I've had this book sitting on my Kindle for quite a while. It probably seems strange that I'd let a book by an author I know I enjoy sit and wait. But that's actually kind of the point. I like having 'back up' books. Books I'm about 99.9% sure I'm absolutely going to love and breeze through for those times when writing, reading, and blogging have put me in a collective spin and I need something that's gonna be a "sure thing".
Since I'm in the midst of editing my own book right now, I wanted something way outside my genre and my style. And since I know Marie recently published the sequel / companion to Only You--which is called Maybe You, for anyone curious--I figure I'd better get caught up! And the timing is flawless because I totally need a break from round 3 revisions right now.
In the interests of full reviewer / reader transparency: Marie Landry is a longtime friend of mine. That said, I'll do my best to give as honest a review here as I would for any other book on this blog (Or as I ever did on I Write, I Read, I Review).
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Ivy's new boss is sexy, Scottish…and comes with an expiration date.
When Ivy reluctantly takes on a new part-time job, it’s a means to an end. Doing this favor for her pain-in-the-neck roommate means Ivy can have her apartment to herself again much sooner. The last thing she expects is Hugh—the hot Scot who just happens to be her new boss—asking her out on a date. And then another. And another.
Something about Hugh makes Ivy want to let her guard down and open up, which would be perfect if he wasn't possibly returning to Scotland in a matter of weeks. But maybe that doesn’t matter. Maybe Ivy can learn to live in the moment and have a little fun, even if it means setting herself up for heartache later.
ONLY YOU is a standalone contemporary romance about taking chances, unexpected friendships, and holding on to the things—and people—that matter most.
Only You pulled me in right away and I instantly felt a connection with our leading lady, Ivy. Who can't relate to having a fabulous afternoon planned, only to have some random action taken by a roommate screw everything up? What I like about how we slipped in here is that we started with a character in flux and in action, yet the situation and 'action' was totally appropriate for the pacing and tone this book was going for.
The quality of bonds shown between Ivy and the different friends she has--from her strained relationship with 'cousin' Celia, to the pain she has clearly experienced due to her aunt Fan, to her tight bond--which was rock solid but 100% believable (Marie, you REALLY did well with the issues these two were avoiding) with Bridget. I thought the pizza scene with Marla was touching, and also loved way the potential and challenges of making new friends in adulthood as shown with Meredith.
This book focused a lot on the connections we make in life and how having a good variety of them is important, and it did this very well.
But we've been promised a Hot Scot. Did Marie deliver here? I am pleased to say that yes, she absolutely did! Not only is Hugh handsome and charming, I found his character insightful and compassionate. And not just to Ivy, but to many of the other characters at times when they needed a sprinkle of hope or encouragement. This is balanced with the fact that he does make a couple choices where I was like "Gah, dude. Wrong move!". Never in a way that was creepy, gross, or irredeemable, but rather in ways that ensured that he didn't stop being an interesting leading man and risk turning into a sugar plum.
You know the type: the Mary Sue or Gary Stu heroine / hero who lacks any errors to give them depth? That was not a problem for any of the characters here. Everybody had their ups and downs on the page, creating interesting and memorable situations which gave each key character depth and which compelled me, as a reader, to want to get to know them better. I particularly liked watching Celia grow--not surprising coming from Marie, who also wrote the memorable transformation of Ella O'Dell from Waiting for the Storm into who she is in After the Storm. But--you see?--I'm getting off topic here.
There are a few love scenes in the novel and they suit it well, doing a good job at showing the growth in Ivy and Hugh's relationship. These up the ante of what, exactly, is at stake without taking over the entire book or ever risking becoming repetitive. I'd qualify the level of sexuality / sensuality here as sensual or steamy. It's clear what's going on, so fans of more 'sweet' stuff may need to steer clear, but this isn't fully blown erotica, either.
The last key thing I need to say about Only You is something I always say about some part of Marie's writing: Santa's Village is fantastically imagined and sprinkles this book from start to finish in a layer of shortbread frosting and a pinch of sweetness and whimsy that match the overall cookies and a hot beverage vibe that I tend to be looking for in a holiday read.
This book doesn't go so overboard on holiday spirit that I felt odd reading it in August, but that slight sparkle of something extra was there. From start to finish the various settings in Only You blend to create festive romance equivalent to the perfect icing on a fresh baked batch of shortbread cookies. This helped Only You stand out as a distinct and memorable tale of love, friendship, new beginnings. At its core, this story a reminder of why it's important to remain flexible enough to be willing to embrace the possibility of change.
Purchase or Pass?:
As anticipated, Only You is a fabulous contemporary romance that does not disappoint. A perfect blend of sugar and spice, it kept me glued to my Kindle long past my bedtime. Only You is a heart warming festive romance which combines a fun premise, fabulous friendships, an extremely likable lead couple and just the right amount of cheer to keep things balanced from start to finish. Highly recommended!