3 Stars

I wanted to connect with this story but couldn’t. It’s short sweet but the romance never seemed to develop. Even by insta-love standards it didn’t have enough oomph to be a fast romance.  

Rory is a struggling artist who can’t seem to connect with his parents. After a visit that leaves him feeling down he goes for a walk and passes a book store where he meets Brett and so begins the love story. It’s your standard fare for a short story but instead of being jammed with the most pertinent of information since it’s not a long read, it still reads like a normal length novel. Like there’s going to be more time for the story to develop but there isn’t. 

The book started to lose me when Rory ran away because Brett mentioned something about not being ready to jump back into the dating pool since his partner died two years ago. This is the first time they met. You’ve been introduced to his friends. Are we really insinuating that a first meet, not even a date, can only lead to a relationship and since that’s maybe, not actually, but maybe not on the table even a budding friendship is now off the books? Sit there, stay, and enjoy the wine. Who cares if you never even meet again, enjoy yourself. I dunno but I felt triggered by the assumption a first meet had to lead to a relationship before even considering organising a first real date. Rory is almost thirty surely he could be a bit more of a rational adult about it. Especially when there is free wine. Who leaves behind free wine?

Then there was the bit where Rory was like I should say no but my answer is yes. Then at the end of the conversation he says I’ll need some time to think about it. Sigh. You just said yes. Commit to the yes. 

Another reason I failed to connect with the characters is because they didn’t interact with any of the side characters. Didn’t talk to them at all beyond passing time so the two main characters could talk. So I don’t know much about either of their personalities beyond how they feel for each-other. Skylar was pretty vibrant and fun but I have no clue how their friendship with Rory stands because beyond the coffee bar, they didn’t have much page time. They could’ve had loads of conversations at the coffee bar over the weeks Brett spent looking for him, and the same with Brett and his friends at the winery. A chapter or two was needed to dig into them to make the payoff of the relationship bigger and give the readers more insight as to who they are and outside of the romance. Even with that added it still would’ve been a short read.

The same with Jeff. I’m 73 percent into a short story and this character who I know Rory avoids like the plague, is somehow really important, but only for a few paragraphs. I read the blurb for book two and he features in book two so this, albeit late in the book, was the chance to let him shine and really interact with Rory. To tell his story. But it was mostly narrated over to skip to the mushy but you have me stuff. It felt like a missed opportunity to set up book two and to join the two characters. Mostly because that was it. He doesn’t feature in the end of this book either so why bother with this undeveloped slice that just slows down an already short book. This was also something that could’ve been dealt with while Brett was trying to find him. The housemate and the Skylar friendship could’ve been developed under the guise of developing Rory’s character but also simultaneously setting up that they are important to the over all series. Just not yet.

There’s more but ultimately there wasn’t enough development for me to dig into this story. And it’s on the longer end of the spectrum of short story so it definitely had the page time to do it. It felt slow and I’m not used to shorter stories feeling slow.

If you’re looking for a light, slightly fluffy, sweet romance than this book will fill that need. With a perfect HEA to seal the deal. But if you really want to connect with the characters this book might not work for you.

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