I was disappointed by Book Lovers, here’s a review in point form:
• My biggest issue with this book is that I simply didn’t feel strongly about any of it. When I read a romance novel, I need to feel strongly about said romance–it can be a fun, lighthearted romance, or an angsty, hardhitting romance, but regardless of tone, all I want at the end of the day is to feel deeply invested in the characters’ relationship. Needless to say, I didn’t feel that way about Nora and Charlie. I didn’t feel one way or the other about them, really. Their interactions were fine–and frankly, the worst thing aside from outright hating a romance is to think that it was fine. Fine is boring; it’s lukewarm; it’s forgettable. (Unsurprisingly enough, I’ve already started to forget this book even though I literally finished it yesterday.)
• As to why I thought the romance was mediocre, there are a lot of reasons. Namely, it wasn’t developed slowly enough. There wasn’t enough of a buildup, and the buildup is the best part of the romance: the tentativeness, the second-guessing yourself, the realization that you actually like this person, the tension–all of that was missing here. With the exception of their first encounter, Nora and Charlie pretty much immediately hit it off, and, like, good for them, but it’s not very interesting for me as a reader to just have all that fun buildup stuff almost entirely skipped over.
• Emily Henry writes some really great banter in this (it’s one of the few things I truly loved about this book), but banter does not a good story make, and the overarching structure of the romantic plotline was lacking. It was too vanilla in that it just wasn’t dramatic enough: there was very little conflict, or a sense of there being narrative ups and downs. There were inconveniences and half-truths and little misunderstandings, sure, but there was just no underlying sense of actually significantly highs and lows in the story (at least with regard to the romantic plotline).
• I feel like the whole time I was reading this, I was waiting for something to impress me–some “wow” moment that would stop me in my tracks–but it just never came. Part of that is the hype–a third Emily Henry romance!!!–and part of that was just my own expectations: I wasn’t especially taken with Beach Read, but I loved People We Meet on Vacation–structurally, it’s one of the most well executed romances I’ve ever read–and I thought (or hoped) that Henry’s stories were on an upward trajectory. Sadly, this was a major step down for me. It wasn’t bad, but it was underwhelming, which ultimately means give it a couple of weeks and I will pretty much have completely forgotten about this book.
• Some additional little gripes: first, the writing is overly sentimental sometimes, especially when Nora is waxing poetic about how much she loves New York and how much of a City Person she is. Like okay, we get it, you love the bodegas and trains or whatever, no need to tell us about it for the umpteenth time.
• Second, as with Beach Read, the fictional novel that Henry makes up for this book–a novel that Nora’s author client, Dusty, is in the process of writing–sounds awful. Like it truly sounds so bad, and the fact that the characters talk about it like it’s a literary masterpiece that they simply have to get their hands on boggled my mind.
• And third, I found it really annoying how Nora constantly had to babysit Dusty. Nora’s workaholic tendencies are a big part of the book, so it was surprising to me that this was never addressed in any way. Nora is fielding phone calls from this lady left and right to coddle her and give her pep talks and make sure she’s doing okay and like!!! Sure it’s your job to make sure your client feels supported and all, but the way that it’s written here makes it sound like Nora is just there to manage Dusty’s emotions 24/7. That’s not part of your job, Nora !!!!!