Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

 

by Sarah Hogle
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Adult
Publisher: G.P Putnam's Son
Publication Date: April 6th 2021
Source: ARC received for review
Star Quotient: ★★★★1/2
Kiss Factor: ✷✷✷✷1/2

Oh, how to review this book? Twice Shy is one of my favorite books this year and has cemented Sarah Hogle as an auto-read romance author. When it comes to romance novels, my favorite books are either the angstiest most painful reads or the softest books. Twice Shy falls under the latter group. It's wholesome and pure and gave me all the feels!

You all know how much I dig the sunshine-meets-grump pairing and Sarah blessed us with one of the best imaginations of this trope. We have Maybell Parish, a daydreaming and romantic young woman, and Wesley Koehler, the solitary and grouchy groundskeeper. The two are brought into each others' worlds when they co-inherit a charming old house belonging to Maybell's late great aunt.  The two have very different ideas about what to do with the house and the accompanying land. Maybell wants to turn it into an inn of sorts while Wesley wants to turn it into an animal sanctuary. Naturally, the two wind up clashing. 

I really loved how much care Sarah Hogle seems to have put into these characters. While "sunshine" and "grumpy" definitely described the two characters, their characterizations went a lot deeper than that. Yes, Maybell is this optimistic and joyful person who exudes brightness everywhere she went, but deep down, lives a lonely woman who seems to prefer her daydreams to reality. She has this cute coffee shop alternate universe that she constantly daydreams about. Wesley, while 100% a grump, had his own reasons for being so quiet and intense. I loved loved loved how the author delved into his almost-debilitating social anxiety. I think sometimes the grumpy character trope can be hard to nail because the character can easily veer into asshole territory, but Wesley is far from an asshole. He's actually quite soft and shy and just didn't fully know how to communicate as a result of his social anxiety. Wesley is also a virgin for those of you who love your virgin heroes in romance books. Both Maybell and Wesley have to work on their mental health throughout Twice Shy, and their journey is handled thoughtfully. 

The romance is incredibly soft, full of heart, and will likely have readers swooning and sighing. Gosh, I can't believe how lovely Maybell and Wesley were together. They are forced into proximity when Maybell's great aunt leaves the house to both of them. Though they don't start off on the right foot, you see a relationship blossoming between the two as they come to an understanding. What I loved about their romance was the smaller, tender moments peppered throughout the book that seem like little things but are actually heartachingly romantic. My favorite scene involves Maybell and Wesley painting a mural and communicating through it and ugh, my chest! There's also a camping scene that needs to go into my romantic scenes hall of fame. The third act conflict (if you can call it that) is done so well - it's low angst and is solved by mature communication. Truly, everything about this book pleased me.

I also really loved the role that the late great-aunt Violet played in Twice Shy. Her wishlist for Maybell and Wesley serves to bring the two together. I felt like she is as much of an important character as Maybell and Wesley are. I loved learning about her personality, her past, and her own love story with Victor. I wouldn't mind reading a short story or novella about those two.

Twice Shy is going into my re-read pile and I will be singing its praises for the rest of my life. I think if you're a romance reader, you are likely going to adore this warm and romantic story. I'm ready for Sarah's next book.

CWs: social anxiety, panic attacks, death of a relative, catfishing storyline

Relationship disclosure: Sarah Hogle & I are mutuals on social media.


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