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—Colleen Hoover, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“Book Lovers is a rom-com lover’s dream of a book. It is razor-sharp and modern, featuring a fierce heroine who does not apologize for her ambition and heartfelt discussions of grief. Readers know that Emily Henry never fails to deliver great banter and a romance to swoon over but this may just be her best yet. A breath of fresh air.”
—Taylor Jenkins Reid, New York Times bestselling author of Malibu Rising
“I would follow Emily Henry anywhere. A small town, a literary enterprise, a bookstore to rescue, and sex in moonlit streams? Yes, please!Book Lovers is sexy, funny, and smart. Another perfectly satisfying read from the unstoppable Emily Henry.”
—Emma Straub, New York Times bestselling author of All Adults Here
“Emily Henry’s books are a gift, the perfect balance between steamy and sweet. The prose is effortless, the characters charming. The only downside is reaching the end.”
“Charming, earnest, and clever,Book Lovers is Schitt’s Creek for book nerds. A total delight for anyone who’s ever secretly rooted for the career girl in a Hallmark movie. Nobody does it quite like Emily Henry.”
—Casey McQuiston, New York Times bestselling author of One Last Stop
“You KNOW I love a book—and a writer—when I bust out my trusty ballpoint and absolutely maul the pages…and that’s exactly what I just did to the divine Emily Henry. I could not devour Book Lovers fast enough. Emily Henry is pure delight. I’m utterly enchanted by her wry, self-aware sense of humor, the relish that she brings to every cleverly crafted sentence, and her irrepressible love for love.”
“Emily Henry writes romantic comedy with such sass and humour, she has that gift for making you laugh and cry within the space of a few sentences. Not to mention the sizzling chemistry! Her characters fizz like good champagne, they leap off the page and into your heart.”
“When I read an Emily Henry novel I always feel a particularly undignified kind of jealousy, because I wish I’d written it. Book Lovers is no different: I loved every page, every line. It’s so smart, so funny and so sexy. Nora and Charlie have sizzling chemistry—they even make discussing a contract hot. Readers are going to fall head over heels for these two.”
— Beth O’Leary, International bestselling author of The No-Show
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
When books are your life—or in my case, your job— you get pretty good at guessing where a story is going. The tropes, the archetypes, the common plot twists all start to organize themselves into a catalogue inside your brain, divided by category and genre.
The husband is the killer.
The nerd gets a makeover, and without her glasses, she’s smoking hot.
The guy gets the girl—or the other girl does.
Someone explains a complicated scientific concept, and someone else says, “Um, in English, please?”
The details may change from book to book, but there’s nothing truly new under the sun.
Take, for example, the small-town love story.
The kind where a cynical hotshot from New York or Los Angeles gets shipped off to Smalltown, USA—to, like, run a family-owned Christmas tree farm out of business to make room for a soulless corporation.
But while said City Person is in town, things don’t go to plan. Because, of course, the Christmas tree farm—or bakery, or whatever the hero’s been sent to destroy—is owned and operated by someone ridiculously attractive and suitably available for wooing.
Back in the city, the lead has a romantic partner. Someone ruthless who encourages him to do what he’s set out to do and ruin some lives in exchange for that big promotion. He fields calls from her, during which she interrupts him, barking heartless advice from the seat of her Peloton bike.
You can tell she’s evil because her hair is an unnatural blond, slicked back à la Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, and also, she hates Christmas decorations.
As the hero spends more time with the charming baker/seamstress/tree farm . . . person, things change for him. He learns the true meaning of life!
He returns home, transformed by the love of a good woman. There he asks his ice-queen girlfriend to take a walk with him. She gapes, says something like, In these Manolos?
It will be fun, he tells her. On the walk, he might ask her to look up at the stars.
She snaps, You know I can’t look up right now! I just got Botox!
And then he realizes: he can’t go back to his old life. He doesn’t want to! He ends his cold, unsatisfying relationship and proposes to his new sweetheart. (Who needs dating?)
