Watching 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.
The audio is excellent! Since the story is told exclusively from Nora’s point of view, it’s a single narrator audio experience as well. I always enjoy Julia Whelan’s vocal performances, and she does a great job here. Her voice is relaxing and easy to listen to, and she also makes it clear when a different character is speaking. The runtime is around 11 hours, so I was able to binge this during the workday and finish the same evening. It also lends itself perfectly to an office listen – there are only brief moments of steam, and they’re certainly not the focal point. The vibe is also upbeat and easygoing for a significant portion of the story, slowly simmering into something heavier and more emotional by the end. I definitely recommend listening to this for an enhanced experience.
or find it on Libro.fm here
An insightful, delightful new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read and People We Meet on Vacation.
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.
About the Author:
Emily Henry is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of People We Meet on Vacation and Beach Read. She studied creative writing at Hope College, and now spends most of her time in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the part of Kentucky just beneath it. Find her on Instagram @emilyhenrywrites.
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