Second First Impressions ARC Review

Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance / Women’s Fiction

Heat Level: 🔥

Publisher: William Morrow

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and audiobook courtesy of Harper Audio &


Distraction (n): an extreme agitation of the mind or emotions.

Ruthie Midona has worked the front desk at the Providence Luxury Retirement Villa for six years, dedicating her entire adult life to caring for the Villa’s residents, maintaining the property (with an assist from DIY YouTube tutorials), and guarding the endangered tortoises that live in the Villa’s gardens. Somewhere along the way, she’s forgotten that she’s young and beautiful, and that there’s a world outside of work—until she meets the son of the property developer who just acquired the retirement center.

Teddy Prescott has spent the last few years partying, sleeping in late, tattooing himself when bored, and generally not taking life too seriously—something his father, who dreams of grooming Teddy into his successor, can’t understand. When Teddy needs a place to crash, his father seizes the chance to get him to grow up. He’ll let Teddy stay in one of the on-site cottages at the retirement home, but only if he works to earn his keep. Teddy agrees—he can change a few lightbulbs and clip some hedges, no sweat. But Ruthie has plans for Teddy too.

Her two wealthiest and most eccentric residents have just placed an ad (yet another!) seeking a new personal assistant to torment. The women are ninety-year-old, four-foot-tall menaces, and not one of their assistants has lasted a full week. Offering up Teddy seems like a surefire way to get rid of the tall, handsome, unnerving man who won’t stop getting under her skin.

Ruthie doesn’t count on the fact that in Teddy Prescott, the Biddies may have finally met their match. He’ll pick up Chanel gowns from the dry cleaner and cut Big Macs into bite-sized bits. He’ll do repairs around the property, make the residents laugh, and charm the entire villa. He might even remind Ruthie what it’s like to be young and fun again. But when she finds out Teddy’s father’s only fixing up the retirement home to sell it, putting everything she cares about in jeopardy, she’s left wondering if Teddy’s magic was all just a façade.

From the USA Today  bestselling author of The Hating Game and 99 Percent Mine comes the clever, funny, and unforgettable story of a muscular, tattooed man hired as an assistant to two old women—under the watchful eye of a beautiful retirement home manager.


Ruthie Midona loves working at the Providence Luxury Retirement Villa. She feels safe and loves taking care of everyone at the retirement home. From the little golden endangered tortoises to the residents who live there – Ruthie doesn’t ever want to leave the comfort of being there.

That is, until she meets Teddy Prescott. Teddy is the opposite of Ruthie. He is brash, bold and a lady’s man. Where Ruthie is buttoned up, Teddy is tattooed and moves from place to place at a moments notice. Turns out Teddy is the son of the owner of the retirement home. But Teddy’s father is tired of him not being reliable and tells Teddy he can have a place to stay at the retirement home if he earns his keep.

Thus begins Teddy’s job as an assistant to two cranky 90 year old women. Teddy has run all of their errands and do everything they ask him to. Ruthie doesn’t think he’ll last a week! Will Teddy show Ruthie that there’s more out there than the comfort of the retirement villa. And can Teddy stand to be in one place too long or will he bolt as he keeps saying he will.

Second First Impressions was one of my most anticipated books of this year. Sally Thorne is an amazing author and she has a way with her words that just make you feel. But sadly Second First Impressions missed the mark for me. I had a really hard time connecting with Teddy or Ruthie and definitely did not feel the chemistry or attraction between them. Where Ruthie was so charming and sweet, Teddy was abrasive and hard to like. His jokes fell flat and I really couldn’t see why Ruthie was so charmed by him.

While I loved Ruthie’s friends and the people who reside at the retirement home, I just felt like there was a lot going on without really anything happening. I did eventually enjoy the friendship between Teddy and Ruthie, but the romance aspect of it wasn’t working for me.


Story: 3
Narration: 4
Overall: 3

This was the first book that I listened to narrated by Jennifer Jill Araya. I thought she did a wonderful job voicing Ruthie. I could always tell when other characters were being voiced by the change in her voice!

While Second First Impressions isn’t my favorite book by Sally Thorne, I did enjoy Ruthie’s character and her growth by the end of the book.


Enemies To Lovers Romances

Do you have a favorite romance trope that you find yourself reading over and over again? For me that trope is enemies-to-lovers/hate-to-love. I am such a sucker for these romances! Something about that initial hate with underlying sizzling chemistry that I fall for every single time.

Sometimes the hate elements is greater than the love and vice versa. I really need to feel a bit of the angst in the enemies-to-lovers romances for them to really stand out for me. But overall, this is definitely a trope that I gravitate towards.

Here are a few of my favorite enemies-to-lovers romances!

A Favor for a Favor by Helena Hunting

Immediately from the get-go I knew I was going to love this book. Bishop and Stevie had such great chemistry even though they got off on the wrong foot (ahem, very wrong foot). Bishop is a complete grump/jerk, but so protective of the people he loves and I loved him! I loved the daily shenanigans between Bishop and Stevie – they had me laughing out loud but the scenes between these two were also smoking hot! This book had the slowest of slow burns with plenty of sexual tension.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

“I type my password: IHATEJOSHUA4EV@.”I mean that sets the premise for this enemis-to-lovers office romance. Lucy and Josh HATE each other something fierce, or do they? The Hating Game had so much angst and had my heart racing constantly, but I could not stop reading this book. The hating game that Josh and Lucy incorporated into their everyday boring office life made this book that much more exciting. A favorite that I have re-read many times!