At this point, you find yourself screaming at the book, You don’t even know her! What’s her middle name, bitch? From across the room, your sister, Libby, hushes you, throws popcorn at your head without lifting her gaze from her own crinkly-covered library book.
And that’s why I’m running late to this lunch meeting.
Because that’s my life. The trope that governs my days. The archetype over which my details are superimposed.
I’m the city person. Not the one who meets the hot farmer. The other one.
The uptight, manicured literary agent, reading manuscripts from atop her Peloton while a serene beach scene screen saver drifts, unnoticed, across her computer screen.
I’m the one who gets dumped.
I’ve read this story, and lived it, enough to know it’s happening again right now, as I’m weaving through late-afternoon foot traffic in Midtown, my phone clutched to my ear.
He hasn’t said it yet, but the hairs on the back of my neck are rising, the pit opening in my stomach as he maneuvers the conversation toward a cartoon-style drop off a cliff.
Grant was only supposed to be in Texas for two weeks, just long enough to help close a deal between his company and the boutique hotel they were trying to acquire outside San Antonio. Having already experienced two post–work trip breakups, I reacted to the news of his trip as if he’d announced he’d joined the navy and was shipping out in the morning.
Libby tried to convince me I was overreacting, but I wasn’t surprised when Grant missed our nightly phone call three times in a row, or when he cut two others short. I knew how this ended.
And then, three days ago, hours before his return flight, it happened.
A force majeure intervened to keep him in San Antonio longer than planned. His appendix burst.
Theoretically, I could’ve booked a flight right then, met him at the hospital. But I was in the middle of a huge sale and needed to be glued to my phone with stable Wi-Fi access. My client was counting on me. This was a life-changing chance for her. And besides, Grant pointed out that an appendectomy was a routine procedure. His exact words were “no big deal.”
So I stayed, and deep down, I knew I was releasing Grant to the small-town-romance-novel gods to do with what they do best.
Now, three days later, as I’m practically sprinting to lunch in my Good Luck heels, my knuckles white against my phone, the reverberation of the nail in my relationship’s coffin rattles through me in the form of Grant’s voice.
“Say that again.” I mean to say it as a question. It comes out as an order.
Grant sighs. “I’m not coming back, Nora. Things have changed for me this past week.” He chuckles. “I’ve changed.”
A thud goes through my cold, city-person heart. “Is she a baker?” I ask.
He’s silent for a beat. “What?”
“Is she a baker?” I say, like that’s a perfectly reasonable first question to ask when your boyfriend dumps you over the phone. “The woman you’re leaving me for.”
After a brief silence, he gives in: “She’s the daughter of the couple who own the hotel. They’ve decided not to sell. I’m going to stay on, help them run it.”
I can’t help it: I laugh. That’s always been my reaction to bad news. It’s probably how I won the role of Evil Villainess in my own life, but what else am I supposed to do? Melt into a crying puddle on this packed sidewalk? What good would that do?
I stop outside the restaurant and gently knead at my eyes. “So, to be clear,” I say, “you’re giving up your amazing job, your amazing apartment, and me, and you’re moving to Texas. To be with someone whose career can best be described as the daughter of the couple who own the hotel?”
“There’s more important things in life than money and a fancy career, Nora,” he spits.
I laugh again. “I can’t tell if you think you’re being serious.”
Grant is the son of a billionaire hotel mogul. “Raised with a silver spoon” doesn’t even begin to cover it. He probably had gold-leaf toilet paper.
For Grant, college was a formality. Internships were a formality. Hell, wearing pants was a formality! He got his job through sheer nepotism.
Which is precisely what makes his last comment so rich, both figuratively and literally.
I must say this last part aloud, because he demands, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
I peer through the window of the restaurant, then check the time on my phone. I’m late—I’m never late. Not the first impression I was aiming for.
