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Second First Impressions

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Romance (2021)
Distraction (n): an extreme agitation of the mind or emotions.

Ruthie Midona has worked the front desk at the Providence Luxury Retirement Villa for six years, dedicating her entire adult life to caring for the Villa’s residents, maintaining the property (with an assist from DIY YouTube tutorials), and guarding the endangered tortoises that live in the Villa’s gardens. Somewhere along the way, she’s forgotten that she’s young and beautiful, and that there’s a world outside of work—until she meets the son of the property developer who just acquired the retirement center.

Teddy Prescott has spent the last few years partying, sleeping in late, tattooing himself when bored, and generally not taking life too seriously—something his father, who dreams of grooming Teddy into his successor, can’t understand. When Teddy needs a place to crash, his father seizes the chance to get him to grow up. He’ll let Teddy stay in one of the on-site cottages at the retirement home, but only if he works to earn his keep. Teddy agrees—he can change a few lightbulbs and clip some hedges, no sweat. But Ruthie has plans for Teddy too.

Her two wealthiest and most eccentric residents have just placed an ad (yet another!) seeking a new personal assistant to torment. The women are ninety-year-old, four-foot-tall menaces, and not one of their assistants has lasted a full week. Offering up Teddy seems like a surefire way to get rid of the tall, handsome, unnerving man who won’t stop getting under her skin.

Ruthie doesn’t count on the fact that in Teddy Prescott, the Biddies may have finally met their match. He’ll pick up Chanel gowns from the dry cleaner and cut Big Macs into bite-sized bits. He’ll do repairs around the property, make the residents laugh, and charm the entire villa. He might even remind Ruthie what it’s like to be young and fun again. But when she finds out Teddy’s father’s only fixing up the retirement home to sell it, putting everything she cares about in jeopardy, she’s left wondering if Teddy’s magic was all just a façade.

From the USA Today  bestselling author of The Hating Game and 99 Percent Mine comes the clever, funny, and unforgettable story of a muscular, tattooed man hired as an assistant to two old women—under the watchful eye of a beautiful retirement home manager.

352 pages, Hardcover

First published April 13, 2021

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About the author

Sally Thorne

5 books19.3k followers
Sally Thorne is the USA Today bestselling author of the office rom-com The Hating Game (2016). It is her debut novel that has sold in over twenty-five countries and is being made into a major motion picture, directed by Peter Hutchings and starring Lucy Hale and Austin Stowell. Filming wrapped in December 2020. It was named in the top 20 romance novels of 2016 by the Washington Post and was a top ten finalist in the Goodreads Choice Awards romance category. The Hating Game has been cited as a book that has reinvigorated the romantic comedy genre.

Sally’s much anticipated second novel, 99 Percent Mine, was released on 29 January 2019 by William Morrow Books and debuted at #37 on the USA Today Bestseller List.

Sally’s third novel Second First Impressions is released AU/NZ 31 March 2021, and US/CAN 13 April 2021.

Sally lives in Canberra, Australia, with her husband- plus a pug called Delia and a horse called Louie.

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5 stars
12,298 (18%)
4 stars
24,213 (35%)
3 stars
22,587 (33%)
2 stars
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1 star
1,787 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,708 reviews
Profile Image for Yun.
509 reviews19k followers
May 21, 2022
Well, crud! No one's more surprised than me, but Second First Impressions isn't what I wanted at all.

At first glance, this seems like your typical cute rom-com. Ruthie works at a retirement home and doesn't have much of a life outside of work. Then the owner's son, Teddy, shows up, and turns her world upside down through a combination of wit and looks. And she realizes that maybe she's ready for love after all. What's not to like, right? Well, a lot, as it turns out.

You guys know that I adore strong and spunky female characters. Unfortunately, Ruthie isn't that. She's more like the extreme opposite, as in the blandest wallflower ever. She's so easily spooked that she's afraid to leave the grounds of her workplace. She dresses like an old lady, then gets hurt when people point that out. She needs to be constantly reassured that she has value, which every person around her does for her.

As for Teddy, he is a huge guy covered in tattoos and has beautiful, luxurious, long hair, which we are told constantly as Ruthie daydreams about freeing it from its elastic, running her hands through it, and tugging on it. I don't have a problem with any of those, but it's so specific, you know? It feels like it appeals to a very particular taste, and it's not mine. I kept imagining Teddy as a tatted up Fabio, and it didn't do it for me.

On top of that, I didn't feel even the tiniest of sparks between our two main characters. I don't understand what they see in each other other than looks. Ruthie is such a bland non-person, and Teddy just whines about how much he needs someone to take care of him. Whenever they flirted with each other, it's so jarring and sleazy that I felt creeped out. At one point, Ruthie says no to lunch, so Teddy just picks her up and carries her out to the car.

