My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing
With the encouragement of her beloved Aunt Mitzi, plain and overlooked Paige James left her hometown of Bella Port ten years ago and never looked back. But free-spirited Aunt Mitzi had plans for Paige to stop being pushed into the background. Those plans included leaving Paige as sole heir to her fortune and owner of her bookstore, Paige’s Turn. Begrudgingly, Paige returns home to fulfill her aunt’s last wishes, no longer the girl who’d left in baggy jeans and an ill-fitting t-shirt.
Paige discovers, though, that Mitzi’s last wishes include a lot of meddling in her love life. From the grave, and with the help of some friends, Mitzi has set out to make sure Paige and Bella Port’s most eligible bachelor, Sam Kennedy, find true love together. What Mitzi didn’t foresee is the firestorm and gossip she created that paints Paige as a swindler and liar, leaving Sam to wonder about the grown woman Paige has become. It doesn’t help when Paige fires him after their first meeting. But as friendship blossoms between Paige and Sam, they find each other hard to resist.
Was Mitzi right about the two of them? Will Paige finally have her turn?
This is a pretty special book. I loved Paige's character, especially her unique blend of grace and moxie. As confident as we are as adults, there's something about returning to a hometown that makes us remember or relive those feelings of vulnerability associated with our youth. I also feel this way on the rare occasion when I get together with friends from high school. My life now is so separate from my life then, I wonder if people who grow up in the same place and with the same people avoid this experience. Anyway, back to the book! Paige is compelled by the death of her aunt to return and follow Mitzi's wishes that she run the bookstore and reconnect with Sam, her former crush and current landscaper. The notes she leaves Paige are hilarious and heartwarming, making her a definite presence and influence in the book. There are a variety of community and family members that are vividly portrayed and I loved my experience spending time with Paige as she navigates the minefields of gossip, misunderstandings, and jealousy. She has cathartic and healing experiences and even some vindication when her confidence and success is accepted as her true self instead of being seen as the person she once was. A lovely journey with fun, drama, angst, and of course romance! Highly recommend.
(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)