Love for Beginners (Wildstone) – book review

Love for Beginners
by Jill Shalvis
Release Date:  June 8, 2021
Publisher:  William Morrow
Book #7 in the Wildstone series
Number of pages:  384
Source: MCL
Contemporary Fiction/Romance
Ages 15 and up

When Emma Harris wakes up from a coma she learns that her fiancé and her BFF have fallen in love, she’s lost her job, and the life she knew is gone. Overwhelmed but grateful to be alive she starts over from scratch. Not as easy as it sounds, of course. But she’s never been a quitter, even if she wishes she could quit rehab, where her hot but evil physical therapist, Simon, puts her through the wringer.

Eager for a new beginning, Emma opens a doggy day care. Unfortunately, the only space she can afford is owned by her childhood nemesis Ali Pratt. But hey, she’s been through worse, right? She tries to roll with the punches, but a friend drops his grandpa off at the doggy day care in desperation then on top of that, she and Ali bring the term ‘frenemies’ to a whole new level. And then another grandparent shows up. And another.

In the midst of all that, Emma realizes she’s accidentally fallen for Evil PT. But the most horrifying thing of all is that Ali just might have turned into the best friend she’s ever had. And as Emma grows from the pain of her past and takes on her new path, she comes to realize that life isn’t what you’re given, it’s what you make of it.

As with the other books in this series, there is what I consider the main story and a very significant secondary story in this book. Not just a little filler story, but a fully fleshed out story that just happens to not be the main focus of the book. It is also a complete standalone. The series designation of these books has to do with location, not the characters.

Before I get into the main part of the story that deals with Emma, I want to talk about Alison. Or, more to the point, Alison and the origin story of her romance. Who doesn’t love a great snowed-in story? I know I do. Turns out, Alison and Ryan met and fell in love while snowed-in. This all happens off page, a year or so before this book starts. So, what happens to the snowed-in couples that didn’t know each other before being trapped together when they have to go back to the real world? What if their lives don’t mesh? When falling in love in such a controlled environment, can the magic stay alive when that world has to expand? Alison and Ryan are our study in just that. There’s no denying they love each other, but can they be what the other needs? I love their journey.

The journey Alison and Emma take is also extraordinary. Their relationship in high school was contentious, although they didn’t really even know each other very well. They both had their hardships to overcome in those days, and neither was open to their peers to what those issues were. Of course, that means they are both judging the other on external facades and the face that is presented to the world, not the true person beneath it all. I loved experiencing the facets of their relationship as it developed and grew.

This book seems to be all about the characters rediscovering themselves. Reimagining the lives they thought they were going to live and opening themselves up to something different. That is most evident in Emma and, to a bit of a lesser extent, Simon. Their lives have been upended in different ways. Both of them have to completely change their goals and figure out what they really want out of life. Simon is amazingly patient and kind, but it seems like two steps forward one step back with him and his reactions to Emma and their growing feelings. Emma has her own issues but seems a bit more even keeled when it comes to the budding relationship.

While the romance between Simon and Emma was my favorite part of this story, I really enjoyed every aspect of the book. The chemistry between all of the characters is on point. Whether it is the romances, the friendship, or the family relationships, I really found a comfort and ease with the connections.

4.5 stars

About Cheri

I'm the mom of two boys and wife to my high school sweetheart. Our oldest, Josh, is living at home while working and paying off student loans. Our youngest, Griffin recently left his active duty Army job and is now National Guard here at home. He moved back to Michigan with his wife Kirsten and our beautiful granddaughter Hazel. I work part time and try to fit as much reading into my life as possible.
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