Second First Impressions
Author: Sally Thorne
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (April 13, 2021)
Paperback, 352 pages
Romance, Adult Contemporary Romance
Distraction (n): an extreme agitation of the mind or emotions.
Ruthie Midona has worked the front desk at the Providence Luxury Retirement Villa for six years, dedicating her entire adult life to caring for the Villa’s residents, maintaining the property (with an assist from DIY YouTube tutorials), and guarding the endangered tortoises that live in the Villa’s gardens. Somewhere along the way, she’s forgotten that she’s young and beautiful, and that there’s a world outside of work—until she meets the son of the property developer who just acquired the retirement center.
Teddy Prescott has spent the last few years partying, sleeping in late, tattooing himself when bored, and generally not taking life too seriously—something his father, who dreams of grooming Teddy into his successor, can’t understand. When Teddy needs a place to crash, his father seizes the chance to get him to grow up. He’ll let Teddy stay in one of the on-site cottages at the retirement home, but only if he works to earn his keep. Teddy agrees—he can change a few lightbulbs and clip some hedges, no sweat. But Ruthie has plans for Teddy too.
Her two wealthiest and most eccentric residents have just placed an ad (yet another!) seeking a new personal assistant to torment. The women are ninety-year-old, four-foot-tall menaces, and not one of their assistants has lasted a full week. Offering up Teddy seems like a surefire way to get rid of the tall, handsome, unnerving man who won’t stop getting under her skin.
Ruthie doesn’t count on the fact that in Teddy Prescott, the Biddies may have finally met their match. He’ll pick up Chanel gowns from the dry cleaner and cut Big Macs into bite-sized bits. He’ll do repairs around the property, make the residents laugh, and charm the entire villa. He might even remind Ruthie what it’s like to be young and fun again. But when she finds out Teddy’s father’s only fixing up the retirement home to sell it, putting everything she cares about in jeopardy, she’s left wondering if Teddy’s magic was all just a façade.
I’ll admit, I was a little hesitant to pick up Second First Impressions at first. I adored both The Hating Game and 99 Percent Mine so much, and Josh & Lucy and Darcy & Tom have their own special little boxes in my heart where they live and I feed them a special diet of marshmallows and matchbox cars and Smurf toys. And I’ll be honest, I just wasn’t sure there was room for another couple in there. And while I do LOVE this book and I adore Ruthie and Teddy, this book doesn’t quite have the same magic for me as Sally Thorne’s first two books did. Which isn’t to say it’s not a phenomenal book – because it is! Definitely a 5 star read, I didn’t put this book down for a second and inhaled it all in one go (and may have slightly burned myself trying to read while cooking dinner, haha). But I just might only need this one in paperback, and not paperback, ebook, AND audio, is all I’m saying. (Why yes, I AM an obsessed Sally Thorne fangirl, however did you notice?)
Anyway, this book is lovely. I really love Ruthie, with her mushroom cardigans and her endangered turtles and her routines. As much as I adore Teddy (OH, Teddy… you vainglorious creature, you…) I really enjoyed the development of Ruthie’s friendship with her coworker Melanie as much as the romantic relationship in this book. Plus the madcap adventures of Aggie and Renata, lol. The hijinks they get up to are hilarious, and I love that these two elderly women are part of what remind Ruthie to remember to be young and live her life.
The romance in Second First Impressions is sort of soft and slow and cozy. Teddy is a bit like the stray cat that shows up on your door step and you put out food for it and eventually you realize that oh, this is your cat, you are now a cat owner. Surprise! There’s a sort of slow, mellow, warm and fuzzy friendship feeling more than a hot and steamy, I-want-to-rip-your-clothes-off heat here (though there is some heat as well, don’t get me wrong!) There’s more of the quirky weirdo element Sally fans will remember from The Hating Game (“I want to juice your head like a lemon” remains one of my favorite lines from a book EVER) which I really love and just touches something in me and makes me feel like I’ve found my people.
A digital ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss+ for review. All opinions are unbiased and my own.