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?
|Publisher:||Feiwel & Friends|
|Product dimensions:||5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.40(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 17 Years|
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. Small Town Hearts is her debut novel.
Read an Excerpt
An hour before closing time, a stranger walked into the Busy Bean.
Next to me, Lucy dumped coffee grounds in the compost bin. She bent over, flicking wet grounds off her fingers. "Hey, Babe, can you —"
"I've got it," I said, grabbing my notepad from the counter, already on my way. The guy was cute. If our new seasonal waitress had been out here, she would have tried to get to him first.
The boy hovered awkwardly near one of the corner tables. He was tall and lithe, with mussed brown hair that was on the side of gold, and a blue polo that brought out his eyes.
"Is anywhere fine?"
"Yeah," I said, gesturing to the available seating. "I can take your order here if you're ready or you can just come up later, if you need a few minutes."
Mystery Boy chose a table that came from a home and garden center, chipped stones in the mosaic face of a woman on the circular surface. The chair he sat on was wrought-iron and from a different patio set, the green seat plump and gleaming with the sheen of new leather.
He glanced at the chalk menu on the wall behind the counter. A smile bloomed over his face. "Nice art."
I followed his gaze. Lucy alternated between neat capitals and loopy lettering to advertise the regular items and the day's specials. Her daisy-chain border was in neon yellow, and some of the flowers had faces.
"Yeah, my friend's a regular Matisse," I joked.
The boy laughed, a rich, velvety sound, like the decadent filling inside a chocolate truffle.
I sensed eyes on the back of my neck, and I reached to rub the tingling patch of skin. I could practically feel Lucy's interest.
I pulled a blunt-tipped pencil and notepad from my apron pocket. "What can I get for you?"
Lucy's voice in my head went through a litany of the things I could give him. I squashed that voice. None of that was on our menu.
Since Elodie and I had broken up last year — since she'd broken my heart — I had gone on a handful of dates that never led anywhere beyond awkward "See ya arounds" and fended-off kisses at the end of the night. Most of them had been nice, cute and witty. Local boys who were salt of the earth, sunny girls who collected kisses like seashells. The first few dates, the butterflies had been flapping in full force, producing gale-force winds. I'd convinced myself I was crushing. I didn't want to always be Penny and Chad's third wheel. But when my dates' faces swooped close, eyes closing in anticipation ... I couldn't go through with it.
It wasn't the act or intimacy of the kiss itself. I just had no interest in them. The other dates were middling at best, butterflies keeping quiet and still. Just nervousness, I'd figured. And then, one day, those butterflies were gone, too. It was just me left.
One corner of Mystery Boy's mouth crooked upward. I realized too late that he was looking at me with expectation. Jerked out of my reverie, I stared at him. "Sorry, I didn't catch that," I said, shooting him a sheepish smile.
"One of those days, huh?" he asked understandingly. After repeating his coffee order, he jerked his thumb over his shoulder to the glass-enclosed cake stand on the counter next to the register. "What kind of cake is that?"
"German chocolate. There's some delicious coconut-caramel frosting on it." Unable to resist, I added, "I made it myself."
He looked tempted for a second. "Just the coffee." His palm stretched across the large sketch pad he'd brought with him, the cover smudged with charcoal pencil.
I gave it a curious look, then smiled an easy grin. "Sure. You got it."
"Thanks," he said while opening the sketchbook. He poised his pencil over the blank page, already looking down.
At this angle, I could see half-moon smudges under each eye, like he hadn't been sleeping well. I didn't realize that my feet weren't moving until he glanced up, his golden eyebrows scrunched in surprise. Feeling heat creep into my cheeks, I turned and fled, retreating to the safety of the counter before I could do anything else to embarrass myself.
"Don't think I didn't notice you lingering over there with the summer boy, Babe Vogel," Lucy said. Her voice was low, but her smirk was at full volume.
"That? That was just good customer service." Cheeks still hot, I moved to the stainless-steel carafe, and in wordless unison, Lucy slid a white ceramic mug across the counter for me to fill.
"Uh-huh," she teased, fluttering her eyelashes at me. "Better get this over there. Along with some of that exemplary customer service."
