Series: When in West Virginia #1
Release Date: April 5th, 2022
CW: panic attacks, mentions of parental death and alzheimer’s, past mentions of drunk driving, various mentions of the pandemic
He’s finally going to ask a woman out for the first time in nearly ten years. And since he can’t stop thinking about the beautiful woman who teaches water aerobics at his gym, she seems like a great place to start.
Little does Max know Hannah has made a promise to swear off men for the foreseeable future.
When circumstances beyond their control force them to quarantine together, Hannah decides being friends with the sexy guy next door is totally fine–because friendship doesn’t end in heartbreak.
Plus, did she mention how dreamy he is? Just because she’s not in the market doesn’t mean she can’t window shop, right? And spending a little of her time with Max every day isn’t as costly as giving him her heart.
Besides, she’s bored. And lonely.
But as Hannah gets to know her neighbor and his kind, caring heart, she begins to feel a yearning in hers. Is the promise she made keeping her from getting hurt again…or is she hurting herself anyway because she won’t allow herself to be happy?
Will sweet surprises, meddling friends, and a man who is as kind as he is attractive finally convince Hannah that maybe it’s better to be alone together?
I am absolutely blown away by the brilliant writing of Lindsey Jesionowski in her stunning debut. The words have a lyrical feel to them and the story itself is so enticing and interesting that once you start, it’ll be hard to put it down. And there’s a part of me that can’t quite believe that this is Lindsey’s debut, because this book is fantastic. Before I go further in my review, I should state that this book is set in 2020 at the start of the pandemic, so there are various mentions of the virus and wearing masks. But at the same time, it tells you a story of finding love and friendship at a time when everything seemed so lost and hopeless.
Because I follow Lindsey on Instagram, I know who her personal facecasts were for Max and Hannah, so knowing that actually added a little more awesomeness to the story because I just visualised them every time. But even without that, Max and Hannah are insanely cute. From the moment their eyes meet, they’ve drawn into the other person and then it just builds into fantastic chemistry. I enjoyed their friendship so much, even though the whole time I was just mentally demanding that they kiss! It’s a slow burn, but such a wonderfully written one, and with every passing chapter, you find yourself falling a little more in love with these fantastic characters. Also, look out for all of the punny t-shirts that Hannah wears because they gave me life!
“Hannah, it’s been a long time since I’ve even been close to okay. But now, I’ve reached a level of okay I didn’t think was possible. And that’s because of you.”
They’ve both been through quite a bit in their lives, but those things have continued to push them forward instead of backwards. Yes, there are a few moments when their trauma weakens them, but I believe that only makes them stronger and into better people. Hannah’s friendship with Angie was everything, they have the most entertaining conversations and because they’re so different they fit together well. I also loved how deeply Hannah connects with those she likes, it’s never surface-level friendships, she builds the connections and strengthens them as time goes by. She likes people, plain and simple. Max is also so wonderful—his familial relationship hit me right in the feels. The way he cares for his niece when she comes to live with him, his bond with his parents, the comfortable way that he brings Hannah into his life even just as a friend.
But of course, my favourite relationship (outside of Hannah and Max, obviously) is the bromance between Johnny and Max. Guys, you are not ready for the brilliance of Johnny. He’s a charmer and a flirt, he’s got a big personality and everyone loves him for that. But what really makes him so special is his bond with Max. They’ve been friends since they were kids and that friendship is so evident in everything they do together. I loved that Max and Johnny can be total idiots together, but then they can turn around and provide each other with sage advice and a shoulder to lean on. We need more emotionally comfortable bromances, because these two slayed me. When you get to that scene, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It was perfect.
Speaking of Max and Hannah’s relationship—it’s soft as all get out. Max might be this giant of a man and Hannah might be tiny, but they fit. Their attraction towards each other is explosive and it takes its own time getting anywhere, but that’s what makes it so special. There’s a whole lot of hugging and cuddling, there’s so much witty banter and humour; it’s impossible not to love them as they fall in love with each other. Without even realising it, they’re helping the other person with small things like cooking and playing music and just being there often enough. They go from being virtual strangers drawn to each other to being friends and neighbours to falling in love even when they’re both not entirely sure they’re ready for it.
Just knowing that there are more books coming in this series makes me happy. Because I not only need more of Johnny and Angie, I need more of Lindsey’s brilliant writing!
Thanks to Lindsey Jesionowski for generously providing me with an advance copy. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.