Book Lovers by Emily Henry is full of humor, heart and plenty of sass.
There’s something about the warmer, summer months that make me want to read more rom-coms. Prior to Book Lovers, I’ve been in a book funk. I’ve read many heavy topics this year and while those stories are so impactful, the intense and just plain sad subject matter is tough at times.
So it’s good to bring a rom-com into the mix to lighten things up a bit. Now that doesn’t mean these stories don’t have depth because they do and quite often, they also cover heavy topics but the mix with the lighter and the romance really helps balance some of those more intense scenes.
Emily Henry is one of my favorite romance writers. I really enjoyed her previous novels Beach Read and People We Meet on Vacation. But I think Book Lovers is my favorite of hers. I loved the different perspective on the small town setting, the romance is done well and the protagonist’s family dynamic was compelling and interesting.
What’s the Story About
If you’ve watched Hallmark Christmas movies, you know there is often times some type of villain-lite significant other. This is the person who lives in the city and is aghast that their partner is having the time of their lives in the small town and could think of staying instead of shutting down the toy business, etc. Usually, they’re dressed well and very direct. And that character never gets the happy ending.
Emily Henry decided to turn the narrative around and focus Book Lovers on that type of character and wonder if there is much more than meets the eye. What’s behind their strong career aspirations and their success at all costs mentality? Why do they seem cold and somewhat detached?
That’s where our main character, Nora Stephens comes in. She’s a successful and cutthroat literary agent who is never without her phone and ignores the word vacation. The only time she truly softens is when it comes to her beloved little sister, Libby. And Libby, pregnant with her third child, is in need of a break.
Libby convinces Nora to take a vacation with her to the town of Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August. And as Libby is a lover of those Hallmark movies and romance novels, she puts together a list for Nora to achieve during this month—including a romance with a local and saving a small business, which Nora is not about any of that.
And to make matters more complex, Nora keeps running 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.
However, the two develop a bond and the ice begins to thaw a bit, which makes Nora question what she really wants out of life.
Small Town Life
I really enjoyed how Emily Henry approached the small town obsession in the novel. She painted a reality—several storefronts closed but also pinpointed the unique characteristics that make those towns special. And even Nora can’t resist some of the charms, although part of her is always thinking about the city and work.
Prior to this trip, several of Nora’s exes have broke up with her in the Hallmark movie-type scenario—meaning they left her for a small town woman. So Emily explores what that does to the person who is broken up with. In Nora’s case, it just continues to close her off.
Until she meets Charlie. He’s not about the small town life at all and feels stuck and out of place. But there are deeper reasons for his discomfort and I thought that was an interesting part of the novel as well.
These books make-or-break on the romance and I quite liked it in this novel! The sexual tension starts at the moment they meet, even if they are not fans of each other at first. And that continues to grow as their relationship deepens. They make sense together but also the reasons keeping them apart are realistic too.
Yes, there is steam. So if you’re a fan of it, there’s definitely a couple scenes in there for you! If that’s not your preference, it’s not overwhelming—I think it has the right amount for this type of book. You typically know what you’re getting with these novels so it shouldn’t be too much of a shock but I always want to give a heads up just in case.
I think out of all the Emily Henry romances, this is the strongest one both in terms of chemistry and also the fact that their struggles make sense. Again, I sometimes feel the obstacles are a bit reaching but not in the case.
I see why Book Lovers is already so popular! It’s fresh, modern and just flat-out entertaining. An ideal novel to read during the summer. For book clubs, check out my discussion questions here.