old flames and new fortunes book review

Old Flames and New Fortunes by Sarah Hogle: Book Review

📖 GenreRomance, Adult, Comedy, Fantasy
📃 Number of Pages384 pages
🪴 Average Goodreads Rating3.78⭐
🌻 My Rating3.5⭐

What is Old Flames and New Fortunes About?

Old Flames and New Fortunes by Sarah Hogle is a romance book about Romina, a flora fortunist and Alex, her high school boyfriend who broke her heart. When they meet unexpectedly, Romina is pretending to date her friend (and Alex’s future step-brother), but Alex is determined to win her back.

Let me start this off by saying that Sarah Hogle is my absolute favorite author and that You Deserve Each Other (her debut) is my favorite book. Ever. I must have read it a dozen times by now and I have never found anything wrong with it. Not that I was looking, mind you, but after reading the same text so many times, you’re bound to find something to dislike. Not this book, though. Or, more likely, not this girl. 

Since reading You Deserve Each Other, I’ve also read (and reread) her following two novels — Twice Shy and Just Like Magic. I loved both of them, but I did have some issues with them. For example, Twice Shy has a bit of a rough start because you’re placed directly into Maybel’s (the MC) coffee shop AU. I had to read that first part twice to get what’s happening. 

The premise is also a bit much. So she inherits a house unexpectedly, and even more unexpectedly has to share it with a broody, handsome man. Cool, that’s just another Tuesday in romance book land. But then that broody, handsome man is also the face her friend used to catfish her with (for fun). Which was just not necessary in my opinion because it played no bigger role in the overall plot. 

Just Like Magic had a similar rough start, only a bit different — the main character is very unlikeable, which I normally wouldn’t mind, only she didn’t have the benefit of being relatable. I grew to love the FMC, but I never truly believed the romance because the MMC is a literal holiday spirit and acts a lot like a child, making the whole thing a bit… hard to get into. 

Nevertheless, I loved both of those books, despite my small gripes. Twice Shy is saccharine sweet and adorable. Just Like Magic had me falling in love with that cooky family and questioning my career, what I really want (at a very important point in my life). So both of those books have a very important place in my heart. 

Because of all this, Old Flames and New Fortunes has been my most anticipated read since it was announced. I got the ebook as soon as it came out and started reading even though it was the middle of the week and I had tons of work to do. 

And before I get into the things that bothered me, I want to talk about what I loved about it. 

For one, the setting is amazing. Moonville is a perfect, quaint small town with magic in the air and tons of character. You’ll love being in it and I can’t wait to go back with the next installment. The shop the Tempest sisters run is just as charming and welcoming, and their little family is so warm and loving and hilarious. 

The writing style is classic Sarah Hogle, and you’ll laugh so much while reading it. It’s incredibly funny and at times emotional. There’s banter, quippy dialogue, deeply romantic love confessions, and more. 

The characters are also all quite interesting and entertaining. There’ll be more books in this series, so I can’t wait to get more details on Zelda, Luna, Morgan (fingers crossed), and their romantic interests. 

In general, it’s a great world Sarah Hogle has created — cottagecore dreams, witchy vibes, magic, love, coziness and all things lovely. 

Now, if you haven’t read this book yet and you want to, please don’t read further. There will be spoilers, and I’ll have to mention some things that I didn’t like. Overall, this book is great, tons of fun and definitely worth reading. The things I didn’t like are just my personal preferences or expectations not being met and it doesn’t mean that it’s a bad book. Heck, I loved it for the most part, so please don’t take my opinion as anything more serious than that. 

Okay, let’s get to it. 

The first thing that kind of bothered me is the concept of the world itself. I thought this romance would be set in a secondary world that was much like ours, but with magic and witches. When it wasn’t that, I thought it would be more like Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman, where magic permeates the whole story and plays a really important role. Neither of these things happened, but once I got used to the idea, I was okay with it. 

It was still fun to read about different flower meanings and how they combine to create magic. 

The first chapter of this book is really overwhelming as well. It introduces us to a lot of characters immediately: Romina, the main character, her sister Luna and Luna’s daughter, Trevor, their friend and landlord, Morgan, a dude that hangs out at their shop, their deceased grandmother Dottie, their absent sister Zelda, assorted cats and pets. It’s hard to keep them straight. 

It doesn’t help that we immediately spring to action — they have to go meet Trevor’s father to ask for a loan. But then it turns out that Trevor’s dad is there to announce his engagement, so we meet even more characters (the whole family is there). 

That opening is pure chaos and I’ll be honest — if this was any other book and any other author, I would have given up right then and there. But since I trust Sarah to guide me through the chaos, I stuck around and eventually it got better. 

However, then we get into the two different main tropes of this novel: fake dating and second chance romance. 

