I don’t typically read adult romance because…well. You can probably guess. But I’ve recently started requesting adult books from NetGalley because I’ve all but run out of YA to request (most of it historical/literary fiction – the first adult ARC I read was a short story collection about a Japanese family called “Inheritors” which was excellent, but not reviewed here because I imagine it would have almost no appeal to my readers), and I couldn’t resist this. To my delight, it was exactly as charming, sweet, and clean as its cover appeared, so I’m posting it here because I feel like it might appeal to some YA readers who are looking to dip their toes into adult romance but aren’t so sure about all the sexy stuff that abounds in that genre.
Today is the Mondayest Monday ever. Hallie Winstone has been fired – and it wasn’t even her fault!
Having lost her job and humiliated herself in front of a whole restaurant full of diners, this is absolutely, one hundred percent, the worst day of her life.
That is until she receives an email announcing that she is the lucky winner of the Once Upon a Page Bookshop!
Owning a bookshop has always been Hallie’s dream, and when she starts to find secret love letters on the first pages of every book, she knows she’s stumbled across something special.
Things get even better when she meets gorgeous, bookish Dimitri and between them, they post a few of the hidden messages online, reuniting people who thought they were lost forever.
But maybe it’s time for Hallie to find her own happy-ever-after, too?
The best comparison I can come up with for this book is that it vaguely resembles the British equivalent of a Hallmark movie. However, that’s not a perfect comparison, because even though it has the chaste romance, quirky premise, and predictability of a Hallmark movie, it’s earnest, wholesome, sweet, and swoon-worthy in a way that very few of those are. (I should know. My mother has watched one every single night of quarantine and I am not exaggerating this figure in the slightest.) “The Little Bookshop of Love Stories” never claims to be anything but a sweet, escapist romance for book lovers, but that’s a very good thing to be, in this escape-seeking book lover’s mind. 🙂
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that this book…is good for the heart. (One thing it has in common with cardio, I guess.) It’s wholesome, it’s unabashedly kindhearted, its hero and heroine and their families and friends and neighbors are good people, and it desperately wants to make you believe in love. Yes, it can be sugary-sweet at times, but it means so well and is so overflowing with sincerity that it’s very hard to fault it for that. (Not to mention that its leading man is the kind of guy this world needs a lot more of. Swoon.) The characters’ love of books comes through loud and clear, the romance is a little bit slow-burn (one way it did remind me of Hallmark: it baited me with near-kisses but kept waiting almost the entire book for the one climactic time they finally did!) but earned and heart-melting, and you kind of can’t read it and not want to visit the quaint English country town it is set in. The world is having a time of it right now, and “The Little Bookshop of Love Stories” created an idyllic little pocket of goodness for me to escape into. How could I possibly not love this book?
Best Scene: um, honestly, anything that takes place in the bookshop made me *puppy eyes emoji that I wish I could use here.* And the dancing scene.
What Stood Out: the book’s unabashedly optimistic outlook and earnest sweetness.
What Bugged Me: this book didn’t really need a villain, so the one it had seemed kind of unnecessary.
Content: almost none to speak of – a little strong language (mostly British curse words and/or ones that are considered to be milder in British English than they are in American English) and a few sexual references but otherwise, almost shockingly clean for a romance novel.