Well, this was a surprise! I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book, but it turned out to be an intimate little treat. I’d consider this to be along the lines of an American version of The Flatshare – if you liked the focus on personal growth and slow burn women’s fiction-turned-romance feel of that book, then you’ll probably enjoy this one as well. Romance is at the heart of it (complete with a few fan-worthy scenes), but both characters need to go on a journey of self-discovery before they’re able to let love in. I loved the broken, vulnerable hero who finds his strength along the way, and I loved the romance that simmers in the background. It’s a slower-paced love story that probably won’t be for everyone, but the intimate moments shine.
The story follows Annabelle, a twice-divorced 28-year-old who has lost her confidence. When one of her exes re-proposes, it’s the catalyst to finally make some changes. Annabelle moves across the country for a new job, and her friends set her up with a place to stay. The only problem? Her new landlord, a wealthy and mysterious retiree who frequently leaves stern notes that detail all the ways she is annoying him. Though Annabelle assumes Nick is a cranky senior citizen, he’s actually a thirty-something guy who is dealing with his own issues. He’s struggling with the changes in his life, and Annabelle is a fascinating distraction. As the two connect, they discover that their broken pieces fit together perfectly.
I’ve always been a fan of unique meet cutes, and this certainly has one. We meet Nick and Annabelle as individuals, and the notes are the only thing that tie them together for much of the book. Both characters are fully developed, though I think Nick is really the star. His journey is an interesting and impactful one – a man who had let money and power consume his life, until a health scare (a stroke) forced him to re-evaluate everything. There’s an emphasis on mental health, as well as plenty of emotional moments and self-reflection… plus some serious chemistry and a touch of steam. I’ve never read a romance quite like this one, so it kept me hooked from start to finish – even though it’s definitely got a laidback, slow feel in a lot of ways. The romance does feel a little rushed, though it’s a major part of the story. That would really be my only complaint about this heartfelt romance; I sincerely enjoyed it the whole way through.
A woman looking for a new lease on life moves to Arizona where she rents a guest house on a gorgeous property with a mysterious owner—a man who teaches her about resilience, courage, and ultimately true love, in this funny, bighearted novel about hope and healing from New York Times bestselling author Jenn McKinlay.
Stuck in a dreary Boston winter, Annabelle Martin would like nothing more than to run away from her current life. She’s not even thirty years old, twice-divorced, and has just dodged a marriage proposal… from her ex-husband. When she’s offered her dream job as creative director at a cutting-edge graphic design studio in Phoenix, she jumps at the opportunity to start over.
When she arrives in the Valley of the Sun, Annabelle is instantly intrigued by her anonymous landlord. Based on the cranky, handwritten notes Nick Daire leaves her, she assumes he is an old, rich curmudgeon. Annabelle is shocked when she finally meets Nick and discovers that he’s her age and uses a wheelchair. Nick suffered from a stroke a year ago, and while there’s no physical reason for him not to recover, he is struggling to overcome the paralyzing fear that has kept him a prisoner in his own home.
Despite her promise to herself not to get involved, Annabelle finds herself irresistibly drawn to Nick. And soon she wonders if she and Nick might help each other find the courage to embrace life, happiness, and true love.
About the Author:
Jenn is the New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author of several mystery and romance series. She is also the winner of the RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for romantic comedy and the Fresh Fiction award for best cozy mystery. A TEDx speaker, she is always happy to talk books, writing, reading, and the creative process to anyone who cares to listen. She lives in sunny Arizona in a house that is overrun with kids, pets, and her husband’s guitars.
Visit her website at: www.jennmckinlay.com
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