Speaking of being creeped out, I was expecting adorable old people in a retirement home. But the old people in here are strange and inappropriate. Two of the old ladies wanted to hire a young hot guy to be their assistant. They would make him cut a Big Mac into bite-size pieces and feed it to them, bury and dig up clothing, sleep in crawlspaces, and wear stripper outfits that say "Hot Stuff" on it. Am I crazy for not finding that to be funny and cute?

But that's not the biggest problem. ("There's more," you say?) My biggest issue is that I couldn't follow the writing. A lot of it is in dialog form, but what each person says doesn't make sense from the previous line. Or what they do in one paragraph doesn't make sense from the previous one. I kept going back and rereading pages to try to make sense of what I've missed, but I can't find the cues to help me understand. It feels so random and nonsensical.

Perhaps you're still undecided if you should read this book, so I've devised a litmus test:
His wallet is a squashed leather medieval relic, run over by horse and cart a thousand times. I want to open it and read every single card and receipt. I want to sleep with it under my pillow.
If you can relate to that, then this book is for you. On the other hand, if you've never wanted to sleep with your beloved's wallet, then perhaps it is a good idea to stay away.

See also, my thoughts on:
The Hating Game
99 Percent Mine

Profile Image for Amy.
259 reviews70 followers
May 26, 2021
why has every Sally Thorne book since The Hating Game made it seem like she has never interacted with another human being?

yes, I hated 99 Percent Mine. yes, I'm gonna read this anyway. don't worry about it.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,509 reviews31k followers
February 4, 2021
well, i didnt hate this. but i didnt love it, either.

and i feel like this review is going to be a little unfair - after ‘the hating game,’ i know ST is capable of truly wonderful stories. and i cant imagine the pressure she must feel to write another book that is just as wildly successful, but this wasnt it.

the story, the characters, the writing all feel… average? which isnt inherently a bad thing, but i know ST can be so much more than just average. i just wish there was something in this story that made me feel one way or the other.

im still a ST fan and will continue to read whatever she writes, holding onto hope that i can once again experience that romantic magic that made ‘the hating game’ so great.

thank you to william morrow for the ARC.

3 stars
Profile Image for Emily.
Author 15 books68.8k followers
October 18, 2020
Read this the right way (in one day), and miss it so badly all ready. Like being inside Sally Thorne's cute, cozy, whimsically wall-papered brain with a cheeseboard, a bubblebath, and a very soft sweater. No one writes like Sally. No one thinks like her, I don't think. I want to bottle her brain, and drink a sip every night so I can dream her books. Just. So. Sweet.
Profile Image for chan ☆.
1,041 reviews47.7k followers
May 15, 2021
this is certainly an unpopular opinion but this book felt too... specific to me.

i don't think that as a rule, books have to be relatable to be good. but when it comes to a romance i want to see little pieces of myself in at least one of the main characters. maybe i'm stubborn like the heroine or like the same foods as the hero, whatever. i'm not asking for 1:1 personality match, but give me something to sink my teeth into.

but this book... couldn't be less relatable. a painfully meek heroine and a hardly redeemable himbo. on top of that, it was just lacking in charm. i get what this book was going for, but it was a little too safe and basic for me. idk. this book is really hard to critique but i'll leave it at: this didn't work for me.
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,474 reviews19.2k followers
February 11, 2021
I got off to a bit of a rough start with Second First Impressions, but once I got invested in the story, Teddy and Ruthie snuck themselves right into my heart and I ended up SO charmed by this sweet little book. Thanks to Sally's signature dreamy writing style, Teddy really shined in all of his tattooed, long-haired glory and I swooned SO HARD anytime he was on the page. I mean, THE DRESSING ROOM SCENE?????? HELLO?????? 🥵 This book was just a delight. An absolute delight. I am so happy that I loved this!!!!!!!

CW: animal injury, fatphobic comments, dieting, death of a loved one
Profile Image for Warda.
1,123 reviews17.7k followers
April 27, 2021
And this was another winner for me. Sally Thorne continues to write fuckin’ magical love stories and stories that make me too happy!

So many things I want to say, so many thoughts that are rushing through my mind but I’m too tired and dysfunctional to sort through them. It’s midnight and it’s way past my bedtime.
But the more I think about the joy that this book was and the more I generally sit with it, the happier it makes me.

It’s a 5-star read when I’m anticipating rereading it in the near future and that’s my review done, I guess.


