for them, this story rounded out so well.  There was a side story about Jane’s good friend, Charlotte, who she stayed with when she was in Tahoe.  And their neighbor/coworker Mateo, who had a tie into Levi’s life.  I absolutely loved their story too and was rooting for them to have a HEA since we got a few povs from them also.

“This is just a kiss,” she informed him, her voice annoyingly soft and breathy.
This had him laughing softly against her as he nibbled her lower lip, then sucked it into his mouth. Someone gasped. Her. Dammit.

Redemption in yourself comes in so many forms.  Whether it was Levi, Jane to even Charlotte, they all needed that desperately.  The Family You Make showed their emotional path to healing, friendship and love.  This story was an emotional journey, I cried multiple times, and it took some longer than others to get there.  But it ended with a fabulous epilogue years in the future and I closed the book oh so happy.  I just love happily ever afters, and this book too!

She lifted her head again, suddenly having trouble drawing air into her lungs. “But you promised. You promised not to fall for me.”
His gaze met hers, his own warm and loving. “Some promises are meant to be broken.”

PS The peaches…..I was dying laughing and had tears pouring down my face.  Peyton, Levi’s niece, is the cutest!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the author. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

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6 Comments

  1. Sam@wlabb

    I loved Levi too, and his family were such busybodies, but they meant well and I adored them. So glad you enjoyed this too!
    Sam@wlabb recently posted…Isn’t It Romantic?My Profile

    • Jen

      Yes! His family oh my gosh, the things they did lol! But they loved him and just wanted the best for him. Me too, another hit by Shalvis yay!

  2. Tanya @ Girl Plus Books

    This was my first from Shalvis and I enjoyed it so much. Like you, I fell for Levi from the start. He was such a good man! He and Mateo both. I loved that there were actually two love stories happening. And wasn’t that epilogue just wonderful? 🙂
    Tanya @ Girl Plus Books recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Most Recent AdditionsMy Profile

    • Jen

      Yesssss, Levi was the best! I loved Mateo also, I could easily have read a novella about him and his love life if it wasn’t included in this book. And epilogues are like the sprinkles, whip cream and chocolate syrup on a sunday, they are the absolute best!

  3. Sophie

    That would have been amazing to read a book happening where you live!
    Sophie recently posted…Most recent addition to my book collection! Top Ten Tuesday 01/11/2022My Profile

    • Jen

      Yes! I love books that are centered around Tahoe ♥!

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