If you read The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins and enjoyed it, then you will love Love in the Afternoon. It’s a sweet, quick read.
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SynopsisLove in the Afternoon by Karen Hawkins
Published by Simon and Schuster on June 17, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Women, Family Life, General, Romance
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.
My Thoughts on Love in the Afternoon
Love in the Afternoon is a novella in Karen Hawkins Dove Pond series
This story is short, fun, heartwarming, and a little quirky. (I really delighted over Doyle’s shenanigans.) The story deals with real-life struggles – like trusting yourself, finding yourself again after you’ve lost yourself in a relationship, parenting a neurodiverse child, venturing out of your comfort zone. I particularly appreciated the symbolism of the thorny rose bushes that have taken-over Jake’s house.
The chapters alternate between Jake and Sofia and the storytelling has a cinematic feel to it. All of the characters are likable and well-developed in the short amount of time we have to get to know them. Certainly, if this were a full-length novel, Sofia and Jake’s relationship would be a slow burn, but this is a full story told in 125 pages. Their romance is a clean, sweet, happily-ever-after.
In this novella, there are hints of the magic that surrounds the people in the town. Ava makes teas that have special properties, Sofia seems to have a special way with plants. Jake talks to ghosts. And then there’s Doyle Cloyd, whose home Sofia has moved into, and who is currently haunting Jake. (Technically, he’s haunting Jake’s bathtub, wearing nothing but a curly blond wig.)
Love in the Afternoon works well as a standalone. This novella is numbered 0.5 and was released just prior to The Book Charmer, but I think the actual timeline of the books is parallel. If you haven’t yet read either in this series, I personally would start with The Book Charmer to get an introduction to the Dove sisters and the unique abilities that they and other townspeople possess. The hints are so subtle here that you might miss it otherwise.
Sometimes a novella’s purpose is to fill in the blanks from book to book. Other times, it leaves too many unanswered questions. Love in the Afternoon is fully self-contained and complete – a tasty little bite that is entertaining and original.
Certainly, it will serve well to hold me over until the next book in the Dove Pond series, A Cup Of Silver Linings, which is Ava’s tale.
More Reads Like This:
Want to learn more about The Book Charmer, the first book in the Dove Pond series? Check out my review:
For another novel similar to The Book Charmer and Love In The Afternoon, check out my review for Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe: