- Author: Emily Henry
- Genre: Romance
- Publication Date: May 3, 2022
- Publisher: Penguin Audio
Thank you to libro.fm for providing me with an ALC of this book.
CONTENT WARNING: grief
An insightful, delightful new novel from the number-one New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read and People We Meet on Vacation.
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’ve read two other books by Emily Henry, and I’m convinced that everything she writes is going to be a new favorite of mine. This book cemented that belief, and it has everything I could ever ask for in a book — romance, family ties, angst, emotions, and people who live for books. This was one of the books I was highly anticipating, and despite being heartbroken when NetGalley denied me, libro came through!
Nora Stephens is a book agent, and her nemesis is a grouchy editor named Charlie. While she’s portrayed as cold and cut-throat, she’s actually just a focused and complicated woman, who would do literally anything for her younger sister Libby. So when Libby requests a month-long vacation in a picturesque small town, which happens to be the setting for her favorite book, they head from NYC to North Carolina with a list of things to accomplish during this hopefully life-changing trip. But things don’t quite go as expected, when Nora runs right smack into Charlie.
I fell in love with Nora’s character almost immediately. She’s cynical, dedicated, and hilarious. The book starts right in the middle of a breakup, and it’s literally right out of any small-town romance novel, with Nora portrayed as the villain. But as we get to know her, she’s anything but a villain. She grew up taking care of her younger sister, and they have such an amazing relationship! Even if Nora is incredibly wound up and focused on things that she can control. It made me think of how career-driven women are viewed negatively, while a man in the same situation is viewed as ambitious and a go-getter.
One of my favorite things about romance is when it can make me laugh. Nora is a funny character, and her internal monologue sometimes had me laughing out loud. But there’s also some serious parts in the story — it deals with grief and loss, and how we respond to those in different ways. Nora has closed herself off from emotions to protect herself, and it made me immediately feel more empathetic to her. In addition, how could I not love a character who centers her entire life around books?
As the two women set about checking off tasks on their list, romance blooms in the most unexpected of places. And I was HERE FOR IT. I was rooting for Nora and Charlie all along, and this book pulled out emotions from me that I wasn’t expecting. Their story was riveting, along with what is going on between the sisters and the checklist that they’ve been working on. I felt so invested in this story and the characters, that I couldn’t stop reading.
Since I listened to the audiobook version, I have to make note that Julia Whelan is an awesome narrator. She’s one of my favorites, and did a wonderful job with these characters and their story. This is the kind of book that I’m glad I have a copy of, because it’s one that I’ll be reading again.
Categories: Book Review