I huffed, resisting the impulse to roll my eyes. "You know I've never gotten involved with a summer boy," I said, shimmying out of the way of the grimy dishcloth she swatted at me.
Despite what Lucy thought, I wasn't crushing on tall, blond, and gorgeous sitting in the corner table. Sure, he was aesthetic. And mysterious. And new to Oar's Rest, the sleepy little Maine seaside village that spilled over with tourists during the summer and turned into a ghost town the rest of the year.
Nestled on the coast, Oar's Rest attracted all kinds of people, but mostly the artistic kind. The kind of girls who tucked flowers into their hair and rode shiny new bicycles. The kind of boys who had paint and cigarette stains on their fingertips, battling for flesh. Writers who secreted themselves away from the real world and then slipped away from their rented houses and emerged in the fall with a bestseller.
Mystery Boy thanked me when I delivered his coffee, returning his attention to the sketchbook.
Lucy was waiting for me when I returned to the counter.
"Don't even say it," I warned.
"I wasn't going to say anything!" She threw up her hands. She let a beat pass. "Did you see his face? Go say something!"
I pursed my lips, eyeing him from across the room. "What? That's so weird. I'm not going to do that. He could have a girlfriend. And anyway, I hate when guys walk in and start to creep on me. It goes both ways. I'm not going to hit on him out of the blue."
"It's not that weird. Someone has to make the first move."
"Lucy," I said, lifting an eyebrow, "the cardinal rule of every beach town is that locals do not get involved with tourists. They always leave."
"I can't even remember the last time you went on a date," said Lucy. "And those girls and guys were cute."
I picked up a mug that didn't even need cleaning and began to rewash it just to have something to do. When I was nervous, I had the telltale habit of wringing the bottom of my shirt, and the last thing I wanted was for Lucy to know she'd hit a nerve.
She was right. I hadn't been serious about anyone in a few years because I'd been dating Elodie Hawkins on the sly. El had graduated a year ahead of me and gone off to art school in California. Going out of state wasn't enough — she seemed to want to get as far from Maine as she could without crossing an ocean.
A memory blurred into my mind's autofocus, sharpening until I could count the freckles spattered across El's nose and cheeks, her hair thrashing in the wind, the wisps of the cotton candy body spray she loved. If I closed my eyes, I could almost smell it. I could almost see the gray of the sky, the birds circling overhead. The sorrow in her eyes as she said she wasn't ready to tell people about us — about her.
I turned, facing Mystery Boy. "Hey, what else can I get for you?" I flicked my eyes toward the German chocolate cake.
His eyes followed mine and his grin widened. "Just wanted to settle my bill." He flopped down a five-dollar bill on the counter.
Counting out his change, I placed it into his open palm, intensely aware of my fingertips grazing his warm hand.
"Thanks." He turned to leave, then paused, seeming to wrestle with a decision. "I'll take you up on that cake some other time." With a final nod to me and Lucy, he headed for the door.
When he left, I let out a breath I hadn't realized I was holding. "Did that sound like he was planning on coming back, or like that's the last time we'll ever see him?" I wondered aloud. Though I'd been working at the Busy Bean for almost three years, this was the first time I'd hoped a tourist would be a repeat customer.
My curiosity wasn't lost on Lucy. "So you are interested in a summer boy." Lucy's voice held a grin. "And he's cute. Hint, hint."
"Maybe he's here for classes at the art center." I stared through the window at his retreating back, wondering where he was heading. "He had a sketchbook with him."
She shrugged. "Wouldn't surprise me. I think they're starting their summer program this week." She paused. "I heard Elodie Hawkins is coming back to be a mentor. Weren't you two friends?"
What? The wind was taken right out of my sails. El was coming back? She hadn't said anything. She could have texted, she could have emailed ...
Elodie had left town, left me. I shouldn't care if she was coming back. I'd gotten over her. But there were some things I couldn't tuck away as easily. She was like a second beating heart inside me — tingling, magnifying, terrifying. This heart was carnivorous. It hoped and hurt at the same time. Hearing her name again filled me with a savage rush of life, something I couldn't hold back any more than I could keep the memory of us at bay.
