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Love at First Book

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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.

Emily persists, and spending her days bantering with the annoyingly handsome mercurial Irishman only makes her fall more deeply in love with the new life she’s built – and for the man who seems to soften toward her with every quip she throws at him. But when she discovers the reason for Kieran's initial resistance, Em finds herself torn between helping Siobhan find closure with her series and her now undeniable feelings for Kier. As Siobhan's novel progresses, Emily will have to decide if she’s truly ready to turn a new page and figure out what lies in the next chapter.
One

Em, are you all right?" Samantha Gale, my very best friend, answered her phone on the fourth ring. Her voice was rough with sleep and it belatedly occurred to me that nine o'clock in the morning in Finn's Hollow, Ireland, was four o'clock in the morning in Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard.

"Oh, I'm sorry. Damn it, I woke you up, didn't I?" I asked, feeling awful about it.

"No, it's fine," Sam said. "I told you when you left that I'm always here for you." There was a low grumbling in the background and she added, "And Ben says he's here for you, too."

That made me laugh. Sam and Ben had become couple goals for me. Not that I thought I'd ever find anything like the connection they'd made, but they kept the pilot light of my innermost hope aflame.

"Thank you and Ben," I said. "I'm going to hang up now. Forget I ever called."

"Emily Allen, don't you dare," Sam said. Now she sounded fully awake. Oops.

"No, really I-" I began but she interrupted me.

"Tell me why you're calling, otherwise I'll worry." There was more grumbling in the background. Sam laughed and said, "Ben says he's begging you to tell me so that I don't drive him crazy with speculation."

I grinned. She would, too. Then I grew serious.

Glancing around the Last Chapter, the quaint bookshop in which I was presently standing, I noted objectively that it was a booklover's dream come true. A three-story stone building chock-full of books with a small café, where the scent of fresh-brewed coffee, berry-filled scones, and cinnamon pastry permeated the air. I felt myself lean in that direction as if the delicious aromas were reeling me in.

One of the employees had unlocked the front door of the shop, and I had trailed in behind a handful of customers who'd been waiting. I'd been agog ever since.

This was it. The bookshop where I'd be working for the next year. My heart was pounding and my palms were sweaty. The black wool turtleneck sweater I was wearing, in an attempt to defeat the early November chill, felt as if it were choking me and I was quite sure the pain spearing through my head meant I was having an aneurysm.

"I'm supposed to meet my boss in a few minutes, and I think I'm having a heart attack or potentially a stroke," I said.

There was a beat of silence then Sam said, "Tell me your symptoms."

I listed them all and she noted each one with an "uh-huh," which told me nothing whatsoever as to what she thought about my condition. I was three thousand miles away and starting a new job in a bookshop, having put my career as a librarian on Martha's Vineyard on hold to chase some crazy fantasy where I traveled to a foreign destination and lived a life full of adventure.

"I think I'm going to throw up," I groaned.

"Inhale," Sam said. "You know the drill-in for eight seconds, hold for four, out for eight."

I sucked in a breath. Ouch. "I can't. It makes my head throb. See? Aneurysm."

"Or a lack-of-caffeine headache," she said. "Have you had coffee yet?"

Come to think of it, I had not. I'd been too nervous to make any before I left my cottage this morning so the potential for this skull splitter to be from coffee deprivation seemed likely.

"No," I said. "And I see where you're going, but I still have brutal nausea and I'm sweating. I bet I have a fever. Maybe it's food poisoning from the airplane food last night. I had the beef stroganoff."

"You ate airplane food?" Sam sounded as incredulous as if I'd confessed to eating ice cream off the bathroom floor. She was a professional chef, so not a big surprise.

"I know, I know," I said. "It's pure preservatives. I'll likely be dead within the hour."

There was a lengthy pause where I imagined Sam was practicing her last words to me, wanting to get them just right.

"Em, you know I love you like a sister, right?" she asked.

Well, that didn't sound like the beginning of a vow of friendship into the afterlife.

"I do," I said. "I also know that's how you'd start a sentence I'm not going to like."

"You're panicking, Em," Sam said. Her voice was full of empathy. "And you and I both know that bout of hypochondria you dealt with last summer was how you coped with your unhappiness."

"But I'm not unhappy," I protested. "I'm living the dream in a quaint village in County Kerry where the green is the greenest green I've ever seen and there's a sheep staring at me over the top of every stone wall. Seriously, I'm drowning in picturesque charm, which is probably why I'm about to keel over dead."

