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Rachel A Levine
Brooklyn Valentine

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

A whirwind tour of Brooklyn.  A near-sex experience.  A mismatched couple.  A bunch of quirky friends and family. Can this lead to happily-ever after?

Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 8.50 out of 10


Plot/Idea: Brooklyn Valentine is a quirky and endearing romantic novel that centers on two characters who cross paths against the lively backdrop of Brooklyn. Levine capably captures the experience of finding unexpected romance, while the environs of Coney Island, Brighton Beach, the Brooklyn Bridge, and other locales, are rendered beautifully. 

Prose: Levine pulls readers into the story, immediately creating a cozy atmosphere. Dialogue allows the characters to come to life, while Sal's loving descriptions of Brooklyn are immersive. 

Originality: This charming New York story eschews Manhattan sight seeing in favor of the many authentic flavors of Brooklyn. Levine offers her protagonists a second chance at love and underscores the importance of community. 

Character/Execution: Levine has a knack for character development. Sal and Terry are relatable characters whose personal struggles are convincingly portrayed. Individually intriguing, the pair have a subtle chemistry, and readers will enjoy witnessing them overcome their marked differences. The broader cast of characters, including Sal's family members and unusual, unerringly loyal friends, are fully formed. 

Date Submitted: April 01, 2024

Levine’s fiction debut is a love letter not just to romance, but to the power of friendship and found family. Sal’s dream of a tour company in his beloved New York City is gone, thanks in part to his friend and business partner, Manny. At 43, the self-described autodidact has his cab medallion and supports his 70-year-old father, Joe, and eight-year-old son, Bennie, in 1990s Brooklyn. Enter Terry, a wealthy woman from Wisconsin, who’s in the city for just a short time and scheduled for a tour with Sal—a last hurrah of sorts for him.

Even though Bennie’s mother left the family years ago, Sal and Joe have teamed up to give Bennie the best life possible despite the challenging circumstances. Sal’s relationship with Terry blossoms slowly as he opens the door to his world for her, but from their very first meeting the pair draw sparks as they settle into debates, philosophical and otherwise, interspersed with the type of vulnerability that comes from knowing one may never see the other person again. Levine brings the city to life, welcoming readers into a place and time where a neighborhood was a person’s entire world and generations circled around each other, in good times and in bad.

Levine’s fast-paced, sharp dialog and spot-on ambiance slowly tease out the characters’ stories, especially how Terry is pulled into Sal’s daily life, offering her glimpses of the man behind the steering wheel—from the family meal with Sal’s friend, Schmuli, to witnessing his polar plunge on Brighton Beach. Each area of Brooklyn finds a new piece of the man revealed, a fresh insight into his life, especially when it comes to the possibility that he may lose custody of Bennie with his ex-wife back in the picture. Readers will fall in love with this novel and hope for the happily ever after that may—or may not—materialize.

Takeaway: Richly imagined love letter to Brooklyn through the eyes of a vulnerable man.

Comparable Titles: Devney Perry’s The Coppersmith Farmhouse, Sonali Dev’s The Vibrant Years.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

Sacramento Book Review

"A warm-hearted tour of Brooklyn with a narrator readers can't help but love."

4.5 stars on Amazon!

The reviews rave!  (Except one disgruntled customer- go know.).