Is it worth the hype? Yep. It definitely is.
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.
If you’re not a fan of romance novels featuring book nerds, then I highly recommend this book. For all intents and purposes, it is a contemporary romance story between two bookish people who find love in a small town in the middle of nowhere, but it’s so much more. And if you’ve been following my reviews, then you know that my kind of romance are the ones that have a little bit more going on. This is the perfect blend of romance with something extra (which I know won’t be a big draw for the more die-hard romance readers, I’m sorry).
The story follows Nora, a literary agent living in New York who considers herself “the other girl.” You know, the one that the main male lead leaves in order to help the small-town main female lead with her mother’s stationery store in country. She’s the “shark,” who knows what she wants, willing to do anything for it, and will fight fiercely for it. That goes double for her clients and her sister. And when her sister suggests they spend a month in the same small town that one of her client’s books takes place, she agrees because Nora is the type of person who will stop at nothing to make her sister happy.
I know this book is already criticized for having too much of a sibling relationship in a romance story, but honestly, that was one of my favorite parts of the story. The relationship between Nora and Libby has its ups and downs, but the love they have for each other is desirable. As they live out the various tropes they read in romance novels as a kid, Nora and Libby eventually grow to understand each other. They love each other, but Nora has a tendency to sacrifice everything for Libby while Libby encourages her to do what makes her happy. It’s the crux of their relationship throughout the story and something that I truly loved watching play out throughout the book. Their relationship throughout the book is just as important as the one between the two main protagonists.
Of course, the story follows two enemies-to-lovers book nerds who work in the same industry. Nora is the tough literary agent who will sacrifice evenings and weekends for her clients while Charlie is the hard-headed editor who’s scrutiny of her client’s books makes her blood boil. And when they both find themselves in the small town in the middle of nowhere, well, you know the rest.
In so many ways, Nora and Charlie reminded me of Rory and Jess in Gilmore Girls. Granted, the circumstances between these two characters is completely different than the ones in Gilmore Girls, but the small town where everyone is in everyone’s business with two very bookish people reside and they’re a little off the beaten path? It really gave me the cutest vibes and I was happy about it. I mean, who didn’t root for Rory and Jess? They were fire and ice with each other, banter playing between them in their own intimate flirtation. You wanted someone to give, but both of them being so stubborn provides for some entertaining and eventually steamy scenes.
Another added feature was learning the backgrounds of Libby, Nora, as well as Charlie. It’s not the brightest thing you want to read when you’re in the middle of a romance story, but I imagined scenes like Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail where she reminisced on her mother and how the bookstore reminded her of the fond memories they shared together. I was getting the same exact feeling with Nora and Libby. There’s a lot of mention of their mother throughout the story and it made the characters feel so much more realistic having that anchor of love between them.
Truly, I loved every minute of this story and reading it on audio (narrated by the talented Julie Whelan), really made the experience so much more fun. Am I a fan of romance novels yet? Not really, but this one definitely made me turn my head.