Terrific second chance love story with slight enemies-to-lovers undertones. This is the book version of the Hallmark movie of the same name. I have not seen the movie. The book takes place in a small Oregon town where a bookstore owner finds herself going head-to-head with a development company's plans spearheaded by her old boyfriend.
Jamie grew up in Waterford, where the True Love Bookstore and CafÃ© was her favorite place as a child. She worked there as a teenager, and later when the owner decided to retire, Jamie bought the store. Jamie loves the historic atmosphere of the business district and the personal feeling of the shops there. But even she has to admit that the businesses are struggling, though she believes that everything will come around. That is until she receives a flyer from the town council advertising a meeting with a development company that wants to "revitalize" the area. She immediately thinks of a nearby town where the same thing happened, and what it did to the shops and owners there.
Sawyer is a freelance architect who grew up in Waterford. He hasn't been back since he left for college fifteen years earlier. He's tired of his nomadic life and wants a chance to set down roots. If he pulls off this redevelopment plan, the Ridley firm will hire him, and he will finally get that chance to stay in one place. He envisions a modern, multi-use development that will bring new business and more people to the town. The people he's talked to so far are onboard with the idea and he anticipates a quick approval.
Jamie and Sawyer have a history together. They were high school sweethearts until Sawyer left for college across the country. He broke up with Jamie, telling her they were too young for a permanent commitment. She hasn't seen him since then, so she is shocked when Sawyer suddenly appears in her bookstore. He is equally surprised to see her, as he didn't know that she owns the store. It's easy to see that the sparks are still there though neither wants to admit it. Jamie is on a "hiatus" from romance since the end of her last relationship, and Sawyer is focused on his project. Those sparks take on a different tone when Jamie discovers that Sawyer is the architect of what she calls "that hideous spaceship."
I loved the development of their relationship. Jamie is determined to keep Sawyer's proposed development from happening, and he is equally committed to getting it approved. I loved Jamie's creativity as she devised several plans to remind the people of Waterford of how special their town is, while Sawyer steps up his efforts to convince them of the benefits of his plan. It's a small town and Jamie and Sawyer find themselves in each other's company often. She is dismayed to see her old feelings for Sawyer resurfacing and afraid of getting her heart broken again. Sawyer discovers that being back in Waterford revives his memories of the good times, most of which involved Jamie, and his feelings for her reawaken. There were some delightful scenes between them as Jamie reintroduced Sawyer to Waterford. But the development plans still loom between them.
The box of old Valentines and love letters that Jamie found hidden away at the bookstore was an incredible discovery. The Valentines were written to the store from people who met their true loves there. It was sweet to see the history of the bookstore as revealed by those cards and their stories. However, it was the letters from the original owners of the bookstore that provided the most intense feelings. Jamie also couldn't help seeing the parallels between Mary and Harrison and herself and Sawyer. I ached for both of them as it looked like there was no way for one to win without the other losing. But one should never give up on true love, and Sawyer found inspiration in an unexpected source. I loved his big moment at the end and the creativity that won the day. I also adored Jamie's reaction. The epilogue was a great follow-up.
There was also a fun secondary romance going on. Restaurant owner Rick has it bad for Jamie's friend and coworker Lucy, but when they first met, he was dating someone else. Since he broke up with that woman, he hasn't been able to get up the courage to ask Lucy out. Meanwhile, Lucy seems oblivious to Rick's feelings and determined to find her "wow" moment. The interactions between Rick and Lucy were occasionally painful but always entertaining. It was easy to root for the two of them and cheer when it finally happened.