Being the one left behind never got easier. After Mom, maybe I should have wised up. Nothing stayed the same forever, but when I remembered the soft, dazed look El wore right after I kissed her, Ihad thought that this could. We could. In possibly the biggest plot twist of my life, though, I'd discovered we couldn't. And just like that, everything I'd cherished for so long became a bitter enemy. Elodie left town, but the ghost of her was still here, haunting.
As I opened my mouth to ask Lucy where she'd heard about Elodie's return, I was interrupted by the storeroom door creaking open. Ariel, our new waitress, had volunteered to unpack some of our new inventory at the start of her shift, but instead of the sounds of moving coffee cans and creaking aluminum shelves, there had been silence all afternoon. I'd forgotten she was even there. It hadn't taken Lucy and me long to figure out that organizing the inventory was code for texting her friends in the privacy of the storeroom.
Ariel breezed out, already pulling her apron off her head. Her brown hair lifted with static. "So I've just about wrapped up in there —"
I blinked at the pile of boxes behind her before the door swung shut. "Really? It doesn't look like you've made any headway."
"— so I think I'm going to take off." She reached for the tip jar with an apologetic smile. "Mind if I bum a few bucks?"
Lucy made a strangled noise.
"No way," I said. "We divide the tips up at the end of the week. And there's still twenty minutes before we close."
Ariel's face turned red. "Right. Sorry." She withdrew her hand, cradling it against her chest. Her expression turned wounded. "It's just ... something came up and I'd really appreciate it if —"
I wasn't in the mood to listen to one of her half-baked excuses. "Yeah, whatever." I frowned. "Go."
As she left, Lucy and I exchanged matching looks. Lucy sighed noisily. "How has she not been fired yet? She's the worst."
I took a peek into the storeroom. Nothing had been done, except some creative shuffling that might have fooled a manager who didn't know Ariel and her distinct lack of work ethic. With a sigh, I let the storeroom door close. "I'll talk to Tom when he comes in tomorrow."
"Good," Lucy said with vehemence. "I don't care if I have to work overtime. I'd rather make the extra cash than pull her weight for free."
She was absolutely right. I nodded in agreement.
We worked in silence to clear everything away before closing up. "See you tomorrow," I said as I locked Busy's door.
"See ya!" Lucy called over her shoulder as she jogged toward her boyfriend, waiting on the beach for her with his dogs. He took off his cap and waved it at me.
As the warm sunlight outside enveloped me, I almost — almost — forgot the cold dread that had gone through me when I heard of Elodie's return. My eyes sought out my lighthouse, small and distant above me. The place where we'd met most often, the one place in town no one would see us. And so, of course, it was the place where El felt the most comfortable. It was the only place she could be herself. The only place we could be a we.
What would I say to her if she really was coming back? Would she even want to see me? Did I even want to see her?
A boat coming back to shore blew its horn, a sharp, trumpeting sound that rattled me out of my thoughts. I felt like a girl overboard.
But it turned out there was no mayday call for returning ex-girlfriends.
* * *
It was at the most beautiful moment of firefly twilight, when the sun had dipped just beyond the water, that I reached my best friend Penny Wang's houseboat. It was far enough from the beach that we were away from everyone's prying eyes, so Penny probably didn't think twice before waving me onto the deck with a bottle of beer in one hand and her phone in the other.
"Hey," I said, flip-flops thwacking against the pier.
"You took your sweet time getting here," she said in response, tipping the bottle to her lips. She sat cross-legged on the deck, phone balanced on one thigh. "I was just about to text you."
I joined her, sinking down and letting my back rest against the wall. "Everyone we know is out on the beach. Hard not to stop when everyone wanted to talk. Isn't it weird how all the people we didn't talk to in high school are suddenly acting like they're going to miss us?"
Penny snorted. "Graduation messed with their brains." She twirled her finger in circles next to her ear. "They're living in some parallel universe where we give a shit."
"Maybe in some universe we do," I said, laughing.
She typed something furiously on her phone before turning it facedown on her thigh. "All the me's in all the universes hate them unequivocally."
I didn't even have to think about it. "Then all the me's do, too."
