Back to September by Melissa Brayden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a fantastic “love finds a way” or “second chance” type story. I enjoyed seeing the relationship blossom early an progress over time even with a few bumps and setbacks along the way. It kept me engaged the whole way through. I was genuinely curious what would happen next every time the characters got together or separated.
The characters are well written and interesting. I even liked the side characters a great deal. They had a lot of personality. The main characters worked well together and complimented each other nicely.
I really loved the pacing in this book. The main characters Hannah and Parker meet and feel their chemistry very early on, but it’s just not the right time. I really enjoyed reading a story that really focused on the struggles and obstacles after knowing who you want to be with, but being unable to make that happen for one reason or another.
Book store owner Hannah was such a well written character. She easily seemed like someone I would want to be friends with. I loved seeing right away in the story one of her major flaws, she is a bit of a book snob. This is such a relatable character quirk, both in the sense of feeling this way and knowing people who think the same way. I appreciated her willingness to set aside her opinions of romance novels in order to but the well being of her store first. Even with this, she still had some character growth to make, it wasn’t an instantaneous change.
Parker is the romance writer set to visit Hannah’s store for a book signing. She was also a great character. I really didn’t know what to expect when she was introduced. Parker was down to earth despite her success. She was likable the entire way through, just like Hannah. Her major character flaw is her abandonment issues which prevents her from getting close enough to anyone to worry about them leaving.
The instant chemistry between these two was spot on. You really wanted them to just be together, but circumstances and emotional issues kept them separating. While they both seem to know they want more, they make an attempt at maintaining a friendship instead. It’s sweet and heartbreaking to watch. I appreciated Hannah realizing she actually did want to find someone special in her life and not getting too hung up on Parker after enough time for her to get over the sting. I really felt for the girlfriend, Sheila. She was simple an innocent bystander. As sad as it is to watch other people be hurt, I really like how realistic this feels. It shows how messy love can be.
The relationship between Hannah and Parker was such an emotional roller coaster and I loved it. There was so much tension and drama with a good mix of sexiness and humor. The relationship and reasons that kept them apart felt believable. There was a long amount of time that passed between them meeting and and finally getting together for good.
The final major hurdle they overcome comes back to Parker’s fear of losing someone she is close to. Hannah suffers an attack meant for her sister and while she is hospitalized, Parker leaves. Hannah is very reasonably jaded and decides they just can’t make it work. After a bit of time passes she comes to find out that Parker remained at the hospital to keep an eye on her, but still tries to distance herself. I get Parker’s fear, but from this point to them finally getting over this and being together feels just a bit weird to me. Hannah learns after some time has passed and she hasn’t talked to Parker that Parker has more or less gone into hiding and no one is really sure where she has gone.
I had to suspend my belief just a bit that Hannah would be the only one to really think to check on her in her vacation cabin and the fact the she was so ready to forgive that Parker left her when she needed her the most. I do get that she had a good amount of time to work through the betrayal and that they do acknowledge that it will still take work to get through Parker’s emotional walls, but I just felt it was a little too easily swept under the rug. Realistically though, I feel like I simply don’t know how I would have handled a similar situation, which is not a bad thing.
I really enjoyed this book and it was different reading a first person perspective from this author and really focusing on one character.