Oh god, the blurb...
I'm salivating!
Profile Image for ✨ A ✨ .
423 reviews1,636 followers
October 22, 2021
It pains me to rate a sally thorne book anything less than 4 stars.

but the fact that the love interest had no boundaries especially in his first few encounters with Ruthie,, who he just met!! - gave me the ick

Read my review of other Sally Thorne titles:
The Hating Game
99 Percent Mine
Profile Image for Phuong ✯.
608 reviews4,727 followers
July 21, 2021
First impression: DNF @10%
Second first impression: 2.75 stars

Alright, I managed to finish, but this thought still holds ↓↓↓
It pains me to say this, but Sally Thorne peaked with The Hating Game and that was it.

When I DNFed Second First Impressions , it was because I couldn't stand Teddy. I thought he was an annoying and spoiled man child. He stayed a man child throughout the book, but somehow along the way he grew on me.

The romance was okay. I thought Ruthi and Teddy were better off as best friends than anything else. Everything with them was just so easy, safe and comfortable. There were some cute moments, but overall nothing very memorable.

Profile Image for Lacey (laceybooklovers).
2,007 reviews9,934 followers
April 12, 2021
This was so perfectly charming, quirky, and adorable. Basically, everything I wanted in a Sally Thorne romance. I went into this with high expectations after loving The Hating Game and actually enjoying 99 Percent Mine, and I'm happy to say Sally Thorne didn't let me down! My heart was just so HAPPY reading this lovely story. I'm already putting Second First Impressions on my 'best of 2021' list!

The thing I loved most about SFI was how unique it was. It's set in a retirement home, the heroine works there as a manager (she's 25 going on 80, which, relatable), there are two 90-year-old residents/menaces in need of an assistant to torture, and the hero is a dorky, tattoo-artist airhead in need of some lessons in responsibility, so he takes the position.

Ruthie is like a grandma in a 25-year-old’s body who’s trying to come out of her shell of anxiety and monotony. She's sweet but shy and doesn't know her full potential. I loved seeing her learn more about what she wants out of life and seeing her grow to love herself. Teddy is a precious sweetheart (dare I say teddy bear) who, even though he has some growing up to do, worships the ground Ruthie walks on. And honestly, what more could I ask for from a hero? There are all these little moments and little things that Teddy does that show how hard he falls for Ruthie, how much he respects and cherishes her. Even though this book is told only from the heroine's POV, we get to see all of that so clearly and I LOVE when an author is capable of illustrating a hero this way.

This romance is just so wholesome, funny, and precious - it was exactly the heartfelt and feel-good romance I was looking for from Sally Thorne. I know it's hard not to compare this to THG or even 99% Mine, but I truly feel like a lot of people would enjoy SFI whether or not they loved her previous books. I literally finished it with a smile on my face. I loved it!


I loved THG and I was one of the few people who enjoyed 99% Mine, so I have some high hopes for this!
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,132 reviews39.3k followers
August 3, 2021
I’m so embarrassed to do what’s I’m gonna do right now ! But I have no other choice ! That’s how I feel! That’s what the characters made me feel! I never want to give any talented author’s book less than four stars but I tried so hard… I pushed myself to love this book and enjoy the quirkiness levels of the characters but sometimes quirkiness levels exceeded annoyance levels!

Both Ruthie and Teddy were unique, obviously dorky, having unique sense of sarcasm, one of a kind characters! I slowly learn to relate with them but as a couple I didn’t believe in their slow burn relationship.

I think if I consider this book as lovely fiction about the characters of retirement home, I would easily give four stars because I truly enjoyed those witty, vivid characters and their smart banters.

And Melanie: that girl made me laugh so hard! She was quirky as hell but adorable kind of quirky I loved at first chapter!

The story takes place at retirement house where Ruthie the heroine at 25 has been working there for ex years, such an old soul, connected with the residents, reverend’s daughter, introvert, inexperienced about formal social skills but she is so fine with her position at work till her big boss’ son who insulted her after borrowing $20 gas money ( actually she didn’t have any idea he was boss’ son and she acted like Good Samaritan but she really regretted her decision as soon as he made comments about her fashion style!

Very next day the same careless, long haired guy, having more tattoos on his torso than Pete Davidson, forced to move at the place to work under her as maintaining guy! She knows he cannot survive in one week so game on! She’ll make him pay about rude comments he’s made for her!

But guess what? He’s survived and he already became one of the favorite persons of the residents and Ruthie seems like she has a huge crush on him! Yes, Ruthie, you’re so doomed by crossing the professional line!

