Book Reviews

Book Review: Like You Love Me

Title: Like You Love Me
Author: Adriana Locke
Genre: Romance, Fiction

What It’s About: Holden McKenzie returns to Honey Creek, Tennessee after his life in Phoenix fell apart–his former boss’ wife wrote an email to her friend about him and how she would like to have special relations with him, so his boss fired him, even though nothing ever happened between the two of them. Then he ended his relationship with his fiancée Julie, because he realized that they never would have worked well.

So Holden finds himself on his first day at his Pap’s (Grandfather’s) veterinary hospital helping Pap out, while Pap is on vacation in Florida. He’s having a humorous banter with Dottie, Pap’s assistant, when a lady walks in and starts teasing him about prescribing her antibiotics. It’s none other than Sophie Bates, his childhood best friend from his summers in Honey Creek.

Sophie returns home to the bed and breakfast, Honey House, that she owns after her grandmother willed it to her upon her death. She is trying to make it work, though her bookings have gone down since a bed and breakfast had opened up a couple of towns away. She encounters Olivia “Liv”, her sister, all dirty from trying to fix the chimney, and begins recounting how handsome Holden really is. Liv eggs her on, before revealing that Holden is standing right behind Sophie, and embarrassing her. Sophie hides away in the kitchen, while Holden asks if it would be possible to rent out a room for the night so that he would not have to drive 30 minutes away for the night. Liv tells him where to find Sophie, and Holden goes to her, telling her that he would like to rent a room there with them, since it’s closer. She tells him which room he can have, and adds that she will not be making dinner for him but that they can go to Tank’s, a diner nearby, if he’s up for it in 30 minutes.

The two of them spend dinner at Tank’s together with people staring at Holden, especially the waitress there, and they share some banter but also Holden reveals that he doubts he is husband material because of his experience with Julie when they were trying to design a home–he wanted one thing and she wanted a completely different thing that he had hated. He also reveals that he’s been waiting on a phone call from Montgomery Farms, a world-renowned animal sanctuary that has created amazing breakthroughs in veterinary science, which is something that he’s wanted to do since he was a young boy. But he worries that the farm will not take him

The next day Holden is back in the office, when a kid named Patrick, comes in worried about his pet Ferret being sick, and Holden quickly takes care of him. He also gets a call from Dr. Montgomery, the owner of Montgomery farms, who tells him that what really stood out to him was Holden’s written portion of the application in which he reveals that he wants to start a family, as well as the importance of the family. Holden feels guilty because he no longer has that, but he tells Dr. Montgomery that he’s getting married soon.

That night when he returns to the bed and breakfast, he finds Sophie in the kitchen, drinking wine. She had spent part of her day looking for documents, because she has to pay taxes on the property soon, and was trying to find something to extend the deadline. Sophie feels like she’s screwed because she doesn’t know where to get the money for the bed and breakfast. She’s drinking and talking to her grandmother (who has long passed away), wondering whether or not she should take a loan out to keep the house up. Holden comes in on her during this, and the two of them start to talk. Holden tells her of the issue with the marriage for his application of Montgomery Farms, while she finally reveals that she owes $5,000.00 for property taxes.

Thanks to the wine, Holden gets the idea of her marrying him as a business partnership. He says that they’ve always made a good partnership as children growing up, and if they marry, she can help him out with his application at Montgomery Farms, while he will pay off her tax bill. After some more talking, Sophie gets convinced, and they decide to do it the next day. She cannot fall asleep that night, and so she goes to her sister’s house next door, wakes Liv up and tells her what is going on with everything including the deal. Liv tells her to tell Jobe, their brother, who basically takes a very nonchalant approach to the whole situation, telling her if that makes her happy, that’s all that matters.

The next day, Holden and Sophie leave Honey Creek at 12:30 and drive to another town. Along the way, they stop at some convenience store, and Holden buys all of the candy in the store because he’s not sure which one Sophie likes. When he returns to the car with his goodies, Sophie picks out a PayDay, claiming it’s her favorite, and he tells her that it’s his favorite, which is why he bought it. They tease each other back and forth, before Sophie takes it back from him, breaks it in half and gives him one of the two halves.

