A Great Road Trip Romance
Look at this cover. Ladies, if you can scroll past this cover without buying this book...you're stronger than I am. Okay, so I was brought in by those eyes. But what kept me reading was the great story, held together by captivating characters.
This Much Is True, a standalone romance which releases today, was my first book by Tia Louise, and she did not disappoint. It takes place in a realistic 2020, right during the first main shutdown caused by COVID-19, which makes for a really interesting story in the "new normal". I have not yet read a romance published this year that actually mentions Corona - most authors choose to ignore it, or write it out of their worlds, since a lot of romances are used for escapism. I actually agree with this approach. Who wants to read about the pandemic and worry about germs in a "kissing book"? But I have to say that the way Louise incorporates it seamlessly into her world (our world) is really well done and after my initial scrunched nose reaction - I was more than okay with it.
Our story begins with JR getting released early from prison because of - strangely enough - the virus. I'm not familiar if this actually happened in the US where prisoners were released to avoid overcrowding, and because catching the virus would be a violation of their civil rights. In any case, JR is released early and sets his sights on home, where his young son is, and where he wants to confront the person responsible for his prison sentence. It's a 36 hour drive and he recruits his brother Scout to go with him. JR picks up a car that he bought online. What he doesn't expect is - 6 hours into his trip - finding an accidental stowaway. Hope passed out drunk in the backseat of the car - not her finest moment. She has recently lost her business because of the pandemic and is broke and was having a well earned pity party where the only guest was an entire bottle of wine. After she is discovered, she is talked into staying with Scout and JR to help them drive on their trip. Now we have the perfect ingredients for a road trip story, made all the more interesting because of the pandemic, and because the characters are so multilayered.
I love a good road trip story and I find that the romance between Hope and JR - which starts to sizzle despite JR's surliness and downright rudeness - is really well written. These characters have such intriguing pasts and the conversations had in the car (mostly between Hope and the very likeable Scout - with JR listening despite himself) are so connective. They connect the characters to each other, but they connect the reader to them as well. There is more to this book than just a romance built out of close proximity, with fun side characters thrown in. I felt so much as I went along with them for their journey, and even when they got to the end of the road, I wanted to keep reading. That to me is the mark of a good book - wanting to read past the end. So pick up this book for the cover - sure - but stay for the incredible story.
Thank you to the author and Give Me Books PR for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.