Love in the Afternoon
A Dove Pond Novella
By: Karen Hawkins
Narrated by: George Newbern, Tavia Gilbert, Danny Campbell
Series: Dove Pond, Book 2
Length: 3 hrs and 25 mins
Release date: 06-17-19
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader’s copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
A woman with a legendary green thumb, a man living in an emotional desert, and a small boy unable to connect with others. Can the three of them, with a little help from the charmed town of Dove Pond (and a pesky ghost), turn a nightmare into a fairytale and forge their own happily ever after?
Young widow Sofia Rodriquez has just accepted the position of greenhouse manager for Ava Dove’s booming herbal tea business. Sofia is delighted to have found a job that will make use of her gardening skills and allow her to spend time with her son, Noah, who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s. Adding to her joy is the charming farmhouse she’s renting on the edge of Dove Pond.
The only cloud on Sofia’s horizon is her next door neighbor, Jake, whose yard is a thorny jungle worthy of Sleeping Beauty. Soon enough, Sofia discovers that Jake himself is just as thorny and unpleasant as his yard.
After his fiancé left him, work-from-home IT whiz and game developer Jake Klaine has gone from Prince Charming to complete hermit. But Jake isn’t really alone; he’s living with a ghost: a (formerly) hairy man named Doyle who’s a fan of bad puns and who refuses to leave Jake’s bathtub. This is nothing new for Jake, as he’s been talking to ghosts since he was a boy. He finds real people harder to deal with, like the kid next door who won’t stop bugging him about the new game he’s developing.
Sofia and Jake know all too well that life isn’t a game. They’ve both lost the person they loved most. But under the watchful eye of the ghostly Doyle and Sofia’s new friend Ava, who has abilities of her own, Jake and Sofia decide to take a chance and let in an outsider. Soon they discover that, with a little magic, even the thorniest walls are no match for the innocent trust of a lonely child and the fierce determination of a woman wielding a razor-sharp pruner and a heart big enough to make even the most stubborn flower bloom. https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Love-in-the-Afternoon/Karen-Hawkins/9781982105587
This is a no steam, sweet romance set in an idyllic community; if it weren’t for the slight paranormal thing, I would have expected there to be a strong religious aspect (but there is not).
Three narrators: one for Sofia’s chapters, one for Jake’s and a WIlford Brimley-esque narrator who provides the set-up and epilogue. Both major narrators, and the epilogue reader, are fine with pleasant voices and good pronunciation.
The story is predictable but still great fun. The novella requires a structure, or framework, to tell an entire story in a short format.
I found it interesting enough to ask for another book in the series.
Both characters have reasons to be wary about relationships after having bad experiences. And, the relationship develops due to a bridge: Sofia’s son, Noah who is on the Autism Spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome. This bridge works because of Noah’s interest in video games. With a sense of neighborliness, decency, and acting honorably and with concern, both are given the space they need to move forward.
I really liked how Hawkins worked to develop a relationship between Jake and Noah; Jake is able to accept Noah’s idiosyncrasies. And, I liked Jake’s bathtub denizen,a ghost who provides great advice. I also like how neither character starts out thinking to woo, seduce or capture the other character. The relationship develops naturally with a little ghostly coaching. The characters, paranormal and “nerdy” aspects create an engaging story.
It’s a bit compressed and simple, but not naive. I liked the characters, the little bit of magic, and the narration. I did not really feel the absence of the backstory from the first book. The short format gives you a good opportunity to check out the series. I give it a thumbs up.