A sound came from my phone that resembled someone stepping on a duck.

"Are you laughing at me?" I asked. Rude but understandable.

"No, never," Sam said. She cleared her throat. "I just think you might be freaking out because it's your first day at your new job."

"I'm not," I protested. I was. I absolutely was. "I just think I need to come home before they discover I have some highly contagious pox or plague and I'm quarantined in a thatched stone cottage to live out my days in a fairy-infested forest, talking to the trees and hedgehogs while farming for potatoes."

"Have you ever considered that you read too much?" Sam asked.

"No!" I cried and I heard Ben, also a librarian and formerly my boss, protest as well.

Sam laughed. She enjoyed goading us.

"Just think, if I leave now, we can meet for coffee and pastries at the Grape tomorrow morning."

"While I'd love to see you, you know that, you have to stay in Ireland and see your journey through," Sam said. "If you go home now your mother will guilt you into never leaving again, not to mention clobber you with the dreaded 'I told you so.'"

"Fair point." I sighed. I glanced at the display on my phone. My mother had already called five times and texted twelve and I hadn't even been in Ireland for twenty-four hours yet. I'd let her know I'd arrived safely, but I knew that wasn't what her messages were about.

My mother had made it clear that she expected me to continue in the role of her caregiver, a position I'd assumed when my father left several years ago. Were she incapable of caring for herself, I'd understand, but there was absolutely nothing wrong with her except a scorching case of toxic narcissism. I tabled the mom problem to deal with the one at hand.

"I still think I might pass out and then I'll likely lose the job and this entire conversation becomes moot," I said.

"You won't," Sam said. "Find a place to sit down. Can you do that?"

"Okay." I was standing in the stacks-well, more accurately, hiding. The shelves were dark wood, long and tall and stuffed with books. They comforted me. Scattered randomly amid the shelving units were step stools. I found one and sat down.

"Are you sitting?" Sam asked.

"Yes."

"Good, now put your head between your knees," she ordered.

"Um." I was wearing a formfitting, gray wool pencil skirt. I tried to maneuver my head down. No luck. The skirt was too snug. The closest I could get was to look over my knees at my very cute black ankle boots. "Sorry, Sam, nothing is getting between these knees. Not even a hot Irishman."

Sam chuckled, but over that I heard a strangled noise behind me and I straightened up and turned around to see a man in jeans and an Aran sweater, holding his fist to his mouth, looking as if he was choking. He had thick, wavy black hair and blue eyes so dark they were almost the same shade as his hair. Also, if I wasn't mistaken, he was my new boss.

Two

Um, Sam, I have to go," I said.

"The breathing helped, right?" she asked.

"Totally. Call you later." I ended the call and stood up. The man cleared his throat and dropped his fist. Now that I could see his face, it was indeed my new boss, Kieran Murphy. He appeared to be trying to figure out what to say, so I jumped in and asked, "You didn't happen to hear what I just said, did you?"

My long auburn hair was pinned at the nape of my neck in a loose bun and I pushed my large wire-framed glasses up on my nose. Suddenly, I was overly warm and not in a good way. I paused to consider it. I was only twenty-nine. This could not be a hot flash . . . could it?

"Just the last little bit," he said. His voice was deep and his brogue was thick and it curled around me as if it were a magic spell being cast. He tipped his head to the side and said, "Should I take it as a warning?"

"Oh, no, it wasn't meant that way," I protested. "I'd be happy to have a hot Irishman . . . er . . ." I paused and shook my head. "That's not going to come out right either."

I wanted to smack my forehead. I didn't. Instead I stood there, feeling my face heat up with extreme self-consciousness, which no doubt would turn my pasty complexion the shade of an overripe tomato. I probably looked like I had a horrible skin condition.

Mr. Murphy's unwavering gaze had me completely rattled. Not just because he was my boss but because he was a hot Irishman and I was sure that penetrating stare of his could see into my very soul. What a sorry impression I was making. I felt like the human embodiment of embarrassment wrapped in mortification dipped in humiliation.

"Yes, well." He cleared his throat and said, "I think we can just leave that to be sorted another time, all right?"

"Absolutely. No need to talk about it." I pressed my lips into a tight line, determined to do just that. But being me, I couldn't. "Unless you wanted to discuss that bit of awkwardness right now, which would alleviate me from stressing about the first impressions I made, because I totally will-all day."

He looked surprised and then he laughed. It was a rich rumble that came from his chest and I felt it reverberate in my spine. It was a good laugh. When I smiled in return, he abruptly grew serious, as if he'd caught himself being amused by me and shut it right down. Huh.