"That's why you're my best friend," she said, bumping her arm against mine.
We stared out across the water, letting the silence last. I hoped she felt just as warm and squishy inside as I did. "So you won't believe this," I said.
"Elodie's coming back home." I let the bombshell drop, satisfied to see the surprise on Penny's face.
She leaned closer toward me, clutching the neck of the bottle tight. "Really? She told you that?"
"Hell no. You know she didn't want to keep in touch." She'd snipped me out of her life so easily. Even a year later, the bitterness and hurt rankled.
Penny's lips twisted into a scowl. "Ugh. Are you going to try talking with her again?"
I shook my head. "That ship has sailed."
"Good," she said. "I'd have kicked your ass if you got back with her after what she put you through."
"That's why you're my best friend."
"I mean, it was fine if she just wanted to break up," said Penny. "But she didn't have to be such a bitch about it. Cutting you out of her life like that was super shitty. She didn't have the balls to date you while she was here, but she managed to break your heart with no problem." She made an aggravated sound of disgust.
"I'm over it," I said. "But thanks for the ex bashing."
Penny smirked. "Any time." She held the beer out with her right hand. "To summer. And graduation. And to never talking to any of those fuckwads again."
I grinned and took a sip before handing it back to her. "And lying out on the beach and eating tacos and ice cream every day."
This was what I loved about summer, the free pass to be totally lazy and do things only if we wanted to do them. And nobody could say boo about it. It was like the rest of the year was an impostor somehow, and summer was the only time that everything moved back into place.
"God, yes. The tacos. Now I'm craving some bulgogi," said Penny. "I want pickled cucumbers so bad. And sriracha mayo."
The Korean steak tacos were her favorite, while I preferred the fish. Jeju BBQ was the only place in town that served street-style Asian tacos, and everything on their menu was pure rapture.
"Let's go get some." I bumped her shoulder. "Tacos are always a good idea."
"I wish. We have something to do first, though."
"If it's more important than tacos, it must be serious."
"Not kidding, B." She paused. "Hey, so this is kind of awkward, but I was wondering if you could you do me a favor?"
I scrunched my forehead. Penny didn't often ask for favors, at least not so obviously. So whatever this was, it had to be A Big Deal. "Sure. What's up?"
"Would you go talk to Chad for me and, um, tell him I don't want to see him?"(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Small Town Hearts"
Copyright © 2019 Lillie Vale.
Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In this sweet coming-of-age romance, Babe is on the cusp of adulthood, facing a possible future without her lifelong friends, still suffering from a broken relationship with her closeted ex-girlfriend, and wondering if she should break her own rule and fall for “summer boy” and artist-in-residence Levi. As high school ends and Babe looks forward to a last summer on their small island in Maine, something happens that rocks her world and forces her to evaluate what it means to be a true friend. Although Vale uses the predictable trope of the main character losing (in some way) everyone she’s ever loved, she carefully handles the slow-building, but precious relationship between Levi and Babe who fears that he is “just another memory waiting to happen.” The fact that he doesn’t react to the news that she’s bisexual is a relief, but her lies of omission threaten to destroy everything. The scenery as seen through an artist’s eyes is central to the story, and Vale does an outstanding job of drawing readers in and making them root for a happy ending. Highly recommended for libraries serving teens, especially those interested in art. I received a complimentary ARC of this book from Swoon Reads through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed are completely my own.
This book was cute! That’s the main word that pops into my head when I think about it. The plot line felt a little repetitive as if the main cast of characters ran in circles while trying to figure their lives out. It still held my attention enough to enjoy the light read to the end. The characters were lovable but I never felt like we really got to know them enough to fall utterly in love. Sure, as a reader I related to some of the issues (like going to college in the fall) but not much deeper. It felt like standing at the edge of the beach, the water just reaching me. I wanted more depth. The one thing I didn’t like is that there were toxic friendships that never really got resolved and, to me, felt ignored. Ultimately, this was a great read while I was on a long airplane ride and I wish there was more weight, but overall enjoyable!
