Fresh out of high school, Babe Vogel should be thrilled to have the whole summer at her fingertips. She loves living in her lighthouse home in the sleepy Maine beach town of Oar’s Rest and being a barista at the Busy Bean, but she’s totally freaking out about how her life will change when her two best friends go to college in the fall. And when a reckless kiss causes all three of them to break up, she may lose them a lot sooner. On top of that, her ex-girlfriend is back in town, bringing with her a slew of memories, both good and bad.
And then there’s Levi Keller, the cute artist who’s spending all his free time at the coffee shop where she works. Levi’s from out of town, and even though Babe knows better than to fall for a tourist who will leave when summer ends, she can’t stop herself from wanting to know him. Can Babe keep her distance, or will she break the one rule she’s always had – to never fall for a summer boy?
About The Author:Lillie Vale, upon discovering she could not be one of Santa’s elves or attend Hogwarts, decided to become a writer to create a little magic of her own. Enjoying the romantic and eerie in equal measure, she’s probably always writing a book where the main characters kiss or kill. Born in Mumbai, she has lived in many U.S. states, and now resides in an Indiana college town where the corn whispers and no one has a clue that she is actually the long-lost caps lock queen. She can be reached on Twitter @LillieLabyrinth and Instagram @labyrinthspine. Small Town Hearts is her debut novel.
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My Rating: 5/5 stars
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Small Town Heart pulled me in from page one and didn’t let go until the very end, leaving me wanting more. This book is an ode to summer and and summer love, and it was exactly what I need as I was huddled up in my blanket looking out at the snow bank that just keeps piling up next to my window. The atmosphere in this book was incredible. It had me wanting to pack my bags and move there for the summer. From Babe’s lighthouse to the Busy Bean, every tiny location was painstakingly described in a way that made me feel as though I was right there. Small Town Heart is one of those books where the setting is just as an important character as the people which really made the book all the more amazing. This book made me forget that it was winter even if it was only for a few hours which is the mark of a truly fantastic summer read.
While this was an adorable book, there was also lots of bittersweet moments which were balanced really well with the more fluffy ones. This book takes place over the summer right after graduation, and so many things are changing. Babe has to reckon with the fact that the friendships she’s held on to for so long might not be as healthy as she had initially thought. I loved seeing Babe’s development throughout the book as she dealt with things from her past while also welcoming in new people in her present.
Another great thing was the love interest, Levi. He’s an artsy dork and just everything about him was so beautiful.He was absolutely amazing and I loved seeing his and Babe’s relationship progress throughout the summer. There were so many cute little moments between them throughout the book that put a full fledged grin on my face. Though at times, I was little frustrated with how long it took for them to be truly together, I understand why it was done that way and found that the whole “will they, won’t they” made the ending all the more gratifying.
Books that include mouthwatering descriptions of food are guaranteed to have me love them and boy did Small Town Hearts have some great descriptions of food. Babe bakes the desserts for The Busy Bean and holy moly do they sound amazing. Every description of baked goods had me wishing that the ability to go into books was a thing. Also the way Vale described the process of making the iced coffee sounded glorious and as someone who is absolutely obsessed with iced coffee. I need to try Busy Bean’s version ASAP.
There were two small things that made the book all the more amazing. The first one was how Babe didn’t plan on going to college and how it was never a point of contention. Instead, she wants to keep working at the Busy Bean and hopefully one day buy it from the owner. So few YAs feature charactes who don’t go to college and I just think that it’s a narrative that needs to be seen more. College isn’t for everyone and I love when YAs show that. The other thing that I really loved was the way Babe’s bisexuality was addressed. It was done so in such a casual manner and I just really love how more and more books featuring queer characters aren’t just books about coming out and the struggles of being queer. I also really appreciated the fact that though Babe’s ex was a part of a side-plot, there was never any danger of Babe cheating on Levi.
“The memories of our good times came in an onslaught, too fast and too bittersweet to fight them off. I felt like someone was taking my ribs and tying them into sailing knots. And then, just as quickly, I saw the twinkling stars and whispered conversations and booze-free recklessness drift away, a curl of smoke on the stub of a burned-out candle.
That was the thing about the good old days, I thought. No one told you at the time that they were the good old days.”
“That was what Levi forgot. Oar’s Rest held on to memories. Every first kiss, every last kiss. Every tragedy, every miracle. It was greedy for them. We’d talk about it before, but I didn’t think he realized that Oar’s Rest would hold on to him, too. The memories he left behind would be there in every grain of sand, in every wobbly plank on the pier, in every corner of my world. Places like Oar’s Rest were like that– they held on tight, tugged memories close, and gave life to the people who weren’t there anymore.
Prize: 1 Signed Finished copy of Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale (USA only)