Tag Archives: small town

Book Lovers by Emily Henry

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Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Henry, Emily. Book Lovers. Berkley, 2022. 384 pp. ISBN 978-0593440872. $27.00

In this novel brilliantly plotted like a Hallmark holiday movie (without the Christmas), protagonist Nora, a shark-like NYC literary agent, has lost not one but four boyfriends to the trope of “went out of town on business, met a local girl, saved her family’s business instead of destroyed it, had a complete change of morals and heart and breaks up with her.” The most recent dumping coincides with a late lunch meeting with notoriously grumpy editor Charlie, to invite him to edit author Dusty’s latest manuscript. He passes. Their verbal sparring is foreplay, but neither knows it yet.

Fast forward two years, and Libby, Nora’s sister, pregnant with her third child, wants a babymoon with her big sister and drags Nora off the not-so-charming Sunshine Farms for a vacation, complete with an irresistible checklist that includes hiking, horse-petting, makeovers, baking and camping–elements of a grownup, multiple- week- long slumber party. Special items for Nora include dates with not one, but two, hot local men.

One of whom turns out to be a certain book editor, born and raised in Sunshine Falls, running his mom’s bookstore while his dad recovers from a second strokeā€¦ Nora can’t be completely “off” on her vacation, because her best-selling and sensitive author is working on a new novel, featuring a rather bloodthirsty and seemingly irredeemable Cruella DeVil of a film agent whose characterization is hitting a little too close to home for Nora’s taste. When Dusty’s agent goes into labor prematurely, Charlie takes over the book, forcing he and Nora to work together. Meanwhile, Libby is hatching a plot to save the ailing bookshop.

This is a gem of a book from the pacing, the plot, the characters. The voice is pitch perfect. The baggage Nora and Libby need to work through is real and not over the top: their single actress/waitress mom who adored New York and made being broke fun; their dad who abandoned them; Libby’s focus on family and Nora’s on career; their sweet and loving but high stakes sibling relationship which Nora perceives as forcing her into a rescuer role. The subplot of a mini-mystery about what’s going on between Libby and her husband Brendan is a nice little side story.

The banter between Nora and Charlie and Nora and her sister is fun, snarky and just wonderfully written. The attraction between Nora and Charlie is real, palpable and a bit gut wrenching. Motifs are just so beautifully carried through, from Nora and Charlie’s crashing into one another to the analogy of their relationship being like a great book that leaves you with a lingering heartache. NYC and Sunshine Falls are both lovingly rendered in their exquisite gory, run-down, lush and gorgeous details.

I have a stack of ARCS to read, but right now, I’m going to finish the paperback copy of People We Meet on Vacation, because I loved Beach Read, loved Book Lovers, and can’t get enough of Emily Henry right now.

I received an advance reader’s review copy of #BookLovers from #NetGalley.

Practice Makes Perfect by Sarah Adams

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Practice Makes Perfect by Sarah Adams

Adams, Sarah. Practice Makes Perfect. Random House/Ballantine, 2023. 352 pp. ISBN 9780593500804 $17.00

***

Florist Annie has had a series of bad dates and is lusting after her brother’s fiance’s hot tattooed bodyguard Will, who is in town to provide security for Amelia and brother Noah’s upcoming wedding. Will kindly offers to help Annie with practice dates to boost her confidence, and they fall for one another along the way…but convince themselves the other would never actually be interested. After all, Annie loves romantic books and movies and has a thing for pirates. Will is a thrillseeker who fears not being loved back. She wants a committed relationship and white picket fence, and he hesitates to put down roots and is unsure of his assignment once this gig is done. They do hit it off, and the kissing and foreplay is luscious (the consummation happens behind closed doors). A misunderstanding about what the other really wants is their undoing.

I really loved the whole cast of characters, though they mostly seemed to good to be true. The small town setting is charming, but it’s not wholly believable the whole town would vote on the future of Annie and Will’s prospective relationship. There’s a nice sibling moment with Annie and Noah where they process the loss of their parents. The wedding happening in the background adds color and drama and alluded to When in Rome, the first book in the series.

I received a free advance reader’s review copy of #PracticeMakesPerfect from #NetGalley.

Just Another Love Song by Kerry Winfrey

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Just Another Love Song by Kerry Winfrey

Winfrey, Kerry. Just Another Love Song. Berkley, 2022. 336 pp. ISBN 978-0593333433 $17.00

****

This second chance romance about a hometown boy who made it big as a musician and the sweet girl he left behind hits all the right notes: cozy Stars Hollow vibe, gay co-worker, mixed race best friend, and a generally happy gardener with a house and a dog, who longs for a family and keeps burying that dream along with her seedlings because she can’t forget the one that got away… Hank and Sandy were high school sweethearts, but when her funding fell through, he went off to Berkeley and she remained at home to attend community college. She kept tabs on his career, and tried to date in a very small pool after their devastating split.

Their romance and breakup, told in past tense flashbacks, fill out the backstory at perfect intervals. In the present day, Sandy has given up her artist dreams for running a garden shop, volunteering, helping out her parents who run an inn, and assisting with an end of summer town festival. When Hank lands back on town and agrees to not only headline one of the weekend concerts, Sandy keeps running into him, and before she knows it, they’re soliciting donations and picking up creepy dolls together for an exhibition. The attraction is still there, but deeper and more adult, but Hank has a son (and presumably, a wife) so Sandy is sure that he’s off limits–and never gave her a second thought, but the truth comes out that both have found through the years that no one else measures up.

This novel has strong setting (Ohio!) with both pastoral rural details and a healthy dose of tidbits about famous Ohioians. Sandy’s longing is heartbreakingly palpable but there is a lot of humor in her voice and situations to balance out the angst. She has great (sometimes unexpectedly so!) female friends who have her back. And Hank is almost too good to be true but has some human mis-steps AND calls Sandy on her shit. There is some kissyface but love scenes are not heavy on the details, and the language is (to my recollection) also fairly clean, making this a cozy read that won’t cause too many heart palpitations for readers who prefer the sexy times happen behind closed doors.

I received a free advance reader’s review copy of #JustAnotherLoveSong from #NetGalley.