Book Reviews, Favorite Authors, Romance, Sally Thorne  |  03.30.2021

Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne (Book Review)


Ruthie Midona has worked the front desk at the Providence Luxury Retirement Villa for six years, dedicating her entire adult life to caring for the Villa’s residents, maintaining the property (with an assist from DIY YouTube tutorials), and guarding the endangered tortoises that live in the Villa’s gardens. Somewhere along the way, she’s forgotten that she’s young and beautiful, and that there’s a world outside of work—until she meets the son of the property developer who just acquired the retirement center.

Teddy Prescott has spent the last few years partying, sleeping in late, tattooing himself when bored, and generally not taking life too seriously—something his father, who dreams of grooming Teddy into his successor, can’t understand. When Teddy needs a place to crash, his father seizes the chance to get him to grow up. He’ll let Teddy stay in one of the on-site cottages at the retirement home, but only if he works to earn his keep. Teddy agrees—he can change a few lightbulbs and clip some hedges, no sweat. But Ruthie has plans for Teddy too.

Her two wealthiest and most eccentric residents have just placed an ad (yet another!) seeking a new personal assistant to torment. The women are ninety-year-old, four-foot-tall menaces, and not one of their assistants has lasted a full week. Offering up Teddy seems like a surefire way to get rid of the tall, handsome, unnerving man who won’t stop getting under her skin.

Ruthie doesn’t count on the fact that in Teddy Prescott, the Biddies may have finally met their match. He’ll pick up Chanel gowns from the dry cleaner and cut Big Macs into bite-sized bits. He’ll do repairs around the property, make the residents laugh, and charm the entire villa. He might even remind Ruthie what it’s like to be young and fun again. But when she finds out Teddy’s father’s only fixing up the retirement home to sell it, putting everything she cares about in jeopardy, she’s left wondering if Teddy’s magic was all just a façade.


Adult Contemporary Romance

Trigger Warnings:

  • Fatmisic comments
  • Dieting
  • Death of a loved one
  • Animal injury

Source: The Trigger Warning Database

Spoiler-Free Review

Unlike any Contemporary Romance I have ever read
How does Sally Thorne come up with these ideas?

Second First Impressions is an extremely unique and quirky book about Ruthie Midona (the 25-year-old reverend’s daughter) the stand-in manager at Providence – a high-end retirement villa. Ruthie is methodic and high strung and she has an immense fear of messing up. She dresses and acts like she’s 125 instead of 25. Even the residents around the villa seem more lively than she is. Besides making sure the place runs smoothly, her only other hobby is taking care of the many Golden Bonnet Tortoises she rescued and brought to live around the place.

Everything changes when she unexpectedly meets Theodore Prescott, the long-haired, motorcycle riding, full of tattoos son of the owner of Providence. Circumstances lead to Teddy having to share a cottage with Ruthie and work as the personal assistant of the most eccentric residents in the villa.

Yes, this premise is insane for a romance novel, but it absolutely works. Sally Thorne managed to write something beautiful and heartwarming within such a strange concept. And it’s also completely different than anything she’s written before. It’s a bit moodier (maybe even darker) than The Hating Game and 99% Mine. But it works and it manages to stand on its own.

This is a very slow burn book, but I didn’t mind the build-up because Teddy is such a charismatic character. He completely stole the scene every single time. I also like how he was such a cinnamon roll, in contrast to his hard exterior.

I really enjoyed the reading experience, but the ending was a bit of a letdown. Not because of the content, but the way it all unraveled. Every resolution came in the last 10% of the book. It was extremely rushed compared to how the book was leisurely telling its story. And there was a loose end with Ruthie’s parents, her grievances with them was such an important plot point and we didn’t get to experience the much-needed confrontation with them.

Everything else was just super cute, and even with the rushed ending I still managed to finish the book with a huge smile on my face.

Thank you so much HarperCollins for approving me for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

RATING: ☆☆☆☆ (4 Stars)



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