REVIEW: Love at First Book by Jenn McKinlay

Posted May 15th, 2024 by in Blog, Contemporary Romance, HJ Top Pick!, Review / 4 comments


In Love at First Book by Jenn McKinlay, Emily “Em” Allen is a librarian by day and her mother’s emotional punching bag the rest of the time. After years of trying to find room in her life for some type of fun or adventure, she gets the chance of a lifetime–to travel to Ireland and become an assistant for a year to her favorite author on the planet. How can Em refuse? Leaving Martha’s Vineyard behind is an easy choice. Well, aside from not being able to see her best friend Sam Gale for twelve months. But she’s determined to finally take control of her life. And if the happy bonus is getting a conclusion to the Tig McMorrow series that’s been hanging in the ether for ten years, even better. That’s *if* Em can help author Siobhan Riordan overcome writer’s block.

‘After years of sleepwalking through my existence, I was going to live the fullest life I possibly could.’

Em thought the biggest challenge would be not fangirling too hard when she meets Siobhan. She never thought it would be the author’s son, Kieran Murphy, who would make her time in Finn’s Hollow so tumultuous. The man is a dead ringer for Mr. Darcy–broody, keeps his emotions always in check, and handsome as sin. So, basically, catnip for an avid romance fan such as Em. But as she begins working with Siobhan as well as working shifts at the bookstore, the Last Chapter, she finds herself drawn to Kier more and more. Not only does the store and its employees welcome her with open arms, Em is dazzled by the picturesque Irish village itself. And pretty soon, she’ll have to make some tough decisions about her future, particularly where Kier is concerned.

“You are something special,” Siobhan said. “Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.”
There it was–the maternal affection I’d been missing my entire life, but that Siobhan had given me so freely. It meant everything to me.

From its hilarious meet cute that quickly turned into an enemies to lovers tale, and a cast of lovable Irish locals I fell head over heels for, LOVE AT FIRST BOOK is a prime example of why I am hooked on Jenn McKinlay’s charming work.

“You’ve only been here for a few weeks and everyone adores you.”
“Everyone?” I asked.
Kier’s piercing blue gaze held mine. “Yes, everyone.”
Oh my.

CW: View Spoiler »

LOVE AT FIRST BOOK is the perfect title for Jenn McKinlay’s newest romance. Not only will it take on many meanings by the final page of this amazing story, but had I not read some of her work previously, this would have made me fall in love with McKinlay’s writing voice immediately. She creates down to earth characters that are relatable and just *fun* to spend time with. Plus, she sets her stories in some amazing places–this time being Ireland. That would have sold me on its own. But knowing that the heroine, Em, was the awesome best friend from Summer Reading (this is a standalone book, though), a librarian who desperately needed to get away from her clingy, toxic mother, I knew I’d cheer Em on from page one.

And cheer on Em, I most certainly did. From the first chapter, it was clear that sparks were flying like crazy between her and bookstore owner, Kieran Murphy. Their comical–and sexy–meet cute quickly turned into bickering, fiery conversations that had me laughing out loud thanks to their obvious chemistry. Em mentions in the story that Kier was very similar to Mr. Darcy from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. And she wasn’t wrong. He was broody, highly intelligent, tough to crack, but when he cared for someone, he felt very deeply for them. So, it made for a lot of lively banter, which fit the story so well.

I think I loved most that Kier brought out Em’s feisty side. At home she was introverted, quiet, always with her eyes glued to a book, didn’t date–and certainly didn’t stand up for herself or bicker with handsome guys. Ireland was a chance for Em to spread her wings. To go on adventures, meet her literary idol Siobhan…and fall in love with Kier. It was a tad complicated, especially when a secret between Em and Kier’s mom came to light (which made me sob my eyes out), but the romance, the friendships, and the ending was everything a reader could ask for.

QOTD: Have you ever met any of your favorite authors in person?

Book Info:

Publication: Published: May 14th, 2024 | Berkley |

When a librarian moves to a quaint Irish village where her favorite novelist lives, the last thing she expects is to fall for the author’s prickly son… until their story becomes one for the books, from the New York Times bestselling author of Summer Reading.

Emily Allen, a librarian on Martha’s Vineyard, has always dreamed of a life of travel and adventure. So when her favorite author, Siobhan Riordan, offers her a job in the Emerald Isle, Emily jumps at the opportunity. After all, Siobhan’s novels got Em through some of the darkest days of her existence.

Helping Siobhan write the final book in her acclaimed series—after a ten-year hiatus due to a scorching case of writer’s block—is a dream come true for Emily. If only she didn’t have to deal with Siobhan’s son, Kieran Murphy. He manages Siobhan’s bookstore, and the grouchy bookworm clearly doesn’t want Em around.

When Siobhan’s health takes a bad turn, she’s more determined than ever to finish her novel, while Kieran tries every trick in the book to get his mother to rest. Thrown into the role of peacemaker, Emily begins to see that Kieran’s heart is in the right place. Torn between helping Siobhan find closure with her series and her own growing feelings for the mercurial Irishman, Emily will have to decide if she’s truly ready to turn a new page and figure out what lies in the next chapter.



4 Responses to “REVIEW: Love at First Book by Jenn McKinlay”

  1. Sharlene Wegner

    Great review! I’m so looking forward to reading this! I have met a ton of authors. I love going to book signings & have also met a bunch on Zoom,including Jenn! It’s always thrilling!

  2. Glenda M

    Thanks so much for your review! I have not met any of my favorite authors in person. Maybe one day

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