Overall: it was still fun, entertaining, sweet reading you may fully enjoy! But I think my expectations were too high for this author and I couldn’t relate with relationship between the MCs so I guess three solid, it was okay read but I expected something rock my world stars will be the proper grade I can fairly give.
Profile Image for preoccupiedbybooks.
447 reviews990 followers
April 13, 2021
A sweet, and wholesome tale about two quirky people, who make a terrible first impression. Can they both make a better second first impression?

Ruthie, 25 works and lives at Providence retirement home. Ruthie is old before her time, and lives her life quietly until Teddy, the handsome, outgoing son of the owner moves in and becomes the personal assistant to two eccentric ladies. Will Teddy last the week with the demanding Parloni's? Or will he remind Ruthie of what it is to be young?

I've seen A LOT of pre-reviews begging for this to be more The Hating Game, and less 99 Percent Mine... Well I'm here to tell you that Second First Impressions is like neither book! I have to commend Sally Thorne for writing three totally different books, despite the massive pressure on her to recreate her debut novel! Ruthie is neither like Lucy nor Darcy, but I will say that if you didn't like the abrasive personality of Darcy (I did), then Ruthie might be more up your street, with her sweet, quiet, old soul personality.

Unfortunately, this book started off slow for me, and I didn't feel any connection to Ruthie or Teddy until about the 30% mark. I couldn't relate to Ruthie, and I found Teddy a bit annoying and invasive. But then I started to warm to them both, especially Ruthie, feeling sympathy for her, as I saw how she had let her life get off track. I enjoyed getting to know them, and really liked the secondary characters! The Parlonis were great fun, and I really loved the friendship which grew between Melanie Sasaki and Ruthie, it was so cute!

Even though I wasn't quite on board with the romance between Ruthie and Teddy for a while, I did start to like their banter and friendship. They grew on me, and started to give me heart-warming feelings. The aspect of the book which drew me in though, was Ruthie's growth. Seeing her start to realise her worth, begin to come out of her shell and think about taking chances on life made me tear up a few times! It's easy to get comfortable, and much riskier to get out there and live your best life, especially if you are a gentle soul and have a slightly traumatic past.

Whereas the beginning was too slow for me personally, the ending felt too rushed entirely! The last chapter before the epilogue was crammed with confrontations and revelations, but it felt like too much was fit into those few pages, therefore dimming the emotional effect?! I hope that this gets smoothed out by editors before release, as the overall pacing just felt a bit off to me.

Overall, this was a quiet and charming book. There's not as much steam as in previous books, but the characters were cute, and found each other when they most needed each other. It's not my favourite book by this author, there was a lack of a spark for me, but I did enjoy it.

Many thanks to Edelweiss and William Morrow for the ARC, in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Christy.
3,758 reviews32k followers
April 15, 2021
5 stars


This is one of the sweetest, most charming, feel good romances I’ve ever read. It felt like getting a giant hug and I was in just the right mood to read a book like this, which is probably why I loved it so much.

Going into this, I tried so hard not to compare this book to ‘The Hating Game’ because it’s in a league of its own and it’s easy to not compare it, because this is totally different than THG. What I love about Sally Thorne is that she’s written three different novels and they are all so very different. Though I think THG will always be the favorite of hers for me, this is a very close second!

Ruthie Midona works at a Luxury Retirement Villa and has for six years. She’s 25 and has less of a life than some of her residents. Her job is her life and she’s mostly content with that. Until Teddy Prescott comes along . Teddy is the owner/property developer’s son and appears to be a tattooed, long haired, bad boy, but in reality- he’s a charming sweetheart you can’t help but love.

I couldn’t get enough of Rutie and Teddy’s friendship. They genuinely liked each other and even though they seemed so opposite, it was obvious they belonged together. Teddy all the things about Ruthie she thinks she needs to change, and for once, Teddy finds someone who believes in him and his dreams. It’s a game changer for him.

Not only was I completely enamored with Teddy and Ruthie, but the side characters were so lovable, eccentric, and fun. Ya’ll this one was just truly delightful. I can’t think of a better way to put it than that.

I can definitely see why some people wouldn’t love this book, it might not be for everyone, but it was very much for me. I completely adored both of the main characters, the premise, the writing style, and all the happy feels it gave me. If you’re looking for a slow burn, friends to lovers, feel good romance, I can’t recommend this enough!

Audio book source: Audible (Purchased)
Story Rating: 5 stars
Narrators: Jennifer Jill Araya
Narration Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 10 hours and 20 minutes
Profile Image for Arini.
696 reviews1,551 followers
May 10, 2021
This was comforting because I felt connected to the heroine. Not only were we close in age, but I also could see a little of myself in her. Therefore, seeing her slowly come to realise her worth, learn to get out of her comfort zone and take more risks was nothing short of admirable and reassuring.

