- 2022 Release
- Contemporary Romance
- Author of “People We Meet on Vacation”
- 373 pages
- Literary agent and book editor
- Small town
- “enemies to lovers” trope
It’s August, which is the slow season for cutthroat literary agent Nora Stephens. She spends every day around books, from reading her client’s work to cutting them enormous deals. Yet, when her younger sister, Libby, begs her to take a month off in a town she thought her biggest client had made up, she follows her sister into what she hopes will be the literary meet-cute of her dreams.
When Nora and Libby get to Sunshine Falls, it’s not exactly what they expected. With oddly named restaurants and small town characters, Nora thought it would be a little….more. Yet, she’s determined to have the Hallmark movie meet cute she deserves, so the two sisters make a vacation to-do list pact to achieve their goals, including #6—go on two dates with local men. The only problem? Instead of run-ins with a cute country doctor or picnics in a meadow, she keeps running into her long-time work nemesis Charlie Lastra, a book editor from back in the city.
While Nora’s not the typically heroine, and Charlie’s not the ideal hero, the two are thrown together again and again proving that maybe a meet-cute isn’t what Nora needs after all.
It’s no secret that I didn’t love People We Meet On Vacation. When I picked up a copy of Book Lovers at my local library, I was expecting to have a DNF on my hands (for those of you who don’t know, that’s our friendly bookish way of saying It was too boring to finish). That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by Book Lovers. While I still am not a fan of Emily Henry’s writing style, this book was much more “up my alley” than PWMOV.
One of the things I really loved about this book was how Henry incorporated the age-old idea of meet-cutes. I think, after watching so many romantic comedies, single women have this idea that they’re just going to be out doing something one day and BAM! They run into the guy of their dreams. Yet, that’s never really how it happens, is it? We all have love stories to tell, but usually they’re a bit more run of the mill. Yet, everyone in Nora’s life seems to have these crazy love stories that we see in Hallmark movies. Naturally, Nora just wants it for herself, though it’s not really realistic for her.
I thought Nora’s character was well developed, but overall—I didn’t quite understand WHY she was so cutthroat in the beginning. Her voice is much more subdued and mature. She takes care of her sister and she’s always been family oriented, she’s very financially reliable, and she cares deeply about her clients. I’m not quite sure where the “Nora is a shark” persona comes from, because personally I don’t see it. Instead, I see a woman who’s been put through the ringer one too many times and deserves a win for once. I wish Nora’s personality traits had been a little re-structured as I really don’t see her as the mean book-lover machine that she is supposed to come off as.
As for Charlie, his character is much more intense. As a reader, I initially saw him as a book critic, not a book editor. He seemed to have a lot of negativities, though that’s not uncommon with leading male characters that need a woman in their life. Yet, Charlie is a softie at heart too. I struggled to see these two as enemies at all, especially since the reader knows how much they secretly are drawn to each other.
While I didn’t mind Nora or Charlie, the one character I really didn’t understand in this book was Libby. Libby had the opportunity to have so many redeeming qualities—but she just doesn’t. She drags her sister all the way across the country, knowing how busy their life is, on the premise that something is wrong with her. She doesn’t have a job, she seems to have relationship difficulties of her own, and she is not very level headed—leaving most of the important decisions on her sister’s shoulders. Libby seems to be keeping some secret the whole trip, and she never tells Nora what that is, which of course causes Nora extreme stress (since, like most siblings, she actually cares about her sister). I expected something crazy like Libby to die, or be in the process of dying, etc, but it’s not anything like that. In fact, it’s a pretty miniscule reason to begin with. I felt the undue stress on Nora was kind of just cruel. If Libby had just been up front with Nora from the get-go, then her relationship with Nora would be much different. While we don’t ever quite get the motive for Libby’s actions, since she’s not our protagonist, I just can’t get why she would make life so difficult for her sister.
An unexpected joy of Book Lovers was the complexity of Sunshine Falls and how different it is for Nora to be there versus for her to read about it in her client’s book. Something that really stood out to me was how differently Charlie sees the town as a native. Nora is new to town and it’s clear that her and Libby are enthralled with how ‘charming’ the town can be, but Charlie has lived there his whole life and sees a different side of it. As Nora gets closer to Charlie, and the town, she begins to see it this way, too. I believe this was a pivotal change in Nora and I think it helps her understand the “small town meet-cute” ideology more.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I think it would be a great beach read for the summer, but it had tones of something deeper, as well. As usual, Emily Henry produces way too many details about her characters and there’s certainly more in this book than we need to know as the reader, but that didn’t necessarily bother me as much in Book Lovers as it did in People We Meet On Vacation. In general, I appreciated Nora’s story and I’m glad that I picked it up. While I probably won’t read every book Emily Henry releases, this one was definitely my favorite out of the ones that I have read so far.
If you’d like to give this one a try, you can order it from Amazon here. If you’ve already read Book Lovers, leave me a comment, and let me know what you thought about it!