Twice in a Blue Moon
It is much easier, and infinitely more enjoyable, to write a review of a book that I either love or hate. So, revisiting and critiquing Christina Lauren’s Twice in a Blue Moon has been a challenge. This ‘meh’ contemporary second-chance romance is entertaining, but unmemorable.
While visiting London to celebrate her eighteenth birthday, California girl Tate Jones meets and falls hard for Vermonter Sam Brandis. The besotted young adults quickly become inseparable, spending tender moments together in the garden of their hotel. Tate’s affinity for Sam prompts her to reveal to him a family secret – her true identity. Tate Jones is actually Tate Butler, the estranged daughter of famous Hollywood actor Ian Butler. As Tate and Sam’s time together nears an end, they tacitly agree to continue their relationship at a distance. However, their romantic plans are ruined when Sam abruptly leaves London without a goodbye. Devastated by Sam’s betrayal and the drama that subsequently unfolds, Tate is unable to trust men. (By this point in the narrative, I had become completely hooked.)
Fourteen years later, Tate is a movie actress preparing to star in her first leading role alongside her narcissistic actor-father. She is stunned when she learns that Sam is the screenwriter with whom she must work for the next two months. (Sam is described as “Tom Hardy, but taller.” Any and all comparisons to Tom Hardy automatically receive my enthusiastic thumbs up.) While on location at a remote California farm, a penitent Sam explains to Tate his reason for suddenly dropping out of her life. (His confession is a little far-fetched and questionably forgivable. By this point in the narrative, I had become officially unhooked.) Tate’s anger toward Sam is quickly replaced by love and desire. But, she is conflicted. On one hand, Tate yearns to rediscover love with Sam; on the other, she wants to run from the man who broke her heart.
The first ten chapters of Twice in a Blue Moon are thoroughly captivating. Christina Lauren beautifully describes first love – the exhilaration of infatuation and the beauty of connection. Young adult Tate and Sam are a charming pair; their fondness for each other is deeply felt on the pages. I fell in love with them as they fell in love with each other.
Unfortunately, adult Tate and Sam are not as endearing or as well-drawn as their younger selves, and their reunion lacks the time and reflection necessary to truly start anew. This gives their reignited passion the appearance of inauthenticity. Slow, uneven pacing is ultimately to blame. Too much time is spent on inconsequential characters, a tepid flirtation between Tate and her movie co-star, and Tate’s obsessive inner dialogues. Sexual tension does not gradually build to a satisfying crescendo and not enough focus is placed on Tate and Sam’s acquaintance. (After all, it has been fourteen years since they last spoke to each other.) Their second-chance journey lacks the excitement of rediscovering friendship and exploring new depths as lovers, and the intriguing turn of events that occurs at the very end of the novel – which raises the stakes on Tate and Sam’s new relationship – is resolved quickly and with relative ease. Christina Lauren delivers a romantic conclusion to Tate and Sam’s story that is sure to satisfy readers, but although Twice in a Blue Moon’s message of hope in reclaiming lost love is hard to resist, it is, ultimately, a middling romance with more style than substance.
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