They arrive at the Florist–Sophie’s friend, Haley–and meet the officiant, decide on how they want to proceed, and they have the ceremony. There is a moment where Holden notices that Sophie has doubts about it, and is about to call it off when Sophie cuts him off and tells him that he’s ready. While Sophie does not have a ring for Holden, Holden has one for her–Liv had stopped by earlier that day and given him her grandmother’s wedding ring, so he uses that as the ring for Sophie during the ceremony, which means a lot to her, though she is really surprised by it.

On their drive back to Honey Creek, Pap calls Holden, and Holden tells him that he got married. Pap cannot believe it because he doesn’t think that a girl like Sophie would go for a guy like Holden, as she’s too good and too kind, though Pap loves his grandson fiercely. Sophie chimes in, and confirms the story, to which he wishes them both luck and tells Holden that he will be back the next day from his fishing vacation in Florida. When they arrive back at Honey House, they are surprised to find out that the whole town is there–someone had let slip that they got married–and it turns out that Liv had created a surprise wedding reception for them.

They mingle, and Holden even talks to Jobe and Liv momentarily, before Liv calls the newlyweds up and tells them that while they are forgoing every other tradition, one tradition they can’t forgo is the first dance. So Holden dances with Sophie to an Elvis Presley song, before giving her a kiss that leaves them both breathless. Liv and Dottie then tell them that they can go get started on their honeymoon and they’ll clean up after the party.

Sophie and Holden go to her room, that has been slightly decorated by Liv as a honeymoon suite, and decide that he will sleep on the floor in the same room to keep up appearances. Sophie does get a little drunk on the Champagne that was provided by Liv in the room, and suggest that since Liv and Dottie are in the kitchen seemingly listening in on whatever is going on in her room, to embarrass them by making it seem like they are having sex. She tries to smack her pillow against the headboard to make it seem like her head is hitting the headboard, but Holden tells her that it would not work. Since she wants to embarrass them, he basically starts slamming his fist into the wall making it sound like they were doing more than they actually were. Then they fall asleep.

When Sophie wakes up the next morning, Holden is nowhere to be found–she thinks that she was daydreaming until she sees the ring and then she finds Holden’s note on the chair with his items. In the meantime, Holden is in the office where he sees Pap, who tells him that he would give him his veterinary office if he decides to stay with Sophie in town, but Holden is still hung up on the idea of having his dream career at Montgomery Farms. That night Sophie makes meatloaf, and Holden shows up at dinner time, saying that it’s sexy that she made dinner. They trade innuendos about who is seducing whom, and what it means to seduce someone. Holden pulls out the payment for the property tax bill, as he promised he would do, which Sophie tells him that she finds sexy. Despite their best attempt to keep their hands off each other, they end up having a steamy session in the kitchen before finishing up in the bedroom.

The next morning, Sophie is up to find the coffee for her, and then heads into her office, where she starts planning on what to do now that she does not have to pay the tax bill, and how she would spruce up the place. Her brother Jobe shows up and starts teasing her about her sex life, and Liv also shows up, which doesn’t make it any better. That night, Sophie and Holden head out to Tank’s for dinner, and with enough teasing, they decide to take sandwiches to go and come home instead.

Finally the day arrives when Dr. Montgomery shows up in Honey Creek, Tennessee, as he had promised he would. Unfortunately, he shows up just when Holden is finished with his workday, because Dr. Montgomery had been delayed due to some issues at the farm. Holden advises Dr. Montgomery that he and his wife run a bed and breakfast nearby that would save him the 20 minute trip to the nearest one. Dr. Montgomery agrees to it, and Holden texts Sophie about it. When they arrive at the bed and breakfast, Holden finds that Sophie had set up the table, and she made a beautiful dinner of chicken roast. She also had dressed up and looked beautiful. During the dinner, Dr. Montgomery asked her why she chose Holden, and she was pretty much honest about her feelings without really telling Holden that she loves him out loud. She spoke about how Holden is spontaneous, caring, and kind; how he has creative solutions to problems, and how ambitious he is. She tells Dr. Montgomery that he won’t find another man like Holden who would be passionate about the job. Finishing the chicken roast, Dr. Montgomery excuses himself from the table, and goes up to his room in the bed and breakfast.

