ARC Reviews

Love At First by Kate Clayborn – ARC Review-

A sparkling and tender novel from the acclaimed author of Love Lettering, full of bickering neighbors, surprise reunions, and the mysterious power of love that fans of Christina Lauren, Sarah Hogle, and Emily Henry will adore.

Sixteen years ago, a teenaged Will Sterling saw—or rather, heard—the girl of his dreams. Standing beneath an apartment building balcony, he shared a perfect moment with a lovely, warm-voiced stranger. It’s a memory that’s never faded, though he’s put so much of his past behind him. Now an unexpected inheritance has brought Will back to that same address, where he plans to offload his new property and get back to his regular life as an overworked doctor. Instead, he encounters a woman, two balconies above, who’s uncannily familiar . . .

No matter how surprised Nora Clarke is by her reaction to handsome, curious Will, or the whispered pre-dawn conversations they share, she won’t let his plans ruin her quirky, close-knit building. Bound by her loyalty to her adored grandmother, she sets out to foil his efforts with a little light sabotage. But beneath the surface of their feud is an undeniable connection. A balcony, a star-crossed couple, a fateful meeting—maybe it’s the kind of story that can’t work out in the end. Or maybe, it’s the perfect second chance .

Huge thanks to the author, Kensington books and Netgalley for the e-arc. Love at first is out today!!

You don’t have to love people the way you learned to love at first

Oh my goodness, this book!! This beautiful beautiful book.
I first read Love at First back in November when I was approved for the arc (huuuuge thanks to Kate Clayborn, Kensington books, and Netgalley) and I read it again the past few days, and I loved it just the same.

This is my first Kate Clayborn book, and certainly not my last, I have Love Lettering waiting for me on Kindle as I write this. And I feel like I need to properly gush over her writing. It is so uniquely delicate. So so tender and soft and wholesome. And so was everything in this book. It’s the definition of soft. I loved Nora and Will’s story and how it was told, and I need more books from Kate like this. Like a big hug that envelopes you for a while. I loved it ❤️

Nora and Will have two meet cutes, both adorable, but they only truly meet and get to know each other after the second. They’re in a little feud over Will using the apartment he inherited from his uncle as a rental, the same apartment that’s a part of the building where Nora’s family lives. Where she lived with her grandmother before she passed.

So you have that banter and sabotage, her trying to show him all the ways it wouldn’t work, him taking each challenge and not backing down. And as it happens, their attraction continues to grow. They begin to fall for each other.

Now these two, they have different problems with love. Nora shows love by keeping everything as it is, afraid of change. Will stops himself from showing love, afraid of becoming the last thing he wants to be. So it isn’t easy for them,they have problems as individuals because of their relationship with love, and it’s even harder when falling for someone, especially when it comes to Will.
But this book gives them a perfect natural progression, allowing them to sort through their feelings, to grow, to find out how they want to beloved, and how to love each other.

“It was awkward and gentle and fascinating , and that was because, Will realized , he had never seen anything like it. His own parents’ togetherness had always seemed effortless, assumed. A default state of being that had been disconcerting in its own way.”

Love can’t always be a sure thing from the start

They also have other feelings they’re dealing with, like grief and the loss of one’s childhood, like feeling unloved, unwanted. And you also have other elements to the book, like the beautiful found family in the building that I adore. And the book balances all these parts perfectly. Nothing takes over, everything takes its time and space and is so well written.

All the characters are lovable, both main and secondary. Will is a sweet sweet cinnamon roll you just want to hug, and I guess there’s a kinda of grumpy x sunshine trope here with him and Nora, if a growling cute sad puppy could be called grumpy.
Nora is a sunshine character yes, but also one who was grieving before the beginning of the book, one who’s yet to figure out how to live her own life, how to fit it in her plans to keep everything exactly the same to show her love. They’re both layered and I loved them.

And of course Jonah and Emily and the entire group in the building, I loved them all so much. Along with Deepa, Nora’s best friend and the absolutely delightful surprise that came in the form of Gerry!!

“I’m not sure why you’re so surprised. Of late I’m very successful in matters of the heart.”

The book had me all smiles while reading it, and I was grinning like a fool during that entire epilogue. I’m a fan of epilogues, but this specifically was perfect!!
A perfect continuation of the slow sweet progression of the relationship I mentioned before. They learned more about each other, really grew as individuals and together, made the right calls at the right time, and wrote their own love story at their pace

I loved it so much and I’m so so excited to read more by Kate Clayborn!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

What’s your favorite Kate Clayborn book??

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