Not Like the Movies (Waiting for Tom Hanks #2) by Kerry Winfrey
Publication Date: July 7th, 2020
Publisher: Berkley Jove
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Chick-Lit
Chloe Sanderson is an optimist, and not because her life is easy. As the sole caregiver for her father, who has early onset Alzheimer's, she's pretty much responsible for everything. She has no time—or interest—in getting swept up in some dazzling romance. Not like her best friend Annie, who literally wrote a rom-com that's about to premiere in theaters across America...and happens to be inspired by Chloe and Nick Velez, Chloe's cute but no-nonsense boss.
As the buzz for the movie grows, Chloe reads one too many listicles about why Nick is the perfect man, and now she can't see him as anything but Reason #2: The Scruffy-Bearded Hunk Who's Always There When You Need Him. But unlike the romance Annie has written for them, Chloe isn't so sure her own story will end in a Happily Ever After.
Real-world problems in a chick-lit book? Yes please!
It isn’t often that I grab a seemingly light and fluffy read that actually has a lot of underlying real-world problems. Most of the time I suspend disbelief and just take the journey with the characters but Not Like the Movies makes you live in it.
We have a fairly flawed main character in Chloe and I don’t want to make that out to be a bad thing. It’s a great thing! It makes her more real. She has commitment issues, doesn’t realize that she uses people, has family drama surrounding her mother leaving, her father dealing with Alzheimer’s, her brother being kind of a deadbeat… but through it all, she still tries to be a ray of sunshine for others when she can. Chloe has layers and it’s wonderful to see. At times she can read as a bit annoying to me though and I kind of want to hit her upside the head but that’s way better than having a Mary Sue.
I also need to talk a bit about our love interest, Nick. And, can I just say, Nick is a saint! The way he puts up with Chloe and is always there for her just proves how much he cares. The times when I appreciated his character the most is when he gives her doses of tough love and kind of puts her in her place. While Chloe has had to grow up relatively quickly in her childhood, she still doesn’t fully act like an adult and I think Nick is the perfect balance to get her on track.
The underlying romance vibe that Annie observed in Waiting for Tom Hanks is well-established in Not Like the Movies which is a great tie-in for both stories. Not to mention further development of the town and it’s people further roots us in their lives and continues to paint the overall picture. We also still get interactions with Annie in a very natural way where she doesn’t feel like she is forced into the story and all of these make sense while still building out more of Chloe’s life away from Annie. We also get to see the darker sides of Chloe’s life in juxtaposition to the brightness she tries to put off. Her interactions with her dad in particular carried some great emotional weight.
Not Like the Movies was a quick read that allowed me back into the lives of these characters in an interesting setting with lots of movement and development. A downside I had however was the ending felt rushed and unexplained. I know we don’t have to know everything about these characters but Chloe announces a character trait so off-the-cuff and presumptuous at the end that I feel like it should have been explored as part of the actual plot. But if you’re interested in Chloe and Nick’s story, it is worth the read for sure.