Thank you to Kensington Books for providing my review copy of Love at First
Kate Clayborn is a romance author that I keep seeing on bookstagram and Twitter – reviewers I love and respect have pretty much all unanimously adored her books. When I saw her new book, Love at First, available for request on Netgalley, I jumped at the opportunity.
Sixteen years ago, a teenaged Will Sterling saw—or rather, heard—the girl of his dreams. Standing beneath an apartment building balcony, he shared a perfect moment with a lovely, warm-voiced stranger. It’s a memory that’s never faded, though he’s put so much of his past behind him. Now an unexpected inheritance has brought Will back to that same address, where he plans to offload his new property and get back to his regular life as an overworked doctor. Instead, he encounters a woman, two balconies above, who’s uncannily familiar . . .
No matter how surprised Nora Clarke is by her reaction to handsome, curious Will, or the whispered pre-dawn conversations they share, she won’t let his plans ruin her quirky, close-knit building. Bound by her loyalty to her adored grandmother, she sets out to foil his efforts with a little light sabotage. But beneath the surface of their feud is an undeniable connection. A balcony, a star-crossed couple, a fateful meeting—maybe it’s the kind of story that can’t work out in the end. Or maybe, it’s the perfect second chance . . .
The best way to describe this book is: cozy. It mostly takes place in the confines of Nora’s condo building: a building with six units where everyone is like family, except for Will. When Will moves in and threatens to upend the tiny community, Nora and the residents of the building decide to take matters into their own hands to protect their little family. From a plot point of view – things never get too angsty, which I really liked. The hijinks to stop Will from ruining their little community were never too over the top.
I loved the found family aspect of Love at First – from a young age, Nora was adopted into the community of her Nonna’s condo building. It was a tight knit community that was almost too involved in each others’ lives. Though some of the side characters didn’t have a ton of story of their own, they did a great job supporting Nora’s story and helping her grow throughout the book.
The romance between Nora and Will felt very organic and realistic – their chemistry was found in their quiet moments. Even though they had very different opinions of what the condo building’s future should look like, they were undeniably attracted to each other. I really liked that they were a little on the slow burn side of things – they took their time warming up to each other and acknowledging their feelings. I also really appreciated their communication skills – even when they had a fairly big fight, they were able to talk through it afterwards and it didn’t feel over the top angsty.
Love at First was a cozy romance that was reminiscent of early 2000s rom-coms in the best way. I love the fact that it was fairly low angst, especially given the conflict between the main two characters – they had healthy coping mechanisms and their relationship felt really realistic. I can’t wait to pick up more Kate Clayborn books in the future – she definitely feels like a new favorite author for me. If you’re looking for other good romance books, check out The Ex Talk and One Day in December. 5/5