“Grant, you’re a thirty-four-year-old heir. For most of us, our jobs are tied directly to our ability to eat.”
“See?” he says. “This is the kind of worldview I’m done with. You can be so cold sometimes, Nora. Chastity and I want to—”
It’s not intentional—I’m not trying to be cutting—when I cackle out her name. It’s just that, when hilariously bad things happen, I leave my body. I watch them happen from outside myself and think, Really? This is what the universe has chosen to do? A bit on the nose, isn’t it?
In this case, it’s chosen to guide my boyfriend into the arms of a woman named after the ability to keep a hymen intact. I mean, it is funny.
He huffs on the other end of the line. “These people are good people, Nora. They’re salt of the earth. That’s the kind of person I want to be. Look, Nora, don’t act upset—”
“You’ve never needed me—”
“Of course I don’t!” I’ve worked hard to build a life that’s my own, that no one else could pull a plug on to send me swirling down a cosmic drain.
“You’ve never even stayed over at my place—” he says.
“My mattress is objectively better!” I researched it for nine and a half months before buying it. Of course, that’s also pretty much how I date, and still, I end up here.
“—so don’t pretend you’re heartbroken,” Grant says. “I’m not sure you’re even capable of being heartbroken.”
Again, I have to laugh.
Because on this, he’s wrong. It’s just that once you’ve had your heart truly shattered, a phone call like this is nothing. A heart-twinge, maybe a murmur. Certainly not a break.
Grant’s on a roll now: “I’ve never even seen you cry.”
You’re welcome, I consider saying. How many times had Mom told us, laughing through her tears, that her latest beau had told her she was too emotional?
That’s the thing about women. There’s no good way to be one. Wear your emotions on your sleeve and you’re hysterical. Keep them tucked away where your boyfriend doesn’t have to tend to them and you’re a heartless bitch.
“I’ve got to go, Grant,” I say.
“Of course you do,” he replies.
Apparently my following through with prior commitments is just more proof that I am a frigid, evil robot who sleeps in a bed of hundred-dollar bills and raw diamonds. (If only.)
I hang up without a goodbye and tuck myself beneath the restaurant’s awning. As I take a steadying breath, I wait to see if the tears will come. They don’t. They never do. I’m okay with that.
I have a job to do, and unlike Grant, I’m going to do it, for myself and everyone else at Nguyen Literary Agency.
I smooth my hair, square my shoulders, and head inside, the blast of air-conditioning scrubbing goose bumps over my arms.
It’s late in the day for lunch, so the crowd is thin, and I spot Charlie Lastra near the back, dressed in all black like publishing’s own metropolitan vampire.
We’ve never met in person, but I double-checked the Publishers Weekly announcement about his promotion to executive editor at Wharton House Books and committed his photograph to memory: the stern, dark brows; the light brown eyes; the slight crease in his chin beneath his full lips. He has the kind of dark mole on one cheek that, if he were a woman, would definitely be considered a beauty mark.
He can’t be much past his midthirties, with the kind of face you might describe as boyish, if not for how tired he looks and the gray that thoroughly peppers his black hair.
Also, he’s scowling. Or pouting. His mouth is pouting. His forehead is scowling. Powling.
He glances at his watch.
Not a good sign. Right before I left the office, my boss, Amy, warned me Charlie is famously testy, but I wasn’t worried. I’m always punctual.
Except when I’m getting dumped over the phone. Then I’m six and a half minutes late, apparently.
“Hi!” I stick out my palm to shake his as I approach. “Nora Stephens. So nice to meet you in person, finally.”
He stands, his chair scraping over the floor. His black clothes, dark features, and general demeanor have the approximate effect on the room of a black hole, sucking all the light out of it and swallowing it entirely.
