Novella Review: Love for Beginners by Sally Clements

May Contain Spoilers


I picked up Love for Beginners because I had a short window of time open in my reading schedule, and a story about a mechanic sounded like fun.  I have enjoyed quite a few Entangled novellas, so I was eager to jump into another one.  While I occasionally had trouble connecting with the characters, I found this an entertaining afternoon read. 

Melody and her friends run a garage, and it’s shop policy to employ only female mechanics.  After Alice breaks her ankle, though, Mel and Betty are run  ragged trying to keep up with repairs flooding the shop.  Alice’s brother, Heath, agrees to fill in for her, and the women are so desperate for help they agree.  Mel has reservations, however.  Heath has a reputation of being a ladyslayer, and the one time they met, he didn’t impress her.  She resolves to keep her distance while he’s working with them, regardless of how charming or good looking he is.

Betty has other plans, though, and sets them up on a date, under the guise that the women are treating him to dinner for helping them out.  Betty promptly backs out, leaving Mel with hostess duties.  She gamely wines and dines their new employee, surprising herself by telling him things she’s never confided to anyone else.  She spills her greatest secrets to him, and for the life of her, can’t figure out why.

Mel has a real hang up with men, stemming from her mother’s constant harping that men are not to be trusted.  Since Mel was raised by her mother, without any assistance from her father, a man she’s never even met, she understands her mother’s distrust of men.  Her dad left them high and dry, and when she asks questions about him, her mother stonewalls her.  Whatever happened must be bad, and in order to save herself from similar heartache, Mel is very cautious in her relationships.  While she wants someone to spend her life with, she wants an equal partnership, without any of that messy sex stuff.  After a disastrous relationship when she was younger, she thinks that maybe her mom knows that she’s talking about, and that men are not worth trusting.

While the story seemed clichéd at times, I did enjoy it.  Heath agreed to help Alice out because he doesn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps and take over the family repair shop.  He wants to be a photographer, and he’s trying to work up the courage to let his family know.  While he’s helping out at Mel’s garage, he’s also planning on working on his portfolio.  He has the chance of a lifetime to make his dreams come true, and he’s not going to waste it.  When Mel offers to help him with his photography, the two spend more time together, and they can’t help developing feelings for each other.   Can Heath convince her that he’s worth taking a risk on?

Both Mel and Heath are dealing with intense family pressure to follow the path their parents set out for them, and both of them decide that they don’t want to continue down it.  Mel’s mother is suffering from clinical depression, and her illness is causing her daughter a lot of grief.  Mel grapples with her frustration with her mother’s behavior, and the negative fallout from it.  When her mother finally comes clean about her father, Mel’s world view is shattered.  Everything she thought was the truth was a lie, and now she realizes that she has to take a chance on making her own happiness, or face losing the new love she’s finally found for herself.  I loved the ending!

Grade:  B-

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

She needs a lesson in love, and he’s the perfect teacher.

Mechanic Melody Swan is looking for a man who can share her hopes and dreams, but she swore she would never lose herself to passion. When sexy Heath Starr agrees to temporarily sub in the Under the Hood garage for his sister, Mel sees the perfect opportunity to enjoy being with a man without becoming attached.

Heath came to Meadowsweet to photograph nature, not find a hookup, especially since his last relationship ended in disaster. He vowed he’d never break another woman’s heart, and in turn, protect his own. Still, when Mel offers to serve as his outdoor guide, he can’t refuse.

Mel may say she’s only looking for right now, but her body is speaking a whole different language. And Heath’s viewfinder is drawn to her time and again. When the two find themselves isolated in a rustic cabin, they could both break their promises if they aren’t careful…