Review: Second First Impressions, by Sally Thorne
Another almost perfect romance! I liked this one way better than I did the previous Sally Thorne novel I'd read, so I'm really quite pleased that I picked it up.
It's a very cutesy love story between Ruthie, the daughter of a reverend, who works as a front-office administrator at a retirement home, and Teddy, the son of the owner of the real estate development group that just bought the retirement home. There's also a subplot about Sylvia, the absentee general manager, who's up to something no doubt nefarious.
It's all told from the point of view of Ruthie, and the writing is as lovely and light-spirited and metaphorical as you would expect. Ruthie is a very pleasant person's head to be in: she grew up quite religious, so she looks at everything to find the best in it and is incredibly generous and kind with her time (to the point where honestly I wanted her to be a bit more assertive about what she needed from other people). The downside of spending the entire book in Ruthie's head, of course, is that we don't get anything from Teddy's character - which does mean that Teddy has to be a bit over the top and completely unsubtle in order to ensure that Ruthie and then the reader still have some kind of access to what Teddy is thinking and feeling and what his motivations are (the downside of any first-person POV, really). It does mean that a lot of what we think about Teddy's behaviour is editorialized through Ruthie's mind and past experiences, but since they're both such lovely people I didn't mind so much.
The one thing I didn't love was how at the end of the novel, everything happens very quickly and the resolutions all come thick and fast and happen seemingly without any of the work having been done earlier to make them happen (Teddy magically reconciles with his sister after one tearful conversation? Teddy's dad and sister miraculously turn up and realize that the retirement home and the endangered turtles are worth saving? Ruthie very conveniently gets a massive payout and we just... gloss over the financial fraud that also managed to provide the reconciliation between Ruthie and her horrible father? Ruthie reconciles with her parents after one phone call when she spent her entire teenage years terrified of their disapproval...?) That's starting to ask us to accept a lot of things at face value, and it did throw the pacing of the latter half of the novel way off in a way that felt very jarring.
But I'm willing to forgive that because this book felt a bit like sinking into a very relaxing, very enjoyable bath - just pure light-hearted enjoyable fun, a fantasy little escape from the terribleness of everything in the world.
I highly recommend if you need a pick-me-up and something relaxing and warm, that's still got some substance to it.