Like the author says, this is definitely a love letter to book lovers

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In the author's acknowledgements, she describes this book as a love letter to book lovers. She's right, and it's also a gorgeous love letter to romance lovers. This book is charming, hysterical, emotion-provoking (but not TOO MUCH), and inspiring.

A modern day "Persuasion", this "By the Book" follows Anne Corey, an English professor in a small town college, struggling to get a book published to guarantee her tenure track. She struggles financially, burdened by student loans and small salary. Her overdue library book balance is approaching a thousand dollars. I love her. She's me.

Anne also struggles personally, surrounding herself with the greatest literary love stories of all time, but not finding true love herself.

Her college has hired a new president, and it's her ex-fiance, Adam. Of course, this brings up all sorts of feelings from her past. She struggles with Adam's presence while also struggling with an ailing father and an overbearing, judgmental, smug, married-rich sister.

Her best friend is Larry, an incredibly supportive colleague. He's a gay man, having an affair with a very famous, but closeted, man, and Larry provides both Anne and the reader much-appreciated levity throughout the book.

Anne meets a charming writer who sweeps her off her feet, and she buries herself in that relationship to escape the feelings she doesn't want to allow to herself to feel. Is this man the one? Are there red flags that Anne ignores in the name of romance?

This book was incredible. The college atmosphere provides the reader a cozy escape from the real world. Anne's professional struggles are relatable, as are her family issues. I can relate to her financial woes and her ailing father storylines far more than I wish I did. And the romance? Absolutely realistic.

Dare I say it? "By the Book" is similar to Bridget Jones's Diary in plot, as both are modern versions of "Persuasion", but "By the Book" is more cerebral and more emotionally raw at times. I was weeping happy tears at the end of the book, and I clapped it shut with frenzied appreciation.

Thank you to Bookishfirst and the author for this ARC I received in exchange for an honest review.