I never had high hopes going into this book due to how unsatisfying Sally Thorne’s last book ended up being, but I kept wanting to give her a shot because of how much I love her first book, The Hating Game. Clearly if someone can come up with a book that good, they have something, right? Wrong. To be fair, the story in this one was actually quite lovely and I’m not mad about that, but the writing and mechanics were literally so bad that it felt like I was reading an unfinished draft. So maybe Thorne’s first book really was just a one time miracle because nothing has lived up ever since.
As I said, the writing in this book was terrible. I don’t know what possessed Thorne to write so terribly but here we are. To me, the way it was written felt like Thorne kept adding in little notes to herself on how to write a sentence or how to write the way someone’s talking or coming off and just forgot to go back and fix it with what she intended. Kind of like a script where the action is written around the dialogue, you know? There were so many short sentences, so many parentheses, and so many colons that I couldn’t be anything but irritated. She also did this thing where she incorporated bullet point lists, which I understand is because the main character Ruthie is obsessed with organization and writing lists, but does that mean it should translate to your writing? Not really. It was jarring and inappropriate for a narrative and, honestly, it felt lazy. No wonder this was so short and quick; Thorne put so little effort into writing her narrative that it was like it made its point and moved along. I also think that this story really would’ve benefitted from including Teddy’s POV and not just Ruthie’s because his character was so interesting and complex but we never really got to deep dive into him, and we really should’ve. I don’t know why Thorne is so afraid of writing dual POVs but I’m tired.
The story itself is, as I said, quite lovely. I enjoyed the concept of the borderline inexperienced and secluded 25 year old (hitting a little too close to home, might I add) going on a journey of discovering her person and finding wonder in the world outside of her safety net of a job. I enjoyed the perceived screw up striving to prove his worth to those he cares about. And I enjoyed the good girl/bad boy romantic dynamic between Teddy and Ruthie and how they complimented each other and wholly believed in one another, pushing each other to where they deserved to be. But the writing was so bad and quick that it didn’t feel like we had a whole lot of time to process the beginning of their actual relationship. Sure, the buildup was good and the two for sure had chemistry, but we were never able to appreciate the two just being together romantically. And it’s really sad because I thought the two were quite cute.
Though the story was nice, and the characters and dynamics were all equal parts heartwarming and entertaining, the terrible writing cannot save this book. I swear if it was written better I’d be able to confidently bump up my rating, but I can’t. Part of me feels like Thorne didn’t really want to write this book and just did the bare minimum just to do something, and I think that this story deserved more than that. Anyways, this book is fine if you’re bored or in between books and just want something to read. But if you’re expecting the next great The Hating Game, this ain’t it.
Also, the cover and title don’t really make sense. So. Do with that what you will.
Distraction (n): an extreme agitation of the mind or emotions.
Ruthie Midona has worked the front desk at the Providence Luxury Retirement Villa for six years, dedicating her entire adult life to caring for the Villa’s residents, maintaining the property (with an assist from DIY YouTube tutorials), and guarding the endangered tortoises that live in the Villa’s gardens. Somewhere along the way, she’s forgotten that she’s young and beautiful, and that there’s a world outside of work—until she meets the son of the property developer who just acquired the retirement center.
Teddy Prescott has spent the last few years partying, sleeping in late, tattooing himself when bored, and generally not taking life too seriously—something his father, who dreams of grooming Teddy into his successor, can’t understand. When Teddy needs a place to crash, his father seizes the chance to get him to grow up. He’ll let Teddy stay in one of the on-site cottages at the retirement home, but only if he works to earn his keep. Teddy agrees—he can change a few lightbulbs and clip some hedges, no sweat. But Ruthie has plans for Teddy too.
Her two wealthiest and most eccentric residents have just placed an ad (yet another!) seeking a new personal assistant to torment. The women are ninety-year-old, four-foot-tall menaces, and not one of their assistants has lasted a full week. Offering up Teddy seems like a surefire way to get rid of the tall, handsome, unnerving man who won’t stop getting under her skin.
Ruthie doesn’t count on the fact that in Teddy Prescott, the Biddies may have finally met their match. He’ll pick up Chanel gowns from the dry cleaner and cut Big Macs into bite-sized bits. He’ll do repairs around the property, make the residents laugh, and charm the entire villa. He might even remind Ruthie what it’s like to be young and fun again. But when she finds out Teddy’s father’s only fixing up the retirement home to sell it, putting everything she cares about in jeopardy, she’s left wondering if Teddy’s magic was all just a façade.
From the USA Today bestselling author of The Hating Game and 99 Percent Mine comes the clever, funny, and unforgettable story of a muscular, tattooed man hired as an assistant to two old women—under the watchful eye of a beautiful retirement home manager.