Hi, everyone, and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Small Town Hearts! This cozy contemporary definitely won *my* heart, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.
Rule #1 - Never fall for a summer boy.
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?
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Small Town Hearts is a sweet, realistic coming-of-age story that’s impossible not to love. We follow our protagonist, Babe Vogel, during a summer that does not go at all as she planned. With both of her childhood best friends preparing to leave for college come fall, Babe is ready to spend the summer making one last batch of memories with them before everything changes. However, things quickly go awry after a reckless kiss, and are complicated even further when Babe’s ex-girlfriend reappears in Oars Rest for the summer. Oh, and then there’s Levi, the summer boy Babe is desperately pretending she’s not falling for. ALL THE SMALL-TOWN DRAMA, BASICALLY.
Small Town Hearts shines in its portrayal of small town life. I’m a sucker for small town settings (bonus points if it’s also a beach!), and Oars Rest can hang with the best of them. The town of Oars Rest, its residents, and its eccentricities jump straight off the pages. It’s the type of town where you can’t walk down the street without seeing a familiar face (or ten), and the residents are always willing to lend a helping hand. I also wanted to visit every single local business mentioned in this book, seriously. ESPECIALLY the food places. Speaking of, a large portion of Small Town Hearts is set in The Busy Bean, the coffee shop where Babe is the manager. As someone who worked for years in a coffee shop, this setting felt so comforting and realistic to me. And I loved that Busy’s kind of served as a microcosm for the town of Oars Rest generally.
I love that Babe is someone who’s content where she is. So often in these small-town books, we follow main characters who want desperately to get out– and, as someone who grew up in a very small town, I can say this was true for me, but it certainly isn’t true for everyone. There’s a misconception that if you stay in the town where you grew up, you’re “settling” in some way or that you lack larger aspirations. But, newsflash! College isn’t for everyone, and leaving also isn’t for everyone. Small Town Hearts challenged this idea in a way that was so refreshing. Babe might choose to stay in Oars Rest and manage Busy’s over going off to college, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have bigger dreams. Her dreams just happen to lie within the place she was born and the place she loves.
I also loved this book’s focus on the way friendships shift and change as we get older. Babe goes through a pretty rough friend breakup with her best friends of 10+ years in this book, and all three of them have to face hard truths about the way they treat each other and the expectations they have of themselves and one another. We also see Babe learn that she can make new friends and widen her circle while still maintaining her lifelong friendships. Overall, I really appreciated the nuanced portrayal of what friendship is like as an adult.
Of course, I can’t talk about Small Town Hearts without talking about the romance. Levi Keller, a city boy in Oars Rest for a summer art program, immediately grabs Babe’s attention when he becomes a regular at Busy’s. The cutest friends-to-lovers romance ensues. I think this book captured the sweetness and the exhilaration of a summer romance PERFECTLY. Having a crush on someone is thrilling, but also terrifying, and Babe definitely went through all of this. I also loved the way Babe’s bisexuality was never used for shock value and never belittled by the people she loves. Speaking of, I appreciated the way Babe respected her ex-girlfriend’s own journey with her sexuality and took care to never out her to other people, even when it would have made things easier. The casual bi rep was refreshing and much-needed. Anyway, Babe and Levi are the cutest. Levi is the definition of a soft boy, and I loved seeing him not only fall in love with Babe, but also fall in love with Oars Rest. I also love that, even in the midst of a whirlwind summer romance, Babe takes time to think about what *she* wants out of her future and whether or not her budding relationship with Levi fits into those plans. Their relationship felt sweet and swoony, while still going through all of the natural ups-and-downs of a real summer romance. It struck the perfect balance between realistic and cinematic.
If you’re looking for the perfect cozy summer book that stills deals with real-world problems, I can’t recommend Small Town Hearts highly enough!
follow the tour
The Bent Bookworm – Book Review
The Inked In Book Blog – Book Review
The Lovely Books – Book Review
The YA Obsessed – Book Review
Moonlight Rendezvous – Book Review + Favorite Quotes
The Book Thief Without Words – Book Review + Favorite Quotes
Book Rambler – Creative Bookstagram Post and Mini Review
Metamorphoreader – Creative Post
Bookish_Kali – Book Review + Favorite Quotes
Novel Ink – Book Review
Novelishly – Book Review
The Bibliophile Confessions – Creative Post
Star Is All Booked Up – Book Review
The Phantom Paragrapher – Book Review
The Clever Reader – Book Review + Favorite Quotes
Prize: 1 Signed Finished copy of Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale (USA only)
Have you read Small Town Hearts? What’s your favorite summer romance set in a small town?