Most people wear black as a form of lazy professionalism, but he makes it look like a capital-c Choice, the combination of his relaxed merino sweater, trousers, and brogues giving him the air of a celebrity caught on the street by a paparazzo. I catch myself calculating how many American dollars he’s wearing. Libby calls it my “disturbing middle-class party trick,” but really it’s just that I love pretty things and often online window-shop to self-soothe after a stressful day.
I’d put Charlie’s outfit at somewhere between eight hundred and a thousand. Right in the range of mine, frankly, though everything I’m wearing except my shoes was purchased secondhand.
He examines my outstretched palm for two long seconds before shaking it. “You’re late.” He sits without bothering to meet my gaze.
Is there anything worse than a man who thinks he’s above the laws of the social contract just because he was born with a decent face and a fat wallet? Grant has burned through my daily tolerance for self-important asshats. Still, I have to play this game, for my authors’ sakes.
“I know,” I say, beaming apologetically but not actually apologizing. “Thank you for waiting for me. My train got stopped on the tracks. You know how it is.”
His eyes lift to mine. They look darker now, so dark I’m not sure there are irises around those pupils. His expression says he does not know how it is, re: trains stopping on the tracks for reasons both grisly and mundane.
Probably, he doesn’t take the subway.
Probably, he goes everywhere in a shiny black limo, or a Gothic carriage pulled by a team of Clydesdales.
I shuck off my blazer (herringbone, Isabel Marant) and take the seat across from him. “Have you ordered?”
“No,” he says. Nothing else.
My hopes sink lower.
We’d scheduled this get-to-know-you lunch weeks ago. But last Friday, I’d sent him a new manuscript from one of my oldest clients, Dusty Fielding. Now I’m second-guessing whether I could subject one of my authors to this man.
I pick up my menu. “They have a goat cheese salad that’s phenomenal.”
Charlie closes his menu and regards me. “Before we go any further,” he says, thick black brows furrowing, his voice low and innately hoarse, “I should just tell you, I found Fielding’s new book unreadable.”
My jaw drops. I’m not sure what to say. For one thing, I hadn’t planned on bringing the book up. If Charlie wanted to reject it, he could’ve just done so in an email. And without using the word unreadable.
But even aside from that, any decent person would at least wait until there was some bread on the table before throwing out insults.
I close my own menu and fold my hands on the table. “I think it’s her best yet.”
Dusty’s already published three others, each of them fantastic, though none sold well. Her last publisher wasn’t willing to take another chance on her, so she’s back in the water, looking for a new home for her next novel.
And okay, maybe it’s not my favorite of hers, but it has immense commercial appeal. With the right editor, I know what this book can be.
Charlie sits back, the heavy, discerning quality of his gaze sending a prickling down my backbone. It feels like he’s looking right through me, past the shiny politeness to the jagged edges underneath. His look says, Wipe that frozen smile off your face. You’re not that nice.
He turns his water glass in place. “Her best is The Glory of Small Things,” he says, like three seconds of eye contact was enough to read my innermost thoughts and he knows he’s speaking for both of us.
Frankly, Glory was one of my favorite books in the last decade, but that doesn’t make this one chopped liver.
I say, “This book is every bit as good. It’s just different—less subdued, maybe, but that gives it a cinematic edge.”
“Less subdued?” Charlie squints. At least the golden brown has seeped back into his eyes so I feel less like they’re going to burn holes in me. “That’s like saying Charles Manson was a lifestyle guru. It might be true, but it’s hardly the point. This book feels like someone watched that Sarah McLachlan commercial for animal cruelty prevention and thought, But what if all the puppies died on camera?”
An irritable laugh lurches out of me. “Fine. It’s not your cup of tea. But maybe it would be helpful,” I fume, “if you told me what you liked about the book. Then I know what to send you in the future.”
Liar, my brain says. You’re not sending him more books.
Liar, Charlie’s unsettling, owlish eyes say. You’re not sending me more books.
This lunch—this potential working relationship—is dead in the water.
