If you’ve never read a Vi Keeland/Penelope Ward book before, Hate Notes is a great way to dive right in.
I really mean it. They’ve written a bevy of great books both together and separately, but Hate Notes has all the things that make Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward’s stories so wonderful. And then, once you’ve fallen in love with their storytelling in Hate Notes, you will have an entire backlog of books to get you through till their next great story.
This one starts with a dress. While at a secondhand store selling her designer, yet impersonal wedding dress, Charlotte finds her perfect gown, even if she doesn’t have wedding plans in her immediate future. A wedding dress with a little blue note stitched into a seam. It says “From the desk of Reed Eastwood,” and includes one of the sweetest messages she’s ever read. A little wine (okay, a lot of wine) later, the mystery of who Reed Eastwood is remains just a few clicks away.
I really adore the way Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward tell stories. I love how they weave intense, emotional tales also brimming with fun and heat that provide the perfect escape from whatever is plaguing my reality. I know when I crack open a new Vi & Penelope story that I will find myself completely engrossed in the lives of whomever they’ve brought me this time.
As far as Reed and Charlotte go, I could not be more emotionally invested in their tale if I tried. From Charlotte’s discovery of Reed’s little blue love note in the wedding dress to his support of her in her most dire hour of need, this story had me reading page after page through my tears. It moved me, it destroyed me at times, and yet, I would happily (and probably will) read this beautiful story again and again.
Reed Eastwood starts out a bit of an ass, but I feel like many wonderful heroes can seem that way at first. It’s a front, a wall, that these men use to keep themselves from seeming weak. His walls crumble when confronted with the charm and delightful personality that spills out of Charlotte Darling. By the end of the story, Reed is unabashedly softer with not only Charlotte, but with many of the other characters in the story. We see him change for the better, not for Charlotte’s sake, but because he naturally felt like he could soften his approach to the world thanks to this incredible person who entered his universe and reminded him he could be different.
Charlotte Darling is every bit her name. She is a realistic, honest, true-to-herself character that I loved to read. She knows her own mind, she knows her own heart, and isn’t afraid to step away from people she loves if she believes they aren’t treating her the way she deserves. I will definitely be reading Charlotte’s story again because she emboldens me to embrace my quirks and my individuality just as she does throughout Hate Notes.
I can’t finish this review without singing my absolute devotion to Reed’s grandmother, Iris Locklear. She is the woman I’ve always hoped to meet in my own life. A woman who has the means and willingness to make a difference in one person’s life when she meets someone worthy of her attention. I certainly hope that the world has a bevy of Irises just waiting to completely turn someone’s world around with nothing but faith and opportunity.
Looking back on all the stories I’ve read that are written by these two incredible authors, I don’t know if any of them have impacted my heart as thoroughly as Hate Notes. I love everything about this story. I loved the tears that streamed down my face as I devoured it. I loved the smile that I couldn’t suppress as I finished chapter after chapter of Reed’s sarcastic wit. This kind of story is why I devote so much of my life to reading romance. It makes my life better, and that’s all you can ask for from a good book.