That said, Second First Impressions fell short as a romance, which was a shame considering the H was 6'4, had tattoos all over his body and a long hair he often tied in a sexy man bun. He was also dreadfully likeable. Though, now that I think about it I kinda wish he’d been a bit more of a jerk. 🙈

I enjoyed the interactions between the MCs, but their chemistry felt more platonic than magnetic (?!?). There was no tension, but there were sweet moments. On another note, I really liked the setting of this book. I’d actually once considered working at a retirement home like the heroine lol. The side characters were also fun to read.

Unfortunately, breaking off from the slow pace the book had been keeping, the last 10% was alarmingly rushed. I was mostly disappointed we didn’t get to see how the h resolved the animosity between her and her parents seeing as what had gone down between them was the reason she became the way she was.

Overall, this was cute and quirky but unfulfilling. It was also unlike the author’s previous works as I think this had more of the contemporary feel (??) than the romance and was also less steamy. It was nowhere near as good as THG but better than 99PM, even though that was also a three star read for me.

(Read as an Audiobook)
Profile Image for Jessica .
2,048 reviews13k followers
June 14, 2021
This was SO CUTE! If you love a "I'm annoyed with you" to "I'm friends with you" to "I'm in love with you," you'll enjoy this book. From the beginning, I really loved Ruthie's character from the moment we met her and Teddy was just impossible not to love. It was so cute how Ruthie slowly let her walls down with Teddy and they became such close friends before anything happened. Ruthie is kind of stuck in a rut in her life and Teddy pushes her to take chances and think about what her true dreams are. Is she really happy or is she just content and scared to make any changes in her life?

The two residents that Teddy ended working for were amazing and I swear that all of the main characters were just so lovable. Ruthie's coworker was fun and I just loved how much everyone loved and cared for Ruthie and wanted her to be happy. I loved how there were turtles that lived in the retirement community and just how fun and quirky this story was. Definitely precious and something I could recommend!
Profile Image for Allegra.
9 reviews51 followers
October 22, 2020
Gather around me, contemporary romance community, while I ask myself what in the absolute hell this book was.
Some caveats:
1. The Hating Game was an absolute gamechanger for me. It's the literary equivalent of a warm bath and I revisit it whenever I'm feeling in need of cheering up. I recommend it to everyone and will never not love it.
2. I waited absolute a g e s for this book to come out. I suffered through 99% Mine, cheerful in the fact that surely it was just a one-off and it's so hard to top The Hating Game and the next one will be better.

My friends, Second First Impressions was _not_ better and I feel like that scene in Silver Linings Playbook where whatshisface closes the book and throws it out the window.

Guys, the lead character is so sad and depressing and has decided her life is entirely over at the age of 25 because she had a semi-traumatic experience once in her #youth where no one in her life believed her when she said she locked a door and some money got stolen. Apparently she went from her pastor parent's house to this fancy retirement compound where she now lives to work, takes baths, watches 7th Heaven, and dresses like a frumpier Bella from Twilight. Friends, this is dumb. No one is independent enough that they can live on their own and apparently be 2nd in charge of a 40 resident compound, but also so sheltered that she doesn't even own a pair of jeans.

And the dude. Come on now. At first I was sort of on board-- I didn't love the ~daughter of a pastor religious thing~ but hot motorcycle dude I could get behind. But he was kind of a jerk and the whole angle with him being the ~damaged~ love child of the guy who bought the retirement compound was a little too easy. And the dad being like "hello son i haven't seen in a while, you live here now. don't sleep with your neighbor. get a job you unprofessional lout. bye!" was silly???? I have no idea what he looks like except a shit ton of Ed Sheeran style tattoos and long black hair. Ed Sheeran meets Snape??? And his stupid "give" and "take" knuckle tattoos? Urgh.

Listen, I just do not understand the _timing_ of this book. They literally JUST met but he wants to jump her ankle length Mennonite skirted bones. Sure jan. He somehow, and for some reason, falls absolutely in love with her because she's organized and he's a dirty tattoo artist who can't commit to anything or buy shampoo. The whole time he's like "I'm leaving to buy a tattoo parlor lol u better not fall in love with me!!!!!!!" and she's obviously like "oops, 2 late" because he's ~different and ~dangerous and ~has hair but then it turns out he loves her and wants her to come live with him and it's not realistic. It's not real. None of this felt real!!!!!!

I won't even bother talking about the secret-lesbian elderly couple because they served no purpose and I definitely won't get into the whole money thieving side plot because it wasn't interesting. And it's truly amazing that the lifelong conflict between the dude and his sister was resolved in under 2 pages.