What drew me to this was the cover. As a self-proclaimed "foodie," when I saw this cover I knew it would contains elements I really liked: romance, food, and an interesting story on how the two came together. And let me tell you, that's exactly what I got. Babe's number one rule is to never fall for a summer boy. It hasn't been hard to stick to that rule. She's happy with her best friends Penny and Chad, her lighthouse house, and the community of Oar Rest. But then comes Levi, the new guy who turns up and starts challenging all the answers Babe thought she already had. The number one best thing about this book is the setting. Period. Point blank. Everytime I picked up this book I was transported to Oar's Rest. And the best part about it was the homey feeling it gave me. I'm from Galveston, Texas, where I went to the beach most of my young life and we did many of the activities mentioned in this book. It reminded me so much of home! The fresh seafood, the salt smell in the air.... Just everything. I'm not sure if Lillie Vale is from Maine, but this place was either well-researched or just about real experiences. The food in this book was also enough to make me wish for them all. (Especially the chowder and tea shortbreads!!! And I don't even like tea....) In other words, do not read this book on an empty stomach. It will make you hungry and when you can't have what they have, you will get mad like me. As for the writing style, I enjoyed it for the most part, but there were sometimes it felt a bit jumpy. I believe it could have been the fact that I read an e-ARC, but I'm not sure. It just seemed that it jumped in certain spaces without a cut in the scenes. It was a bit confusing and at times I found I had to go back and re-read certain parts that I fly right over. Lastly the characters. I liked Babe and most of her friends and all the community. But I'm not sure why Penny and Chad just rubbed me the wrong way. I didn't like the way they treated her and acted towards her the whole of the book. Penny seemed like a POS friend and Chad too for just going along to make her happy. I found myself secretly telling Babe to let them go. that Lucy and Lorcan were way better friends anyways. This book was a surprise for me. Although it has all the things I love in a book, it wasn't high on my radar until I heard it was a summer loving story. Pair that with everything else and I knew I had to read it. This book is for all those waiting on the perfect beachy reads and the perfect beachy weather.
This is one of my (new) favorite summer themed novels! I am a sucker for 2 kinds of books. First, a really good YA thriller. Second, any YA summer themed novel. Oh my goodness, Small Town Hearts checked everything off my list for a book I love. And can we just give credit to Lillie Vale. This is her first novel and it was absolutely incredible. Babe is a barista in a small town in Maine where the locals all know each other like most small towns. She has a rule to never fall for a summer boy. They never stay past summer so she doesn't see a reason to allow herself to get wrapped up in one. However, Levi may question every reason she's ever had to create this rule. Small Town Hearts is packed with so much emotions, but in such a good way. Friendships are tested, old relationships are brought back up, and new relationships and friendships bloom. A huge win is also the representation of a bisexual lead character as well as other characters that are dealing with their sexuality. I loved the summer love storyline and was biting my fingers towards the end, so nervous how the story was going to end. The main character Babe, I absolutely adored. She had moments of weakness and almost self destruction in the beginning but as the book went on she became a strong character and stood up for herself, what she wants and how she feels and honestly that is something I love to see in a lead female character. She has big goals in life, she is incredibly independent and also makes it clear she is okay being single. Plus I can't leave out that she is an amazing baker who will have your mouth watering when she talks about her bakes. Levi was the perfect boy who was perfect for Babe. I really think his character helped hers evolve even more. It was also refreshing to have a male character who didn't care about showing his emotions and was also proud to show them. It was heartwarming to see their connection grow throughout the story and where it all ended for them. The other more minor characters were easily likable or dislikable. They all had their parts in Babe's life and the story being told and although minor characters really added a lot to it. A large focus on the storyline was letting go of the past and making a new future for yourself. At times it was frustrating some of the situations Babe was going through or even putting herself through but this is a great storyline for so many teens and young adults as it is something we all go through to some extent in life. As for the location, UGH. I wish Oar's Rest was a real town. It had so much appeal to it as a small coastal town without the busyness you imagine at so many beach towns in the summer. It had so much history to it too and so many town events which everyone comes together to support. Lillie Vale paints the perfect picture of the town and you'll be wishing you could visit Oar's Rest yourself. If you love to pack a good, light read in your summer bag, Small Town Hearts is perfect for that (if you can wait that long lol). It will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside and while the book was adorable, it also focused on some important social issues so many teens/young adults face today. You will fly through this book in no time and left wanting more. Or if you're like me, you'll be left wanting more and wanting some summer weather already (for real I am over temperatures not getting out of the 40s). I'd LOVE to see a sequel to Small Town Hearts and see where the characters are the following su
