⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne

Title: Second First Impressions
Author: Sally Thorne
Published: March 31 2021
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Readership: Adult
Genre: Romance
Rating: ★★★★

I received a copy of Second First Impressions from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

From the bestselling Australian author of The Hating Game comes the clever, funny and unforgettable story of a muscular, tattooed man hired as an assistant to two elderly women – under the watchful eye of a beautiful retirement home manager

Distraction (n): Something that turns your attention away from something you want to concentrate on. See: Teddy Prescott.

Ruthie Midona is twenty-four (going on ninety-four) and fully committed to her job at a luxury retirement village. Keeping herself busy caring for the eccentric residents means that Ruthie can safely ignore her own life – what little there is of it.

Teddy Prescott is practically allergic to a hard day’s work. When he rocks up as the retirement village’s newest employee, Ruthie is less than impressed. The last thing she needs is a distraction as irritating (and handsome) as this selfish rich kid.

Lucky for Ruthie, her favourite pair of mischievous residents need a new assistant to torture . . . so she hands over Teddy, ready for them to send him running.

Except Teddy may be about to surprise her – not just by surviving the old women’s antics, but by charming Ruthie so much, she starts to remember that there’s more to life than work . . . Could Teddy be far more than simply an unwelcome distraction?

What I love about Sally Thorne’s writing is that whenever I pick up one of her books I know I’m going to get swept up into a fun story. It may not be serious, or all that close to reality, but it’s usually a hell of a good time, and Second First Impressions definitely falls into that category.

Ruthie is currently the acting manager of a retirement village that’s on the brink of redevelopment. Her boss is on holiday and out of contact, the residents are quirky (to say the least) and she’s fighting to protect an endangered species of turtle that lives on the retirement village grounds. Her ordered life is thrown out of whack when Teddy Prescott is handballed into it, and she sees the perfect opportunity to foist him off onto two of her most eccentric residents who need an assistant – it’s the perfect way to keep her ordinary life ordered and Teddy out of her way… until he surprises her in a way she never expected.

Up front, I have to say I have never found a character more like me than Ruthie, and in a lot of ways that made me uncomfortable… but also relieved? Ruthie isn’t one to step outside her comfort zone, doesn’t really know where or how to start dating (despite the encouragement from her temp assistant) and doesn’t welcome disorder – in the form of Teddy – to her scheduled existence. But she’s a character who begins to see the need to change up her routine, to live a little and to maybe find out that there’s more to life than just her job.

Teddy is a funny kind of hero in a romance book. For the longest time I didn’t know quite what to make of him. As the blurb suggests, he appears to be allergic to doing any kind of work, and yet he’s desperate to make his dream of owning a tattoo parlour a reality, even if that means working for two very demanding elderly women. He’s also very attracted to Ruthie and wants to shake up her life and make her fall for him, even if that means secretly sabotaging her online dating efforts. Ruthie and Teddy are opposites – one ordered, one slightly chaotic, and it was fascinating to read how their interactions with one another changed over time as they started to share what was truly important to them.

Beyond the romance, the heart of the story really does come from the side characters, especially the elderly residents of the retirement village. They provide so much humour and levity, while also the more serious topic of ageing  and love that has long been unacknowledged by the community.

Sally Thorne has a very easy to read writing style, quirky characters and a fun premise that is sure to make it a favourite for many.

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