Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book Club: Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis

The best part of promoting this delightful book this week was learning how to type the word irresistible correctly the first time. Took a while, but I think I've got it. Who knew irresistible was one of my uh-oh words? Let me say that Jill had me in chapter 1 with salt and vinegar potato chips. If they didn't taste so yucky with Oreos, I would've brought some to this week's meeting. I agree with Jill's character Maddie: they do cure a WORLD of hurts. Not sure if it's the vinegar, the chips or the salt—perhaps all three—but they rank right up there with Oreos as one of my favorite food groups. Speaking of Oreos, I haven't seen Mr. Oreo today. Must rectify that... Anyway, about the book...

My co-hostess this week is Kris Gilson, who suggested this book and invited Jill to join us today. So, without further ado, here's Kris with some thoughts about the book and a couple of yummy-sounding recipes!

I loved reading Simply Irresistible. Jill’s books always have a great blend of humor and sweetness. Our heroine, Maddie, is just out of a bad relationship, her life is in the toilet, and she doesn’t want to be involved with any man. But she can’t help but gravitate toward Jax. I love those characters who, when they’re around that one person, they just can’t think straight or keep their resolve.

As the story progresses, we learn more about Jax and how he found himself in the position of turning into a type of person he didn’t want to be and made some serious changes. I couldn’t help but fall in love with him, too! He is such a sweet, caring, and protective man, always helping out those in need and giving back to his community.

My favorite scene is when Jax is on the jet ski to bring in the shrimp boat parade and it is freezing out. The person who guesses the right number of shrimp gets to kiss the Mayor (Jax) and a bunch of townspeople submit Maddie’s name mulitple times in an effort to get her to win. She is mad at Jax from a fight the previous night, but kissed him anyway and then whispers that it could have been Lucille (one of the older women in town) kissing him. I just thought that was a funny scene and Maddie saying Lucille could have won in her place was a pretty laugh-out-loud ending.

I also really liked it when Jax was chopping wood for Maddie and she makes him go shirtless just so she can ogle him. Now that left me with some smokin’ hot images!

Maddie had known that Jax was keeping stuff from her and she shows her anger and hurt at him for doing that. But, when all the secrets come out, she seems more easily forgiving of her sister. I thought that she should have been a little angry at her sister for at least a little bit. What did you think: was it typical of Maddie’s character to easily forgive her sister or would you have expected her to show her anger and hurt similar to how she reacted with Jax? Let's hear what you thought of the book!

Because I rarely entertain and being a part of this book club is very special to me, I’m making my favorite goat cheese pizza. AND of course, in honor of both Marie and Jill, what would this book club be without cookies??? The triple chocolate cranberry oatmeal cookies are fabulous with plenty of chocolate (did you see the word “triple”!!!), but also some cranberry and oatmeal so you can convince yourself they’re HEALTHY!!!

Shiitake and Chanterelle Pizzas with Goat Cheese Dough
• 2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour or bread flour
• 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour or bread flour
• 3 tablespoons vital wheat gluten flour or bread flour
• 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water (105°F to 115°F)
• 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
• 3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
• Additional unbleached all purpose flour (for kneading and shaping)

Topping
• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for brushing
• 6 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, thinly sliced
• 6 ounces fresh chanterelle mushrooms, thinly sliced
• 1 cup (packed) coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese
• 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 6 ounces chilled soft fresh goat cheese, coarsely crumbled
• 2 tablespoons sliced fresh chives
For dough:
Combine all flours, coarse salt, and sugar in processor. Stir 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water and yeast in 2-cup measuring cup. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes. Stir in 3 tablespoons oil. With machine running, pour yeast-oil mixture through feed tube. Blend until ball of slightly sticky dough forms, about 1 minute.
Transfer dough to lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if very sticky, about 5 minutes. Rub with 1/2 tablespoon oil; place in resealable 1-gallon plastic bag. Seal bag. Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled, about 2 hours. Open bag; punch down dough in bag. Reseal. Chill overnight, punching down occasionally. Divide into thirds. DO AHEAD Wrap pieces separately; freeze up to 1 week. Thaw 2 pieces in refrigerator before continuing. Let 2 wrapped pieces stand at room temperature 1 hour before shaping.
For topping:
Heat 3 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; sprinkle with salt. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. do ahead Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and chill.
Sprinkle 2 large sheets of parchment with flour. Roll out 2 dough pieces, each on separate parchment sheet, to 10-inch rounds, letting dough rest a few minutes if springing back. Brush with oil; sprinkle each with 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/3 cup Parmesan. Top with mushrooms, then dot with goat cheese. DO AHEAD Slide pizzas on parchment onto baking sheets; cover with plastic. Chill up to 4 hours. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
Position 1 rack in bottom third and1 rack in top third of oven; place heavy baking sheet on each and preheat oven to 450°F for at least 30 minutes. Slide 1 pizza on parchment onto each hot baking sheet. Bake 8 minutes; reverse sheets. Bake pizzas until crusts are brown at edges and on bottom, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with chives.

