Friday, August 19, 2022

Book Review: Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan

Pages: 272
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: June 7, 2022
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "Nora's life is about to get a rewrite... Nora Hamilton knows the formula for love better than anyone. As a romance channel screenwriter, it's her job. But when her too-good-to work husband leaves her and their two kids, Nora turns her marriage's collapse into cash and writes the best script of her life. No one is more surprised than her when it's picked up for the big screen and set to film on location at her 100-year-old-home. When former Sexiest Man Alive, Leo Vance, is cast as her ne'er do well husband Nora's life will never be the same. The morning after shooting wraps and the crew leaves, Nora finds Leo on her porch with a half-empty bottle of tequila and a proposition. He'll pay a thousand dollars a day to stay for a week. The extra seven grand would give Nora breathing room, but it's the need in his eyes that makes her say yes. Seven days: it's the blink of an eye or an eternity depending on how you look at it. Enough time to fall in love. Enough time to break your heart. Filled with warmth, wit, and wisdom, Nora Goes Off Script is the best kind of love story--the real kind where love is complicated by work, kids, and the emotional baggage that comes with life. For Nora and Leo, this kind of love is bigger than the big screen."
You know those cheesy romance movies that all follow the same formula? Well, Nora Hamilton writes them for The Romance Channel.  Newly single after her husband left her to raise their two children on her own, she channels her anger, sadness, and other difficult emotions into a screenplay. Except this isn't her usual screenplay that has a happy ever after moment. It's based on her husband leaving her and how she finally felt like she could breathe. She could exhale. Her agent sold it to a big time movie company, not The Romance Channel, and now it's being adapted with legitimate Hollywood stars. They need to film for a few days at her house to capture the story fully, so Nora's perfectly curated routine is blown out of the water for a few days, not to mention when Leo Vance, one of the hottest men in Hollywood, camps out at her house and front porch. Once production is done, Nora hopes to go back to her routine that is laid out carefully, but there's one flaw in her plan. Leo wants to stay on to recenter himself.  Apparently, the simple country life is good for him. He offers to pay her $1,000 a day, so how can she say no? She really needs the money as her ex-husband doesn't help out at all. Meanwhile Nora is trying to live her everyday life of porch sitting, long runs, grocery shopping, school pickup, dinner making, assisting with homework, etc, all while Leo Vance tags along for a taste of normalcy.  Slowly, sparks fly between the two and more importantly, Nora finds out who and want she wants out of her life.  Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan is an adorable romantic comedy that is the perfect escape.
I really enjoyed Nora in Nora Goes Off Script. I found her to be funny, smart, relatable, and cringe worthy. She could be a little over emotional and clingy at times, but it made for a good story.  After all, she is trying to find her way after her ex left her, so she is a bit vulnerable. Once Hollywood shows up at her door, she starts to have feelings for Leo and enjoys him following her around. It's good to have support and a friend in life after doing things on her own for so long.  But slowly, the sparks between them point to something more. However, how could a regular mom in a small town somehow get the attention of Leo Vance, one of the sexist men in Hollywood? In real life, probably not, but in Monaghan's version, a girl can dream, right? I loved this aspect of the novel as it made for a great summer escape.
Once things played out in Nora Goes Off Script, I was eye rolling a bit. It just seemed very obvious what would happen, but Monaghan proved me wrong. I didn't see some of the plot twists coming and enjoyed the ride for sure.  Monaghan's writing is so good and thoroughly enjoyable.  Her writing style is exactly what I gravitate towards when I am looking for a vacation read.
I think most mothers can relate to Nora in Nora Goes Off Script and I think that's why it resonates with so many of us. The awkwardness, the putting ourselves last, the mundane routine, the school pickup, the PTO, the Saturday sports games, the wine before bed, etc, it's all there. And if divorced, who wouldn't want to bring a Hollywood heartthrob to the school pick-up line? I mean that's the stuff of dreams right there.  

My only minor complaint about this novel was the lack of steam--not that I need something explicit, but I didn't feel Nora and Leo's romance blooming as much as I had hoped. It seemed a little lacking in that area, and rather one dimensional. Monaghan focused more on Nora's arc and self-growth, which I get, but I would have loved more.

Nonetheless, I really enjoyed Nora Goes Off Script. If you are looking for a last minute summer escape, pick up a copy.  Living in Nora's world means every forty year old mom comes out a winner, realizes her full potential, and everyone else just watches in awe.  So, have you read Nora Goes Off Script? Is it on your summer TBR list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 


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