It’s the summer after high school graduation in the small beachside holiday town of Oar’s Rest. Babe has been looking forward to spending it with her best friend Penny and Penny’s boyfriend Chad. Babe knows things will change when they start college, she just wasn’t expecting it to happen so quickly. First, a misunderstanding leads to her losing both of her friends. Then Levi, the cute customer at the coffee shop where she works, catches her attention - but she knows better than to date a summer boy after what happened to her mother. And, finally, her ex shows up and starts making waves. It’s not quite the summer Babe was expecting. But it might just turn out to be even better. It took a while to get the drift of this book, as I couldn’t tell who the narrator was or even what sex they were for half of the first chapter. In addition, it felt like I had missed a previous book, as we are thrown into the story and given very little background information. For example, it’s not explained how two recent high school graduates have their own homes (Babe the lighthouse and Penny the houseboat) until about a quarter of the way in. The chapters are very long, and the book is extremely long overall for a young adult novel, although it’s probably technically new adult (but without the explicit sex). There’s a lot of unnecessary detail throughout, but it all adds to the atmosphere. The book is extremely well-written, with near-perfect editing, and littered with gorgeous seaside similes and metaphors. Sights, sounds, tastes, and smells are evocatively portrayed, and I loved the descriptions of the food, so much so that I was disappointed there was no recipe at the end. Perhaps an accompanying cookbook is in order? By the end, you’ll want to visit this town and meet all of its inhabitants. An impressive debut. Warnings: coarse language, underage drinking, sexual references, LGBT themes, drug use. I received this book in return for an honest review. Full blog post (22 March): https://www.booksdirectonline.com/2019/03/small-town-hearts-by-lillie-vale.html
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour hosted by Xpresso Book Tours. I’ve just started this earlier today and finished it in a day. And considering that I’m a painfully slow reader, that says a lot about how much I adored this book! The characters are spectacularly-written. Granted, a couple of characters were superficial and “just-there” but I feel like they weren’t really valuable to the main story. The ones that are, though? They were so realistic and I loved every single one of them. I instantaneously liked Babe Vogel, our main character, mainly because I feel like we’re very similar individuals in the sense that we both fear change, however minuscule it may be. She is also mind-numbingly sweet and loyal to her friends, even though she ends up getting hurt most of the time. But most of all, I liked her since she developed so well through the course of this story. I actually felt like a friend, so proud of who she’s become by the time the book came to a close! Not to mention, she also cares for the environment as she still picked up her trash to throw away even in the middle of a thunderstorm! AND she bakes!!! If all those reasons didn’t convince you in the slightest that she’s one of the best main characters there is, then I don’t know what will. Poppy, Babe’s best friend, is a character with many flaws which grew on me. I was initially aghast at how Babe managed to be on good terms with Poppy for so long because it seems to me like Poppy was a selfish and manipulative person. However, I understood that she had her reasons and came to realize that she was one of the most realistic characters among them all. And then there’s Levi. I can’t stop swooning over Levi while reading, and as I’m typing this, I’m falling head over heels in love with him once more! He is definitely the epitome of a perfect book boyfriend. Aside from being extremely talented, he knows exactly how to treat a girl [Babe] right. He was very mature in the entirety of the story and I admire him for that, especially considering that he’s eighteen. On the other hand, as if the fantastic characters weren’t enough, the storyline of Small Town Hearts is breathtakingly genuine and the romance so heartwarming that I just couldn’t get enough of it! Small town. Coffee shop. Friendships. And a summer boy. Those are four of my soft spots so seeing them all in one book and be executed properly? Lillie Vale has outdone herself on this debut novel. Oar’s Rest indeed sounds like paradise, plus the food, coffee and baked pastries mentioned made my mouth water numerous times! The romance was everything I could have hoped for too! It was equal parts charming and honest, which was made extra special since it was the only thing that was mostly going right in Babe’s summer that turned upside down. And although it didn’t touch upon much familial aspect, this book shined because it deals with problems on close-knit friendships as everything seems to change the summer before college. Overall, I absolutely recommend Small Town Hearts because aside from being such a sweet and romantic read, I think this is an important book for young and new adults such as myself. This book has definitely made its mark on my heart! I would definitely be on the look out for more of this author’s works!
