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Book Lovers


Book Lovers

If you’ve ever watched more than one or two romantic comedies (or Hallmark Christmas movies) or read more than one or two contemporary romances, you might be familiar with this trope. A jaded, overworked city type unwillingly gets an assignment to head to a small town, usually with the intention of putting someone’s family business out of business. Inevitably, though, that city slicker is won over by the town’s quaint charms, its residents’ generous natures, and, of course, an attractive local who wins the heart of the urbanite once and for all. So it’s a happy ending for them. But what about the high-achieving, uptight, emotionally frigid former partner whom that city dweller abandons for the simple life?

"Emily Henry, whose first two books were absolutely wonderful fresh takes on the romantic comedy genre, continues her stellar track record here. There’s so much to enjoy in this novel..."

That’s the person whom Emily Henry intriguingly chooses to make the protagonist of her new novel, BOOK LOVERS. When we meet Nora Stephens, she has just been dumped by a second boyfriend. This one fell in love with the daughter of struggling B&B owners after Nora’s prior boyfriend left New York City for a writing program in Wyoming --- and wound up falling in love with the ranching life. When we see Nora two years later, it has happened again, making a pattern that finally has her wondering if she’s the butt of some kind of cosmic rom-com joke.

Nora is indeed a high-powered city type, a literary agent so good at her job --- and so cutthroat --- that her clients and publishers alike call her “the shark.” She loves her life and knows she’s good at her job, but the only thing she values more than her career is her relationship with her younger sister, Libby. So when Libby, pregnant with her third child and clearly exhausted and stressed out, suggests that the two of them spend a few weeks in Sunshine Falls, North Carolina, Nora reluctantly agrees. After all, Sunshine Falls is the uber-quaint setting of Nora’s favorite client’s most successful novel. Perhaps it’s time for Nora herself to have a little small-town romance, especially if Libby has her way.

But much to Nora’s shock and dismay, one of the first eligible men she comes across in the decidedly un-quaint actual Sunshine Falls is none other than her professional nemesis, Charlie Lastra, an editor who has had the gall to question her judgment and literary taste. To Nora, those are fighting words, at the very least. Charlie is about as die-hard a New Yorker as they come. So what is he doing in Sunshine Falls? Why does Nora keep running into him at every turn? And how is she supposed to react when that favorite client turns in a new manuscript, one that seems to cast a suspiciously Nora-like character as its extremely unlikable protagonist?

Emily Henry, whose first two books were absolutely wonderful fresh takes on the romantic comedy genre, continues her stellar track record here. There’s so much to enjoy in this novel --- from the fantastically rich relationship between the two sisters, to the verbal barbs (and increasing sparks) exchanged between Nora and Charlie, to the clever ways in which the book continually upends expectations in ways that are still profoundly romantic and eminently satisfying.

I’m not telling you to run out right now and pick up a copy of BOOK LOVERS. I’m just recommending that you save it for whatever kind of summer trip you might have planned, whether to a quaint small town or a rugged island. It just might be the perfect companion.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on May 20, 2022

Book Lovers
by Emily Henry