Winfrey, Kerry. Just Another Love Song. Berkley, 2022. 336 pp. ISBN 978-0593333433 $17.00
This second chance romance about a hometown boy who made it big as a musician and the sweet girl he left behind hits all the right notes: cozy Stars Hollow vibe, gay co-worker, mixed race best friend, and a generally happy gardener with a house and a dog, who longs for a family and keeps burying that dream along with her seedlings because she can’t forget the one that got away… Hank and Sandy were high school sweethearts, but when her funding fell through, he went off to Berkeley and she remained at home to attend community college. She kept tabs on his career, and tried to date in a very small pool after their devastating split.
Their romance and breakup, told in past tense flashbacks, fill out the backstory at perfect intervals. In the present day, Sandy has given up her artist dreams for running a garden shop, volunteering, helping out her parents who run an inn, and assisting with an end of summer town festival. When Hank lands back on town and agrees to not only headline one of the weekend concerts, Sandy keeps running into him, and before she knows it, they’re soliciting donations and picking up creepy dolls together for an exhibition. The attraction is still there, but deeper and more adult, but Hank has a son (and presumably, a wife) so Sandy is sure that he’s off limits–and never gave her a second thought, but the truth comes out that both have found through the years that no one else measures up.
This novel has strong setting (Ohio!) with both pastoral rural details and a healthy dose of tidbits about famous Ohioians. Sandy’s longing is heartbreakingly palpable but there is a lot of humor in her voice and situations to balance out the angst. She has great (sometimes unexpectedly so!) female friends who have her back. And Hank is almost too good to be true but has some human mis-steps AND calls Sandy on her shit. There is some kissyface but love scenes are not heavy on the details, and the language is (to my recollection) also fairly clean, making this a cozy read that won’t cause too many heart palpitations for readers who prefer the sexy times happen behind closed doors.
I received a free advance reader’s review copy of #JustAnotherLoveSong from #NetGalley.
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