By Patti Henry Callahan

St. Martin’s Press (June 23, 2015)

Reviewed by Stefanie Kamerman

The Idea of LoveNew York Times Best Selling author Patti Henry Callahan pens another southern tale about two people who learn to love despite the lies and distance separating them.

“Hunter” arrives the small town of Watersend under the guise of being a travel writer looking to document the town, but what Hunter really is looking for is inspiration for his next Hollywood script. And his real name is Blake. After several Hollywood flops, an affair with his assistant, a disgraced reputation, and divorce, Hunter is looking to bounce back and he believes finding a great love story as inspiration for his next Hollywood project is the ticket to repair both his life and career. Then he meets Ella.

Hunter persuades Ella—a Watersend native—to show him around town and he isn’t is hoping to win Ella’s trust so she can give him the love story he wants. Ella explains to Hunter she is a widow, and is still grieving from the loss of her loving husband. Hunter is definite Ella will give him the story for which he has been searching.

But what Hunter doesn’t know is Ella’s real loss of a husband is to an affair; Ella’s husband is very much alive and also lives in Watersend. And Ella really isn’t a wedding dress designer though she tells Hunter she is; she actually works at two different shoe stores in town to make ends meet since she and her husband broke up. He kicked her out despite his infidelity with her best friend’s little sister.

While Hunter lies for trust to gain personal information from Ella, Ella lies to escape her torn apart life. Both deceive each other about who they really are, and inevitably they begin to fall for each other. But are they falling for the lies? Much to Hunter’s chagrin, he leaves Watersend and Ella, returning to California with determination to make Ella’s story a Hollywood blockbuster. Ella’s husband returns home after realizing he may have made a mistake. While Hunter and Ella are separated they realize the lives they want to live are with each other.

Everything changes when Ella discovers Hunter’s real identity, and when Hunter returns to Watersend to make things right with Ella after she calls him out, he discovers the truth about Ella’s lies. They part again, but not before their hearts are both torn. What would you do if this were your love story?

One of the reasons I enjoy reading Callahan’s novels is she doesn’t give her readers instant gratification with her story lines. Callahan keeps the readers engaged and questioning what will happen next between the characters. Another reason I like Callahan as a writer is she isn’t afraid to portray real people with real life issues. As we see with Hunter and Ella in The Idea of Love, is that they are both deeply wounded people recovering from their pasts while looking to see what happens next. While Hunter may have his own idea of love, as well as Ella, they both find an idea of love within each other “because that’s exactly what love does—it changes everything.”

As always with Patti Henry Callahan, I look forward to her next novel. Hilarious though serious, a page-turner, and charming; The Idea of Love is defiantly a novel to be enjoyed this summer.

STEFANIE KAMERMAN is a contributing editor to LitChat. Read her full bio here.