Just Another Love Song by Kerry Winfrey
August 2, 2022, by Berkeley
ARCReview by Iby
Kerry Winfrey writes romcoms with small town, Hallmark-movie vibes. Even when she writes about cities, they seem to be written in the style of Gilmore Girls – there are lots of props, quirky secondary characters, and a twisty way to a happily ever after. This latest book is no exception to the rule.
Sandy has spent her whole life in Baileyville, a small town in Ohio. She knows everyone, and is mostly happy – she lives 3 doors down from her childhood best friend, she owns her own business, she volunteers to support the town’s fair, and she helps out with her parents’ quirky Ohio-themed B&B. Yes, the Stars Hallow vibes are very strong in this book. The one fly in Sandy’s ointment is that she is single – and somewhat stuck on the high school boyfriend who got away and made it semi-big as a country musician. Hank, the ex, is back in Baileyville with his 5-year-old son, and keeps running into Sandy all over the place. But will their relationship ever get to a happily ever after?
The good thing about this book: it really did feel like Gilmore Girls. If you like the early seasons of the show, you’ll love this book. Sandy and her best friend Honey have a Sookie-Loralei vibe, and I love how supportive Honey always is of her best friend’s happiness. The quirky townspeople, including hot pants-wearing Ed, are in abundance. I really liked the small town setting and felt charmed by reading about the fried Oreos and corn dogs.
The things that brought this book down for me were centered in the romance. For Sandy, I understood why she was currently single (small dating pool in a small town), but it wasn’t clear to me that she had a full life with other romantic encounters in the intervening 15 years. I wish the author had given Sandy a little more of a romantic background, to make her more three-dimensional. Another heartbreak or two would have really given me a sense that this is a woman who is single in her 30s – sometimes Sandy felt a bit immature because of her lack of experience outside of her high school boyfriend.
Hank, on the other hand, had gotten married and had a kid in the intervening years. He also was on the road, making himself successful as a musician. And I understand that they had a childhood connection, but it wasn’t clear to me why they would continue to feel so hung up on each other after all this time.
And that maybe brings me to the weakest point of the book – I think for second-chance romances to really work, the author needs to convince the reader that the original romance was extraordinary. It didn’t seem extraordinary- it seemed like a typical high school romance that couldn’t stand the test of time and distance. And then, a second chance romance needs to convince me that these two characters, with their growth and wealth of experience, are more perfect together now than they ever were. And for these two, I couldn’t quite understand what helped them both realize that the other person was “right” for them now. For Sandy, it felt to me like she had never let herself find anyone else. For Hank, I don’t think the reader quite understood enough of his perspective, either in the past or present day, to know how he feels.
So although there is a lot to like here, it wasn’t quite as successful for me as some of Winfrey’s other works. That being said, it was a charming and pleasant way to spend a few hours, and I’ll definitely pick up another book by this author in the future.