Built to Last
by Erin Hahn
Release Date: October 18, 2022
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Number of Pages: 336
Source: ARC from NetGalley
Ages 14 and up
CW: mention of substance abuse, bullying
Shelby Springfield has spent the last ten years trying to overcome her past, sanding it away like she does the rough spots on the vintage furniture finds she makes over. But as a former child star, it’s hard to forget a mediocre pop career, a meltdown widely documented by the paparazzi, and a huge public break with her former co-star Lyle Jessup. It’s also hard to forget her other co-star and childhood sweetheart, Cameron Riggs — the one who got away.
Anytime Shelby has called, Cameron has come running… And then he runs right off again to chase stories around the world by making documentaries, too scared to admit what he really wants. But when Lyle stirs the pot, getting the two back in the spotlight with a home renovation show, Cameron can’t help but come on board.
There’s something in it for everyone — almost. Cameron wants to come home and set down some roots. Shelby wants to prove to the world she’s not the messy party girl anymore. And Lyle wants to twist the screws on his two childhood friends who had more chemistry than he could dream of with anyone. Sparks and sawdust fly as Shelby and Cameron film the pilot for “Homemade” and battle Lyle’s shenanigans at every turn.
I’ve read and loved all of this author’s YA romance. I was curious how her foray into adult contemporary romance would go, I’ve been rooting for her. While I found this story enjoyable, I had a harder time connecting with this story than I did with her previous stories.
First, I want to say that the characters are lovely and adorable. Cameron is a great big cinnamon roll of a lumberjack. Shelby is kind and thoughtful and just wants to be loved for who she is on the inside. These two suffered a lot from miscommunication. Or, rather, not communicating at all. It all makes sense since they were practically children when they fell in love. Worse, they were just out of childhood but had been treated like adults for far too many years. I love that current Shelby now speaks her mind. She may delay asking the hard questions or saying the potentially embarrassing things, but once she works it out in her head she goes for it because it’s better to know the truth than to fear the unknown. I have to give her props for that. There are a few times I felt she jumped to conclusions. She asked the question but didn’t listen to the answer, or misconstrued the answer because of her insecurities about the past. Yet always, every time, she would come back to it and realize she needed to think things through before assuming anything.
I was overwhelmed by the warmth and comfort these two brought to the page when they were together. That being said, I didn’t get inundated by butterflies or feel any infernos. There was a stable and steady presence in their relationship. There’s nothing wrong with that. As I said, it was a great comfort and that is exactly what a lot of readers are looking for. I just would have liked a tad bit more.
Being the mom of a 28-year-old, it needs to be said that whenever a movie or music reference was made by these characters it kind of took me out of the story. I felt as though the references used would not be used by people that age. Maybe I’m being nit-picky here, but it would throw me off and make me have to actively think about the ages of the characters.
All in all, this was a wonderful second chance romance. There was angst, but it had to do more with external forces and not the couple themselves. Both Shelby and Cameron had things to work through with each other and their families, but they really seemed to be level-headed and actively worked through their issues with each other. I’ll be giving this author’s next contemporary romance a shot, there’s a lot of promise there. For now, her YA romance will remain my favorite of hers though.
**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**
Wonderful review, a shame it didn’t quite hit the mark for you.