Holden is confused by the sincerity of Sophie’s words to Dr. Montgomery, and wonders how she managed to come up with this. He is fully thankful to her for the words that she gave Dr. Montgomery, and something changes between them–there is some tension in the air that he cannot grasp; things that he would want to say but that end up being left unsaid. The next morning, Sophie wakes up to find an already-awake Holden, who makes her quesadillas for breakfast. He reveals that he woke up in the morning, around 6 am and found Dr. Montgomery already up so they will be getting going shortly. Dr. Montgomery comes into the kitchen and talks with Sophie, who in turn gives one of the apple pies that she has received from another individual in the town. He gets excited and walks out to his car.

Holden follows Dr. Montgomery out and asks him if he’s ready to go to the clinic, to which he replies that he does not. Dr. Montgomery then reveals that he actually wants someone to fill in a role to then potentially be prepared to take over as a CEO, since he cannot work forever. He reveals that he had called his wife, gushed about both Holden and Sophie, and she was the one that said that they are their people, so the job is Holden’s if he wants it, with the potential career trajectory of management of a farm. Holden is surprised, because this was not what he was expecting, and he thought that Dr. Montgomery’s kids would be the ones who would take over as CEO, but the doctor revealed that it was not what they were interested in pursuing. Dr. Montgomery tells him to think about it a few days, speak to his wife (because he always makes decisions with his wife, he claims) and gets in the car to go to Kentucky–the other candidate he had narrowed it down to, just to meet with him and know what other potential there is.

As the doctor leaves, Holden feels like he’s teetering on a cliff-one that he’s not sure is the one that he wants to jump off of any longer. He doesn’t want to go back to the bed and breakfast to face Sophie, but at the same time he also doesn’t want to go into the office. He chooses to go into the office, and finds only Pap, who realizes that Holden has made his choice to leave for Montgomery Farms. He’s not angry, but he sees that Holden has a storm of confusion brewing in him, and tells him a sage peace of advice–to go where the sun leads him. At first Holden is confused, but then Pap explains that it’s a feeling of warmth that he would get when he was on the right path, and Holden realizes right away what feeling Pap is talking about because he had that feeling when he went to university for Veterinary medicine.

Sophie in the meantime, cooks and cleans the house. At the end of the day, she’s on a call with Liv updating her on the very little that she knows. But she is worried what the whole Dr. Montgomery business will mean for her and Holden–she realizes that she loves him. When Holden arrives home, she hangs up with Liv, and they have a very limited conversation. Just from the way that he’s acting, and the weight in the room, she knows that he had chosen to go to Montgomery Farms, and she loves him too much to ask him to stay here for her; she doesn’t want him to end up resenting her, but prays that he will choose her anyway. Holden confirms that he will be going to Montgomery Farms, and he tells her that they don’t have to dissolve their marriage yet, to take time. He knows she won’t move, and he won’t ask her to either. Crying, Sophie tells him to leave tonight, and there’s no reason to prolong this, before leaving to go to Liv’s house. Together with Liv, she watches as Holden’s car leaves the bed and breakfast that night without seemingly a backward glance, and Sophie decides to go to bed after talking to Liv and confirming to her that she does indeed love Holden.

Holden sits in a hotel in Florida, feeling like he’s in pain. He’s unable to touch his food, and after the crappy night that he had in Nashville the night before at the hotel, he just doesn’t know how to move forward. Even the alcohol and all the note taking with plans that he made on the flight over do nothing to ease his feelings. He keeps wondering if he’s come to his senses–it was a question from his father via text message, after they had a call a few days prior where Holden told his father off for not doing anything for him but basically claiming Holden’s achievements as his own. He knows he should call the Montgomery Farm to accept the role, but somehow keeps putting it off every time he attempts to dial.

