Marlo Spencer relishes all things retro. Old TV shows, classic movies, and even the collectible lunch boxes to go with them. In fact, she’s quite cozy in her Malibu apartment, surrounded by her treasured knick-knacks and vintage memorabilia. It’s her best friend, Nik, who doesn’t get her fascination with all that “old junk,” as he calls it. He especially doesn’t understand why she’s so keen to get back to their hometown of Napa when her high school sweetheart, Josh, suddenly returns after twelve years in Paris and nary a single phone call, eager to reunite with her. So, when Marlo heads up north to wine country to rekindle her relationship with Josh, Nik tags along, claiming he was already planning to visit his sister, Savannah, Marlo’s gal pal. Once they reach Napa, however, dreams of a blissful reunion are shattered as old secrets and past betrayals are revealed, leaving an unsuspecting Marlo to pick up the pieces. Can she forgive and forget, or will true love find a different path to her heart?
Lydia - 3.5 Star
I enjoyed True Love Way which is about being true to yourself, following your heart and finding what is right in your life, whether it is what you expected or not. Family and friendship holds a huge theme in this light hearted read about pining away for the one that got away and then discovering maybe he wasn’t what you thought or remembered in the first place.
The whole friendship dynamic in True Love Way made me nostalgic for Friends and I wanted bury myself under the covers and watch reruns. Marlo has two best friends. Her bestie from childhood, Savannah, lives several hours away from Marlo and has a pre-teen daughter who Marlo helped raise when she was a child. Savannah’s much older brother, Nik, has become Marlo’s other best friend when they both moved to the same city knowing only each other. Marlo and Nik hang out all the time. Now add Josh, Marlo’s high school sweetheart, who shows up a decade after breaking her heart by moving to Paris without her and whose return turns all their lives upside down.
From the outset, I could see how clueless Marlo was that Nik was completely besotted with her (no spoiler – it’s pretty obvious) and I really loved Nik. He was kind, courteous and loved Marlo’s great Aunt Margaret who he always visited along with Marlo and helped her whenever he could. He was nice. And lovely. And then there was Josh, who I hated. I wanted to punch him in the face. And then punch Marlo when she didn’t listen to the little nagging feelings of negativity that kept popping up.
I couldn’t understand how Marlo would suddenly run back to an ex-boyfriend. Having never had this inclination myself, I couldn’t really relate to this aspect of the story and how she assumed they would go waltzing down the aisle even though he broke her heart so many years ago. Marlo and Josh had made a pact during a tender teenage moment and she presumed it was all to work out now that the pact date loomed? What? Just because they made a stupid pact, it negates her previous broken heart? Wouldn’t he just do it all over again? Did she really want to be his backup plan? I wanted to shake Marlo and show her what was right in front of her and how much of a jack-ass Josh was.
At the same time I could relate to how she wanted her happy ending so she ignored some signs she probably should have paid more attention to. I think all of us overlook some things in order to get our happy ending, whether it’s things we should ignore or not and eventually I could relax because Marlo slowly started to trust her instincts.
There was such a strong focus on relationships in this novel – not just love relationships - and I loved that. Even with a secret revealed that threatens them (which was a bit obvious for my taste), all the friendships and family ties were so strong and I think this was the strength of True Love Way. I absolutely adored Marlo’s great aunt, Margaret, and that Marlo and Nik had such a lovely relationship with her, visiting, cooking and watching old movies with her. Even Marlo’s relationship with her parents was strong and seemed realistic to me, even though I probably wouldn’t share as much with my family, being a little more private than some. Even Marlo’s relationships with her friends was more like family. These connections are what will stick with me most about True Love Way.
One thing that I want to mention is the title and cover. Unfortunately a book is often judged by its cover and I wish it had been stronger to compliment this story which is much stronger than both. I didn't base any part of my review rating on this, but I wanted to mention it because I really don't think they do True Love Way justice and I wish more attention had been given to them.
As this novel wrapped up, twinges of emotion wormed through me which says a lot. Although not entirely original and a bit predictable, I enjoyed Marlo’s path to self-discovery and especially loved the abundance of close relationships in this novel.
Thank you to Simon and Fig for our review copy!
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