Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn
January 31, 2023 by Kensington
Review by Melanie
There’s something so lyrical and almost poetic about Kate Clayborn’s prose that just immerses you in the world she creates, her words are lush and evocative, so full of vivid imagery that you can almost smell the air or feel the heat of a sun-warmed wooden dock under your feet.
Georgie, All Along is no different, an expansive book, to borrow a word from the author herself, about finding yourself, trying to make peace with the past even as you learn to live in the moment. In a culture that so often prioritizes and glorifies ambition and having goals, the book gives rise to the notion that it’s ok to not have plans, to be untethered, and that there is beauty in not always knowing what comes next.
You’ll note that I categorized the book as a contemporary romance and not as Women’s Fiction and that is because of the romance between the open-hearted, recently unemployed Georgie and Levi, the taciturn, guarded dock builder with a PAST (more on that later) is absolutely the driving force of the book. One might argue that it’s about Georgie’s journey but I would argue that it’s equally about Levi’s journey as well, beautifully encapsulated through the dual POVs offered up in this poignant, quiet, introspective romance.
There are books that are slow-burn romances but this almost feels like an ongoing low simmer of a book that boils over at just the right moment, all heat and steam and a slow rise in tension and chemistry that’s apparent from the first meeting between the 2 MCs.
Kate Clayborn’s books are known for many things but let me focus on one particular thing she does supremely well and that is character development. And I don’t just mean the main characters, I also include the side characters. Her books are a master class in character work, and by the end of the first couple of chapters, you may not know all there is to know about Georgie and Levi but you will be riveted by the way she parses out the little details of their lives, their personalities, their quirks, and mannerisms.
Georgie is, to put it mildly, a bit of a mess. Newly unemployed from her previous job as a personal assistant to a Hollywood screenwriter, she returns to her hometown, a small town in Virginia where everyone knows her to be the loveable screw up and a directionless flake. She’s searching for direction, trying to desperately figure out what’s next in a life that has always kind of just ambled along without much of a concrete plan.
Then there is Levi, who, in the grand tradition of Kate Clayborn heroes, is gruff and awkward, a man of very few words, who through actions, is slowly revealed to be the softest and gentlest and most nurturing of heroes. He is a man with a very complicated and difficult past, a heartbreaking family dynamic, a man trying to atone for his past wrongs by, as he puts it, trying to always keep his nose clean. He’s a man of simple needs and wants, just wants to live a quiet and peaceful life in the home he’s created for himself with his beloved dog, Hank, at his side.
When these two meet, it’s not an instant display of showy fireworks but almost a tiny sputter, the barest flicker of flames that might almost die down to nothingness were it not for the slow and methodical way Kate Clayborn fans their flames back to life until finally, it’s an absolute blazing inferno. A woman with no concrete plans and a man who is all plans and goals to reverse the mistakes of his past make for a pretty heady combination but the book is so much more than that.
It is also, in another Kate Clayborn tradition, a book about friendship, particularly female friendship. I have to say, after having read all of her books, no one quite writes the complexities and bittersweet heartache of female friendships the way that Kate Clayborn does. Georgie and Bel, best friends from childhood to present day, couldn’t be more different. Georgie is without plans, unsure of what her future holds or even what she wants out of life. Bel is ambitious and driven, a straight A student in school, happily married and pregnant, with her life in order, from her well-decorated and organized house to the way she envisions her future back in her hometown. But no relationship is perfect because human beings aren’t perfect and for all the love and joy that fills their friendship, it’s not without mess and little tiny hints of resentment because all of that is perfectly normal and relatable.
I could honestly say so much more but I don’t want to give too much away. It is, as I said, a quiet murmur of a book, soft and gentle, with characters who mess up and make mistakes but find a way to fix what’s broken, mend old wounds, learn to heal, learn to love, learn to live in the moment, and learn that while it’s ok to not plan out your whole life, it’s more than ok to fill up your blank and empty pages and hold tight to the things that matter most.
Content Notes: off page drug and alcohol use, toxic parental relationship, violence, mention of mental health issues, off page therapy