Triple-Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries

2 ounces milk chocolate or white chocolate, chopped (for drizzling)

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture and oats and stir until blended. Stir in all chocolate chips and cranberries.

Drop batter by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until edges are light brown, about 16 minutes. Cool on sheets 5 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool completely.

Stir chopped milk chocolate in top of double boiler until melted and smooth. Using small spoon, drizzle melted chocolate over cookies in zigzag pattern. Let stand until milk chocolate sets, about 1 hour. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.)

27 comments:

Kara C said...

Good morning, Marie and Kris,
I'm so glad you chose this book for this week's group (good call,Kris). It's been at the top of my TBR list for ages, but life kept getting in the way. It was the perfect book for me this weekend - full of laugh out loud moments, wonderfully human characters, and the banter between sisters was priceless. How could you read the first chapter, with the first meeting between Maddie and Jax, and not fall in love? So funny... Maddie and her love of food means she would fit right into the group! When she compared his eyes to the color of the candy bar she'd had for lunch. LOL!
I've read several of Jill's books in the past, but rushed out (since book 2 of this series is not out yet), and got my hands on one I had not read. I feel certain Simply Irresistible (your right, Marie, that word is tough) will be a reread for me. :)

Marie Force said...

Hey Kara,
I agree that it was a perfect escape book--just what I needed after finishing Fatal Consequences! :-) Loved Maddie and Jax and the interaction between the three sisters--bless your heart! My favorite line: We could use some chlorine in our family gene pool (or something close to that). Looking forward to what everyone else has to say!

I'm reading next week's book now--WOWSA! It's good!!!!

Aly said...

I have to work but figured I would drop in for a moment to say that I really liked Jax! Definitely thought he was hot and would not throw him out of bed!

Now that I have added that oh so insightful opinion, I must get back to work! I will come back later! :)

Mary G said...

Hi Marie & Kris
I loved this book so much. I love the little wisdoms that start each chapter.

I found this short little perfect review that says it all:
Loved it. It was funny, touching, sweet, and hot all at the same time. As only Shalvis can do.

Not too many books have that combo. I love that Jill's books can make me laugh & cry or laugh & get hot at the time time.

I'm pretty sure there was a washing machine scene that stole the show.

Marie Force said...

Aly, LOL on not kicking Jax out of bed. We ought to make that a Book Club standard: would you kick the hero out of bed? If not, he's a winner!

Mary, I too loved the bits of maternal wisdom at the opening to each chapter. That was a lovely way to develop the mother's character. That's a great review you posted. I am sure Jill loved that!

Hope said...

Good morning everyone...I absolutely loved this book. The banter with the sisters is what dragged me in. Yes, Yes...Jax is hot and their chemistry is awesome, but the relationship between 3 VERY different sisters was great. Being I don't have any sisters, I got to live vicariously through these 3. I agree with Aly though, Jax isn't one I would kick out of my bed :) I REALLY loved the beginning of each chapter, we got words of wisdom from Phoebe. My favorite was "obeying the rules might be smart, but it's not nearly as much fun". I have read a few of Jill's other books, but this is by far my favorite series of hers. I can't wait for "The Sweetest Thing" in April.

Marie Force said...

From Jill (she had trouble logging in)


Aw, what a lovely thing to wake up to this morning. Now I will have the warm fuzzies all day long.

And a craving for Oreos.

First off let me say, I STILL can't freaking spell Irresistible. I just did it wrong 3 times in a row.

Thunk.

Second, THANK YOU for reading my book, all of you. I'm thrilled. I'll try to stop in later. I'm supposedly finishing book 3 today. But if my editor reads this, then OF COURSE I'M FINISHING TODAY.

Laurie D. said...

Good morning, ladies!

So pleased hearing how much everyone is enjoying SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE - I adore Jill and can't think of a single book of hers that wasn't great fun. I always think her heroines would make such good friends. And her heroes? Well, being friends with them isn't the first thing that comes to mind. lol

Thanks for sharing the recipes - they look great!

I hope everyone has a great day!

krisgils33 said...

Hi guys,
Just made it back in from NOLA. I can't believe I forgot to mention the washing machine scene!!! That was so funny. I did love the interaction between the 3 sisters and how completely different they are, too. I really am looking forward to the next installment.

oklanannie said...

Hi everyone! Gotta agree with all the great things said already about Jill's new book. For me, the title sums it up perfectly, SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE!!! As I read the book, I couldn't get Robert Palmer's voice or the tune of the same named song out of my head!! I'm still humming.

This was probably one of the best contemporary romances I've read in way too long. A great sister act infused with emotions, fatastic characters, humor, sizzle and a great setting. I loved all the quick, witty banter. Jill Shalvis has written a perfect start to her new Lucky Harbor series. I can't wait for the next one.

