I know, I know, it’s homophobic that I read a straight romance book during pride month but in my defense…I really liked it, and there’s a ton of LGBT books coming after it!
Nora is the Hallmark cold literary agent whose boyfriends dump her for a small town woman with a big heart. She’s used to it by now. But when her pregnant sister invites her on a vacation to the real-life setting of their favorite book, she runs into her publishing industry nemesis. Romance ensues.
Okay, I get that you need to have more substance in a romance novel in order to make it novel-length, but there were some plot points that made me want to bang my head against a wall.
First off, there was only one sided growth. We get to see how Nora changes based on the events of the books, and that’s great. She becomes a better person and is able to let go of a lot of her anxiety. I’m happy for her. But then there’s Charlie, who doesn’t really grow, but rather Nora just begins to understand him as a person. I get that people value honesty, but Charlie’s level of commitment to honesty is borderline toxic. Great, he doesn’t like people lying to him. I don’t either, but I don’t turn into an asshole just because someone doesn’t want to spill their secrets or hurt my feelings. Charlie just gets to be a dick and everyone else ‘sees underneath it’ or whatever.
The smut was underwhelming. Maybe I’m just not finding books I like that also have good smut, but really I don’t think I’ve found a single book I like where I also like the sex. At least, not a published work. I’ve read/am reading plenty of unpublished novels and graphic novels with good smut, so this mainstream stuff really needs to step up its game. Get more creative, damn!
I get it, Nora is broken because her mom died and her first real boyfriend was an asshole about it. But that doesn’t mean I need to keep hearing about it. Yes, she’s terrified about leaving her sister alone because of her mom. Yes, she seems cold and detached because she’s been hurt before. But I don’t need to be reminded about those things every chapter. It’s a romance novel, there’s not a whole lot going on.
The point about her sister not wanting to tell her about the move was so frustrating. It was an annoying miscommunication plot that just stressed Nora out more because she was so convinced that she was getting a divorce. Nope! Turns out she’s just moving down the coast. It’s North Carolina, not Alaska. Take the scenic train ride and visit every month, or FaceTime or something. Nora’s learned the power of friendship and love in this small town, surely she can make new friends in the Big City with her fancy new editing job. It’s not that big of a deal, and it sends Nora spiraling like she’s 20 instead of almost middle aged.
That was a lot, but I did really enjoy the book. I flew through it, and it hooked me in the first few chapters, which I can’t say about a lot of things.
I’m a sucker for romances, and it’s so nice to have one about book lovers, even though there were more allusions to movies and strictly the classics than there were to anything else. I’ve always been interested in the publishing industry, being a writer myself, and I thought the reflections of the jobs that Nora and Charlie had were pretty well-researched. Also, I think it would be hard, and embarrassing, to get something like that wrong after publishing several novels already.
The characters felt real. It’s easy to make romance characters caricatures of real people, but Henry didn’t do that. It was also nice that the book was so self-aware. Nora kept mentioning the tropes that she was exhibiting, and it was quite humorous.
I love me a good Hallmark romance, and the book didn’t disappoint. I was worried there was going to be a love corner, but the possibility was dealt with swiftly, and I appreciated that. Love corners are very overplayed these days, and they’re borderline annoying for the most part. Book Lovers didn’t fall into that trap, even though it easily could’ve between the bartender and the cousin.
Overall, I liked the book well enough for 4 stars. It was well-written and I had a good time with it. It’s probably going to convince me to read her other books, the two that are super popular right now, but after pride month.
Trigger warnings: panic attacks/disorders, nightmare disorder, pregnancy, sexual content, toxic relationship, abandonment (fear), grief, medical content (around the pregnancy, anemia), alcohol (casual/social drinking, drunk characters), child abuse (neglect, parentification), cursing, death of parent, suicidal thoughts (side character, implied)
Did I like? Yes
Recommend? If you like Hallmark romances