A Sweetly Earnest Second Chance Romance
“If your plan was to make me forget about you, it failed.”
Checking You Out by Ann Whynot is the tenth book in the Green Valley Library series, and it has every bit of fun that a book set in Green Valley should hold. A sweet, second chance romance between our heroine, Lois, and her stalwart Southern Gentleman, Norman.
We first meet Norman and Lois through their interactions in an online role-playing game at the very tender age of seventeen. Lois is under the notion that upon their respective graduations she and Norman will be meeting up in New York City, attending college together and starting their fledgling life together. Norman, unfortunately, feels unable to go against what his mother had hoped and planned for him since his early childhood and instead sends Lois what can only be described as a “Dear John” letter and joins the military as the newest generation of his family’s military legacy.
“He put his hand around my free one, and him holding me felt right. It felt true.”
Cut to a decade later as Lois finds herself and her exuberantly cheerful daughter, Elsa, in Green Valley at the insistence of her best friend, Max, whom you may know from Dewey Belong Together. Norman is also a newly arrived transplant to Green Valley with his business partner and best friend, Jonathan, who just happens to be Max’s boyfriend.
Lois is still attempting to find her footing after a dissolved marriage, career hiccups, and ultimately still reeling from the loss of her beloved Mormor from years earlier. Her emotional hurt is dealt with by erecting walls around the tight bond she cultivates with her daughter. Her friendship with Max as well as Max’s mother, Rose helps to break through that fortress she’s built up over the years. It’s only when she sets eyes on the slightly more grown, and definitely more handsome Norman—her Norm—in Green Valley that she realizes her unresolved feelings from ten years ago are very much still alive and ready to flare at a moment’s notice.
Norman. What can I say about Norman? I adore this man. He’s the golden retriever of Romance Heroes. His feelings for Lois have never dulled. And even though he didn’t recognize her at first, he was adamant that a friend of Max’s would most assuredly be a friend of his. His relentless and earnest attempts at a friendship lead him to discover that this Lois is in fact his own goth-rocking Lois from days gone by. I loved that even though present day Lois had reservations about their relationship, Norman was steadfast in his affections. Never one to rush, but always the gentleman.
“If I could truly let the bad parts of the past go and hold on to those good times in my heart. then I think this could be that second chance he mentioned. Maybe. Hopefully? Yeah, definitely hopefully.”
Checking You Out is such a sweet, second chance romance. Lois and Norman definitely have their share of drama in the form of injuries sustained from Norman’s military service to Lois’ uncertainty about her co-parenting agreement with her ex-husband and his partner who live in France. Juggling a relationship is difficult, but a new relationship with a child to bring into the mix can throw even the most besotted man for a loop, but not Norman.
There were so many sweet moments and plenty of ones that had me laughing too. While I did wonder if their dialogue felt older than what I would expect from a couple in their late twenties, and sometimes I questioned the abruptness of the pacing, neither of these aspects took me out of the story for long. Overall I did enjoy myself as well as the resolution for Lois and Norman.
Ann Whynot’s sophomore novel, Checking You Out, is not one to miss especially if you’re like me and crave anything set within Green Valley. Due out on the 21st, bee sure to have your copy preordered so you can dive in as soon as this delightful romance releases. Congrats on a wonderful new release, Ann!