I could have forgiven all of this-- every single stupid detail-- if the sex scenes paid off and were swoony and hot. And Sally couldn't even give me that. It took, what, 86% of the book to FINALLY get there and then she might as well have faded to black on me. What was that? That was nothing. This was an affront.

I guess I have no choice but to go reread The Hating Game to get this bummer read out of my brain.

Thanks to Netgalley for the e-ARC so I could get the suffering out of the way now rather than when it's officially released.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for leah.
265 reviews1,845 followers
April 9, 2022
theodore prescott i am free on thursday night if you want to give me a call on thursday night when i am free
Profile Image for TJ ☾.
688 reviews1,109 followers
August 6, 2021
2.5 stars 💫

“I’m fairly inexperienced at these things, but this feels like a really romantic setting."
"It is. You’re finally noticing that?”

🌷 i don't know what's up... i love sally thorne's writing, i think she's super witty and i love the way her heroes are always enraptured by the heroine pretty early on and it comes out in rly cute, specific ways... but idk i just can never get into the romance. i always end up hella bored

🌷 also... i just don't like ruthie. there, i said it. she's a sweet girl but possibly one of the most boring heroines i've ever read. and teddy is just eh, not much to swoon over. they had more of a platonic relationship too imo

🌷 melanie was the best character and from the very start i was wishing it was her book. give her a book! 😤

🌷 renata and aggie were also great side characters, i loved how well teddy vibed w them and was even one step ahead of them sometimes lmao. overall tho, the retirement home setting was a bust for me

🌷 anyway, it took me a long time to get through this book and i'm pretty sure it put me in a slump byE
Profile Image for Angelica.
805 reviews1,070 followers
April 16, 2021
this was good. Not as good as The Hating Game, but then again few things are. I liked it. All the problems at the end were resolved very conveniently, anticlimactically, and quickly.

Generally though, a pretty good read,

Rating: 3.5
Profile Image for EmBibliophile.
477 reviews1,084 followers
November 13, 2021
3 stars

This was just not what I expected it to be. I’ve been delaying reading this for so long scared that I won’t love it, even though it has all the elements of being my type! The retirement home with old ladies that I have a weak spot for. The heroine I could kinda relate to. The guy with all the tattoos and family issues. It just got all the elements, but weren’t used right? Which was such a shame as this could’ve turned into something great and truly enjoyable.

With a book named second first impressions, I would’ve expected a hero who is a jerk, some haters to friends to lovers situation, and some angst. The romance was just not it. Sally Thorne created magic with THG, but this one lacked a lot. It lacked the steam, the angst, the chemistry, and that spark. It was purely platonic and just so average. I just wanted a lot more, I guess.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,161 reviews2,010 followers
March 22, 2021
This was an absolute delight to read. I loved all of the characters and became totally involved in their lives to the point where I am missing them now I have finished the book.

I defy anyone not to love Teddy, full name Theodore, the meaning of which is Gift of the Gods. He is definitely a gift to womankind! His relationship with Ruth is so much fun although there are tears in there too. Most of the characters are endearingly quirky and there is a lot of humour along the way. The turtles were cute too!

Nicely written, loveable characters, good story. Recommended to anyone looking to read a satisfying romance and/or discover a new book boyfriend.

My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.
Profile Image for Arundhati.
156 reviews43 followers
June 22, 2021
I am just gonna go pat myself for finishing this one. Multiple breaks and few naps later, I finally finished it. And I am just wondering why did I even try to?? I admit to going into the book with very huge expectations , but also that's the reason I dragged myself to finish it. I wouldn't have given any other book such chance. I truly wanted to love it. But it just felt so flat. I just feel depleted and frustrated.

Things I liked
This would be a small list still. It was cute...kind of? There were moments I did like. I liked the supporting characters a lot more. If not for Renata and Mel, I probably wouldn't be able to drag myself through it. Then there is this whole endangered tortoise rescue/ rehab talks which was interesting. It was a short read. I am glad for that.

Things I disliked
The main characters. I get it Ruthie is a goody goody old soul. Honestly I myself am an old soul and I thought I would be able to relate with her. But boy. I don't know. Maybe she could have had some semblance of a life? She does not go out at all, is a workaholic and spends all her time and days taking care of a retirement home. And the first guy she comes across she just falls in love with. Hmmm. Well fine I can still buy it. Kind of. Then coming to Teddy. I did not like him. Maybe it's me, but I don't find unable of taking care of oneself attractive at all. Ruthie finds him so charming and falls for him completely which I just don't get it. It's like Teddy only needed someone to take care of him, keep him tidy and fed. The romance felt so forced and no sparks at all. Like nothing. The whole plot was just so slow. I just didn't care about both of them.

