Kate Walker used to believe in true love and happily ever after. While her own love life may have left her brokenhearted, it hasn't kept her from churning out made-for-TV romance movie screenplays...until a major career slump and a longing to do something meaningful send her running back to her hometown of Maple Valley.
Permanently sidelined by an injury, former NFL quarterback Colton Greene is temporarily hiding out in a friend's hometown to avoid the media and the reminders of all he's lost. Maple Valley seems like the perfect place to learn how to adjust to normal life. The only trouble is he's never really done normal before.
While Kate plays things safe and Colton is all about big risks and grand gestures, they both get what it's like to desperately need direction in life. An unexpected project gives them both a chance to jumpstart their new lives, but old wounds and new dreams are hard to ignore. Starting over wasn't part of the plan, but could it be the best thing that's ever happened to them?
My source for book: Review CopyMy Thoughts:
People in the public eye and entertainment industry often seem mysterious to me, so reading about them--even in a fictional way--is always intriguing. This novel's got two of those "public eye" figures, though they're on completely different levels. I liked Kate's involvement with writing screenplays for tv movies, as it's a behind-the-scenes job and not a common occupation for a novel character to have. I was also intrigued to see her feelings and reactions when people would watch the movies she had written. Her desire to move on to something more important in life--but feeling stuck where she's at--is something most people can likely relate to, and it was interesting to watch her branch out and piece together what she really wanted from life by spending time with a different set of people while visiting "home" in Maple Valley.
Since Colton is a retired football player, there is quite a bit of talk about football--though honestly not as much as I expected, which I was thankful for. Like me, Kate knows zero about the game, so the conversations never get overly technical or involved. If you are *not* a football fan, don't let that push you away from the book. It was actually good for me to read since it puts a face and personality onto a player, and it emphasizes that sports idols are just regular people like you and me, which is much different from the stereo-types and ideas we often have about them.
If you follow the author online at all, you know she is a big fan of Gilmore Girls. This is also pretty apparent by looking at some of the settings and different events that take place in Maple Valley. I won't get into specifics to avoid spoilers, but I admit I felt some things were ideas pulled directly from the tv show with just minor tweaking. I do love the Gilmore's, and maybe some of this was meant as homage to the show, but there's enough parallels between the two that it seemed like one of the characters should point it out as a good natured way to poke-fun-at and openly acknowledge it. That didn't happen though, so I think a few less parallels would've been more to my liking.
For those interested in this book, I recommend reading the novella "Three Little Words" beforehand, as it acts as a great intro to the town and some of the characters. It's not absolutely necessary, but it just adds a bit of back-story that's nice to have. (Plus it's a great story!)
Overall, I did enjoy "From The Start" for the most part, though I don't think it will be a story that sticks with me very long as it doesn't really stand out from the crowd in my mind. Still, I did enjoy it while reading, and I liked how the ending was happy but wasn't a carbon copy of many others. If you've enjoyed any of Melissa's previous stories, I would say picking this one up is a good bet as you'll likely enjoy it too.
My Rating: 4 stars
Thanks to the publisher (BethanyHouse) for providing me with a review copy via NetGalley.