Not Like the Movies
Rom-com movie tropes and zany characters abound in Not Like the Movies, the page-turning sequel to Kerry Winfrey’s wildly popular Waiting for Tom Hanks. This meta-aware ‘romedy’ delivers witty banter and tender moments that make for an entertaining read. However, the threads of family crisis and BFF tensions are frequently more engaging than the romance that develops between the fickle protagonist and her stalwart love interest.
Chloe Sanderson does not believe in happily ever after or true love. Besides, her busy life is not exactly conducive to maintaining a romantic relationship. The almost-thirty-year-old barista takes online business classes toward earning her college degree, regularly bakes treats to sell at the coffee shop where she works, and cares for her father whose Alzheimer’s necessitates his living in an assisted facility. Chloe is also dealing with newfound celebrity. Her best friend, Annie, has written an upcoming rom-com flick inspired by the antagonistic chemistry between quirky Chloe and her boss, Nick Velez, who smells like a sexy grandpa. (I can only assume that Nick’s scent is a pungent blend of Old Spice and Vitalis with a hint of gorgonzola cheese. #justlikemygrandpa)
With the theatrical release approaching and the internet blogs’ obsession with Nick’s alter ego, Rick, Chloe begins to regard Nick as potential boyfriend material. Somewhere in between trading sarcastic barbs and sharing a power-outage kiss, the couple’s feelings for each other grow into something more. Chloe adamantly insists that her life is not a cute rom-com destined for a happy ending… or is it?
As the sole narrator, Chloe enchants readers with her bold personality, funny insights, and honest introspection. She constructively copes with her father’s illness and personal relationship issues by dressing in colorful clothes, listening to yacht music (think Doobie Brothers and Christopher Cross), and allowing herself to indulge in Five-Minute Cry sessions. Also, her ability to throw a bachelorette party for two complete with phallic decorations is second to none.
However sympathetic she may be, Chloe is a walking contradiction. Although she is a self-described optimist, she plays the long-suffering martyr card and eschews romantic notions. She is kind and generous to her father and Annie but takes advantage of Nick and her hookup partner and treats them with varying degrees of disregard. These inconsistencies made it difficult at times to trust Chloe and to reconcile her off-putting behavior. On the other hand, Nick is a solid character who possesses the requisite attributes of the perfect romance hero, and he makes a mean tortilla soup.
The opposites-attract romance between Chloe and Nick is satisfying but lacks total believability. While I can reasonably understand why Chloe is in love with Nick, I can’t clearly explain why Nick has fallen in love with Chloe. Unfortunately, Nick isn’t a very talkative character and Winfrey does not offer insights from his point of view. I am nonetheless happy for the couple and chalk it up to rom-com magic.
Not Like the Movies ends with a ‘rom-com-rific’ denouement that spectacularly showcases Kerry Winfrey’s writing talent. Romantic comedy readers who also identify as rom-com movie junkies will adore Winfrey’s ode to big screen romances.
Buy it at: Amazon, Audible, or your local independent bookstore
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