I tried but this one was not for me. Maybe I will pick Sally Thorne's book in the future. But those will now be with a bit of hesitation.
Profile Image for Chloe Liese.
Author 18 books6,030 followers
May 14, 2021
Ruthie and Teddy were the softest, goofiest, lovable opposites-attract couple I’ve read in a long while. Sigh. That was a good one.

More thorough review to come.
Profile Image for lazybookconqueror.
408 reviews88 followers
April 25, 2021
Unlike any Contemporary Romance I have ever read
How does Sally Thorne come up with these ideas?

Second First Impressions is an extremely unique and quirky book about Ruthie Midona (the 25-year-old reverend's daughter) stand-in manager at Providence - a high-end retirement villa. Ruthie is methodic and high strung and she has an immense fear of messing up. She dresses and acts like she's 125 instead of 25. Even the residents around the villa seem more lively than she is. Besides making sure the place runs smoothly, her only other hobby is taking care of the many Golden Bonnet Tortoises she rescued and brought to live around the place.

Everything changes when she unexpectedly meets Theodore Prescott, the long-haired, motorcycle riding, full of tattoos son of the owner of Providence. Circumstances lead to Teddy having to share a cottage with Ruthie and work as the personal assistant of the most eccentric residents in the villa.

Yes, this premise is insane for a romance novel, but it absolutely works. Sally Thorne managed to write something beautiful and heartwarming within such a strange concept. And it's also completely different than anything she's written before. It's a bit moodier (maybe even darker) than The Hating Game and 99% Mine. But it works and it manages to stand on its own.

This is a very slow burn book, but I didn't mind the build-up because Teddy is such a charismatic character. He completely stole the scene every single time. I also appreciated how he was such a cinnamon roll, in contrast to his hard exterior.

I really enjoyed the reading experience, but the ending was a bit of a letdown. Not because of the content, but the way it all unraveled. Every resolution came in the last 10% of the book. It was extremely rushed compared to how the book was leisurely telling its story. And there was a loose end with Ruthie's parents, her grievances with them were such an important plot point and we didn't get to experience the much-needed confrontation with them.

Everything else was just super cute, and even with the rushed ending I still managed to finish the book with a huge smile on my face.

Thank you so much HarperCollins for approving me for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

More reviews in the Blog
Profile Image for aly ☆彡 (sick).
346 reviews975 followers
January 24, 2023

I like this book better than The Hating Game. It's not entirely flawless, but I love the premise more.

Second First Impressions is definitely not what I expect it to be. I like the execution of the "opposite attracts" trope which was done very well. And, the good girl meets the bad boy trope may come out as tedious but Thorne managed to enliven the characters even from Ruthie's only perspective, captivating readers through the reckon of their quirks, all in all giving the premise a new life. This book is definitely different from her other works and I appreciate that. It's fun and very heartwarming.

Ruthie is the preacher's daughter, who's ever timid and a goody-two-shoes. But despite this description, I believe we can agree that she's loveable all the same. We get a glimpse of how Ruthie's life was before she joined Providence Luxury Retirement Villa, perking our interest to know what has happened in the past that shaped certain aspects of her life now.

Then, she gets to meet Teddy who mistaken her as one of the Golden Girls for a costume party.

How is he? The typical bad boy with bikes and tattoos all over, infamous for his party lifestyle... Or so you thought. Even though the renditions are true but like his name, Teddy is just a big plushie that you can't help but to love and hug all day. He grew up in a rich family, is lazy and unorganized. But despite the pigeonhole of what a supposed bad boy to be, he also had his share of flawed past which made him tender and delightful.

And that's what I love the most about the characters in this book. They're imperfect people and I love seeing the growth in Ruthie and Teddy's relationship. Their dynamic is timely. I find it adorable how Teddy is picking up Ruthie's behaviour and came to tidy his bed (even though the possibility of it happening before was probably -8/10). Or Ruthie falling out of her routine to follow Teddy which may look as simple and predictable tbh. But the way Thorne writes and made these characters complementary just boost the plot to be more appealing.

Although, there are parts that were antagonizing to read: like Teddy's self-doubt for not being the right person for Ruthie, at the same time won't stop trying his shot. Like, you want her or not?

But it kind of makes sense seeing how these two people are very different and so have different wants and views for their relationship. Again, it's still heartwarming to see them grow and compromise for the others.

Foremost, I would like to thank Renata for carrying the book on her back!!! This book is definitely so much fun with her antics. OMG that horrible old woman, I LOVE YOU!!! And her stories with Aggie was foreseen, but still managed to touch my heart (especially the epilogue CRIES).

