For her whole life, Cornelia Brown has been the kind of romantic who enjoys old movies with Cary Grant and Bette Davis, and despite the fact that she seemingly hasn’t yet figured out what she wants to do in life, she manages to fill up her interim time in a job managing an offbeat café in Philadelphia.

When one day a man who bears a striking resemblance to Cary Grant walks into the restaurant, and when the repartee between the two seems straight out of a movie, one would think perfect love had come along. Serendipity, even.

But things are not always what they seem.

Across town, an eleven-year-old girl named Clare Hobbes is struggling. Her mother is behaving strangely and in order to keep this secret and maintain a semblance of a life, Clare keeps lists and somehow manages to hide the secret. Until one day when her mother disappears.

How will these three lives intersect? What unexpected development will turn Cornelia’s world upside down, but in kind of a good way?

I loved the narratives told in the voices of Cornelia and Clare—first person for Cornelia and third person for Clare—and as I came to know their interior thoughts, as well as their hopes and dreams, I could fantasize about what a happy ending might look like.

But again…things aren’t always what they seem.

I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s voice, especially the way she described things and brought the reader into the setting, almost as if we were there in that moment, like this excerpt:

“Cornelia lowered her brows, but the corner of her mouth tweaked upward. The wire of tension between Cornelia and Teo had snapped. Clare let her laugh run its course, like a fever; afterward she breathed raggedly, wrung out, but ready. The shawl had slipped off her shoulders; now, she pulled it up and held on to it with both hands.”

As the characters find their special connections with one another, and as Cornelia finally finds love in another unexpected place, we come to silently root for the lives they’re creating and the new kind of family developing.

I am quite happy to know that there is a sequel to Love Walked In, as I am not ready to let these characters go. Five stars.


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