Not Quite Over You
I found myself pleasantly surprised by Not Quite Over You. In the first few chapters, I was convinced it might go from a little too sweet to outright ridiculous, but Ms. Mallery reined it in and delivered a book I can ultimately recommend, provided you’re in the mood for something light and frothy.
Silver Tesdal is a woman with a complex backstory. She lives and works in Happily Inc, a small town formed specifically to be a wedding destination. She wants to expand her one-woman travelling bar business and has applied – and been turned down – for loans by a couple of banks. When we first meet her, Silver is applying for a loan with the local bank – which happens to be owned by the family of her ex, Drew Lovato. It’s not an ideal situation, but Silver feels it’s her last hope.
Silver is depressed enough when the bank turns her down and running into Drew on the way out doesn’t help. He offers to talk to the loan officer for her, but she firmly declines and goes on her merry way. She’s determined to forget about the matter, but Drew spends the next two days reviewing possible options to get her the money. He realizes the loan committee considers her a bad risk, so he considers lending though the bank using his own money but since that option violates federal banking statutes and would likely result in prison time for him, decides against it. Acting on a bit of a whim and nostalgia, Drew decides instead to invest in Silver’s business, and thus becomes a minority partner. He’s been nagged by a lot of ‘what-ifs’ from their shared past, and he hopes that working with her will allow him to figure out if they could still be something to each other after all these years.
I have to stop for minute here and address the elephant in the review. No one in their right mind looks at an ex – with whom they haven’t had significant contact in years – and thinks, ‘I should go into business with her. And if our past romantic history doesn’t make things awkward enough at the start, I’ll also try to rekindle our old flame, to make certain this whole experience is weird and not business-like.’ It’s ridiculous, and yet this is what goes through Drew’s mind. To make the scenario even more strange, we then find out that Silver got pregnant at eighteen and gave the child up for adoption. She broke up with Drew when he went off to college, knowing the golden boy from one of the town’s leading families didn’t need to stay tied down to a girlfriend from the wrong side of the tracks. When Silver subsequently realized she was pregnant, she visited him at college to tell him. They agreed they weren’t ready to be parents and that Silver would give the baby up, and basically never spoke of it again. Given all this history, a little awkwardness between Silver and Drew felt normal and expected. It’s Drew’s plan to partner in her business which is odd.
Luckily, at least Silver reacts like a normal person, and is initially adamant that she doesn’t want to work with Drew. He manages to wear her down with protestations that he will keep things professional, and that his business experience could benefit her company. Silver reluctantly agrees, and surprisingly, the partnership does go well. Drew helps Silver work some events, while Silver allows herself to consider his advice as she starts to expand and hire new employees. As Drew hoped, their proximity starts to influence their feelings for each other, but even that goes smoothly, with the two agreeing that their relationship should develop slowly, without interfering in the business.
However, this doesn’t last, and fate throws a wrench in the works when their daughter comes to town. Silver had an open adoption and stayed in touch with the couple who adopted her daughter, whom they named Autumn. The couple eventually divorced, and now Leigh, the mother, has plans to get remarried in Happily Inc. Autumn will be in the wedding party and then stay with Silver for the week of her mother’s honeymoon. Everything is great, except for the fact that Drew has no idea Silver is involved in their daughter’s life.
Not Quite Over You is almost split into two story arcs, with the first one seeing Silver and Drew resume their relationship, and the second seeing them navigate the issue of their daughter. Each arc has its good and bad points, though in the end I felt the good outweighed the bad.
As I’ve already said, I did not like the way Drew approached his and Silver’s reunion. Investment in her business seemed like a very strange step to take, particularly given their extensive history. However, Silver’s more realistic reaction to his plans and the calm way they managed to develop their business relationship did offset some of my dissatisfaction. As far as the Autumn-related drama goes, there’s a clear villain in Drew’s mother, who doesn’t care to know her granddaughter and wants to separate Drew and Silver. It’s nice to see Drew trying to get to know Autumn and figure out what his role will be in her life, but the one-dimensional nature of his scheming mother detracts from the story. While everyone else is dealing with conflicting emotions and trying to grow into better people, she just decides she doesn’t want to even acknowledge the existence of her granddaughter, because it could interfere with her political ambitions for Drew. Ambitions he doesn’t even share.
If you’re a fan of Ms. Mallery or cozy small-town romances, you may enjoy Not Quite Over You. Happily Inc. certainly fits the small-town stereotype despite its odd name – there are couples from previous books running all over, making friends and setting the scene for future books. Although I hadn’t read anything else in the Happily Inc series, it felt familiar enough to just jump into. And while I definitely found some elements of the story to be improbable, in the end I liked it more than I expected and can even see myself reading something else from the series.