Small town hearts by Lillie Vale Thank you to Lillie, Macmillan/swoon reads and Netgalley for E-arc in exchange for an honest review. 5 ⭐️ This book is one of the best books I have read in the past few years. It’s so beautifully written, every aspect of the story is precious, just simply adorable in every way. The Bi representation in this book is AMAZING! It’s just there, woven perfectly in the to story. We have Babe; she can’t wait for the best summer of her life with two of her closets friends, Chad and Penny, who happen to be dating. Babe is bisexual, but Chad and Penny are the only ones who knew about Eloide, babes ex girlfriend who left for college, packed her stuff and left it all behind her without a second thought. One rule babe has always followed is never fall in love with a tourist, Until one day when a handsome young man walks into Busy’s, the cafe babe works at and everything babe thought she knew started to change for her. Will babe get the summer of her dreams with her best friends or will she get her Prince Charming? I HIGHLY recommend this book to, well everyone. Especially if you love contemporaries that capture you into the setting and the story written on the pages. Lillie did an amazing job with writing this book! ❤️
I received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All quotes are taken from the ARC, and all opinions are my own. Review in a Nutshell: Small Town Hearts is a fantastic read, with something for everyone, from an adorable romance to a great portrayal of the ups and downs of friendships. Lillie Vale’s writing style is amazing. Her voice is the perfect blend of the humor and wit that’s now a must for lighthearted contemporary romance, and the elegant prose of heavier, sometimes denser reads. It sets the tone for this fun, adorable, yet grounded story. It also helps to vividly portray the town of Oars Rest, which is probably one of my favorite aspects of this book. I grew up in a small beach town that can get touristy, and the entire time I was reading this book, I kept seeing my hometown. Lillie Vale’s portrayal of Oars Rest made me remember why I love my town so much. There are a lot of things going on in this book, but it never feels heavy. There is constant action, angst, and drama stirred by the various relationships (romantic, platonic, and familial) and the unique events of an Oars Rest summer. No moment is dull, there is always something interesting happening, and always something you’re waiting for, dreading, or anticipating. Not only was the setting crazy relatable for me, but also the characters. Babe is such a fascinating protagonist, with flaws that hit home a little too hard, and so many great strengths. Her character growth over the course of this book is amazing! Meanwhile, her best friend, Penny, was equally grounded. I want to go on about her more but I don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say she struck a nerve with me. That was one thing I really adored with this book. There were no cliche mean girls in this book, which is something that you see in YA contemporary too often. Instead, you’re given down-to-earth, scarily realistic characters that will remind you of people you know in your life, both for better and worse. The romance in this book is absolutely adorable, and Levi is such a great love interest. Also, I was so happy to see a bi main character fall in love with someone of the opposite gender and no one calls her straight or minimizes her sexuality! Honestly, everything with the LGBTQ+ rep in this book was amazing. I was so happy with how her ex-girlfriend was handled. She was still in the closet while they dated and broke up, and I loved that she was never blamed for not wanting to come out, and that Babe respected her privacy and protected her secret even if led to more issues for her. It was just really great. Small Town Hearts should be added to everyone’s TBR. It’s adorable, fun, yet full of heart and depth. This is a book you can’t miss!
If this book does not eventually become a movie, I will be shocked. This was the perfect modern Summer Loving Teen romantic story. Readers will totally relate to Babe and her dilemma and her opportunity to start a new chapter in her life from having an ex-girlfriend and two best friends off to college, to meeting someone new and different that she never thought she would have in her life. You fall in love with Babe and Levi and can't help to read on and see what happens. We will definitely be considering this title for the collection and that is why we give this book 5 stars!