Not Like the Movies by Kerry Winfrey

Not Like the Movies by Kerry Winfrey
Pub. Date: July 7, 2020
Source: e-ARC via publisher (Thank you, Berkley!)
Summary: 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.
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Picking up where Waiting for Tom Hanks left off, Not Like the Movies plunges readers back into small-town Ohio. This time, however, instead of following rom-com-obsessed Annie, the sequel tells the story of Annie’s best friend Chloe. Unlike her bestie however, Chloe is most definitely not obsessed with love stories or big grand gestures and is absolutely, positively, 100% not involved with her boss, Nick. Unfortunately for Chloe, Annie has followed her screenwriter dreams and her source of inspo? Chloe and Nick…or, rather, Zoe and Rick.

As the movie premiere draws closer, Buzzfeed and other pop culture-y sites churn out listicles stating why Rick is the ultimate dreamboat and bearded boyfriend the world needs, rumor mills start spreading stories of a star-crossed, coffee-scented romance, journalists begin flooding Chloe’s inbox with interview requests. As if being hounded by the press wasn’t bad enough, Chloe has more personal matters at hand: her dad’s battle with Alzheimer’s is worsening by the day and her flighty twin brother has suddenly reappeared back in town. Annie might be convinced there’s a Happily Ever After for everyone, but Chloe isn’t holding her breath.

Waiting for Tom Hanks was one of my top reads of 2019, one of the six books out of the 200 I read that earned that coveted 5-star rating. (Okay, so maybe the eight references to Frasier helped, but still!) It was super cute and fun with all the ’90s movie tropes a girl could want. So naturally when the follow-up was announced it went straight to my TBR list.

If Waiting for Tom Hanks was the girl-meets-celebrity-and-they-fall-madly-in-love story, Not Like the Movies takes more of a girl-and-boy-fight-against-love approach. Everyone, from the customers at the coffee shop to their closest friends are all but shouting at Chloe and Nick to get together, that it’s obvious they’re in love and meant to be. Chloe, though? She doesn’t do ‘meant to be.’ Marriage is not in her future. While she might secretly admit she’s attracted to Nick, she barely has time for herself let alone a committed relationship with feelings. And if that means she’s stuck with casual hook-ups at Mikey Danger’s pizza box-littered place, well then so be it.

When Chloe isn’t resisting her feelings for Nick, she’s facing family issues. A large part of the novel is spent at her dad’s care facility and these scenes were hard. Moments where he was convinced a nurse stole his watch only for it to later be found at the back of the fridge were tough, but the scenes were he had a stretch of clarity were heartbreaking. He knew what was happening and that inner struggle was so hard to read. Chloe’s brother didn’t make those scenes any easier; he shows back up with his boyfriend and expects everything to be hunky dory. Chloe was the one taking care of their dad, footing the medical bills when she could no longer keep him at home. The one time she does ask for help, for a night off, he falls asleep and their dad ends up in the hospital. This entire plot was hard to swallow and I could have easily done without it.

While Not Like the Movies is lacking in ’90s rom-coms, it does have desserts. Holy cow does it have desserts. And cheesy ’80s bops. And classic sitcoms. I would absolutely hang out with Chloe at her place and watch Welcome Back, Kotter while demolishing an array of scones and pie all day long.

Not Like the Movies is sure to please readers of Waiting for Tom Hanks who have been itching for more. Favorite characters from the first book return for the sequel and it has that same quirky charm. Since finishing I have been jamming out to all the ’80s pop playlists and if the temperature wasn’t currently hovering in the mid-90s, I would be baking up a storm.

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