I believe this book suffered from having too many tropes that didn’t mesh well. It should have either been fake dating or second chance, but not both, or at least both but with the same guy. 

The fake dating was silly and unnecessary since Trevor and Romina were never going to fall in love. I have to say, I hoped for a while that they would since Trevor is such an unconventional hero and he truly cares about Romina, but no such luck. 

Anyway, they’re not really serious about the fake dating and hardly anyone believes them, including our real love interest, Alex. 

Alex is the “second chance romance” part. He’s Romina’s highschool boyfriend whom she was once briefly engaged to and broke up with over college. The breakup was messy, full of hurt feelings and misunderstandings. 

At first (and in past excerpts), he seems really sweet and shy, though determined. In the present though, after that first meeting, he just comes off as cocky, over-confident and rude. And this part was what truly bothered me about the book.

You see, Sarah Hogle writes completely unconventional heroes. In any standard romance, you’ll find tall, dark, confident and broody (in different flavors). But in Sarah Hogle’s books, you’ll find real human men, real people with real feelings and flaws. 

Alex is very much not like that. He’s more of a standard issue romance hero, closer to a shadow daddy than a Nicholas Rose (You Deserve Each Other MMC). He’s convinced Romina still loves him, walks all over her (albeit fictional) relationship, boundaries, is rude about her job, and kind of creepy at times. For example, he chases her in his car while she’s avoiding a conversation with him and steals her underwear. Not what I was expecting at all. 

There’s also the big spoiler, which it shouldn’t have been, and that is that Alex has a son. No one, including Alex, his mother, and their extended family mentions this child for over a week that they’re around Romina. If you know grandparents, this is at best unbelievable. 

Now, let me give you a bit of background here so you understand where the author was going with this. Romina has been in a relationship with a man who had a baby at the time, and she helped raise this baby. She was the girl’s mother for five years. When they broke up, the man forbade her from ever seeing the girl, and Romina’s heart was broken. She desperately wants children. 

So I can see why Alex has a child. It’s a basic romance rule — you know, the love interests both have to be the most dangerous thing for each other, in the sense that they could easily cause immense heartbreak, but won’t. 

However, I don’t believe that the child had to be a secret for so long. It would have been better if he was there all along. 

And so we arrive at my main gripe with this (and most) second chance romance. These two people were together in high school and haven’t spoken to or seen each other in over ten years. In the meantime, they grew up, had other relationships, children, career changes, and more. 

But then they meet and it’s like no time has passed. I would understand attraction or really complicated feelings. However, I don’t understand how they could still love each other in a true romantic sense. They’ve changed, they’re different people and these two people don’t know each other. 

Plus, they had all these relationships and you’re telling me that they loved each other through all of them? With this intensity? That’s not really fair, is it?

And a week is all it takes to get back to sort of where they were before. It just isn’t believable. 

The way I would have liked this to play out is if Alex, for example, moved back or came to Moonville with his son for some reason. If they ran into each other and started reconnecting. Not with this intensity, but tentatively, with more tenderness and care. 

We do get some of that in the second part, and I wish the whole novel had been the second part stretched out. Alex fixes his attitude a little and does some really romantic things. There’s enough material there for an entire novel, for sure. So, just remove the whole wedding (part one) and stretch out part two. 

I’m also a little unhappy with how many characters we got introduced to that played no major part in the overall story. The sisters are a prime example. Luna and her daughter appear in the first 10% but then disappear entirely for the majority of the novel. The same goes for Morgan. 

I understand this needed to be done because these people will get their own books, but I was hoping for more sisterly bonding vibes and family antics. 

Again, please don’t take my opinions seriously — they’re just an opinion of some random stranger online (and that goes for all of my reviews). I did enjoy the book and will continue reading whatever Sarah Hogle writes, whether it’s a grocery list or a soap opera. I definitely want to get back to Moonville. 

With a more cohesive plot and a more charming love interest, I believe that the next one could be brilliant. I think it will be Zelda’s book and I kind of hope she ends up with Morgan (because they’re both writers, sort of), but I’m not sure if this will happen.

There’s this prophecy their grandmother told them, that all three of them will find their true love in the year that they see a silver luna moth (they do, at the end of this book). The prophecy says that at the time, one of them will be waiting for love, one will be running from love, and one will already be in over her head. 

My assumption is that Romina is the one who’s already in over her head, Luna is the one waiting, and Zelda is the one running from it. Because she’s the one running, I’m sort of dreading that one of her old boyfriends will come looking for her (one was mentioned). But I’m really hoping that she ends up with Morgan (the dude that hangs out at their shop). 

There you have it — my review of Old Flames and New Fortunes. It was a riot and I highly recommend giving it a go. Happy reading!

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