Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne. New York: William Morrow, 2021, 352pp.
Sally Thorne is back with her third novel, Second First Impressions, the follow-up to The Hating Game and 99 Percent Mine is a genuine, heart-felt romance about how sometimes your first impression can be way-off base.
Ruthie Midona is safely ensconced in her neat, tidy life, working and living on-site at Providence Retirement Villa. Never mind that she’s only 25, to Ruthie, Providence is the perfect place for her, and she never plans on leaving. The fact that the new owners of the property are only renewing resident contracts for another year is something that she’s trying to ignore, until the unignorable, dazzlingly handsome, son of the Villa’s new owner, Teddy Prescott, moves in next door.
Ruthie is busy trying to prove she can run the show while Sylvia, the office manager, is on vacation. That means wrangling a new assistant, Melanie Saski, and dealing with all of the reports that Rose Prescott, the site auditor is demanding from her, while dealing with the day-to-day needs of the high maintenance residents. Residents like the Parlonis, a feisty pair whose young, male personal assistants don’t usually last longer than a change of clothes.
After months of ignoring Providence all together, the owner shows up with his impossibly gorgeous, allegedly flighty son. It turns out that said son will be moving in to the cottage that shares a wall with Ruthie while he saves money to buy into a tattoo studio. Ruthie is desperate to have him out of her hair, so she hooks him up with the Parlonis with an evil cackle in her heart. One problem, Teddy is totally up for the challenge and his laid-back, sweet nature is charming everyone, including Ruthie.
Melanie is determined to get Ruthie out into the real world, and she starts Ruthie on her “fool-proof” dating plan, the Saski Method. Through questionnaires to determine what Ruthie’s looking for in a man, and make-overs to 86 her senior citizen-inspired wardrobe, Teddy begins to realize that he’s just as charmed by prim Ruthie as she is by him. With Teddy’s time at Providence winding down, it becomes clear that these polar opposites were very wrong about each other. Can Ruthie open herself up enough to keep Teddy in her life?
Second First Impressions is the romance novel form of being curled up on the couch, wrapped in your favorite blanket, with a cup of hot cocoa, it’s that sweet and cozy (with a little bit of spice). And it’s not just Ruthie & Teddy that give you a warm, fuzzy feeling, this is a book filled with people who care deeply about each other. The wonderfully drawn side characters never feel like caricatures or stereotypes, which would be an easy trap to fall into when you’re dealing with developers and elderly people. You’re just as likely to fall in love with Melanie Saski or Renata Parloni as you are the main characters.
Sally Thorne’s books are each special in their own way, and Second First Impressions is no exception, it’s a warm, gentle hug from a friend in a year we’re all desperately in need of them. Also, there are turtles, come for the feelings, stay for the turtles.
Lacey Tobias is a Library Assistant at Graham Public Library, she can be reached at email@example.com.