Sunday, January 9, 2022

Review: The Family You Make by Jill Shalvis

The Family You Make by Jill Shalvis
Series: Sunrise Cove, Book 1
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Romance 
The Family You Make cover
ISBN: 9780063025486
Release Date: January 11, 2022
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Jill Shalvis Reading Order

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.

The Family You Make is a sweet story with a healthy splash of romance. Jill Shalvis kicks off her Sunrise Cove series with a story of opening yourself of to love and connections, even though it’s frightening.

Jane has been a loner as long as she can remember. She was passed around like the family burden and now is a travelling nurse, never wanting to stay in one place and wear out her welcome. Levi is a square peg in a round hole in his family and he left Sunrise Cove to break away from that feeling. Both are in the Tahoe area for the season and when they’re trapped in a gondola in the middle of a massive snowstorm, Levi finds he can’t call his family to say goodbye when he thinks he’s going to die. Instead, he tells his mother (who has long wanted him to settle down) that Jane is his girlfriend. After they survive, Levi convinces Jane to agree to the ruse for a few weeks. What happens next is a story of letting down your walls and letting love – romantic and familial – in. There’s a lot of push-pull in Levi and Jane’s romance, mostly because she’s determined to leave and protect her heart. Nevertheless, Levi’s kindness and determination and Jane’s yearning heart and caring nature mean the two of them don’t stand a chance against falling in love.

The Family You Make also features a secondary romance between Jane’s best friend, Charlotte, and Levi’s best friend, Mateo. Despite the significantly fewer number of cupcakes in this storyline, Charlotte and Mateo were my favorite of the two romances and I wish they had been given just a bit more depth. Charlotte is a survivor who doesn’t want a relationship and is always masking her attraction to her neighbor and fellow doctor by bickering with him. The two are both natural caretakers and I loved seeing them give into what has clearly been between them for some time.

As you could likely glean from the title, romance isn’t the only important type of relationship in The Family You Make. Family by blood and by choice are both important to this story. I loved Charlotte and Jane’s relationship and how much attention Shalvis gave them; so much so that I wish Levi and Mateo had been given the same space (especially given their history). Levi’s family is a complicated mess even though they love one another, and they did have tendency to take over the page a bit. Whether or not this bothers you is really reader preference. There’s also Jane’s history which broke my heart and the resolution of which is equally complicated and tugs on the heartstrings. While each of these plot lines has merit, there were a few too many extra things thrown in during the last quarter of the book for everything to feel it got its due attention. Still, The Family You Make is an enjoyable read overall. It’s got a lot of heart and the characters are impossible not to root for and adore.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.