Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 1/2
Welp! I ate up Tia Louise’s newest book, This Much Is True, in one big bite. J.R. and Hope’s story isn’t one to push you away. Instead, it pulls you into its drama through Louise’s deft characterization of J.R. and Hope and a certain level of romantic suspense. What this book does is play on Hope’s name by bringing hope into a world that feels very very dark.
This Much Is True is the first book firmly settled during the COVID-19 outbreak. Just as we are struggling with stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and mask-wearing, so are J.R., Hope, and the other characters of the story. It’s the first romance I’ve read that has dealt in this time, and it felt a bit eerie reading it, seeing current life reflected back at me through the specter of romance. Most compelling about this book is the ease of J.R. and Hope to recognize their soulmate in each other. This was also a bit of a stumbling point for me because this reads as an insta-love story EVEN with a hero who is grumpy. For this reader, I struggle with insta-love stories because I want to better understand why a hero and heroine could fall so deeply in love so quickly. From a romance reader’s standpoint, it alleviates some of that initial tension between the hero and heroine. Unfortunately, as is the case with insta-love stories, the drama comes later in the story, which keeps you reading to the very end.
As a couple, J.R. and Hope are everything you love in a Tia Louise romance. They are the yin to the other’s yang. He is dark, while she is light. She brightens up his cloudy day, and their chemistry is combustible quickly. What is most important about their story is how their journey aspires for better things even in the midst of difficulties. It’s intentional that Tia names her heroine, Hope, that they reunite on a bridge, and she is described as an angel. In her character, we know that life will only grow better for J.R. who has had life heap drama on him. This is also a challenge for us to find the light in our dark days. As I read This Much Is True, I knew that Tia Louise wrote this book to offer deliverance from our own troubles; that it feels like a soothing hand on the shoulder, one that cajoles us to keep moving through lives that feel weighed down by what it feels like to live during a pandemic.
Do I think the story is as strong as her last three? No. The reason for my 4 ½ start review is my love for J.R. and Hope’s coupling and the solving of the case against J.R. Yet, the resolution felt a bit rushed to me, even though the epilogue is quite sweet. I also had a few questions about story points: why is her father kept so long in the short-term living facility? Why doesn’t she visit him through a window and then she suddenly does after complaining about being separated from him? How does she afford her family’s beach house or living without a job? There is a plot point that occurs toward the end related to a trust fund. Where did that come from? The book doesn’t read as seamless as her former stories, and I wonder if the trials of the pandemic affected her usual ability toward a cohesive, well-drawn story.
With that, though, I would absolutely recommend this book. I’m a critical reader, and I want all of the points drawn carefully together. When they aren’t, it makes me ask questions which affects my overall grade. Tia Louise will always be a must-read author for me, and her newest book, This Much Is True is a continued testament to her ability to write characters who we can’t help but love. J.R. and Hope Eternal have a story that feels perfect for our world right now.
In love and romance,