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 definitely have an unpopular opinion about Book Lovers. This was my first book from Emily Henry, so I had no idea what to expect other than that everyone seems to adore her romances.
In theory, I should have loved this. I adore books with bookish characters, I am drawn to the rivals-to-lovers trope, and I love small-town settings. Unfortunately, despite loving the beginning, so much about this ended up not working for me.
First of all, I would not consider this book rivals-to-lovers and I think opening the synopsis with the line “One summer. Two rivals.” sets the wrong expectations. We get a prologue where Nora and Charlie have one awkward dinner and that is the extent of their rivalry. We are told they are rivals but there is little to no proof of this. I wish we had spent more time in New York at the beginning really showing the build-up of their feud. Sadly, that doesn’t happen and we quickly find ourselves in this small town where they run into each other and it ends up feeling more like insta-love to me. I will say that I enjoyed the email banter at the beginning, but I just wish we got more of that! This book was almost 400 pages and I felt like more time should have been spent on developing the relationship dynamic but is instead wasted on other storylines we didn’t need.
I had a bit of an epiphany while reading Book Lovers. I realized that I much prefer romances that are dual perspective. We spent the entire novel in Nora’s head, which was frankly exhausting at times. It would have been refreshing to see Charlie’s side of things and to understand him better. I am not someone who hates the miscommunication trope as much as I know a lot of other readers do because I know that miscommunications happen a lot in real life, especially in new relationships. I just wish that we as readers knew where Charlie was coming from from the beginning.
I usually love stories about sisterhood, but I had a hard time becoming invested in Nora’s relationship with Libby. Talk about miscommunication! Their storyline was very much at the forefront of this book and I think that the actual romance suffered because of it. I appreciate the conversations about grief but I think that it should have either been explored more or left out entirely. I think that this was true for many of the storylines that were introduced. Things were brought up to add interest or conflict but weren’t taken all the way, so they weren’t interesting to me!
This may seem like a ranty review, but there were things I really enjoyed. I loved hearing about both Nora and Charlie’s careers and seeing how they worked together on editing a book. I loved their banter and the steamy scenes that we did get were good. I was a huge fan of both the prologue and the epilogue- it was everything in the middle that I had issues with. I thought it was fast-paced and Julia Whelan, who I adore, narrated the audiobook.
There is more that I could say but I don’t want to get into spoilers! I am not sure that this was the best place for me to start with Emily Henry. I have had several friends tell me that they much preferred Beach Read, so I am open to trying that one!
Thank you to Libro.fm for sending me and ALC in exchange for an honest review.
Characters– 5 Atmosphere– 7 Writing– 7 Plot– 4 Intrigue– 4 Logic– 6 Enjoyment– 5