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A Book That Had A Lot of Room to Grow: Review of Very Sincerely Yours by Kerry Winfrey

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Do you ever set a book down and think to yourself, “Damn, I really wish those characters would have gone to therapy?”

Summary

Teddy Phillips never thought she’d still be spending every day surrounded by toys at almost thirty years old. But working at a vintage toy store is pretty much all she has going on in her life after being unceremoniously dumped by her longtime boyfriend. The one joy that she’s kept is her not-so-guilty pleasure: Everett’s Place, a local children’s show hosted by Everett St. James, a man whom Teddy finds very soothing . . . and, okay, cute.

Teddy finds the courage to write to him, feeling slightly like one of the children who write to him on his show. He always gives sound advice and seems like he has everything figured out–and he pretty much does: Everett has a great support system, wonderful friends, and his dream job. But there’s still that persistent feeling in the back of his mind that something’s missing.

When a woman named Theodora starts writing to Everett, he is drawn to her honesty and vulnerability. They continue writing to each other, all the while living their lives without meeting. When their worlds collide, however, they must both let go of their fears and figure out what they truly want–and if the future they want includes each other.

Review

This review will contain light spoilers.

Instead of being proposed to, Teddy gets broken up with. That’s how Very Sincerely Yours by Kerry Winfrey Opens. I thought that this was a great opener, I like romances where a character splits from a long time partner because it usually leads to the character realizing that their “idyllic” relationship was anything but and they learn a lot about themselves and their new partner in the process. The characters spend time healing and learning they deserve better and I love these types of books. I think that this is what was supposed to happen to Teddy but I don’t know that the lessons she learned ever fully sunk in for her.

So I’ll just say it. Teddy’s ex was a dick. He spent years taking advantage of her kindness and squashed her down into becoming not a partner, but a caretaker instead. He expected her to come running when he called her and it physically hurt to watch Teddy continue to fall for it, thinking that his neediness equated to love. It’s eventually revealed that much of Teddy’s lack of confidence stems from childhood trauma and her parent’s divorce. She has spent almost her entire life trying to please everyone else in order to avoid conflict and in doing so, she’s lost her way. This is a story I can relate to and I know how difficult it is to realize you need to change and it’s even harder to begin to make those changes. Knowing how much of this story needed to be based around self-discovery and healing had me questioning how much the romance played into everything. And ugh, I just wish Teddy would’ve gone to therapy because she really, really needed it.

As the story unfolded it was a constant back and forth with herself over if it was okay to make her own decisions and questioning everything she did because “what if it’s the wrong thing”. It was nice to see her grow a bit but I have to say that I think this story leaned a little too far into “a relationship can fix things” and “the right person can make everything better” type of story.

Before I finish with my thoughts on the plot, I do want to talk about our other main character, Everett. Now Everett is lovely, he’s creative and hard-working, he’s close with his family, and he’s passionate. But his passion for his job, a children’s TV show called Everett’s Place, borders on obsessive. Essentially, he’s the opposite of Teddy. Teddy has no idea what she wants to do with her life, while Everett only wants to do this one thing and he can’t wrap his head around why other people have issues with his inability to step away from his work. There were a few times when other characters began to call him out for his poor work-life separation but no one really fully went there to tell him what the issue was. It was hinted at a few times that people in his life had made sacrifices over the years and simply accepted that Everett was unable to set his work aside but I don’t know if he ever truly realized how unhealthy it was. This aspect of Everett’s personality is what had me going back and forth on what I really thought of his and Teddy’s eventual relationship.

So Everett’s TV show is Teddy’s comfort show. She reaches out to him via email and the two strike up a friendship. Their emails were funny and vulnerable and I thought that they had almost instant chemistry. This book takes place over the course of only a couple months and I think that I would have enjoyed this more if the timeline had been longer. I was surprised that they met so soon in real life and I do think that many of my critiques about their relationship would not apply as much had they not met when they did. The arc just didn’t feel as complete as it could have been. Teddy had really just gotten out of this long-term relationship only to quickly fall into a new one with Everett despite the personal journey she really needed to go on. While there were moments where she was learning and growing and setting boundaries and standing up for herself, I was uncomfortable with what the pair went through in this short timeline. This especially applies to the main conflict that was due to Everett’s inability to have any sort of work-life separation. I was proud of Teddy stepping away from this relationship when she saw that it was potentially going to be harmful for her, but I think that they could have stayed apart from each other longer than they did. To me, Everett didn’t fully learn the lesson that he needed to and I felt like Teddy really still needed to grow more on her own. There were too many parts of this that leaned into what I saw as “love fixing things” it didn’t seem like either character were truly being themselves outside of this relationship and that the relationship only added to who they were.

And I do know that other people may not look at this story at all and think that the message is that a relationship can fix a person, but it makes me nervous nonetheless. You can absolutely be in a relationship while you work on yourself, people can work together to be their best selves and support each other in that process. This book may have benefitted from a little more inner dialogue from Teddy as she learned to be strong as herself. I liked seeing her set boundaries and make her own decisions but absolutely hated how she continued to justify her behavior when she let people walk all over her. I really do think this could have been a lot stronger of a story than it was.

Very Sincerely Yours is a closed-door romance with only a handful of kisses on page. It’s cheesy as hell and I loved that about this book. I liked the email component of Teddy and Everett’s relationship and would have loved to see more of this incorporated. While I did have issues with Teddy’s characterization, I don’t think that everyone will hold my same views. If you’re looking for a sweet romance with a quirky cast of characters set in a small town, I’d definitely recommend picking this up.

Final rating is three stars.

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