Thanks to Netgalley for my complimentary ARC of this book which I used for my review & to Kensington Publishing for my complimentary hard-copy; all opinions provided are my own.
Kate Clayborn’s Love Lettering is unapologetically modern but oh my gosh, if it doesn’t give me some of those 90s Meg Ryan movie vibes (read: peak cinematic rom com period as far as I’m concerned). See the checklist below:
⭐️A quirky heroine who’s confronted with the where-do-I-go-now-when-the-artistic-space-I’ve-created-for-myself-is-threatened question. (spoiler alert: have no fear! She’ll figure it out!)
⭐️A corporate hero (in Clayborn's case--and in a lot of rom com cases--hero maybe doesn’t always take the time to stop and appreciate what’s around him…literally).
⭐️A big city, where fresh things and old things sit side by side on crowded streets, and it’s all chaotic and beautiful and alive (note: it might require the right person to show you how to see it).
There’s so much goodness in Love Lettering, from its sunshine-y heroine and reserved hero with a “double-take face” to its treatment of female friendship (necessary! Also complicated! Also salvageable, changeable, and forgiving); from its premise to its Epilogue, which is put-a-smile-upon-your-face delightful.
But let’s start with the plot.
Meg Mackworth has made a name for herself as a designer of largely “whimsical” wedding invitations, planners, etc. But she’s got a little problem: sometimes she puts hidden messages in her work, and it comes back to bite her when one of her previous clients, a Wall Street type named Reid Sutherland, confronts her about his wedding invitation which she created almost one year before.
Reid’s confrontation comes at a moment when Meg’s experiencing a crisis of faith about her abilities, inspiration, and overall career, and after an awkward reunion—where it’s clear that they’re both at a crossroads of sorts—they make an arrangement to walk around NYC together, looking at the hand-lettered “signs” (literal and metaphorical) that surround them.
When I describe Clayborn’s books, I feel like I constantly rely on adjectives like “lovely” but that’s because they are. They’re emotionally sensitive and astute, and the moments when the characters reveal the tender, secret parts of themselves are so beautifully done that you feel it in every word. In a lot of ways, Clayborn’s books themselves feel full of “signs”—they’re full of little details that make them special, that can be savored again and again.
Here, she writes a heroine who’s passionate and emotional and utterly distinctive, and a hero who will capture your heart with his sensitivity and willingness to be vulnerable. (Don’t let the suit fool you.) But despite their general amazingness, neither character is capable of fully fixing every problem facing them by the novel’s conclusion, and that’s part of what makes this love story extra admirable and sweet. Because you know, life isn’t really like that; all problems aren't magically solved by falling in love.
Love Lettering doesn’t feel flashy to me. In fact, there were times when the book felt understated in a way that I mostly enjoyed but that occasionally mildly disconcerted. (I blame the string of romantic suspense books I've been reading lately for this response.)
But maybe the best part of my reading experience (and a sign of a great book)? I’m confident that—as much as I enjoyed it this time around—and did I ever—this feels like one that’ll only become richer with re-reads, when I’ll pick up on those “signs” I missed the first time around, and when I can luxuriate again in the world—the love story—that Clayborn puts on the page.
Give me that HEA, please.
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