I read this book in under 30 hours. That's how much these characters sucked me into their lives. I never get to read a book that quickly these days -- it takes me at least a week for most books, and often longer. But I have a cold, so I kind of took the afternoon off on Monday, once Sam had his schoolwork done. Camped out on the couch with this book and a box of Kleenex, and the kids came over now and then when they needed something. (The Kleenexes were because of the cold, not the book.) I threw caution (and the other 4 books I'm reading) to the wind and read the first 170 pages that day, and finished it on Tuesday. Unheard of! Absurd!
Yes, I inhaled this book. I think I liked it so well because it reminded me a lot of one of my favorite movies, You've Got Mail (1998). Just like in that movie, the heroine here owns a book store she inherited from a parent, and a newcomer is going to push her out of business, though here he's a doctor and not a fellow book store owner. I guess I've always thought it would be cool to own a book store, though far more work than I'm actually willing to do, lol. But experiencing that vicariously is a lot of fun for me.
Also, the hero is damaged goods with a tragic past, and you know how I love those. He's not quite broody enough to be Byronic, but he's very sad and in need of hugs nonetheless. So I was rooting for him to get a happily-ever-after.
The whole thing takes place in a small town called Loves Park that is a sort of Romance Central -- it's a tourist destination for couples, with a special postmark people like to get on their wedding invitations and other equally floofy, lovey-dovey stuff going on. Abigail is 29 and single, with a mother who is absolutely insistent she get married as soon as possible. Abigail is equally insistent she is content being single and running the bookstore her father bequeathed her.
Enter Dr. Jacob Willoughby, a widower with his name straight out of Jane Austen and his looks straight out of a movie (I kept seeing him being played by Brendan Fraser). He buys the building that contains Abigail's Book Nook, and he plans to use the whole building to create his own medical clinic.
You can see where this is going. Oh, but I didn't tell you about the absolutely horrible woman Jacob has working for him! Her name is Kelly, and several times after one of her scenes, I had to close the book and fume for a bit before picking it up again. Dreadful woman. Quite well-written, in other words, to have me loathing her so thoroughly. Kelly is ostensibly helping Jacob set up his clinic because she is a successful businesswoman (and Jacob's dead wife's college roommate), but she's really trying to hook up with Jacob.
So, with the exception of Kelly, I really enjoyed this book and heartily recommend it to people who like "inspirational romance," which is not usually my cup of tea at all. So I'm not sure if that makes my recommendation weigh more or less, lol.
And actually, it's given me an idea for a novel, one about a woman who insists she doesn't want to get married and means it. I've read a lot of books where a singleton tells people she's perfectly happy to be single, but inside she's yearning for love, whether she knows it herself or not yet. And I realized while reading this that I'd be way more interested in the story of a woman who says she doesn't want to get married because she actually doesn't. She's honestly content being single. And you know what they say: write the book you want to read. So I've popped that idea into the old percolator, and we'll see if anything comes of it.
Particularly Good Bits:
Who needs a man when you have shelves of beautiful books and dreams of growth and success? (p. 8).
It was so hard having handsome enemies (p. 11).
"But the very best love stories are the ones that are flawed and full of forgiveness and pain and joy and challenges and happiness" (p. 361).
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG. There's some kissing, but it's all pretty tame.