"Book Lovers" by Emily Henry, Berkley, 384 pages, $27.
Romance novels are rarely surprising. It's usually obvious from page one who is going to end up with whom. Heck, sometimes you don't even have to open the book — it's all right there on the cover. But being surprised is not why we read them. Like so many things in life, it's the journey (and, yes, the romance!). And that's where Emily Henry's "Book Lovers" will grab you.
Henry has a great deal of fun playing with romance's tropes and plot twists but especially so with main character Nora Stephens, who claims to be the archetype who never gets the guy, who is too involved with her career to care. And as a literary agent, she should know: "When books are your life — in my case, your job — you get pretty good at guessing where a story is going."
But sister Libby is hoping to change Nora's story, make her the heroine of her own romance, and insists on the two of them vacationing in Sunshine Falls, N.C., the place that inspired a bestseller called "Once in a Lifetime," a small-town love story, typical of what's on the Hallmark Channel.
Will Nora find love at last in the arms of a small-town doctor/farmer/innkeeper or maybe someone else? I think you know the answer to that. Regardless, you will certainly have fun on the journey (and with the romance!).
Maren Longbella is a Star Tribune copy editor.