BOOK REVIEW: Alone Together (When in West Virginia #1) by Lindsey Jesionowski

"But, boy, when you find The One - the gown that fits in all the right places, makes you feel comfortable, pretty, yourself, one that complements you rather than stealing the spotlight - you hold onto it and don't let go. Because once you've found the perfect fit, nothing will ever make you feel as wonderful as you did when you found yourself something that was made just for you."

Author Lindsey Jesionowski found and followed our 2 Girls Bookin' It social media accounts when we first started our blog. She released her first book, Alone Together, in March of this year and, after reading the blurb, I quickly added it to my TBR list. I was fortunate and grateful that Lindsey sent me a copy of her book a few weeks ago after I said it was on my list to read this summer in our 4 Must Reads for The Summer post! I literally read this book within a day and cannot recommend it enough if you are looking for a sweet, fun, and relevant rom-com to get you cheesin', laughing, and on the edge of your seat!



This story is about Max and Hannah - two young adults who are both working through past grief and healing and are ready to take a step back in the dating world, and then the pandemic hits and they need to quarantine at home. Hannah works at the local gym on their marketing and water aerobics classes. Max is healing from a recent ankle injury and his best friend, Johnny, recommends he walk in the pool. Max sees Hannah and time freezes for a second. He watches her teach her class as he walks and is fascinated. Disappointed that he missed his chance to ask Hannah out for coffee, Max is sitting on his apartment balcony (which he just moved into a couple weeks before quarantine and lockdown) when he looks over and sees his next door neighbor is Hannah!


They strike up a conversation and agree that after two weeks of quarantine they can get together and work out. Before this happens she sends a note over asking if he would like tacos and leaves him some outside his door; he reciprocates with Kit-Kats and they exchange numbers. I will not give away every detail because I definitely think you need to check this book out, but they continue talking and texting. They finally start hanging out in person, and then they finally kiss!


Even typing up this post I am smiling thinking about the story! It was so relatable and the dialogue would just have me chuckling so much! Hannah was teaching water aerobics to an older group of ladies, and the conversation between them had me cracking up! How can you not imagine an older group of ladies in the pool, checking out a younger man, calling someone a "ninny" (nincompoop)?! I am not sure if that is more of a local slang word or if others know it as well, but I was surprised to see it in the dialogue and then just started laughing picturing my own grandmother and great-aunts having the conversation these ladies were having! You learn that Hannah does not have any immediate family any longer, and she sees these women, especially one in particular, as family and as a grandmother figure for her. She loves them and their antics, and they feel the same for her. This was sweet and cute to see, especially as you learn more about Hannah through the story; you feel happy that she has found a family that she can talk to you and find comfort from.


Max's story intrigued me. We meet him right off the bat at the gym with his friend Johnny showing him around. We learn it is his birthday, but it's a very hard day for him the last few years. I immediately was curious what happened 3 years ago that made him not want to acknowledge his birthday, and as the story progressed I felt so bad for him. Max is the perfect romance leading guy. He is very good-looking, he's a former athlete, he is kind, caring, and always wanting to help and put others above himself and his own needs and feelings. He lets his teenage niece live with him during the quarantine due to her parents' professions for her own health. Hannah was starting virtual live workout classes for gym members to stay active and he was the first to watch and participate (though it might have to do with him wanting to get to know her more :) ). Max is thoughtful, listens, and remembers the things Hannah shared with him, and he uses that knowledge to show her how he appreciates her, likes her, and wants to know more about her. However, Max is not completely perfect. He has faults, he doesn't always know how to say the right thing, and he does try to protect himself when his feelings for Hannah become more than he is quite ready for.


As I mentioned, both Hannah and Max are working through trauma and grief. Hannah suffers from anxiety and panic attacks. She was also in an emotionally abusive relationship. I was happy to see that this is not brushed over or resolved quickly by the end of the story. Hannah is open and honest with Max on her anxiety, and I love that Max listened and just tried to help her through it. He did not demean or tell her she will get over it or even to stop. He accepted her as she is and was there for her however she needed in the moments of panic and anxiety. I loved that. Even by the end of the story, anxiety is still something that is part of Hannah's life, but it doesn't rule her life. She has good and bad days, with the good far outwaiting the bad.


As for Max, he had one of the worst things that could happen to someone happen. He lost a person that meant more than everything to him suddenly and tragically and on his birthday. He is working through that grief and coming back to himself - he agreed to hang out with Johnny and others (though that didn't happen), he picked up his guitar again to play, he moved into a new apartment, and even started looking for a new job outside of West Virginia so he could start fresh away from the small town that knows everyone and everything. He is doing a wonderful job at this, but his feelings for Hannah make him nervous. He likes her so much but holds back from fear, which is such a common fear that anyone would have in his situation. How can you put yourself out there again, heart and soul, and not be afraid to break if something were to happen? I loved the person (and again I won't say who, so go read the book! lol) that finally opened his eyes to what he has in front of him, and that it is not wrong to move forward and find love again.


I honestly could keep going on and on talking about this book and all the things I liked about it. There are little scenes that had me cracking up, others that had me rolling my eyes, and many times I was on the edge of my seat screaming in my head "kiss already!" For all these reasons and more, I gave this 5 out of 5 stars! I could definitely read this over and over again and it will not get old. And the fact that is it book #1 makes me so curious of who else Lindsey might write about - is it Johnny?? I want to see the woman who gets a hold of his heart! And I would love to see more of Max and Hannah and how their love and professional successes continue to grow. I hope I have convinced you to check this book out!!



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