Thanks to Partner NetGalley and Kensington Books for the digital ARC of Kate Clayborn’s Love at First in exchange for an honest review. I’m also thrilled to have read this as part of a buddy read with @lovearctually! The book will be published on Tuesday, February 23.
I’m a fan of Kate Clayborn’s romances, from the Beginner’s Luck trilogy (which centers on three friends who win the lottery) to Love Lettering (a romance focused on fonts?! Yes, please.). I’m adding Love at First to my collection.
What do I appreciate about Clayborn’s books? Her characters are so well developed: nuanced and flawed and quirky. They’re not over the top. But they’re vivid enough to feel distinctive. Love at First centers on Will, a doctor, and Nora, a graphic designer who works from home. They meet—officially—when Will inherits an apartment from his uncle, and Nora, who manages the building, tries to convince him to act in the best interests of the other tenants. Nora moved to the building to take care of her grandmother, and after her grandmother’s death, she cares for her neighbors and friends and tries to preserve as much as she can in honor of her grandmother.
Unfortunately, Will has different goals: he wants to rent the apartment, and since it’s quite outdated . . . that means renovation. Nora? Not a fan.
Will and Nora’s central conflict stems from the way each was raised: Nora saw her grandmother’s home as a place where she felt secure and loved—her parents traveled every summer, and so it was a place of stability. For Will, who was neglected by his parents, stability is not a priority because he’s never had it.
As the two get to know each other, they’re surrounded by an ensemble of zany secondary characters, the neighbors who were Nora’s grandmother’s friends and act now as her family. They’re grumpy and eccentric, but they’re also kind and wise and brilliant, and they’re a great backdrop to Will and Nora’s relationship.
There’s some humor here, but I wouldn’t call it a rom com: it’s a gentle humor that contributes to the warmth of the story Clayton tells. I also appreciate the unique premises of Clayton’s work (lottery winners, font specialists, and unique apartment buildings with velvet wall paper(!) build quite a resumé). I absolutely loved Love at First, highly recommend it, and can’t wait until Clayton’s next romance.
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I'm Jen Moyers, co-host of the Unabridged Podcast and an English teacher.