Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne

‘By the time I leave here, you’ll have someone.’

Meet Ruthie Midona: she is twenty-five and works at the Providence Luxury Retirement Village where she is the live-in manager. Ruthie is devoted to her work and is a dedicated protector of the endangered golden bonnet tortoises living in the village’s gardens. There is not a lot of excitement in Ruthie’s life. Her temporary co-worker, Melanie Sasaki, decides to help Ruthie get into the dating scene. The Sasaki Method involves several stages, and Ruthie’s really not sure whether she wants to participate.

Two of the village’s more eccentric residents, Renata and Agatha Parloni seek Ruthie’s assistance in employing a new male assistant. They are tough taskmasters: none of their assistants has lasted for more than a week.

Enter Teddy Prescott, the son of the property developer who has just bought the retirement village. He is a good-looking young man with an intriguing past. The Parlonis employ him, his father allows him to stay in the retirement village (in accommodation adjoining Ruthie) and life becomes interesting. Teddy is not going to be staying long, and Ruthie (although she finds him attractive) does not want to become attached to someone who will soon move away.

In the meantime: what will the property developers do with the retirement village, why won’t Sylvia (Ruthie’s boss who is currently on holiday) respond to Ruthie’s messages, and what is the secret that makes the Parlonis sad? Will Ruthie be able to step outside the constraints she lives her life within, and will Teddy ever meet his family’s expectations?

While the ending was all a little too neat for me, I enjoyed the story. Ms Thorne has combined interesting characters, several important life issues, and romance, all delivered with warm humour.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Hachette Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

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