Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Must Love Books by Shauna Robinson (1/18/22)

Must Love Books by Shauna Robinson
Expected Release Date: January 18, 2022

Recommended: yes!
For an MC who makes truly questionable decisions, for some honest struggles, for a look at the publishing world and whether or not it can make a reader jaded, honestly not much here for the romance

Prepare yourself for a L O N G review because I have so much to share about this book!!! 🥰

Summary

When Nora landed an editorial assistant position at Parsons Press, it was her first step towards The Dream Job. Because, honestly, is there anything dreamier than making books for a living? But after five years of lunch orders, finicky authors, and per my last emails, Nora has come to one grand conclusion: Dream Jobs do not exist.

With her life spiraling and the Parsons staff sinking, Nora gets hit with even worse news. Parsons is cutting her already unlivable salary. Unable to afford her rent and without even the novels she once loved as a comfort, Nora decides to moonlight for a rival publisher to make ends meet…and maybe poach some Parsons authors along the way.

But when Andrew Santos, a bestselling Parsons author no one can afford to lose is thrown into the mix, Nora has to decide where her loyalties lie. Her new Dream Job, ever-optimistic Andrew, or…herself and her future.

Thoughts

I love this book for the intense look at the happiness in career success (and in general) that the main character Nora has. Sure, it’s billed as a romance, but it’s really more like a self-discovery or identity read to me. Nora’s romance shows her how much she’s missing romance in other parts of her lives: career, hobbies, friends. Once one element of her life starts to glow, she realizes how dingy and dull the others are. That more than anything is her motivation to seek change.

If you’ve ever been in a job that made you hate your life, this book will be immensely relatable. So many of the thoughts Nora has sound like they’re pulled directly from my head circa four years ago. And if you currently hate your job, this book might be a breath of air that you can draw inspiration from (or at least live vicariously through).

This review can’t skip the praise for Beth! Nora and Beth are best friends through work, good enough friends that they survive the “breakup” when one of them leaves work. Again… having just gone through this…. very relatable. Their interactions are not all focused on men and relationships. There’s a lot of discussion of happiness, and goals, and careers, and self care, and just humour and laughing! It was a really robust relationship that wasn’t romantic, which is practically unheard of in a book billed as a romance. Nora’s roommate Allie gets like one single mention and then is never seen again, so clearly not all friendships are built the same, but still: Beth took the cake here.

So, okay, what about that actual romance that apparently heads the story then?? It was fine. It was a slow build that felt really natural. But it was also oddly secondary. Andrew is an element to the story, and an element of Nora’s path to happiness. But he’s not the answer to her happiness and I REALLY loved that! He helps her figure herself out, but doesn’t magically cure her with sex and external validation. I also appreciated the reality of the ending — and that’s all I’ll say on that. 🙂

This became a non-five-star book partially because Nora made some genuinely shady and low-key illegal decisions in the book with the way she handled her two jobs. It was kind of hard for me to root for her when she was doing that. Other characters call her out on her other options and block-headed decisions in a very realistic way, which helped resolve this side-eye for me though. The acknowledgement that yeah, she took the wrong path here, made it easier to settle with.

Apparently Nora is also Black, which is barely mentioned except for a few inconsistent lines about her hair and a brief conversation with the male lead about how being Black makes them careful of what they say when negotiating at work. This is also when I realized the male lead was Black, which I don’t think was ever established prior to this moment halfway through the book. It was not a well-developed element of the story, and the fact that it was tossed in seemingly randomly took it down a peg in my view.

Pull in the fact that she’s Black and working in publishing, which especially recently has been seeing a ton of advocacy since it is SUCH a White industry, and it was extra disappointing with how it was handled. Sure, this wasn’t a book focused on race and equality, but I would certainly think it would at least merit a mention. It had to have an impact on her life for sure, so you’d think that would come up once or twice in her evaluation of her unhappiness and difficulties.

Overall, though, I definitely recommend this! It was a great book for any reader or anyone who seeks fulfillment in their life. Especially anyone who hates or has hated their job. Give it a go! 🙂

Thanks to NetGalley and SourceBooks for a free advanced copy. This is my honest review.

Author:

Reader, traveler, photographer, and always looking to learn!

2 thoughts on “ARC Review: Must Love Books by Shauna Robinson (1/18/22)

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