Genres: Adult, Romance, Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Berkley, Penguin Group (USA)
Source: My shelves
One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn't see coming....
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 picked this one up in preparation for my summer in the big apple as I attend the publishing institute at NYU. If you know anything about this book, it was the perfect one to set the mood for a love/appreciation of the city, and showcased two characters who work hard in the publishing industry – and love it.
This may be strange, but I always, always appreciate a story that shows the character(s) embroiled in their work. Sometimes, romance books feel like a Disney special – you know the ones, where the kids go out to eat breakfast, meet up with their friends at the mall and embark on a whole-ass quest… all before the tardy bell rings for first period. Time just isn’t real. Do characters in romance novels work?? It feels like my day is largely taken up by being on the clock, and it’s nice to see characters whose lives are like mine, except they are actually passionate about and enjoy their work. This is why workplace romances are my favorite, no?
Book Lovers manages to combine several of my favorite tropes: traveling, small town setting, big city appreciation, dislike-to-grudging-partners-to-lovers, forced proximity, and navigation of family dynamics. But my favorite part was absolutely Nora. She describes herself as the “other woman,” the one men break up with after they fall in love with a small-town local baker or coffee shop owner or seamstress, or whatever other girl-next-door archetype, as they relocate to a small town to pursue this new relationship and lifestyle change. Her hair is dyed icy blonde, she’s obsessed with life in NYC, doesn’t want kids, and loves her Peloton. She’s also a shark; incredibly ambitious, ruthless, and a workaholic hardass.
All these years spent thinking I had superhuman self-control, and now I realize I just never put anything I wanted too badly in front of myself.
You know the type. But really, besides all that, she’s fiercely loyal, funny, protective, snarky, and has the best one-liners. I want to be her, really. She hasn’t had an easy life, even before her mother died and she had to sacrifice her dreams in favor of a job that makes more funny to support herself and her sister in the big city. I love a story that focuses on family dynamics (what a twisted web that can be), and the relationship between Nora and her sister was familiar, one I could relate to. This is puzzling, because I don’t have a sister, but it was easily relatable to apply those feelings and struggles towards other relationships in my life.
I haven’t read People We Meet on Vacation yet, but I liked this one above her debut (also really good!) Beach Read. How could I not? Nora and Charlie’s was as fabulous and fun and banter-filled as it was applicable to real life, as they worked though tough decisions, moral obligations and responsibilities, versus their dreams. Their friendship was special, and their romance was even better. The small town setting was interesting, too, although it was certainly not picturesque and honestly felt like an old western town 😂
“That’s life. You’re always making decisions, taking paths that lead you away from the rest before you can see where they end. Maybe that’s why we as a species love stories so much. All those chances for do-overs, opportunities to live the lives we’ll never have.”
I didn’t expect to love this one at all, in fact, I expected mostly to appreciate the city-life perspective and bookish personalities, but it won me over fast. It was a rather predictable read, not full of twists/turns, but I didn’t mind. I enjoyed the journey, the introspection, and feels exclusively in a way I haven’t been able to with other more plot-centric books lately.
Basically, I loved it. The whole cynical, real-life take of a Hallmark plot line really worked for me. This book was life-affirming for my daily feelings, motivations and relationships, and reinvigorated me to look forward to and explore the next chapter of my life :) I wish I could just plaster whole quotes and passages all over myself and the walls of my room, but I’ll settle for rereading it again (soon!)
If none of this convinces you yet… pick it up for the dynamic characters and delicious top-tier banter. It was truly exquisite.
Other bookish characters you may enjoy…
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