The Simple Wild by KA Tucker

The chemistry between Jonah and Calla was so amazing. As soon as these two have their first scene together, you are rooting for them to end up together. I loved the witty banter between these two. I hated Jonah and yet I also loved his personality and the way he would needle Calla. I loved loved loved the fact that both Jonah and Calla got to know one another first. They started off on the wrong foot, but the more you got to know both Calla and Jonah the more you hoped and wished for their love story to continue.

Lawless by Nora Roberts

A western romance by Queen Nora? Yes please! Nora Roberts is generally known for writing contemporary romances (usually suspenseful romances), but I loved her foray into historical/western romance. Jake Redman comes across as this rude, horrible gunslinger, but the more Sarah finds out about him the further she falls in love with this complicated man. Okay I will admit, I bought this paperback when it came out in 2003 and it has held a special place in my heart. I LOVE the witty banter, the way these two misfits “hate” each other, but also keep coming back to each other.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Immediately you sense the hatred between Ethan and Olive but it’s still so fun to see them interact and watch sparks fly. It’s always so fun watching an enemies to lovers trope unfold and Ethan and Olive have so many hurdles thrown at them it made it extra fun! If you want an enemies-to-lovers romance that will have you laughing out loud – grab this book!

Truly Madly Yours by Rachel Gibson

When hairdresser Delaney Shaw returns home to Truly, Idaho, she doesn’t expect to run into Nick Allegrezza. The resident bad boy in town. Delaney and Nick have always had a love/hate relationship and that relationship becomes even more complicated now that they are adults. Definitely a favorite old school Rachel Gibson book!

The Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare

I enjoyed the banter between Gabriel Duke and Penny so much! I am a sucker for grumpy meets sunshine and that was definitely the relationship between Penny and Gabriel. Gabriel initially doesn’t want anything to do with Penny or her animals, but I loved the slow transformation of how he came to care for Penny so much.

After the Night by Linda Howard

After the Night is the romance between Hope and Gray. Gray and Hope have a push and pull attraction to one another that neither of them initially want. Gray hates Hope and her family for what they have done to his family in return. And hope…she wants nothing to do with Gray but has to be surrounded by him based on a mystery she is trying to solve from the past. I LOVE this old school romance from Linda Howard. Perfect amount of romantic suspense filled with sizzling sexual tension!

Big Bad Cowboy by Carly Bloom

Travis hasn’t had much experience running his family’s ranch and instead is relying on other forms of income taking on a few landscaping jobs to make ends meet. Maggie Mackey runs Petal Pushers a landscape and garden business in Big Verde and now she has competition in the form of one Travis Blake. When Maggie and Travis end up having to work together on a project together sparks fly. I loved their initial hate towards one another and how that slowly evolved into friendship. The witty banter between Travis and Maggie was so great and the chemistry was undeniable. The Halloween party and the Little Red Riding Hood and Big Bad Wolf scenes were hot hot hot and I loved each and every one of them!

It Happened One Wedding by Julie James

After a meet-cute that goes terribly wrong, agent Vaughn Roberts finds himself in the same wedding party as the maid of honor Sidney Sinclar (yes, the same woman who rejected his advances). I’ve re-read It Happened One Wedding so many times and I never get tired of it! Julie James writes such good witty banter and the banter between Sidney and Vaughn was exceptional. I’m a huge fan of enemies-to-lovers and this book nailed down that trope so perfectly. You immediately sense the hate between Vaughn and Sidney, but their underlying sexual current is always just as active.

Hot Asset by Lauren Layne

When Wall Street hot-shot Ian Bradley has to prove to FBI agent Lara McKenzie that he wasn’t privy to insider trading information – sparks fly. These two definitely hate each other and don’t always see eye to eye, but what starts off has a mutual dislike slowly morphs into something more. Hot Asset had it all – a great plot, suspense to keep you guessing until the very end and a great romance between the two leads

The Hating Game Review

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Office Romance

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Heat Rating: 🔥🔥

Do you re-read books? And if you do re-read what makes you want to re-read a particular book? I re-read a lot and always have. There are just some books that really stick with me and I love to re-visit them. Sometimes I will only go back to certain parts that I loved and other times I will re-read the whole book.

With The Hating Game – I have re-read this book at least three times. Each time I re-read this book I love it just as much or more. I think there’s something to be said for re-reading a book. You know what’s going to happen and it’s familiar. And in a time like today where a lot of us are stressed out or don’t have the mental capacity to read a new book a re-read can be something akin to a warm hug.

This time around I listened to the audiobook of The Hating Game and Katie Schorr has such a wonderful voice. She embodies Lucy so perfectly and I love the different ways she can portray happiness or sorrow or regret.

At the hart of The Hating Game is an enemies-to-lovers story and I am a sucker for enemies-to-lovers. Lucy and Josh LOVE to HATE each other. Lucy’s password is IHATEJOSHUA4EV@ – I mean she even hates him in her passwords!

I loved every single game that Lucy and Josh played with one another. The feelings they have for each other are so palpable. But then…then Josh goes and turns Lucy’s worlds upside down and she doesn’t know which game they’re playing anymore.

There are so many little things that makes this book perfect! Sally Thorne does such a great job writing both Josh and Lucy. This book has the perfect amount of angst, steam and sweetness. Even after re-reading it multiple times there are still parts of this book where I had tears streaming down my face (and not always because I was feeling sad). If you love a great enemies to lovers romance please run to pick this book up!