Book: Evvie Drake Starts Over
Author: Linda Holmes
Genre: Contemporary Romance
My Rating: 3/5 Stars
“She’d felt it in the crowd-their surprise, their relief. It meant hope, like it had meant hope for her. It was possible for things to get better when it felt like they couldn’t. It was possible for things that seemed doomed to be revived.”
I’m always looking for intriguing romance novels to dive into when I need a break from fantasy. I came across this one randomly while searching for a new read and bought it for myself to try out. The aspect that grabbed my attention was that the main characters were going to be roommates, kind of, and that was all I needed to know.
Evvie Drake, now a widow, does not mourn her husband like everyone believes she does. She’s out of an unhappy marriage and yet she still lives in their big house alone. That is until her best friend introduces her to Dean Tenney, a retired baseball player looking for an escape and somewhere new to live. Offering the apartment in her home, Evvie fills up space with his presence, and the quiet with their conversations. As their relationship develops, it is their pasts they have to face in order to move forward.
“I have been lying on my couch for thirteen, going on fourteen months. I have barely gone out. I have fed myself and made ends meet. I hope that’s not the proudest of me you could be. I hope surviving not being married to a doctor anymore is not the greatest thing you can imagine for me. I went to school. I’m going to live another fifty years probably. I hope this isn’t the highlight.”
I like it when sports are involved in romance novels, though the involvement of sports was different here. Instead of one party being on a sports team, Dean was retired with a “bad” arm. So it was not exactly the trope that I enjoy, only remnants of it. What was provided instead were details that were both confusing and interesting. There were random excerpts of articles and explanations of players and games that I needed to constantly reread in order to understand what was being said because I’m no baseball expert.
Evvie and Dean started off really chatty with each other; they went straight into being comfortable without really trying. I’m not gonna lie, the smoothness of it all threw me off. I was missing some kind of development. There were quite a few moments when I would smile reading their interactions or get teary-eyed because of a certain dialogue about their pasts, but for the most part I found their conversations to be dry and boring. I did enjoy their relationship the more I read but there was still something missing between them that did not make me fully invested. Honestly, I thought the problem was that Dean seemed detached and distant in their relationship. We got so much of Evvie thinking about Dean but not the other way around. At a point where I thought they would be talking more, there were days where they wouldn’t talk to each other at all.
Individually, I felt for the characters, I really did. Especially for Evvie and her situation. It really drew my attention and made me sad whenever she talked about it. In terms of Dean’s past, I do believe that Evvie overstepped a lot and did not let things go when he made it clear that he was done with baseball. I did not think it was her place to make those decisions for him, or spy on him even.
“You wake up one day and you need a whole new plan.”
If I were to describe the writing and execution of this story I would say that it was really jumpy. This was true for the dialogue as well as for events. In terms of the dialogue, they would jump between topics so fast sometimes that it felt like I was missing something. But maybe that was a way of making it more real? In terms of events, they would plan to do something and then it would jump to that plan on the next page. This was not a bad thing, I’m just used to there being more buildup or pages between important events, which was why the timeline stood out to me.
But we did miss a lot of the in-between. Months would go by and the characters would explain moments that happened during that gap. This left me confused because they would omit information about the status of their relationship until much later. Why wouldn’t they have a conversation about something so important on the page? I was sometimes even confused about who’s perspective I was reading from because it would randomly switch without warning. The only reason I realized it was because I would ask myself how Evvie would know what Dean was doing or thinking and vice versa.
Surprisingly, and maybe insignificantly, I liked the character of Monica a lot. I was not expecting much from her but her friendship with Evvie was a good dynamic to read about and I’m glad there was no jealousy in terms of Evvie being best friends with her boyfriend.
Did I make a good choice with this book? I wouldn’t say that it was a bad experience but I obviously could have done better. I mean, I would consider this an average romance, which is not my idea of a good escape.