"How about we just start over?" He held out his hand. "Emily Allen, I presume?"

"Yes." I clasped his hand in mine a bit too enthusiastically and he winced. I immediately let go. "Sorry."

"No need, fingers are overrated," he assured me while he wiggled the blood back into his. "I'm Kieran Murphy."

"It's nice to meet you, Mr. Murphy," I said.

"Just call me Murphy," he said. "Everyone does."

"All right, Mr. . . . uh . . . Murphy," I agreed. He didn't seem like a Murphy to me. In my mind, he was Kieran, or Kier for short, a romance-hero-worthy name for a man who certainly looked the part. I could picture him on a seaside cliff, the wind tousling his thick dark curls and lifting the ends of a red cashmere scarf he'd casually draped around his neck, while he stood with his legs braced and his broad shoulders squared, daring the wind to knock him down as he squinted out at the ocean, looking for, well, obviously his long-lost love.

He was watching me as if waiting for something. It belatedly occurred to me to invite him to use my first name.

"And please call me Emily or Em, that's what my friends call me, you know, if they're close friends, or Red, some people call me Red, well actually, no, only strangers who couldn't be bothered to learn my name have called me Red." I was babbling. I shut my mouth.

Murphy nodded. "So noted . . . Red."

Was he saying we'd remain strangers? Well, that wasn't very friendly.

He turned and we left the shelves behind us. I followed him feeling like an idiot-why the hell had I told him strangers call me Red? But was it really my fault? The man was insanely attractive. If I could have managed it, I would've taken a stealth picture of him and sent it to Sam. She would die. We'd noted he was good-looking from the picture on the bookshop's website but the live-action Kieran Murphy was next level.

I was completely unprepared for this contingency. Why couldn't he be a much older man with thinning hair, a beer gut, and a roguish twinkle in his eye?

"Why don't I show you around a bit before you meet Siobhan." He glanced over his shoulder at me. His expression was shuttered, adding one more layer to his perfection as a brooding romance hero.

No, no, no. I hadn't been on a date in forever but there was no way I was going to start crushing on my new boss. Not when I was on a mission of self-discovery. I had to keep my priorities straight. The only relationship I was having on this trip was with myself.

"That would be lovely." I sounded entirely too eager. I cleared my throat and asked, "How did you know who I was?" I didn't mean to be so blunt, but my curiosity was highly verbal and very direct.

"Deductive reasoning," he said. He gestured to the customers with whom I'd entered the building. "You're the only person I didn't recognize so I figured you must be our new hire."

"Oh." There was no faulting that logic. "Mystery fan, are you?"

He glanced at me with one eyebrow raised slightly higher than the other. It was a dead sexy look. I tried to blink it away like those spots that blur your vision when you inadvertently glance at the sun.

"Indeed I am," he said. "Mostly noir but a bit of traditional as well. And you?"

"Agatha and Dorothy are my girls," I said. He nodded in what I hoped was approval or at the very least acceptance. Mystery readers could be so judgy about the cozy subgenre.

I glanced at the signs over the shelving units. We'd moved from fiction, through books of Irish interest, and now we were standing beside the history section.

"Here's a hypothetical," Murphy said. "A lad comes in and asks for books on magic. Where do you direct him?"
A LibraryReads Hall of Fame selection!

"Hilarious, deeply emotional, and brimming with swoon-worthy passion, this is an enemies-to-lovers tale that every romance reader should have the pleasure of enjoying at least once in their lives. Dazzlingly fabulous!”
—Holly Cassidy, author of The Christmas Wager

"Whimsically wonderful and wryly witty…. This is a swoon-worthy romance that has not only a great deal to say about self-love, forgiveness, and the importance of living in the moment but also celebrates the undeniable magic of books and the important place they hold in a reader’s life."
Booklist (starred review)

"A cleverly written forced proximity romance for book lovers."
Kirkus Reviews

"The ultimate bookish romance! With the endlessly charming backdrop of a cozy bookshop in the idyllic Irish countryside, a wholly lovable supporting cast, and several heartstring-pulling subplots, Love at First Book is the perfect escape for any romance fan."
—Nicolas DiDomizio, author of Nearlywed

"Love at First Book is so tender-hearted, and I couldn’t help but root for Kier and Red! A delight for book lovers and anyone who loves to armchair travel, I couldn’t love this novel more! The setting in Ireland was an escapist dream. I read it in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down!"
—Jamie Varon, author of Main Character Energy

