Second First Impressions (2021) is the third book I’ve read by Sally Thorne. I first heard of The Hating Game through Cannonball and unexpectedly loved it. Because of this, I was very excited when Thorne’s second book, 99 Percent Mine, came out. Unfortunately, it did not live up to my newly raised expectations. However, my memories of The Hating Game were strong enough that as soon as I heard Thorne had written a third book, I scrambled to find it at the library. I generally enjoyed Second First Impressions, but it wasn’t my favorite. I would place it firmly in second place.
Ruthie Midona is only twenty four, but she’s old at heart, which is why her job at a retirement community is perfect for her. She’s been working there since she was eighteen and has no plans to leave. The retirement community is safe and predictable, which is exactly what she wants. She spends all of her time there, even living on site.
But change comes to Ruthie when her boss goes on vacation, leaving her in charge. First, her new assistant, Melanie, convinces her to start online dating–in baby steps. Second, the retirement community has recently been sold to Mr. Prescott, a rich, investor. Not only is there the uncertainty of what he’s going to do with the place, but he drops his deadbeat son, Teddy Prescott, on their doorstep, requiring them to employ him in some fashion.
Ruthie decides that the perfect job for Teddy is assistant to Renata Parloni and her sister. Renata is crazy and vivacious, and she and her sister have run through an endless stream of assistants because they mistreat them dreadfully. But instead of failing miserably, Teddy triumphs; comfortable in any situation, he endears himself to everyone around him.
Both Teddy and Ruthie are now living on the retirement grounds, and as they spend more time together they grow closer. Teddy has to figure out what he wants and iron out some longstanding family issues. Ruthie has to figure out why she’s been avoiding life for so long and open herself up to growth.
I did have a couple of problems with this book. First, it seemed unrealistic that Mr. Prescott could waltz into a fully developed retirement community and threaten to sell it. You can’t get a large group of rich, old people together and threaten their homes without some significant pushback. It’s not easy for old people to move. If they think they’ve found the place they’re going to comfortably live out their days, I’d like to see someone push them out. I’m also assuming their leases would reflect this. Second, I was a little uncomfortable with the dynamic between Renata Parloni and her assistant. It worked all right only because Renata was entertaining and Kenny was so good natured and unbothered by her games. This could have turned into a tale of nightmare sexual harassment and major overstepping of boundaries by an employer.
On the whole, I liked this book. It was generally entertaining and unique. Both Ruthie and Teddy are likable and Teddy can be very fun. I’m glad they ended up together. However, this book seemed to lack a little something. I couldn’t quite understand why the lead characters liked each other, and it seemed to be missing an intensity between them that you could really feel in The Hating Game.
You can find all my reviews on my blog.