All in all, this book is joyful and entertaining with the right of dramas and woe. If you love The Hating Game, you might find this book a bit flat. But I could say Thorne has grown so much in writing her plot and that's something that should be recognized. Probably why I rated this book higher too.

(p/s: attention to details on the book cover. the tortoises are so cute and significant :( just wished we get to see teddy’s tattoos from the cover tho)
Profile Image for naz.
375 reviews384 followers
February 22, 2022
Clever, funny, and unforgettable story of a muscular, tattooed man hired as an assistant to two old women—under the watchful eye of a beautiful retirement home manager.
*chef's kiss*


Profile Image for Rachel Reads Ravenously.
1,804 reviews2,158 followers
June 2, 2021
4 stars!

Guys, this book was actually VERY cute!

Ruthie is a woman in her twenties, but her wardrobe and daily activities mirror that of the elderly residents in the retirement home she works in. Ruthie has sheltered safely in the walls of her work and has avoided any other kind of human interaction outside the community. This all changes when the son of her boss, Teddy, is moved into the accommodation site next to hers. After a meeting that doesn’t go well between the two of them, Ruthie exacts her revenge by recommending him a job for the notorious, eccentric residents in her home.

Second First Impressions is a bit of an unconventional romance. I’ve definitely never read anything like it. There are a ton of negative reviews for this book, so I went in with an open mind. I didn’t expect The Hating Game going into this book and I’m glad I did, because I really enjoyed it. I loved the banter between Teddy and Ruthie, and his relentless pursuit of her, even when it only seemed to be a pursuit of friendship. But what I loved most about this book was how it was a story of two people who had lost the ability to be confident in their abilities and how they taught each other over time that they were capable of more than what they expected.

So my recommendation would be to go into this book with zero expectations, and just enjoy the ride. I hope you do!
Profile Image for Jessica.
324 reviews363 followers
April 14, 2021
Second First Impressions is a delightfully funny love story between unlikely people. Ruthie works at a retirement community and her life revolves around her job. Her only social life is her online friends and the resident events. Teddy is attractive and the owner’s son, but Ruthie’s first impression of him wasn���t good. Teddy is a reckless partier. Now Teddy is living next door to Ruthie. Ruthie finds him a job that will be entertaining for everyone, but Teddy surprises everyone. Ruthie and Teddy quickly develop an unexpected friendship and start to get to know each other. I loved this story and was entertained throughout the book. The characters are all great with unique personalities and very realistic. I loved Teddy’s interactions with the residents. Second First Impressions is a must read for Sally Thorne fans. I loved The Hating Game and second First Impressions lived up to my expectations.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Jennifer Jill Araya and enjoyed her narration. She is the perfect voice for Ruthie and did great narrating Teddy’s parts too.

Thank you William Morrow and Harper Audio for Second First Impressions.

Full Review: https://justreadingjess.wordpress.com...
Profile Image for Sofie |.
243 reviews151 followers
April 26, 2021


One of the “benefits” of working in the front office of Providence Retirement Villa is I receive feedback on every aspect of my lifestyle and appearance, whether I want it or not. (I do not.) Here are the three questions the residents always have for me:

•How old are you? (Twenty-five)
•Do you have a boyfriend? (No)
•Why not? (Miscellaneous reasons, none of which will satisfy them)

Sally Thorne does it a-fucking-gain. I could not put this down. She gets all the stars for:

• An incredible, well-rounded group of characters
• Drama and conflict that made SENSE and wasn't centred on a trivial misunderstanding
• A quirky, fun MC that I just wanted to give a big hug to
• An adorable male love interest (guys, I have a problem. I keep falling in love with men written by women, so no real man ever measures up)

Honestly, I would have read the novel for the side characters alone. Renata was NEXT LEVEL. Melanie was the best friend I never had. Teddy was the sort of hot class clown you can't help but fall in love with. His bits with Aggie and Renata were my favourite. (Hey Sally, could you write a period piece on Ren and Aggie? Thanks!)

What a setting, too! Thorne certainly can paint a picture. I have thought, more than once, that I would be very happy living in a retirement community, and Sally's convinced me I'm right. Quiet neighbours! Who are probably hard of hearing! And go to bed at 8! Sounds like a dream. I don't know how she managed to make a retirement facility seem romantic, but she did.

I could gush about this forever, probably. I enjoyed it nearly as much as The Hating Game, which comes out on top because I'm trash for enemies-to-lovers. Still, I love a guy who pines, so I am a happy, happy girl.

4.5 stars rounded up. Sally, I love you, but PLEASE GET YOUR BUTT IN GEAR AND WRITE ANOTHER BOOK ALREADY. This one just came out and I'm already starving for one.
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