Audiobook review: Love at First by Kate Clayborn
Sixteen years ago, on the day his life was forever changed, Will Sterling saw the girl of his dreams, sitting on a balcony chasing away squirrels. Now a twist of fate brings him back to that same run-down building where he meets that girl, now grown woman. But his life is much different now than it was when he was a carefree teen, and the only thing he wants is to get rid of his inherited apartment and purge the memories of his uncle for good. Too bad he can’t sell his apartment for a year.
Nora Clarke moved into her Nona’s apartment a year ago. She loved growing up and spending every summer here with her grandmother, and promises herself that she will continue to take care of the building and residents now that her grandmother has passed away. However, newcomer Will doesn’t have the same sense of nostalgia and connection to the building and starts making changes, including leasing the space to short-term renters.
Love at First is a story about learning to love and second chances. Nora and Will each carry heavy baggage, although most of it invisible. Both had absentee parents, which shaped their lives in very different ways. Nora had the love and support of her grandmother, while Will learned to take care of himself. Their upbringings taught them how to live and love.
Will’s parents were codependent and self-involved, and Will had a front row seat on how that ultimately destroyed their lives. He worries about being just like them, so closes himself off to relationships. He’s alone and lonely, but thinks it’s the only way to survive. Nora’s grandmother cherished and held onto everything, creating an unknown burden on Nora to act much the same. Will and Nora share a strong connection which ultimately helps them get past many of their issues.
Although much of the book could be classified as women’s fiction, Love at First is a lovely, slow-paced romance. It features two individuals who are each lost and lonely in their own ways, crushed by fears due to the way they first learned how to love. They have so much to wade through, memories that haunt them, fears that nearly cripple them, to find happiness and love. It’s a happy story, but the tone is often sad. It’s not an easy romance, even though they fall in love from nearly the first time they meet. I enjoyed the slow pace, up to a point. I never got bored, but I do feel that it could have been edited down a bit.
Narration: Right from the start, Ms. Ezzo projects a soft and melancholy tone, which is appropriate, and sets the mood immediately. The story is shared via the alternating third-person POVs of Nora and Will, with a gentle feminine narrator for both MCs. Ms. Ezzo adjusts the dialogue appropriately for gender and age. Each character has their own voice; even Nora, whose dialogue is a bit more upbeat than the narrator. The males are generally deeper in tone, but not overly masculine. Overall, the narrator is well-suited to the tenor of the book.
In the end, I enjoyed Love at First. I love watching Nora learn how to let go and live for herself and seeing how Will learns to love without reservation, knowing he doesn’t have to be in control. It’s a long journey, but worth the ride.
About the Book:
Sixteen years ago, a teenaged Will Sterling saw—or rather, heard—the girl of his dreams. Standing beneath an apartment building balcony, he shared a perfect moment with a lovely, warm-voiced stranger. It’s a memory that’s never faded, though he’s put so much of his past behind him. Now an unexpected inheritance has brought Will back to that same address, where he plans to offload his new property and get back to his regular life as an overworked doctor. Instead, he encounters a woman, two balconies above, who’s uncannily familiar . . .
No matter how surprised Nora Clarke is by her reaction to handsome, curious Will, or the whispered pre-dawn conversations they share, she won’t let his plans ruin her quirky, close-knit building. Bound by her loyalty to her adored grandmother, she sets out to foil his efforts with a little light sabotage. But beneath the surface of their feud is an undeniable connection. A balcony, a star-crossed couple, a fateful meeting—maybe it’s the kind of story that can’t work out in the end. Or maybe, it’s the perfect second chance . . .
Author: Kate Clayborn
Narrator: Lauren Ezzo
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Audiobook Release Date: February 23, 2021
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Length: 10 hrs 36 mins
Source: Tantor Audio
Audio Speed: 1.15x
Audible/Amazon (affilate link)