Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve
Readers seeking a diverting, laughter-filled few hours will pounce on Second First Impressions.
This book is in fairytale territory with its unspectacular heroine, Ruthie, discovered and transformed by a ridiculously nearly perfect man, Teddy (Theodore).
Ruthie is temporarily managing Providence, a retirement home for excessively wealthy ladies. Into her life comes Teddy, a handsome, devastatingly charming, long-haired tattoo artist. He is hired to pander to the whims and outrageous wishes of a difficult pair of ladies of whom Renata is the more unreasonably demanding. There have been nearly a hundred young men in this post, prior to Teddy. As a companion and aide, (almost a slave) none lasted more than a day or two.
Their unlikely new candidate rises to every challenge and, in the process, wins their admiration and in fact becomes adored by both.
Assisting Ruthie in the office is Melanie, a clever, caring younger woman who designs the Sasaki Method. Sasaki is her surname. This is to indicate a pathway towards romantic happiness, for Ruthie in particular.
Early in Second First Impressions, it is obvious that Ruthie is hopelessly attracted to Teddy whose life has been a catalogue of brief encounters with besotted girls whom he invariably leaves heartbroken. She is aware that Teddy thrives on charming everyone he meets and although they become close friends, she cannot contemplate any deeper relationship.
The book is mostly concerned with their daily interactions and the plot edges towards the Christmas Party. It becomes the setting for a conclusion where there are revelations, confessions, promises and a very large dash of ‘happily ever after’.
The most irresistible part of the book is its humour. Sally Thorne’s vivacious touch makes the antics and agonising of her characters a joy to share.
When Teddy finally kisses Ruthie, her skeleton drops to the floor.
The mean-spirited Renata always wears ‘Spiteful No.5’ according to Teddy.
Scarcely a page does not raise a smile and, although this is unashamedly ‘chick lit’, it is enormous fun, cleverly written and will appeal to the large battalion of lovers of this form of escapism.
Cynics may decry the neatly resolved plot with its magic wand spontaneity. Sally Thorne skillfully skirts a parody of a Mills and Boon story by her high quality, witty writing.
Teddy is a wildly attractive young man whose flaws seem to only add to his charisma, and becomes a very likeable hero. Ruthie’s transformation is a cliche, but does not subtract from the novel’s overall enjoyment.
Sally now lives in Canberra but her prior success has happened in the USA. The Hating Game was a best seller and will be made into a movie this year. She has set Second First Impressions in America.
Other work has been a critical success including being listed in the Good Reads Best 28 in the first half of 2019.
Amongst her many attributes she lists ‘having a haunted dolls’ house’. Another should be added – having an irrepressible sense of humour!
Second First Impressions
by Sally Thorne
ISBN 978 0 7336 4613 3
$29.99; 336 pages