Ashley Herring Blake
Publication Date: February 22, 2022
Series or Standalone: Bright Falls #1
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads – StoryGraph
CW: death of parents (past); grief; teenage pregnancy (past); strained relationship with stepfamily; abandonment; references to infidelity (past)
Dani doesn’t really care for this book. I was so excited to finally get to read this as I heard so many people rave about it, but finishing this book proved to be a bit of a struggle. I think this book was returned to the library about five times before I finally finished it.
Delilah Green has zero desire to return to her hometown of Bright Falls. Nothing is there but the memories of her lonely childhood, where she was a burden to her distant stepfamily. Her life and career as a photographer are just gaining steam in New York. But unfortunately, she needs to head back to Bright Falls to photograph her step-sister’s wedding. She plans to breeze in and out of town, but on the first night back, she runs into Claire Sutherland, one of Astrid’s best friends, and decides there is some fun to be had in Bright Falls. Meanwhile, Claire is dealing with raising her 11-year-old daughter and is not prepared for Delilah Green. While she knows Deliah from their childhood, she doesn’t really know her. As the two spend more time together doing wedding activities, Claire cannot resist Delilah’s charms.
So, let’s start off with the positives, shall we?
I loved Delilah and how she was unabashedly herself the entire book. She doesn’t care much about what others think and will do what Delilah Green wants to do. She has a tough, sarcastic exterior, but it’s just a shell, a coping mechanism for her, and it was nice to see her softer side as well. I felt sympathy for her as her upbringing wasn’t the easiest. It seems miscommunication and misinterpretation stopped her from having a relationship with her stepsister, something that Delilah craved after her father’s death.
Speaking of her stepsister, I really enjoyed Astrid. There was so much more to her than meets the eye. Delilah’s perspective colors your initial feelings towards her, but the more I got to know Astrid, the more I liked her. Watching Delilah and Astrid reconcile their relationship gave me lots of happy feelings. However, Astrid’s fiancé Spencer was trash, and I’m so glad everyone was united in that opinion. I loved the antics Astrid’s friends and Delilah got up to make his life a living hell. I’m curious about book two in the series, mainly because I want to see more of Astrid living the life she wants to live, not the life others want her to live.
I listened to this on audio, and Kristen DiMercurio did a fantastic job bringing this story to life. Her Delilah was excellent, and I loved all the personality and nuances she brought to each character. She was one of the reasons I kept going with this book, even though the story didn’t entirely work for me.
Now on to some of the things that didn’t work for me. First, Claire and I just did not click at all. I don’t think I’ve been this annoyed with a main character in a while, but Claire annoyed me. I felt she treated her child’s father like trash CONSTANTLY. She doesn’t let him speak and always assumes the worst about his intentions. I know her reactions are based on his actions in the past, but she jumps down his throat over every little thing even though it was clear to me the guy was genuinely trying to make amends for past actions. Claire’s also the worst type of helicopter parent! The girl has major trust issues (she even acknowledges it), and it was just a lot for me. Claire is Deliliah’s total opposite, and I was hoping some of Delilah’s carefree attitude would rub off on her, but it didn’t really.
The romance in this book is very slow-burn and mellow. It also felt like something was missing from it. There is a mutual attraction between Delilah and Claire, and I liked watching Delilah develop serious feelings, as she hasn’t had those in a long time, but it was a little heavy on the insta-love. Also, would I have liked Claire to be open and honest with her friends about her relationship with Delilah? Yes. It felt like Delilah was Claire’s dirty little secret, which hurt Delilah. Delilah 100% falls first, and I was a little frustrated with how long it took Claire to realize the full extent of her feelings towards Delilah. Overall, the romance in this was fine, but not my favorite.
This book also felt long and dragged for me. A lot is going on emotionally with all the characters, but not a lot going on in terms of the plot. I wish the story centered more on Astrid and Delilah reconciling their relationship rather than Delilah’s romance with Claire, as that felt where the story’s real heart lay.
I was so disappointed that this book didn’t work for me, as I was so excited to read it! I just wanted a bit more than I got, you know?
Now, I do think I will be checking out book two. As I mentioned, I liked Astrid in this book, and I’m excited to see where she goes from here. It feels like she finally has the opportunity to lead the life she wants, and I’m excited to see that journey for her.