As someone who seldom watches Hallmark movies, I can relate to Henry’s angst about the small-town romance trope. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy spinoff after spinoff of boy meets girl when I’m at my grandma’s house with my mom. But we don’t enjoy it because we believe it would happen in
our lives real life.
We joke about the unlikeliness of someone leaving a high-paying job in the city, usually a woman, for some farmer in an unknown town within a week. Or when the main character’s partner can’t sympathize with anything the main character is going through because they are too busy with ‘the biggest project’.
A perfect love interest who can do no wrong, often known as Mary Sue or (I’m not kidding) Gary Stu, find each other by chance and revolve around one another like planets, slowly becoming their universe.
And Henry makes fun of one of the tropes throughout her entire book. Can anyone not relate to that?
“When books are your life—or in my case, your job— you get pretty good at guessing where a story is going.”
Book Lovers starts with Nora, an ambitious literary agent who finds herself as the ‘evil partner’ of every relationship. Her most recent boyfriend ran off to a small town and unknowingly saved a local business from ruins with the help of the town and fell in love with the owner while they were at it. Such a crime in her case and it seems to happen with all of her relationships.
And the best-selling author is milking on that trope the way Jon Scieszka wrote The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. Finally, the ‘evil’ girlfriend gets happily ever after.
Nora Stephens is a badass literary and like a shark, she never stops moving when it comes to bringing in new deals to publishing companies that she’s worked for. Her sister Libby, however, needs a break from her life now more than ever with her third child on the way and Nora can’t say no to following her sister to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina where one of her clients base her bestselling novel in.
Armed with a bucket list and a bad haircut, Nora is ready to relax on her month-long vacation in one of the smallest unknown towns possible complete with unreliable wifi and few vegetarian options.
Too bad she keeps running into Charlie Lastra, a brooding book editor who’s a tough critic of his authors. Can Nora balance work, her sister’s determination to revive the city, and keep her interest in Charlie in check as they navigate through their own stories?
It’s hard to believe because most of my reviews this year focus on romance, but I don’t read romance novels often. When I do, I can usually tell how personal the author gets with her stories. Sometimes it’s forced and obvious, other times the story casually inputs hardships that feel close to home.
Or maybe I’m a hopeless romantic who’s trying to justify reading romance books when I’m supposed to be updating my passwords.
But I honestly think the author tries her best to navigate Nora’s journey to self-acceptance along with the small town trope without making any of the characters flawless or perfect. We get to see Nora from an evil girlfriend to a book nerd who would do anything for her sister, even co-edit with Charlie Lastra while saving a dead-end bookstore.
I thought the story was quaint and interesting to read. I couldn’t figure out what Nora and Libby’s purpose in Sunshine Falls is because Nora seemed to be pulled in multiple directions in the story. She bounces from taking care of her sister, going on bad dates, going on good dates, and answering emails to whoever needs her attention in every chapter.
I thought she needed a vacation from her vacation because of how busy she was. I’m starting to feel bad for all the female leads in the Hallmark channel. If I had to go through half of Libby’s bucket list and the bullshit Nora goes through during her bad dates, I would have left the country at that point.
Thankfully we see a lot of chemistry between Nora and Charlie, I love how they are both as ambitious as they are loving to their family and friends. You could always tell that Nora finds comfort in Charlie rather than in one of the guys in Sunshine Falls. She thrived on how well Charlie understood Nora.
It’s a story about a small town through the eyes of the not-so-evil sister. How close to the Hallmark movie franchise will the author go? Will Nora receive her love story either way?