Charlie doesn’t want to work with me, and I don’t want to work with him, but I guess he hasn’t entirely abandoned the social contract, because he considers my question.
“It’s overly sentimental for my taste,” he says eventually. “And the cast is caricatured—”
“Quirky,” I disagree. “We could scale them back, but it’s a large cast—their quirks help distinguish them.”
“And the setting—”
“What’s wrong with the setting?” The setting in Once in a Lifetime sells the whole book. “Sunshine Falls is charming.”–This text refers to the paperback edition.
From the Publisher
Berkley May 3 2022
May 3 2022
|Page numbers source ISBN||
Jeeves Reads Romance
Loved itWatching an ice queen’s heart melt for the right man is as satisfying as it is unexpected. A love note to book lovers, this literary romance stars the villain of everyone else’s story. She’s the stereotypical “unfeeling” workaholic; a woman who is successful, beautiful, and comes across as ice cold. She’s the woman that the hunky hero leaves behind in every small town romance, and she knows it. This is truly her story, with a great mix of women’s fiction and romance told exclusively from the heroine’s perspective. The heart of the story is Nora’s personal journey towards love and self-acceptance, but the romance is also an integral part of the tale. This romance lover was greedy for the swoony scenes – I loved both characters, and they were electric together. While the love story is not always the focus, it definitely had me caught up, and I also appreciated the smart, impactful moments that make this a well-rounded read.The story follows Nora, a woman who knows she’s not heroine material. As a book agent, she can see the parallels between her own life and the plot of a small town romance novel. Basically, she’s the workaholic ice queen that the hero always leaves behind once he finds the love of his life… and that’s actually happened to her several times. Nora has always been an unapologetic city girl who is married to her job, so when she suddenly finds herself spending a month in a charming small town, Nora is a fish out of water. She’s out of her element, and the only person who seems to understand the feeling is the grumpy editor who is also in town. Nora wrote Charlie off as a jerk when she first met him, but getting to know him better has shown her that there might be more to the story. They might not be anyone else’s definition of “perfect,” but they shine when they’re together.I was grinning within minutes of reading this, loving the many nods to tropes, rom coms, and classic love stories. It’s such an intelligent romance, starring a woman who most would consider unlikable or unrelatable. I loved getting to know Nora better and understanding what makes her tick. This is 100% her story, and that really worked here. Sure, I was impatient to get back to the romance sometimes, but I also enjoyed how unique the storyline feels. It’s truly a blend of women’s fiction and romance, about finding your own happy place and being loved for who you are. Nora softens so much throughout the story, but I adored that Charlie never asks her to. They make such an interesting combination, with plenty of sexual tension, chemistry, and banter. There’s a great mix of small town charm, swoons, humor, emotional moments, and angst – it puts you through your paces, emotionally, and leaves a lasting impression.
Christy Baldwin BBU
Emily Henry writes the perfect romance!I’ve come to the conclusion that Emily Henry writes the perfect romances for me. With each book she writes I fall more and more in love with her writing and characters. When I started this book, I had no idea how I would feel about it by the end. The heroine isn’t your typical romance heroine and I loved that about her. Nora and Charlie were both fantastic and they just worked together.Nora Stephens is a ruthless literary agent and she’s the best at her job. Work is her life, and aside from her sister Libby and her nieces, it’s all she focuses on. Libby is the one person she can’t say no to and when she asks her to take a trip with her before her due date (Libby is pregnant with niece number 3) she goes. To a small town named ‘Sunshine Falls’.Libby has all kinds of things planned for Nora. She wants her to have the small town experience but the most surprising thing about Sunshine Falls is who she runs into there. Charlie Lastra. An editor from NYC who she’s worked with in the past. I wouldn’t quite call Nora and Charlie enemies or nemeses, but they’re closer to that than to being friends. Nevertheless, they get each other.”I think you’re one of the least disappointing people I’ve ever met.”I don’t know what I loved more about this book… Nora and Charlie, Nora and Libby, or just watching Nora grow and seeing who she really is. Getting to truly know her was the best part of this book. I love getting to see the why’s. Why someone is the way they are. Being inside Nora’s head was fascinating and I could relate to her as an older sister.Charlie was such a fantastic hero. He worked so well with Nora and he understood her in a way very few do. I loved that he appreciated her for who she was and loved her enough to want what was best for her. He had his broody and standoffish moments, but when he opened up he was beautiful. I also loved the banter and spark between them.Emily Henry not only gives us an incredible romance with Book Lovers, she gives us a story of siblings, the love of books, and a small town romance with a twist. I recommend this to all my romance lovers and book lovers in general!
