I made a terrible mistake with this book. I started it on a cruise ship, a cruise I was on with friends, friends who had a reasonable expectation that I would pay attention to them.
For an entire day, I did not. I read this book in the Japanese restaurant at lunch. I read it at the table in the evening while we were playing board games (It wasn’t ALWAYS my turn after all!). And anytime there was a bathroom break, I reached for it.
It. Was. Mesmerizing. And now that I have blown the lede—
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.
If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.
I thought these quotes were very appropriate, so I snagged them from Amazon. They are all spot on—the supporting cast is VERY Schitt’s Creek, it really is a dream of a book, and I, too, will now follow Emily Henry anywhere.
This book plays with tropes, subverts them, pokes a little fun at them, but not it a mean way. The primary trope at work here is the man who moves to a small town, leaving his very unpleasant girlfriend back in the big city, and falls in love with the farmer’s daughter, or the poet who works at the coffee shop, or the owner of the struggling flower shop.
This is not that book. This one looks at the unpleasant girl left behind in the city, the competent, workaholic girl with too much email, too many lists and a too intimate relationship with her peloton. What happens to that girl after she gets left behind?
Nora is that girl. And in this book, she is talked into taking a month “off” (I mean, let’s be honest…people like Nora never take time really off) and spending it with her sister, Libby, in the country. Her sister is convinced that Nora’s happy ending might be found there, and has a bucket list of fairly contrived scenarios for them to work through, from riding a horse, to camping under the stars, to dating *at least* two locals.
What Nora and Libby do not count on is that Nora’s nemesis, Charlie, lives —for now— in the same small town. Charlie and Nora have run into each other in the city numerous times, and they don’t really seem, to like each other all that much. They frustrate and goad each other, yes…but like seems to be a ship that has sailed. They don’t count on Nora and Charlie co-editing a book while they are there. And they certainly don’t count on Charlie and Nora…fitting so well together.
But there are problems to be faced, misunderstandings (of the emotional, not the french farce variety) to be untangled, and the slowest burn I can remember in a book. Even after these two decide that they want to be…something, it still takes them another probably hundred pages before any clothing is shed. Even with their clothes on, though, these two were red hot. Their inner monologues were hotter than most of the R-rated scenes in other books. I reached for a virtual fan more than once, just from the *longing.*
As to Libby’s real motivation for the trip, well…there are red herrings well-scattered throughout, and I was successfully kept in the dark until the very end, just like Nora.
I liked People We Meet on Vacation very much, and LOVED Beach Read, and neither of them held a candle to how much I loved this book. This book undid me. I was helpless in the face of Charlie and Nora. There were so many times that I read something, a perfect phrase, and just closed my eyes and took a couple deep breaths before I could continue. Emily Henry has upended the romance genre AGAIN with Book Lovers. As my friend Serena said, it was perfection.