It is incredibly rare for me to read novellas, but I decided to give this one a try. It’s a formula romance, nice and short, I was glad that it wasn’t any longer. Due to the exceptionally high number of books that follow this outline, I’m guessing that a lot of readers will enjoy this little story.
It has a typical beginning with a sweet, klutzy girl who walks in on her cheating fiance then sprints away to start a new life, and her long-lost love who will nail anything in a skirt and has to drop the f-bomb so many times. I’m not opposed to swearing, but like other stories, he was the only one with a potty mouth; as if it’s a requirement for being a man. Both are fairly predictable and that’s not necessarily bad, just copies of so many other guys and girls found in smut.
The heart and soul of most romance novels is miscommunication that leads to someone running away without even trying to talk to the other person. Read the blurbs on Amazon and three-quarters of them start with her returning to town where she never thought she’d see him again and how he left her broken, but she’s determined to stand strong. They never do, though. I’m not sure what that says about women in general, but I feel like it’s become a stereotype that we are always wearing our trainers. This book is no exception. Of course, years later, our heroine returns due to a mystical coincidence only to find out that he is even hotter and all the ladies in town have taken a turn in his bed. He is still angry that she ran without any explanation, but he never contacted her family in an attempt to locate her, so I have to wonder just how much he loved her. But if he had looked for her, the story wouldn’t exist, because it’s all based on the simple lack of communication; she thinks he cheated, but what she really saw was some hot-to-trot teenager trying desperately to get his attention.
The story is full of flashbacks that are crammed into the story, often in the middle of a thought. They are not separated from the story, but more of a sudden memory tossed into a paragraph. It’s the basic outcast girl finding friendship with the only popular hottie with a soul. The flashbacks aren’t bad and without them the ending wouldn’t be possible, because that is what it is based on: the happy place they found together as children. The flashbacks simply felt forced and out of sync.
Natalie is the sweet, basic heroine. She has a few funny moments, like when she is trying to run and hide from the hotter, older love of her life, Colin, and she pulls down an entire row of mannequins. A couple of other moments like this were rays of sunshine. She also uses filler words, like axe and Morgan Freeman, instead of swearing. It was supposed to be cute, and to a degree it was, but the groundwork wasn’t laid for it. I was very confused when she repeatedly said axe. I kept speculating as to why she referenced Morgan Freeman all the way up until Colin remarked upon this habit she has of never swearing. Apparently, she never outgrew it and eventually I just ignored it. The book is brief, so she wasn’t very deep, but she perfectly followed the cookie-cutter heroine outline of a woman who cannot take care of herself and must be saved by her hero over and over again.
Colin follows the cookie-cutter mold as well. He’s resentful that she bailed on him at the prom and raced across the country the same night, all without a word. It’s always a wonder at how they disappear before the sun comes up. Perhaps she already had her bags packed and a sizeable nest egg for a seventeen-year old stored away, just in case she needed it. The woman is a master of running and does it repeatedly. Back to Colin, instead of getting right down to it and having an open conversation about the hows and whys, he goes out of his way to make her uncomfortable. Of course, they work at the same place; the standard is that they are thrown together so that conflict can ensue and the lack of communication can continue. She ran away from her last problem and travelled back across the country to a job with a desk right next to his. Unfortunately, she didn’t know that until her first awkward day, but if she had she probably would have run somewhere else. So, he decides to jeopardize her job, by constantly changing meetings without telling her, stealing her memos, and giving her the wrong calendar. I was not impressed when it got to the point where her boss yelled at her in front of everyone that he’s about to fire her. It was not a chivalrous moment for Colin, but he makes up for it by carrying her around in his arms when she can’t stand on her own two feet, be it an excess of alcohol or damsel in distress. This happens more than once, so his hero status is secured.
Her Gamms provided most of the entertainment, but wasn’t in the story much. While Natalie isn’t allowed to swear and is reprimanded when she stubs her toe and lets a bad word slip, Gamms is allowed to talk as dirty as she wants. It makes sense that the eighty-year old woman who does aerobics naked and is proud of it when Colin and Natalie walk in, has roosters that she nicknames Cocksucker. She’s flighty and crude, with moments of intense wisdom that felt a bit out of character.
Daisy deserves a paragraph of her own. I was extremely confused when she was first introduced. Colin spoke as if she was dumber than a doornail and she was an inconvenience forced upon him. Then, the next thing I know, she is a composed, smart woman who keeps the entire office running. Suddenly, Colin views her as a sister. Daisy’s relationship with her boss Ferris, who is severely bipolar and has only a few painful scenes where he is verbally abusive to her and Natalie, is just as obvious as Colin’s longing for Natalie. The affair is more than hinted at, it is crystal clear.
The few other side characters were barely mentioned. I would have enjoyed more interaction with her supposed best friend Lexie, who just so happens to own the bakery that makes the scones Daisy is addicted to. Colin likes to bring them in every day to make her happy. Sadly, Natalie moves back to California and makes no effort to visit her best friend. The sweet, insightful BFF only appears when Colin calls her and invites her for a surprise girls day at the spa. She showed signs of promise, but her scones saw more action than she did.
The book was predictable from start to finish with all the characters playing their part. The lovers have been apart for many years, yet they are still the same people they were when they were teenagers. The happily ever after ending was not a surprise and for the most part, I could see everything coming from a mile away. Short stories and novellas are hard to write. There is a limited amount of space to tell a complete story, while providing readers with strong characters and a solid foundation. The great ones are few and far between. This one succeeded in being a lot like other romance novellas, including a very public spectacle where he tries to devour her and another where she gets plastered and he has to come to the rescue. Those moments were semi-cute, but typical scenes aimed at swiftly moving the story along. Even the crazy grandmother was expected and not particularly unique. For romance readers looking for a quick fix, this could be the book for you; it was light and fluffy. That said, it was definitely not my cup of tea, but I strongly believe that there are a lot of women who would enjoy this.
Now, for the rating:
- Genre and general reading age – romance and for a mature audience.
- Level of sexuality – lots of swooning and a sex scene that was fairly good. It had some of the cliche words and moments, but it was still sweet and personable.
- Was there graphic language? Just his token guy f-bombs and her one moment of weakness when she almost broke her toe. That is one circumstance that warrants some langauge and she gets yelled at by her grandmother.
- Did I cry? Eyes were dry the entire way through.
- Level of character development – it’s a novella and the characters were shallow. With more time and more pages, they could have been better.
- Did I laugh? I chuckled the first time Gamms called her rooster cocksucker, but after that it got a bit old. Her embarrassing moment in the department store was classic and I really enjoyed that.
The book was a good effort. It’s obvious that the author wanted to provide readers with a fun and quick read. Some people will love this little story, but after a day or two I will have forgotten everything about it. It’s one in a growing sea of romance that doesn’t stand out. I give this ⭐️⭐️.5 stars. It’s obvious she tried really hard, but for me, it fell flat.