Summary (from the publisher):
Maybell Parish has always been a dreamer and a hopeless romantic. But living in her own world has long been preferable to dealing with the disappointments of real life. So when Maybell inherits a charming house in the Smokies from her Great-Aunt Violet, she seizes the opportunity to make a fresh start.
Yet when she arrives, it seems her troubles have only just begun. Not only is the house falling apart around her, but she isn’t the only inheritor: she has to share everything with Wesley Koehler, the groundskeeper who’s as grouchy as he is gorgeous—and it turns out he has very different vision for the property’s future.
Convincing the taciturn Wesley to stop avoiding her and compromise is a task more formidable than the other dying wishes Great-Aunt Violet left behind. But when Maybell uncovers something unexpectedly sweet beneath Wesley’s scowls, and as the two slowly begin to let their guard down, they might learn that sometimes the smallest steps outside one’s comfort zone can lead to the greatest rewards.
My Rating: 4.5/Stars
Sarah Hogle’s You Deserve Each Other was one of funniest & best books I read in 2020, so I could not wait to pick up her 2021 release, Twice Shy. This contemporary romance follows Maybell, an events coordinator at a resort in Tennessee who hasn’t had the best luck in life when it comes to a family, romance, and even work – any of the events Maybell tries to plan at the hotel always gets shut down. One day at work, Maybell finds out that she has inherited her great aunt’s estate..only to arrive at the house to see its dismal conditions and to find out her aunt’s grumpy groundskeeper, Wesley, is the co-owner.
Everyone knows that I love a cozy contemporary and Twice Shy completely fits that category. As suggested by the title of the book, both Maybell and Wesley are really shy people and often struggle to connect with others. Maybell is especially ‘stepped on’ by her mom and one of her co-workers, so she is need of a fresh start and has fond memories of the one summer she spent at the aunt’s estate. Wesley’s story is harder to crack open, but as Maybell and him grow closer repairing the house with another, the story surrounding his anxiety comes out more & more. Maybell is also often lost to her day-dreams or alternate reality, where she replays interactions inside a fictional coffee shop – the whole AU storyline was really unique & something I hadn’t read in a book before.
The plot definitely takes a backseat to Wesley and Maybell’s character and personal growth. The book is really about both of the restarts, with the majority of the plot or action centered around rebuilding Violet’s estate and Maybell and Wesley revealing secrets to another. One aspect of this book that I really liked that there wasn’t any super dramatic event threatening to ruin Maybell and Wesley’s relationship. Without being super spoilery, there is a decision that Wesley makes towards the end of the book that could’ve been a make-or-break moment that would’ve followed standard contemporary romance tropes, but it actually reveals more about his anxiety. Mental health and anxiety are important aspects of the book, as Maybell discovers that her great aunt dealt with mental illness more than her childhood memory recalls.
I admit that I enjoyed Sarah Hogle’s debut, You Deserve Each Other, more than Twice Shy. Twice Shy definitely has that same charm as You Deserve Each Other, but there’s less sarcastic dialogue and was more slow-moving. Again, I don’t want to be too spoilery, but Maybell’s relationship with her co-worker who ultimately manipulated one of Maybell’s relationships (that soon relates back to Wesley) was super frustrating and I kind’ve wanted to see Maybell stand her ground sooner. I didn’t necessarily mind that Twice Shy does not a super huge plot, but I often wondered where Maybell and Wesley’s relationship was going, whether they’d form a friendship or romance relationship. I think there was only one romance scene, but it fit the tone of the story, as both Maybell and Wesley haven’t really been in relationships. The fact that Wesley was the less experienced out of the two was really refreshing, since the female protagonist tends to take on this trait more often than not in the romances I’ve read. Their relationship overall is just so sweet – I especially loved how Wesley incorporates Maybell’s day dreaming or AU in the house renovations.
Overall, Twice Shy is such a cute & cozy book for an upcoming summer day. I really love Sarah Hogle’s books for their original plots & the way they change up romance tropes – I’m excited to see what she writes next!
Have you read Twice Shy or You Deserve Each Other? What are your thoughts? Share in the comments!