Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
“Happy endings in books and real-life are always just stopping points before the next conflict comes.”
I have officially found my favorite, thus far, Vino & Veritas story in the World of True North series. Booklover by J.E. Birk is a tender story about two people who find completion in each other even though the past and the present seek to derail them. The story follows Briar, a quieted, lonely employee at Vino & Veritas, and Jamie, a Moo U student who is torn between the responsibilities of his family’s dairy farm, his schooling, and his future. Briar is responsible for creating a book club at V&V for romance enthusiasts. Jamie, a library science student, loves books, especially romances because they come with a guaranteed happy ending. Even though his life is overwhelmed by a variety of responsibilities, Jamie is looking forward to this book club. On arriving for the club, Jamie meets Briar, and he is instantly attracted to him, mostly because he reminds him of one of his favorite characters in one of his favorite romances. Similarly, Briar is also intrigued with Jamie. Over the course of the book, these two begin to fall for each other even though one of them believes he isn’t worthy of a relationship and the other doesn’t seem to have the time to devote to one. However, they simply can’t leave each other alone. When a shocking moment occurs, Jamie and Briar must decide if they have a future together.
What I love most about J.E. Birk’s Booklover is the tenderness of its characters. There is an innocence to Jamie that makes him loveable, but he’s charming in that he’s compassionate over Briar. And Briar…Briar’s story is the heart of this book. I shed tears over his portrayal because Birk has crafted so much hurt in his life that you want all the best things in life for him. In their coupling, that tenderness is displayed even in moments when these two connect physically. I found myself unable to put their story down because they each struggle with letting go of either past hurts or familial expectations. As one of the wizened characters of the story, Mrs. D., tells Briar that there isn’t just one happy ending that we get in life; instead, there are many that punctuate different parts of it. For me, Booklover has a thoughtfulness that I haven’t felt quite yet in a V&V book, and it will steal your heart in the end.
In love and romance,