As 2021 comes to a close, I’m revisiting my 20 favorite romance novels of the year, and that includes the swooniest of love stories, Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle! It’s been several months since I read this adorable enemies to lovers romance, so I relived the story all over again as I pulled some quotes for this post. And the swoons are definitely still there! This is one of the only books that has made me cry happy tears, and that is quite the accomplishment. It’s such a unique story, with an intricately developed romance and a narrator who learns as she goes. I love the journey this couple takes together, and this hero has got to have one of the best transformations. It’s rare that enemies to lovers romances feel so utterly romantic by the end, but this certainly accomplishes that. I absolutely loved it!
Fun fact: When I finished reading this the first time, I was crying happy tears, feeling the swoons in a big way, and planning out a glowing review in my head… and then I turned to the acknowledgements and saw my name! So freaking cool. I’ve loved Hogle’s work since her debut novel, You Deserve Each Other, and it was immensely flattering to have her publicly thank me for my support. But really? I’m thanking her for writing these memorable, original romances!
Read on for my original review and plenty of quotes to give you a feel for the vibe!
Perfection. There’s no sophomore slump here; this is delightful, distinct, and kinda delicious. I had literal happy tears spill from my eyes, and I was bawling like a baby by the end. It’s like sitting in your own personal happy place where everything is charming and romantic, full of tropey goodness, and more complex than it seems at first glance. The tone is so completely unique and swoony, with characters who are layered and a relationship that’s multi-faceted – I could not have anticipated how deep this would get, but it put me through every emotion. This slow burn is just the right kind of excruciating, going from less than nothing to simply EVERYTHING. And the dynamic? I’ve got to hand it to the author, she found yet another scenario that I have never read before – and that’s saying something. Go into this one blind; it’s much more complex than it seems on the surface, but just might be THE most romantic book I have ever read.
The story follows Maybell, a woman who is timid, insecure, and possibly forgettable. She prefers to live in her personal dreamland, thinking up different hopelessly romantic scenarios that are a million times better than real life. That all changes when Maybell inherits her great aunt’s estate, including a huge, neglected home in need of some TLC. The problem? Her co-inheritor. Wesley is the grouchy groundskeeper who cared for her aunt during her final years… and he’s also the man who is about to make Maybell’s life a whole lot more complicated.
As with You Deserve Each Other (another STELLAR read), it took me a few chapters to settle into the story and the writing, because this author has crafted a love story that feels completely unique. Our heroine isn’t always a reliable narrator and our hero is something of a mystery, so soaking in each word, analyzing each interaction is imperative. The story starts out tense, with an enemies to lovers feel that’s heightened by the forced proximity. These two have to work together to achieve their goals, and in the process, they slowly open up to each other in a way they haven’t with anyone else. This is honest, awkward, flawed, REAL love – and yet the author somehow also makes it feel like a warm hug. It’s downright SWOONY. And that ending? That’s when those happy tears kicked in. I loved this so very much. I was lucky enough to receive an early copy (then purchased it for my collection), and am voluntarily leaving a review of this heartwarming romance.
Can you find real love when you’ve always got your head in the clouds?
Maybell Parish has always been a dreamer and a hopeless romantic. But living in her own world has long been preferable to dealing with the disappointments of real life. So when Maybell inherits a charming house in the Smokies from her Great-Aunt Violet, she seizes the opportunity to make a fresh start.
Yet when she arrives, it seems her troubles have only just begun. Not only is the house falling apart around her, but she isn’t the only inheritor: she has to share everything with Wesley Koehler, the groundskeeper who’s as grouchy as he is gorgeous–and it turns out he has a very different vision for the property’s future.
Convincing the taciturn Wesley to stop avoiding her and compromise is a task more formidable than the other dying wishes Great-Aunt Violet left behind. But when Maybell uncovers something unexpectedly sweet beneath Wesley’s scowls, and as the two slowly begin to let their guard down, they might learn that sometimes the smallest steps outside one’s comfort zone can lead to the greatest rewards.
Have you read You Deserve Each Other yet?
You Deserve Each Other is Hogle’s debut novel, and it is equally fantastic – in a different way. Both books are told exclusively from the heroine’s perspective, so the dynamics of each relationship reveal themselves slowly as the narrators learn more about their partners. You Deserve Each Other also has such a unique premise – it follows an engaged couple in a lovers to enemies to lovers-esque relationship. Our heroine believes they’re battling it out to see who will finally break down and end the engagement now that they’ve realized they’re not right for each other, but… is that what’s really happening?
About the Author:
Sarah Hogle is a mom of three who enjoys trashy TV and provoking her husband for attention. Her dream is to live in a falling-apart castle in a forest that is probably cursed. She is also the author of You Deserve Each Other.
Author Social Media: Twitter: @witchofthewords; Instagram: @sarah_hogle
More of the Best of 2021!
Top 20 of 2021: The Complete List – here
Best of 2021: Top Picks by Trope can be found here!
Best of 2021: My 10 Favorite Romance Series can be found here!
Every 5-Star Romance Novel I Read in 2021 can be found here!
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