Also by this author: Things We Hide from the Light, Things We Left Behind (Knockemout, #3)
Published by That's What She Said Publishing on January 12, 2022
Genres: Adult Fiction, Romance
Pages: 572 •Format: E-Book •Source: Kindle Unlimited
Bearded, bad-boy barber Knox prefers to live his life the way he takes his coffee: Alone. Unless you count his basset hound, Waylon. Knox doesn’t tolerate drama, even when it comes in the form of a stranded runaway bride.
Naomi wasn’t just running away from her wedding. She was riding to the rescue of her estranged twin to Knockemout, Virginia, a rough-around-the-edges town where disputes are settled the old-fashioned way…with fists and beer. Usually in that order.
Too bad for Naomi her evil twin hasn’t changed at all. After helping herself to Naomi’s car and cash, Tina leaves her with something unexpected. The niece Naomi didn’t know she had. Now she’s stuck in town with no car, no job, no plan, and no home with an 11-year-old going on thirty to take care of.
There’s a reason Knox doesn’t do complications or high-maintenance women, especially not the romantic ones. But since Naomi’s life imploded right in front of him, the least he can do is help her out of her jam. And just as soon as she stops getting into new trouble he can leave her alone and get back to his peaceful, solitary life.
At least, that’s the plan until the trouble turns to real danger.
Where have Kindle Unlimited romances been all of my life? Because let me tell you, I am having the best time reading them! It seems like some are also increasingly getting more mainstream attention, including Things We Never Got Over, which was a Goodreads Awards Nominee for Best Romance in 2022. I had seen this title kicking around on social media so decided to download it when I went on my initial KU downloading spree at the beginning of 2023. I was not disappointed, as the book nearly perfectly satisfied my craving for a small town romance!
Things We Never Got Over is a grumpy-sunshine romance (a trope I’m admittedly newer to reading) that follows Naomi, a runaway bride who ends up in the small town of Knockmeout under the impression that she’s helping out her sister. Unfortunately (but not surprisingly) this is a ruse for her sister to steal her cash and car and leave her pre-teen niece. Stuck in a new town with a minor to take care of and no money, Naomi rallies and starts the build a life with the help of the friendly locals.
Sounds like the premise for many small town romance books, right? And in many ways it is. The townies are colorful characters that have you coming back for more, there’s conveniently a cute cottage in slight disrepair that the heroine is able to move into, and there’s of course the rough around the edges local dude who butts heads with the city slicker new-in-town girl. It literally has the framework of every Hallmark Christmas movie, lol. However, there were elements that made this story feel fresh and fun for me, such as:
- Naomi’s niece, Waylay: It was fun seeing Naomi and Waylay bond and see Naomi help Waylay navigate the beginnings of her pre-teen years, while also helping her to come into her own after having been parentified by her Mom, Tina, for so many years.
- Naomi’s sister, Tina: At times Tina seemed almost like a caricature because she was just honestly TOO awful, but I liked the element of mystery that Tina’s plotline brought to the story (and certainly wasn’t expecting it- that ending was surprising but also kind of hilarious)
- Nash and Lucien: While I wasn’t a huge fan of the love interest (more on that in a bit) I found the other male secondary leads to be intriguing and swoon-worthy, and I’m eagerly awaiting reading their books!
- Sloan: I’ll take a badass librarian character any day!
- A cool Grandma: Ok, this probably isn’t that unique but I haven’t read many books with this trope.
- Age of characters: The main characters were in their 30-40s! We love to see a more mature, age appropriate romance! (Except they acted more like they were in their 20s mentally but oh well, lol)
The reason I really and truly can’t give this book 5 stars is the romantic interest, Knox. He was a J-E-R-K. Look, I get that the grumpy-sunshine trope is so popular for a reason, and so is hate-to-love, and my favorite book is ACOMAF for crying out loud. But Knox REALLY rubbed me the wrong way. He was just so overly controlling, rude, dismissive, etc….I was still holding a grudge long after the end of the book. I wanted more for Naomi. I knew they weren’t end game, but I was team Naomi/Nash all the way. I understand this is fiction but I could NEVER be with someone like Knox and his behavior was so out of line that I had a hard time rooting for the romance, even with the chemistry/spice/steam whatever. I fully understand this is a me problem, but I think the author could have toned it down several notches when it came to his character. I can do some grumpy-sunshine (The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker comes to mind) but for me this was over the top. Again, just my opinion!
Overall: I loved getting lost in the town of Knockmeout for a few days, and I have very, very high hopes for the next books in the series (especially Lucian’s book). I think if you’re not too bothered by the grumpy-sunshine trope you’ll enjoy this one!