Insert several sobbing emojis hereIt’s 3:30 in the morning and I just finished this. I have a meeting (or meating, as I spelled it first, please see opening sentence about what time it is) in three hours. Point being, there’s no way I can write anything articulate or profound about this book right now. All I can say is that I loved it. I loved the characters. I loved the humor and the angst. I loved the ending. I don’t love that it’ll probably be at least a year until I get to read another Emily Henry book, but I know it’ll be worth it.
Just buy this already!Another massive win from Emily/for us!As expected, a beautifully written story with crystal clear descriptions that arent ridiculously flowery (thankfully) nor are they overused (she let out the breath she didn’t know she was holding… Am I right?). As you can imagine, I’m not a big fan of long descriptions. I like action and lively diologue. But here Emily gives us LOL and heart breaking actions, superb diologue and descriptions that you’ve never read before and you wonder “how have these words never been used to describe this situation/characters/story before by another author?!”. Emily was good before. But here she’s a genius! A master of her craft! Someone to aspire to be like (or just become friends with). She doesn’t need to get any better than this, but if she does, that would be a lottery winning ticket to us readers/her bank account and all the people behind the scenes that make this happen and get paid to do so. Apologies for all the rambling. I’m just so in love with this book/these characters/the tears she made me cry/the HEA!You probably read the blurb already, so now just jump right in. THIS is what 80% of the books should be like but aren’t. Emily is magic!Having said all this, I have a small warning for you (regarding the content): one of the characters suffers from Parentification (if you are a new mom you may have come across this on IG or else you may identify with this character and understand why you behave the way that you do). I’m not going to explain this here as I’m not a therapist and it’s not my place (but I would suggest a quick search to understand it). Some people may find it slightly (psychologically) triggering. It is beautifully done and not just a gimmick.Now buy it, stay up late reading it, cry over it and thank Emily later 🙂
My favourite Emily HenryI wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. I’ve read Beach Read and You and Me on Vacation and enjoyed them but they didn’t stick with me. I loved Book Lovers for so many reasons. I love Charlie and Nora, I loved that it’s not just a romance book but also a book about being a big sister. I laughed and I cried and I was so scared of the ending but I’m so glad i read this book.
Pure joy!Oh this book! It was everything I hoped it would be. Small town romance BUT nobody has to abandon their dreams because they eg had hot sex with a Christmas tree farmer, check. Enemies to lovers but just enough for a spark not so much you legit hate one of them, check. Adult people with adult problems who discuss things like adults, check. Joyful/tongue in cheek romp through all your favourite romance novel/Hallmark movie tropes, check. I just love Emily Henry so much! I’m here for all of her books, and very grateful to Penguin for the arc obviously, but if they could just inject the next one directly in my veins I’d be even happier thank you so much in advance!
Run, don’t walkFabulously written. Another absolute stunner of a book by Emily Henry. This might be my favorite so far. I could NOT put it down. I won’t recap the premise as I assume everyone can read the synopsis that someone else took their time and energy to put together. But if you love fully-developed characters, fantastic writing, and a deliciously fun plot, stop what you’re doing and read this book.
DreadfulThis book is so boring, couldn’t finish it.