Nora Montgomery left home and heartbreak behind in South Carolina when she moved to New York City after her high school graduation. Now, four years later, she returns home and is forced to confront the past she left behind and the reckless boy who broke her heart. It’s not long before the pieces of her past begin to blur with the present and she realizes that the feelings she had for her first love never really went away. As old dreams resurface and new truths come to light, she begins to question the future she's always planned on.
Jake Harris has spent four years regretting the night he let her get away. When she finally reappears in his life, he is determined to win her back and prove how much he’s changed. She might never forgive him for that night, but if he tells her the truth about what really happened it will shatter the world she thought she knew. If he doesn’t, he might not get a second chance. He’s already lost her once and he won’t lose her again.
They come from two different worlds that are threatening to tear them apart…can they make it this time around?
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Ellie Grace is an avid reader, chocolate lover and caffeine addict. When a story popped into her head that she couldn’t seem to shake, she decided to pursue her childhood dream of becoming a writer. When she’s not writing, she’s usually curled up with a book by one of her many, many favorite authors.
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In addition to being a bookworm, I’m also a movie buff so I can’t help but compare books I read to movies. Ellie Grace’s This Time Around reminded me of a mix between Sweet Home Alabama and The Notebook with its premise of a small town girl returning home after a self-imposed exile prompted by a bad breakup. The shared memories of protagonists, Nora and Jake, may be tinged with heartache but This Time Around is a story about forgiveness and redemption with an overall air of hopefulness. Being privy to the feelings of both protagonists through their dual perspectives helped me to better connect with their characters and support their rekindled romance.
This story of young lovers torn apart by unfortunate circumstances captured my interest immediately – one because I had to know the reason for their relationship’s demise, and two because I was anxious for their inevitable reunion, complete with nervous butterflies and remnants of old feelings. I liked that the author didn’t draw out the will they/won’t they aspect of the relationship, instead centering the conflict on the future of their relationship. There’s no denying that Nora and Jake have a special connection with an undeniable chemistry, but the question is whether or not they can withstand the outside forces working against them.
Of the two protagonists, Nora is the more indecisive about her feelings, which is frustrating at times. I almost wanted to make the decision for her because it’s obvious that Jake cares for her despite what happened in the past. This is perhaps why I gravitated more toward Jake, whose bad rep as a teen unfairly clouds his adult life. Aside from his questionable taste in former booty calls, I’m a fan of Jake’s sweet and charming underdog character. I also like the relaxed and sensual side of Nora that emerges whenever Jake is around. Fun fact: four years of pent-up longing and desire make for frequent and steamy love scenes.
Overall, This Time Around is a quick, entertaining read with a sophisticated writing style that is impressive considering this is Ellie Grace’s first book. I’d recommend the story for the sweet romance between Nora and Jake, who are genuinely enjoyable protagonists. Ellie Grace hints at a possible romance between new characters in the epilogue and I’m eager to see how she progresses with her writing as well as with the characters, new and old.
Rating: 4 Stars
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