Warm Hearts for any Book Lover

Calling all my Hallmark movie peeps. Whether you love watching them or just love mocking them, this is for you.

Nora Stephens is a cutthroat literary agent and a proud workaholic, but when her sister Libby asks her to spend a month in the small town of Sunshine Falls, North Carolina, Nora can't turn her down. Libby is a pure romantic, and she's made a list of all the quintessential small town things for these city girls to do on their vacation:

  • ride a horse

  • sleep under the stars

  • date a farm boy

  • save a small business

Instead, Nora finds herself thrown together with her work frenemy and nemesis Charlie Lastra.

Emily Henry is a master of romantic comedy in a way I haven't seen since the Meg Ryan movies of the 90s. This is the second book of hers that I've read, and both have been funny, heartwarming, and thoroughly entertaining.

All that being said, the book is fairly predictable. The blurb includes "One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn't see coming...." with which I have to disagree. This book is pretty predictable, but that didn't diminish my enjoyment. Sometimes you just want a good story about relatable characters who overcome their flaws and change their lives for the better. There are plenty of moments of delight that make this worth reading, even if you already suspect the ending.

“Sometimes, even when you start with the last page and you think you know everything, a book finds a way to surprise you.”

Henry obviously wrote this book about book lovers for book lovers. I was rolling in all of the warm fuzzy feelings about the smell of books and the love of good stories. It's an opportunity to take these tropes off the shelf (free-spirit, city girl, loner, farm boy, love story) and really look at their facets. Each character's development proves that they are more than their designated trope. The growth and evolution of Nora and Charlie make this book worth reading.

By dissecting the traditional tropes, Henry's characters question the stories that they have told themselves about their lives. Although, this is obviously a romance, it is also largely about the relationship between Libby and Nora. Nora is forced to adapt to the way that relationship has changed and to the story that she has told herself about what her responsibility is to her sister. As she does, she also realizes that she might be able to change the story she has for herself. It's a beautiful and poignant reminder that no matter what plan we have for ourselves, we always have the opportunity to rewrite our ending.

“That’s life. You’re always making decisions, taking paths that lead you away from the rest before you can see where they end. Maybe that’s why we as a species love stories so much. All those chances for do-overs, opportunities to live the lives we’ll never have.”

Ultimately, I really liked this one because I so clearly relate to the characters. Aside from being an older sister, I see a lot of myself in Nora. I love a good checklist, and I hate being vulnerable. If you are the kind of person who could more easily see yourself at the start of the Hallmark movie than at the end, I recommend this book. Plus, the Roy Kent vibes are so intense that I will be devastated if Brett Goldstein does not play Charlie in the film adaptation.

Despite the predictability, this was a total win for me. I laughed, I cried, and it moved me.