Another fun NetGalley read and an appropriate title for my 200th NetGalley review (yes, I get a new badge; hope I’ve been able to upload it OK by the time you’re reading this). It’s even about editors, although more the developmental kind at a publisher than the line editing I do; still, it was lovely to read detail about the process as well as a sparky book that undermines the genre its in.

Emily Henry – “Book Lovers”

(14 April 2022, NetGalley)

But this man is mythic, the too-shiny lead in a rom-com that has you shouting, NO DAIRY FARMER HAS THOSE ABS. And he’s smiling at me. Is this how it happens? Pick a small town, take a walk, meet an impossibly good-looking stranger?

Nora is an editor in New York, the city she moved to with her mum and younger sister so her mum could get a chance to act, the city she loves like nowhere else – known as the Shark, since their mother’s death she’s concentrated on her career and her sister, acting like both parents to her and keeping a checklist any men she wants to date must conform to. Immersed in the world of books, she knows her tropes, especially the City Person Goes to the Country one – and she’s in fact been dumped four times now by city guys who’ve gone to a small town, helped save a struggling business and fallen in love with the owner’s daughter, etc. Let’s just stop to pause there and enjoy the fact this book cheerfully undermines those tropes, points them out and giggles at them – but kindly.

Charlie is a super-editor who can create a best-seller out of nothing. He escaped his small town in North Carolina for New York and hardened his heart when he knew he couldn’t live up to his family’s wishes for him. He’s a perfectionist with a heart of … gold, or not? Who knows if he’s got a heart. Nora certainly doesn’t think so.

When Nora’s heavily pregnant sister drags her to a small town in – oh, North Carolina – that’s the setting for her favourite novel (published by Nora’s client), Nora goes along with it but becomes suspicious at Libby’s motives for going out there for a month, especially when she overhears some fraught phone conversations with her husband. And then a certain editor appears. And then that same author starts to deliver her latest novel – all about a hard-edged literary agent in New York … and who is appointed as her editor?

Although the main couple are obviously leading towards each other, the way it happens is twisty and turny and there are surprises along the way. Charlie’s parents are a delight and the small-town world is caught beautifully. The absorption in the world of book publishing and editing is detailed and educative and the back-stories and motivations believable. I would definitely read more by this author.

Thank you to Penguin for approving me to read this novel via NetGalley in return for an honest review. “Book Lovers” was published on 3 May 2022.