Mary G picked the fav scene for me, as well. I'm still laughing out loud everytime I put a load of laundry in the washing machine!

DEFINITELY A REAL FEEL GOOD READ!!

Thanks for sharing the new recipes -- they sound fantastic.

angelaares said...

I loved, loved, LOVED Simply Irresistible. And yes, I had to be reading the word as I was typing it. I loved how unpretentious Jax was, how intuititive, caring, oh so very hot and oh so very fictional! lol Loved all the scenes mentioned. The washing machine bit was great. I've never tried it, personally. ;) But the way Maddie so freely admitted what she was doing, then Jax left her to it ... loved it.

As far as Maddie being more angry with Jax than her sister ... I think that's a combination of factors at work. It's harder for Maddie to trust men because of the collosal jerk she was with previously and Jax seemed to fit that mold, however briefly. It breathed life into her fears. Her sister's secret had so obviously devastated her and she's a woman and her SISTER. Really, how could Maddie do anything but forgive her? Besides, it's toward the end of the book and showing Maddie's deep emotional growth.

Did I mention I LOVED this book and CANNOT wait for the next one?

Mary G said...

Oklanannie
Loved your comment. You said it so much better than I did.

Kara C said...

Marie, 'Bless your heart'. LOVED that. If you only knew how many times that phrase is used in this neck of the woods, and for the very reason Tara would say it. LOL!
Favorite line, huh? How about "She's drunk dialing contractors. Someone should stop her." :)

angelaares said...

I forgot to mention my favorite scene. I guess it would be scenes though. Every time Maddie went into the bar. Those were great. The steamy chemistry, her losing fight with the pull of attraction... overall, I loved her clumsiness. Perfection! Truly, simply irristible!

I adore Jill Shalvis' books!

Ronlyn said...

This is still in my TBR pile...along with way too many books, but I'm moving it up. How fun!

Marie Force said...

Such a great convo today, ladies. Loving all the favorite scenes and thoughts on the book! Everyone loves a feel-good contemporary. Well, everyone who loves Oreos that is....

Johanna R Jochum said...

I loved this book! I had never read Jill Shalvis before and now she is my new favorite author! I'm making a list of all her books to hunt down now! I loved Jax and Maddie but Maddie was awesome! I could relate to her shyness and her being a klutz! I loved how she grew in the story and overcame all her fears!
I can't wait to read the rest of the series and I'm really looking forward to Chole's story! I love her spunk!
BTW my favorite line is "...So you collect porn." How funny is that! If I would of been drinking it would of shot out my nose, I was laughing so hard!!!!

Jill Shalvis said...

Have to say, it was fun revisiting some of my favorite scenes too!

But really I came back for the oreos...

Marie Force said...

LOL, Jill! The Oreos are pretty hard to resist!

Sabrina @ about happy books said...

I also loved this book, especially the dynamics between the three sisters were fascinating and great.
Right from the first page on I was enjoyed the story and how Maddie got back her strength.
At first I didn't like the cover, now I think it's still a bit plain but also pretty.
I'm already super excited for the next book in the series.

Judy F said...

HI everyone. Jill's books are always a fav for me. I loved this book. Maddie's relationship with her sisters is similar to my role in the family. Always the peacemaker and wants everyone happy.

I adored Jax and Maddie together.

I loved the scene when they were in the attic. smoking hot.

Jill Shalvis said...

I meant to say that book two, The Sweetest Thing, comes out 3/29/11 and I have an excerpt up on my blog today:

http://www.jillshalvis.com/blog

Then book three is Head Over Heels, which I am finishing tomorrow if it kills me, comes out in 10/11.

krisgils33 said...

Thanks, Jill, for stopping in (even if it was just for the cookies!). March seems a long way away, but at least I know what will get me through the tail end of winter!!!!

Aly said...

I was just wondering...virtual Oreos don't count right? :)

Vivi said...

Sorry, late to the party (just got off work). I did bring mint Oreos though :p. I agree with Marie and Kara C. The first chapter with the salt and vinegar chips and the "meet cute" totally sucked into the book.

I love reading books that feature decent, down-to-earth characters. Jax and Maddie epitomize that. I can't wait to read the rest of the series.


Vi

Marie Force said...

Virtual Oreos have NO calories so STUFF YOUR FACES WITH DOUBLE STUFF, Ladies!!!!! :-)

Marie Force said...

Such great comments and wonderful visitors today! Thanks to everyone who came out to party with us! Remember, we're a day later next week: Friday, Nov. 26 with Extreme Exposure by Pamela Clare and let me tell you, this is one awesome read! You will love it! Can't wait to see everyone then when Ronlyn Howe will be my co-hostess! If you have a book you'd like to suggest for a future date, send me a note at marie@marieforce.com and we'll get you on the schedule!