by Emily Henry
Release Date: May 3, 2022
Number of pages: 398
Ages 16 and up
CW: death of parent
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 don’t think I’m alone when saying I’m falling in love with this author. I know she’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but she works for me. I need to go back and read her YA books to see if they hit the same way.
There are certain elements of this story that reminded me of one of my favorite movies, The Holiday. This is not that, but there are aspects that gave me that vibe and I loved that. At the same time, the beginning of this book references certain aspects of romance books that reminded me more of a Hallmark movie and had me starting this story off with a bit of trepidation. Was the author going to actually disparage romance authors and readers even though this is, in fact, a Romance? No need to worry. That wasn’t the case at all. But Nora’s reflections and comparisons of her life to the fictional world she was imagining were interesting and a bit heartbreaking.
In this story, I really connected with Charlie more than Nora. Yet I still found myself relating to many of the things Nora had been through in her life and many of her inner struggles. The author did a wonderful job keeping Nora a three-dimensional character that, although I didn’t fully understand her life, I understood her motivations and couldn’t fault her for her actions.
Sometimes I don’t feel I can do the emotions in a book justice, especially without giving spoilers. That’s how I feel with this one. Charlie and Nora touched me so much. I had such a range of emotions during this read; warm-fuzzies, that hollow feeling of dread, hope, joy, and grief. I cried, but I also laughed. The way Nora and Charlie come together is interesting and fun. She wants to dislike him so much, but he’s actually an extremely lovable character.
Not only is this story a true romance, with a central love story and an HEA (I promise!), it’s also a beautiful story of family. Mostly when it comes to Nora and her sister and their deceased mom, but also with Charlie and his parents. They are both very misunderstood in a general sense, but also a lot more understood than they realize. They just have to be open to receiving the love and support that has been there all along.
If you haven’t tried an Emily Henry contemporary romance yet, I strongly suggest you do.