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A Novel Love Story


A Novel Love Story

Ashley Poston gets credit for being the only author who can convince me to read romance fiction tinged with the supernatural. Her prior novels --- THE DEAD ROMANTICS (about a ghostwriter who can see actual ghosts) and THE SEVEN YEAR SLIP (about a book publicist and a roommate sharing a flat across time and space) --- have just enough magic to add some playful whimsy to her plots, and her clever storytelling is more than capable of getting me to overcome my own cynical skepticism. So I was eager to see what kind of magical twist would be at the center of her latest book, A NOVEL LOVE STORY.

Like Poston's prior paranormal rom-coms, this one has a bookish/publishing angle. Elsy Merriweather, an adjunct professor of English at a southern university, doesn't love teaching, but she does love reading. Specifically, she loves romance novels, especially after the novels of Rachel Flowers --- and a romance book club started by Elsy's best friend, Pru --- helped save her sanity during a particularly difficult period in her life.

"Living up to the promise of its title, A NOVEL LOVE STORY is both a winning romance and a reminder of why readers love this genre so much."

Now, though, the annual summer get-together of the Super Smutty Book Club in upstate New York has been called off, as everyone else is too busy this year. But Elsy, burned out by another semester, is determined to make the trip, even if she does so alone. She does just that, only to be sidetracked by the combination of a torrential downpour and car trouble. She winds up staying the night in a tiny town, which seems freakishly familiar to her in the light of day.

It turns out that she somehow has driven right into Eloraton, New York, the fictional town made famous by Flowers' series of Quixotic Falls romance novels. Elsy recognizes Eloraton's café, bookstore, waterfall and B&B from the books she's read a million times. She even finally has a chance to meet the romance heroes and heroines whose stories made her swoon. Flowers died in a car accident before she was able to wrap up her series. Is this Elsy's chance to find out what she had been planning for her unfinished fifth and final novel?

A NOVEL LOVE STORY certainly will appeal to Poston's many fans, as it again strikes a satisfying balance between magic and realism. It's also a love letter to the romance genre and what stories like these mean for readers. The town and its inhabitants definitely skew folksy, and although they occasionally use salty language, the overall vibe is more Debbie Macomber than Emily Henry. But Elsy is a complicated and likable protagonist, and readers likely will be surprised more than once by her developing relationship with the mysterious (and mysteriously cranky) bookstore owner she meets in Eloraton.

Living up to the promise of its title, A NOVEL LOVE STORY is both a winning romance and a reminder of why readers love this genre so much.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on July 13, 2024

A Novel Love Story
by Ashley Poston