BOOK REVIEW: BOOK LOVERS BY EMILY HENRY

the cover for Book Lovers by Emily Henry
  • STAR RATING:  5 stars
    PAGE LENGTH: 377 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: May 3rd 2022 
  • PUBLISHER: Berkley
    CONTENT WARNINGS: Death of parent, grief, sexual content, pregnancy

  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Well Met by Jen DeLuca, The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

SYNOPSIS

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.

Book Lovers is pretty much universally adored by contemporary romance readers — that I’ve seen, anyway. (This is a partial fib — I’ve seen like…two bad reviews of this book. Two out of the many, many, many good ones.) I am firmly in the holy-shit-I-adored-this-book category, in case you were wondering. Book Lovers is full of tropes, but Henry twists them on their head and pokes fun of them in the best way possible. If you’re a romance lover, you’ll see so many familiar tropes you’ll end up grinning from ear to ear as you pick them apart.

Now, this is my first Emily Henry book, so I can’t say much about her consistency, but I can say that I loved how she writes dialogue. The characters felt like real people talking — no fake plasticine layer over everything. I loved the banter between the leads, Nora and Charlie, most of all. I frequently found myself laughing out loud at some exchange between them. Their chemistry was like fire — smoky, and extremely hot.

The general plot of the book is that Nora needs to learn how to let go and not control everything — including her sister. She doesn’t want to control her sister, as much as she desperately wants to take care of her, but still. Nora is controlling. It takes three weeks in a podunk little town — and an extremely hot rival — to get her to loosen up. The scenes with Nora and Libby truly felt like real situations between sisters. The love they had for each other was extremely evident on page, and it was a joy to read.

I also love that this book did not end with Nora and Charlie expecting a baby or moving to the little town. I love that they got their happy ending where they wanted it the whole novel — right there in NYC. It just goes to show how many romance novels end with the lead couple giving up their separate dreams to live out some generic idea of happiness. Book Lovers ended perfectly, in my eyes. Five stars. Holy crap, I loved this.

Add to your Goodreads, or preorder at at the following links:

GOODREADS | BOOKSHOP.ORG | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

BOOK REVIEW: WELL MATCHED BY JEN DELUCA

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Well, that was a goddamn delight. I blasted through this in a matter of hours, because I desperately needed something I didn’t have to think about too much. Well Matched absolutely delivered. It was so much fun, without being overly cheesy or ridiculous.

This entry into the Well Met universe is about Emily’s sister, April, and the kilt-wearing hottie, Mitch. It starts out with some fake-dating to appease family members, and ends up with a hot friends-with-benefits situation that totally devolves into actual love. C’mon, I’m not about romance novels without HEAs. Of course this one ends happily, of course they end up together.

And MITCH AND APRIL ARE SO CUTE TOGETHER. Mitch is totally head over heels for her and she has no idea until close to the end of the novel. She’s blind, obviously, because his feelings for her so totally blatant you could see them from outer space. In a good way. At first sight, Mitch is a bit of a himbo, but once more is revealed about him through the story, it’s clear he’s much, much more than that. He’s an intelligent man who absolutely cares about his students, and the people in his town. I loved him so much. Best part of the book.

April, on the other hand, I wanted to shake silly. GIRL, YOU WANT TO STAY. YOU WANT MITCH. JUST GIVE IN. But that’s par for the course for me and contemporary romance heroines.

If you’re looking for something fun, and easy to read, I absolutely recommend the Well Met Series!

ARC REVIEW: A TASTE OF GOLD AND IRON BY ALEXANDRA ROWLAND

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thank you to Netgalley and Tor publishing for providing an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS

The Goblin Emperor meets “Magnificent Century” in Alexandra Rowland’s A Taste of Gold and Iron, where a queer central romance unfolds in a fantasy world reminiscent of the Ottoman Empire.

Kadou, the shy prince of Arasht, finds himself at odds with one of the most powerful ambassadors at court—the body-father of the queen’s new child—in an altercation which results in his humiliation.

To prove his loyalty to the queen, his sister, Kadou takes responsibility for the investigation of a break-in at one of their guilds, with the help of his newly appointed bodyguard, the coldly handsome Evemer, who seems to tolerate him at best. In Arasht, where princes can touch-taste precious metals with their fingers and myth runs side by side with history, counterfeiting is heresy, and the conspiracy they discover could cripple the kingdom’s financial standing and bring about its ruin.

A Taste of Gold and Iron was a book I was looking forward to IMMENSELY this year. When I got approved for an ARC last week, I may have screamed a little out loud. I feel absolutely no shame about that because this book has ONE HUNDRED PERCENT lived up to the hype. What hype, you might ask? Well, this book (and its absolutely gorgeous cover) has been making the rounds on fandom Twitter as a book to watch out for. Even the author has been hyping up their own work — AS THEY SHOULD. Oh my god, as they should.

A Taste of Gold and Iron takes place in a fictional country named Arasht that is ruled by a lady-sultan. Her adult brother, Kadou, is an anxious adorable cinnamon roll. For the first bit of the novel, he comes across as a little bit spineless, a lot squishy, and in need of some serious comfort. As you read, it becomes very obvious that Kadou is anything but spineless.

Through a series of events that I won’t spoil, Evemer becomes Kadou’s bodyguard. Evemer is a serious, duty-before-all sort of man who doesn’t think very much of his new charge. This changes, of course, and they end up in an absolutely adorable will-they-won’t-they tangle. I am happy to report that oh yes they do. The romance in A Taste of Gold and Iron reminds me of the best fanfictions out there. There’s pining, and there’s the whole oh-they-can’t-love-me-I’m-worthless/undeserving thing. There’s the only one bed trope, Evemer and Kadou wash each other’s hair, they “fake” kiss to disguise themselves, and a million other cute tropey things. There are so many absolutely delicious tropes in this book.

Alexandra Rowland has created an absolute masterpiece of a world in Arasht. My favorite bit of world building is the fact that gender is not binary. There are men, women, and a third nonbinary gender as well. Men wear long hair, jewelry, and make up. Marriage can be between anyone without any issue. Arasht is ruled by a female sultan who doesn’t have to marry if she doesn’t want to, in fact it’s better for the throne if she doesn’t. The captain of the guard is a badass older woman.

Many, many people have compared A Taste of Gold and Iron to The Goblin Emperor, but I don’t see that as an appropriate comparison at all. I hated The Goblin Emperor because it was boring, hard to understand, and everyone had a name that started with the same letter. I couldn’t follow anything in that novel without backtracking a million times to double check myself. A Taste of Gold and Iron has absolutely none of those issues. The book has plenty of action, and while the world is completely fictional, it is extremely easy to follow.

I can’t wait for this book to come out so I can recommend it to absolutely everyone I know. This is going to be the next big fandom out there. Kadou and Evemer are extremely shippable and I can just see their numbers on AO3 going up, up, up.

A Taste of Gold and Iron comes out  August 30, 2022.

Add to your Goodreads, or preorder at at the following links:

GOODREADS | BOOKSHOP.ORG | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE