MEET ME ON LOVE LANE
by Nina Bocci
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: December 10, 2019
Reviewed by Hellie
Charlotte Bishop is out of options in New York City. Fired, broke, and blacklisted by her former boss, she’s forced to return to her hometown of Hope Lake, PA to lick her wounds. Although she’s expecting to find a miserable place with nothing to do, she is pleasantly surprised to discover it is bustling and thriving.
She’s only supposed to be in Hope Lake temporarily until she can earn enough money to move back to New York. She’s not supposed to reconnect with her childhood friends or her beloved grandmother. She’s not supposed to find her dream job running the local florist shop. And she’s definitely not supposed to fall for not one but two of Hope Lake’s golden boys: one the beloved high school English teacher, the other the charming town doctor.
With a heart torn between two men and two cities, what’s a girl to do?
This story ticked the boxes for my usual feel good reads: small town setting, fun secondary characters, heartwarming heroes, and a plucky heroine. Said plucky heroine has to return to a home she hasn’t called home nor been in for over twenty years, and whose memories of her childhood here are filled with pain and antagonism. Her plan is to get on her feet long enough to make a new plan to get back to New York City (the only real city in the world) before anyone has made any real connection she is back. No sooner has she arrived to town than she makes a conquest of a new town doctor, Max, and nearly permanently emasculates her old childhood bestie, Henry, whom she doesn’t remember.
Without going into details, I think you know who she ends up with. Anyone who has read a romance at all knows who the love interest will be. And in true Hallmark channel fashion, our plucky heroine finds her purpose and destiny--and neither of these involve New York City. (Which is great because by then we all love Hope Lake and want to move there.)
For me, the story felt a little ho-hum (and this could be just the mood I was in when I read it.) It was okay, but not overly memorable in writing style, plot, or dialogue. There were funny moments and sad ones; I connected with the characters, but not in a deep way. (And again I don’t think every reader seeks that sort of experience of finding your new imaginary BFF with every book you read.) When I thought about it, I think my biggest disappointment was that the Black Moment didn’t feel black. Honestly, I couldn’t even identify a black moment...or even a mildly gray one. I will say the heroine’s struggle was her amnesia when it came to her childhood in Hope Lake, her memories of her mother’s constant belittling of the town and insistence of raising her child somewhere that wasn’t a bubble, and the fact she has basically missed out on important family time with her father and grandmother since her mother has been dead for several years. The conflict is internal and nearly solely the heroine’s--and the rest of the people who populate Hope Lake can come across as a bit too perfect and understanding at times.
Now not every story needs a black moment of Black Hole proportions; and the story hit the right beats in the other ways of storytelling, so for you the story might be much more satisfying. I am intrigued enough by Hope Lake and other characters to search out the other books in the series to see if I grow to like the writing more. Please let me know what you think of it when you do get a chance to read it.