Emily Henry’s third adult romance, Book Lovers, is a book that I never tire of reading. But one of the ways that I ensure I won’t eventually get tired of revisiting Nora and Charlie is by reading other romances, and I’m finding that I especially love books that touch on some of the same themes as Book Lovers. It’s an enemies to lovers story, with themes of family and grief playing a huge role in the plot (some might say even larger than the romance itself), and various tropes are twisted, played with, laid out, and trampled.
I have taken all of the things I love about Book Lovers and sought out a small collection of books that compare favorably in each manner, beginning with one that I think is a fairly perfect comp all around!
The book industry? Check! Enemies to lovers? Check! City people in a small Southern town? Check! Grief over the death of a parent? Check! Complicated familial relationships? Check! Two people absolutely longing for each other? Oh my goodness, this book has everything. It’s even written in first person from a single point of view.
Almost no one knows Florence is the ghost writer for beloved romance novelist Ann Nichols. And absolutely no one knows she has terrible writers block because she no longer believes in love after her ex behaved terribly. When her father dies, she finds herself in the small South Carolina town where she grew up, and…did I mention that she can see ghosts? Because the weirdest thing happens: the ghost of her brand new editor, infuriatingly handsome Ben, shows up after he is hit by a car back in New York. So now Florence has to follow her father’s funeral wishes, finish her overdue novel, and deal with the fact that she’s falling in love with a ghost.
Savannah is an editor at a publisher in the south, working on high brow fiction under a CEO who hates romance, which Savvy dreams of writing. When the boss brings in her son William as an executive, and Savvy drops her manuscript in a company meeting, she is devastated when William picks up a page, and looks for a hiding spot to work on her edits. She leaves it in the secret ARC room, and is shocked when someone starts leaving handwritten editorial notes in the margins. She starts to answer, and as she gets to know William in person, she starts to fall for the anonymous editor.
Wannabe book editor Lily used to have a correspondence with her favorite fantasy novelist, and it seems like they’re heading for something more than friendship when he ghosts her. Months later, she asks her new neighbor Nick to help her find a date for her sister’s wedding…not realizing he’s the very author. He recognizes her, though, and has to decide whether to tell her who he really is.
Maddie and Theo have three things in common: their close friend Alexa, the fact that they hate each other, and, oh yeah, the fact that they hooked up once. Forced to work together as Alexa plans her wedding, they agree to a no-strings arrangement just until the wedding. But oops! They develop feelings. This really is the perfect enemies-to-lovers (or…enemies-and-lovers?) for anyone who loves the way Nora and Charlie constantly trade barbs while also wanting each other.
This is the perfect fake dating romance, and while all three Brown Sisters books feature razor sharp dialogue, Dani is the heroine most like Nora in Book Lovers in the way she knows what she wants and sets about getting it — but this time, in an academic setting.
Nora Rice is a ghostwriter, but not of novels or screenplays. She ghostwrites celebrities’ emails, including up and comer Ari Fox, who she maybe has a little crush on. But Nina doesn’t date anymore after a devastating breakup with her ex-girlfriend. She doesn’t even see her old friends.
Then Ari wants to meet to discuss an email Nina sent as her, and after their initial meeting, she wants to meet again…and again. Ari is truly one of the hottest fictional women I’ve ever read. The scene when she and Nina first kiss is…well, I won’t spoil it, but it’s amazing.
(Disclosure: Amy is a friend of mine!)
Public radio producer Shay already resents her new coworker, Dominic, when he is pulled on air — something she’s dreamed of for 10 years. Then Shay has the chance to pitch her own show, and suddenly finds herself co-hosting with Dominic. No problem, except the premise of the show is dating advice from exes, so they have to pretend they used to date. Obviously they start secretly dating for real.
This book industry–adjacent novel moves back and forth between 10 years ago, when 26-year-old writer Chani is hired to write a celebrity profile of actor Gabe, who is set to play the first American James Bond, and now, when 36-year-old Chani, who has spent 10 years fending off questions about what really happened during the weekend she spent with him, is asked to interview him again.
Interspersed with sections of the profile she wrote and assorted other media about Gabe (and Chani!), this book is absolutely swoonworthy and beautifully written, and genuinely convinced me that this unlikely pairing would have spent 10 years pining for each other.