Annabel Monaghan’s Nora Goes Off Script is utterly delightful from start to finish.
Screenwriter Nora usually writes TV romance movies that bring in a reliable check and follow a reliable formula. But the collapse of her marriage led her to write something completely different and new, and now her words are headed to the big screen. She doesn’t think much of the director wanting to film on her property, at least not until silver screen heart-throb Leo Vance waltzes into her house and her life. When Leo wants to extend his stay beyond filming, Nora is reluctant…but her gutters sure could use the money he’s offering, so she ultimately accepts. But Leo isn’t just renting a room– he’s fitting into her family and her life more than she expected. Nora isn’t just worried about her own heart breaking when he leaves– now her kids are attached to him, too. Can her small town life and his movie star status mix?
This beautifully written novel has all the components of a romantic comedy, but it has real depth, too. I especially loved seeing a mom portrayed as more than just a mom. Longing glances and stolen kisses are complicated by the kids in both funny and meaningful ways. Nora is a mom, but she also has a career, friends, and a full life. Oftentimes moms are the side characters, the witty friend, the busy, chaotic character that makes the main character remember to take their birth control. But Nora shows that women, even moms, live full, complete lives and are whole, complex people. As a mom of kids a similar age to Nora’s, I appreciate the character development and prominent role Nora and her kids have in this fun, flirty novel.
The witty banter and dialogue make this such a fun read. Nora’s playful personality show how well she’s recovered from her narcissistic ex, and her wit comes across the page so clearly. I adore that the humor isn’t just shared between Nora and the love interest– her friends and community all have great dialogue with humorous moments sprinkled throughout that had be laughing out loud.
The character development is incredibly well done, which is why the dialogue reads so naturally. Every character, from the starstruck neighbor in the produce aisle to the hardware store owner, is thoroughly developed. Nora’s community makes me wish this town was real. And the kids! So often, kids are a token character, in and out when its convenient. But Monaghan tactfully keeps track of the kids without it feeling burdensome to the reader or slowing the plot. Bernie and Arthur are fully developed characters in their own right, and every scene with them was utterly believable.
This novel is the perfect summer read. It’s engaging, has depth, but also makes you laugh. I can’t wait to see what Annabel Monaghan does next!
Nora Goes Off Script is available now! Thank you to the author, Penguin Putnam publishing, and NetGalley for an advanced copy such that I could share my honest opinion.
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