Nora Stephens' life is books—she's read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby. Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters' trip away—with visions of a small town transformation for Nora, who she's convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they've met many times and it's never been cute.
It’s been a while since a romance novel made me burst out cackling on the second page, but Emily Henry has done it ... Henry has outdone even herself by presenting a delightfully prickly enemies-to-lovers romance that brutally takes apart the Hallmark Happily Ever After and sensitively revises it into something more realistic yet still swoon-worthy ... The novel also continues a growing trend in contemporary romance that I hope is here to stay, wherein the love affair isn’t the only heartstring being tugged ... The trickiest part of romance is sticking the landing. If readers expect an HEA but your whole book is predicated on life not always ending on a happy note, how do you reconcile the two? There’s a part of me that wonders, if Book Lovers had been written to lean more into the literary fiction side of things, if it might have turned out differently. That said, Henry pulls off an ending that both fulfills the genre tropes while still surprising this teary-eyed reader.
Playful and clever ... Given how in sync and smart Charlie and Nora are, I had a hard time believing they couldn't figure out a way to be together while still supporting their family ... Nonetheless, the story is multilayered and the characters' familial challenges are complex. By both playing to and overtly subverting romance tropes and archetypes like the high-powered big city woman who neglects her family and the life-affirming power of small-town life, this novel delivers an insightful comedic meditation on love, family and going your own way.
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.