Steam: 💋 (Sex is heavily implied, but not described on the page)
Release Date: May 3rd, 2022
CW: mentions of divorce, infidelity (secondary character, off page), mentions of paranoid schizophrenia
English professor Athena Murphy is an authority on the novels of the Brontë sisters. But as they say in academia, publish or perish. To save her job, Athena decides to write a biography of C.L. Garland, the author heating up bestseller lists with spicy retellings of classic literature. Tracking down the reclusive writer and uncovering her secret identity, though, means Athena must return to her small midwestern hometown where Garland—and her ex-boyfriend, Thorne Kent—live.
Seeing Thorne again reminds Athena that real life never lives up to fiction. He was the Heathcliff to her Catherine, the Mr. Rochester to her Jane. Not only did their college breakup shatter that illusion, but they also broke each other’s hearts again a second time. Now she has to see him nearly every…single…day.
The only solution is to find C.L. Garland as quickly as possible, write the book, and get the heck out of town. As her deadline looms and the list of potential C.L. Garlands dwindles, Athena and Thorne bicker and banter their way back to friendship. Could it really be true that the third time’s a charm?
Athena and Thorne have a love story only a Brontë could write, and the chance for their own happily-ever-after, but first, they’ll need to forgive the mistakes of the past.
This book was such a treat. Not only did I not read the blurb to remind myself of what the book was about before I started, but I also decided not to read any reviews either. And I’m so glad. Because I enjoyed this book so much more than I thought I would and having read some of the reviews now, I’m glad I didn’t let those change my thoughts about the book.
First of all, I am so happy that Athena Murphy was a fan of the Brontë Sisters and not obsessing over Jane Austen like most other characters in her position would. I also loved how thorny she was—for good reason!—and how she stayed consistent with her thorniness through the book. We need more heroines who aren’t perfect and happy and bubbly all the time, but still completely loveable and interesting. And that’s who Athena was. I admired her drive, passion and determination. I loved that she refused to back down even when things at work were not going according to plan. I love that she took initiative, even if she was aware that it was possible it would all fall apart. In short, I truly just loved everything about Athena and wanted more.
Thorne was also an incredibly interesting character, but I felt like there was a lot about him that was shrouded in mystery. I mean, I get why there wasn’t too much shared about him outside of his family drama and his feelings for Athena, but I would have really loved to get to know him better. The way we got to see Athena’s life in general.
The chemistry between these characters was fun. It’s a second chance romance, so obviously there’s all this pent up frustrations about how things ended the first time. There’s lots of great banter, a good amount of sniping and arguing, but it’s all building into this delicious tension that I absolutely enjoyed. I loved their relationship, but their romance felt very secondary to the other subplots. Speaking of which, there’s a lot going on in this book—break-ups, new relationships developing, crushes and work drama—so pace yourself.
I really enjoyed every single secondary character, because they all brought something interesting to the story. But like I said before, they became more exciting than the romance between Athena and Thorne, which might have been the point of the story as well?
There’s a bunch of secrets, some trips down memory lane and a miscommunication situation from the past that really unsettles Athena and Thorne. The conflict and everything about their relationship really only happens towards the end, which left me feeling a little rushed through that. I was also surprised by the closed door aspect of the book given all the tension that the characters built up. However, not having open door scenes didn’t take away from the story itself.
All in all, I loved this debut by Annie Sereno and I’m definitely looking forward to more of her books!
Thanks to Forever for generously providing me with an advance copy. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.