For the past twenty years, Liv and Eliot Goldenhorn have run In Love In New York, Brooklyn’s top wedding planning business. That is, until Eliot dies while visiting his younger, blonder girlfriend, Savannah Shipley, an events intern from Kentucky. In a twist no one sees coming, Eliot leaves his half of the business to Savannah, who had no idea Eliot was still married.
To Liv’s horror, Savannah won’t sell: she wants to help Liv build the now-failing business into the thriving company it used to be. Liv finds herself widowed and shackled to the inexperienced if optimistic Savannah, her polar opposite in every way. But what starts as a personal and professional nightmare transforms into something even savvy, cynical Liv Goldenhorn couldn’t begin to imagine.
Sexy, tender, and utterly charming, It Had to Be You cleverly tells multiple modern love stories, featuring Liv, Savannah, and the various florists, caterers, musicians, and other vendors of the business, in a joyous Love Actually-style braided narrative. Second chances, secret romances, and steamy soul mates are front and center in this smart, emotional, laugh-out-loud rom com that’ll renew your faith in love and have you swooning on every page.
The description focuses on Liv and Savannah’s unexpected partnership in a wedding planning business, but the comparison to Love Actually is apt: this is an ensemble piece, with multiple protagonists. But of course, everything can be traced back to Liv and Savannah, so it makes sense to use them as a base point.
It’s hard to pick a favorite—or even a least favorite—storyline. All sorts of romance tropes are present here: fake dating, starting over, dating a celebrity, self-discovery, and more. I found myself excited at the beginning of every chapter because I was about to get another installment of a particular storyline. I’m going to keep it vague to avoid spoilers, but the denouement in one storyline had me cackling with laughter.
One of my favorite themes was the generation gap between Liv and Savannah. Liv spent more than two decades building her wedding planning business, and still employs the methods she used in the late 90s. So, when Savannah suggests an Instagram account for their now-shared business, Liv balks. Of course, this vignette serves as a metaphor for both of them: accepting change and branching out.
I would absolutely recommend It Had to Be You. This is a fun, light read—it’s the perfect book to take on a summer (or any!) vacation. It’s so sweet and upbeat that the characters’ joy is almost contagious. I hope this book’s film rights get picked up because it would make such a good movie or even a limited series on a streaming service. This is my first experience reading one of Clark’s books, and I’m already looking forward to reading more in the future!
I received an ARC of this book from Atria/NetGalley