I received an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of Book Lovers by Emily Henry. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.
Who knew a book that features more than one mention of Bigfoot erotica could be so good? (I promise this makes sense in context.)
In Book Lovers, Nora Stephens prides herself on being dedicated to her career as a literary agent. She’s thorough, no-nonsense, and efficient. So what if most people refer to her as “the Shark” and if she sleeps with her phone’s volume all the way up? And so what if the men she dates have a habit of going on business trips and finding romance-novel-worthy small town love stories? Her work-driven existence is tested, though, when her sister Libby whisks her off to a suburb of Asheville for a last hurrah before Libby’s baby is born. There in Sunshine Falls, Nora wonders if there’s something to that fabled small town love story. Too bad she keeps running into Charlie, the taciturn and stern—but handsome—editor from the city…
In 2020, I read Beach Read by the same author, and it’s basically the book that got me into romcoms, so I was excited to pick up her new novel. And it was really cute, too!
I quite liked Nora. Although her reputation says that she’s rather heartless and cutthroat, it’s clear when you’re reading from her point of view that she has lots of emotions, and she’s really sympathetic. Her difficult past romances, the complex bond with her younger sister, the grief of her mother’s passing, and the fear of vulnerability she faces with Charlie combine to make her a pretty compelling character.
As for Charlie, I liked him a lot, but I don’t see that he’s all that innovative of a character. He’s a rather standard romcom male lead, though I did enjoy the exploration of how someone can be torn between obligation to family and wanting to chase a dream elsewhere. The other characters were excellent, especially Libby.
Speaking of Libby, her inclusion in the plot was wonderful. Not only did she push Nora into certain situations she wouldn’t have otherwise, but her own journey was quite moving. Her relationship with Nora is one of deep love and a shared childhood, but it’s also now bruised by loss and growing distance. I loved seeing these two change and grow over the course of this story, and honestly, Libby is the most valuable player of this book for me.
On another note, this book is SO meta. Think about it: this author has written a book about a literary agent, who finds out that one of her clients has written a book about a literary agent. I can only assume that Nora is not based on Emily Henry’s literary agent, as that would probably be a step too far. But still, the insights into the bizarre world of publishing were fascinating!
Upon reflection, I think I actually like this more than Beach Read. The various subplots blend together really well here, which I think was a weaker point of Beach. Here, the sisters-working-out-issues plot melds well with the small-town-romantic-tropes plot, which melds well with the enemies-to-lovers plot. Everything blends together into a cohesive narrative that’s so charming and sweet, and such fun to read! The characters are great, the setting vivid, the emotions earnest and believable, and the ending very satisfying.
Book Lovers will be published on May 3rd, 2022!
Content note: There is some sexual contact, but it’s fairly mild, especially compared to books like Beach Read or The Love Hypothesis. I’d probably call it PG-13 rather than R.