A breezy romance about a single mother who tries to reinvent herself after her young-adult son leaves the nest.
Flinn (The Nest, 2015, etc.) has created a memorable, multidimensional heroine in Elle McLarin, a lonely middle-aged woman stuck in small-town North Carolina, where she can’t escape her criminal past. During her teenage years, Elle spent 12 months in prison as punishment for slipping her high school crush a roofie and taking advantage of him. She was pregnant with another man’s child at the start of her incarceration, and by the time of her release, she had an infant son and a scandalous reputation that she couldn’t live down. As the book opens, her son has turned 18 and left for the Army. Elle, now 37 years old, is finally able to leave town and start fresh. She drives across the state and settles on the North Carolina coast, where she opens a bakery and begins making new friends for the first time in nearly two decades. It’s not long, however, before her past catches up with her. After she finally begins to enjoy her new successes and even explore a relationship with her handsome neighbor, an odd sequence of events lands her in the spotlight on national news. Her new beau, Nate, learns all about the inglorious woman she used to be, and she worries that their budding relationship won’t survive. The strengths of this engaging, plot-heavy page-turner are in its character development of Elle and the perfect pitch of its narrative voice. Flinn depicts Elle as a complicated woman with constantly conflicting emotions. As the first-person narrator, she’s initially quite unlikable but gradually reveals that beneath her seemingly uneducated persona is an intelligent, pragmatic, and bighearted woman who’s worked hard to improve herself. Readers won’t be able to help rooting for her to find happiness as the story winds its way to its conclusion.
An uplifting tale of love and redemption that’s perfect for fans of stories of rehabilitated youth and second chances.