I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Allie is going back to her hometown to, hopefully, get the story that will give her a big promotion at work; all she has to do is rely on a ghost and an ex-boyfriend. Tom is surprised when Allie the girl he briefly dated in highschool and had to suddenly cut ties with shows up at a building demolition site of his and begs him to hold off on destroying the building. There's talk of a ghost but all Tom can hear is Allie saying he owes her and his guilt has him giving her 48hrs to investigate her ghost. With help and hindrance from family and town members, Allie and Tom might just discover a spark still burning.
With a fun and flirty cover, That Thing You Do, definitely followed suit with some cute and adorable moments in the actual story. Overall, I'd have to say this read a little more like women's fiction than a straight contemporary romance, though. The bulk of the book focuses on Allie's interaction with the array of townspeople characters while her and Tom's romance gets pushed to the side a bit until towards the end. The ghost story plot seemed weak (Allie has one night to investigate the ghost and she goes to sleep for the majority of the night when her job depends on it?) as there just wasn't enough to hold on to, while the relationships and interactions Allie formed because of investigating were more solid; characters were this story's strong point. The middle and towards the end sagged for me as we spent too much time with the seniors and other offshoot groups of the town, it all seemed like a lot of filler.
Allie was a great lead character to follow around; the directionless she exhibits in the middle I think can be tied to how the story was stretched out and the various filler (Allie’s roommate that seems like she is scamming her but nothing comes of it?) I mentioned. She was extremely likable and had some funny inner monologue moments that will endear her to many readers. Tom didn't quite show up as strongly, he disappeared too much as Allie got lost to the townspeople. He also had such a nice guy persona that it had him coming off as one dimensional. In the beginning, Tom and Allie had a sweetly shy and anticipatory air about them that never quite caught fire. They have their smile inducing moments but there just wasn't enough one on one interaction between the two to make them a truly memorable couple.
As I mentioned, the strength of this novel is the townspeople as a whole, the author created a wonderful cohesive and interesting group. From the small town feel, to how fast the gossip mill can run, to the real feeling of how families and friends interact, secondary characters here are topnotch. The drama between Allie's brother Zeke and his wife Mimi sucked me in, I in fact found myself way more interested in their story than Tom and Allie. Their relationship issues felt raw, real, painful, and passionate. Their story will be third in this series and I am definitely marking my calendar for when that book comes out.
If looking for a story that is more benign, the central focus is not a romantic relationship, and wanting to read about a larger group of characters, then this would be a worthy pick up. I would have liked more focus on Tom and Allie's building relationship and feelings but I and I know others, will appreciate the overall cast of characters.