If Sophie wanted him to stay, she would have told him, wouldn’t she? is the question that he asks himself.

Finally, the waitress comes up to him with his check, and they start chatting. She tells him that she’s been watching him for a bit, and realizes that he has a story–every customer does–and he’s suffering from heartbreak. She reveals to him that her boyfriend is in the armed forces, and they are in a distant relationship because he’s overseas. Holden tells her that his wife is back home, while he’s here. And she makes the comment that she must love him very much. Holden questions this, and the waitress tells him that despite her worrying about her boyfriend and loving him a lot, she would never ask him to stay behind and give up something he loves because of fear of creating resentment. Holden asks her to repeat that again, so she does, and he realizes that it’s exactly what Sophie has done for him, and what he has done for Sophie–stemming out of a respect for her. He thanks the waitress and leaves the hotel.

Sophie has started painting some of the walls since Holden left, and she had been resting for a bit, but she would not allow herself to sit for longer because she doesn’t want to wallow in the loss of Holden. She hears some wheels on the gravel and as she starts heading back in, she gets a phone call. She picks up and it’s from Pap, who checks in on her, and tells her that Holden will come around, but it just takes men longer because that’s how they are. He reveals to her that Holden was raised by his mom with the values (community, love, family) that Pap and his wife taught their daughter, and that it beautifully counteracted the values that Holden’s dad taught him (money, power), but when their daughter died, Holden was stuck with his dad, who held those values in high regard. He then asks Sophie to remind Holden to call him because he’ll likely call Sophie sooner than he’ll call Pap.

Sophie walks into the kitchen and finds a note from Holden, glued to the fridge with purple jam. She reads through the note, where Holden tells her that he would like their marriage of convenience to be a marriage for real, and that he’s moving back into the blue room of the bed and breakfast. She runs upstairs to him, and finds him doing sit ups, then begins to tease him that she wants an amendment to their rules. He agrees, and takes her down to her room, where they profess their love for each other.

The next day, together hand in hand, they walk into the Veterinary clinic, and Pap gets surprised when he sees the two of them talking to Dottie. Holden asks if he has space to hire a person, and Pap agrees as long as Dottie signs off on it–he then says he’s going to Florida for his unfinished fishing vacation.

A week later, Liv shows up in the bed and breakfast kitchen, complaining to Sophie that her boss is an arsehole. Sophie and Holden tell her that it’s hard to read tone through text, and then Holden asks Liv for a favor–if she could find a wedding planner for him and Sophie. Sophie is taken by surprise, and when Liv leaves the house after squealing that she’ll be doing the wedding planning, Sophie tells Holden that it is unnecessary. To which, Holden replies that he wants to profess his love to her in front of the whole down and give her the wedding of her dreams.

My Thoughts: This was a very fast and fun read. It’s not very realistic because I don’t think I would know of anyone who would go through such a scheme like this in reality to get a job and pay off taxes on their property (first thought that usually comes to mind around this kind of stuff, based on my job is a Romance Scam). But in the world of fiction and the fictional location of Honey Creek in this particular book, it’s a very fun story. Super cheesy, and typical of romance books, where we will know that the two characters will always work out in the end, but we are there for all the juicy details of the relationship.

Personally, I would have liked to have a bit more tension rather than the fact that they are so quickly smitten with each other, because I feel like that would have made it more believable. I would have also loved for the author to maybe reveal the fact that they’ve always been in love with each other–beyond a simple “well I would’ve had sex with you if you came up with this when we were seventeen” line.

Over all, I enjoyed it and had a quick laugh here and there from the banter between the two characters. This is a good book if you’re looking for something to provide a bright spot in an otherwise busy day–that moment of sun when you’re having a rough day at work, because Holden’s and Sophie’s relationship is just cute and I definitely felt like I had little goo-goo eyes happening 😍 while reading this book. But I probably wouldn’t write a research paper or thesis on this book in regards to critiquing romance stories because there are way better ones out there than this one.

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