Not Like the Movies by Kerry Winfrey

TITLE: Not Like the Movies
AUTHOR: Kerry Winfrey
LENGTH: 304 pages
GENRE: romance/rom-com (Ohio, relationships, LGTBQ+ characters)
ISBN: 9781984804044
REASON FOR READING: Sequel to Waiting for Tom Hanks, which I read and loved earlier this year

SUMMARY (Goodreads):

What happens when your life is a rom-com…but you don’t even believe in true love?

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.

My Thoughts: I couldn’t put this one down. Just like Kerry Winfrey’s previous in this duology, which I read earlier this year, Waiting for Tom Hanks, I just loved the story. I do love a good 1990s rom-com, my favorite probably being You’ve Got Mail, but I also love Notting Hill. So this sort of story is right up my alley.

In Waiting for Tom Hanks, the main character is Annie, who is rom-com-obsessed and waiting to fall into one of her own. She also happens to be screenwriting a rom-com of her own based on her BFF Chloe and Chloe’s boss, Nick–they work at the coffee shop Nick owns, where Annie is a regular. This sequel is Chloe’s story, and what happens to her life after Annie’s movie, based on her relationship with Nick, is right about to premiere. Grand gestures, clichés, and sexual tension abound amidst the Columbus, Ohio backdrop.

One reason I feel so drawn to the story is the setting–while I haven’t actually been to Columbus very often, I am a born-and-raised Ohioan and this is the closest setting any book has ever come to me. It is easy for me to picture the Ohio spring weather and the areas surrounding OSU full of college students.

I also love the casualness of the author’s inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters. I have read books where sexual identities were forced or overly explained. But I find the casual way these relationships and identities are mentioned, as if it is nothing special to draw attention to any more than any other relationship, is a much better way at normalizing the normalness of such relationships and identities. (I hope I’m verbalizing that the right way–it makes much more sense in my head, and I do not pretend to be an excellent writer of any sort.)