“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.”
–Harlequin Junkie

Praise for Jenn McKinlay's romance novels

"With the light touch of a whisk-you-away rom com, Summer Reading explores some of the most important relationships in our lives. The characters are fresh and beautifully drawn, and the chemistry is magic. It’s the perfect summer vacation." 
—Annabel Monaghan, author of Same Time Next Summer

"Jenn McKinlay writes sexy, funny romances that will leave you begging for more!"
Jill Shalvis, New York Times bestselling author of Almost Just Friends

"Summer Reading is a pure delight! Has all the elements of a perfect story: small island setting, a feisty yet vulnerable heroine, and a nerdy hero who stole my heart."
—Jennifer Probst, New York Times bestselling author of Our Italian Summer

“A playful breezy read that I couldn't put down!”­
Abby Jimenez, New York Times bestselling author of Yours Truly

Eat Pray Love meets Mamma Mia! I devoured this clever novel in one sitting!"
Lori Nelson Spielman, New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany

“In turns poignant and amusing, Summer Reading belies its title to tackle serious issues with aplomb, exploring essential definitions of self, friendship, family, and love while maintaining a breezy wit and pleasing pace. McKinlay’s writing is sure to charm.”
—Shana Abe, New York Times bestselling author of The Second Mrs. Astor

"McKinlay's fresh spin on a favorite trope is as frothy and pleasing as a piña colada, delivering both laughs and poignant tugs on the heartstrings. Perfect summer beach read."
—Lori Wilde, New York Times bestselling author of The Moonglow Sisters

"With lovable characters and swoon-worthy moments, this heartwarming tale has it all."
—Woman's World


“A delightful romance with characters I adored! Jenn McKinlay takes readers along on a fun and charming adventure in Paris Is Always a Good Idea.
Emily March, New York Times bestselling author of Teardrop Lane

"Humor wrapped up in late nights are involved in Jenn McKinlay's new book. Trust me, from page one to the end, this one is a keeper."
—Carolyn Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Bride For A Day

"Everything felt real with the emotions relatable, and yet it was loads of fun, too… Summer Reading is a winner all the way around!”
—Lori Foster, New York Times bestselling author of The Honeymoon Cottage

"McKinlay writes with compassion and heart-breaking bravery, and with a truly unique voice—captivating, hilarious, and supremely romantic. This is exactly what we dream of in a summer read—an instant relationship with the characters, a propulsive plot, a tumultuous series of decisions, and the perfect ending that brings tears to our eyes."
Hank Phillippi Ryan, USA Today bestselling author of The House Guest

"[A]n opposites-attract summertime fling that will quite literally have you flinging around with joyous glee."
The Everygirl

“With a picturesque setting and plenty of entertaining storylines and well-developed characters, this fast-paced, steamy rom-com from McKinlay will enchant book lovers and foodies looking for an upbeat beach read.”
Library Journal (Starred Review)

“McKinlay’s charming latest opens with a meet-cute no reader will forget and blooms into a multifaceted story replete with lovable characters, mouthwatering descriptions of food, and a vicarious vacation to Martha’s Vineyard…. The well-developed emotional growth between the protagonists makes their connection feel real. This is a keeper.”
Publishers Weekly

"Jenn McKinlay's writing sparkles in this wonderfully beachy summer romance. A tale of family, self-discovery and love, Summer Reading is one literary escape you don't want to miss!"
Kate Bromley, author of Here for the Drama and Talk Bookish to Me

"Pairing a snarky dyslexic chef with a sunshiny 'hot librarian guy', Summer Reading is the perfect blend of sweet, heat, and just pure fun."
Cathy Yardley, author of Ex Appeal

“[An] immensely enjoyable rom-com… Is it possible to identify, retrieve, and restore missing pieces in life? And if so, how do such discoveries change relationships? McKinlay's breezy, pleasure-filled escape probes these questions and more, while happily entertaining romance readers along the way.”
Shelf Awareness

“McKinlay spins a funny yet poignant tale.”
Jen DeLuca, author of Well Met

“A funny and charming romp of self-discovery…. You’ll feel like you’ve been on a European vacation even if you didn’t make it out of your own back yard.”
Kwana Jackson, USA Today bestselling author of Real Men Knit

"Sparkles with wit yet is profoundly humane at its core. You will be rooting for Chelsea through all her travels."
Jenny Holiday, USA Today bestselling author of Mermaid Inn

“Paris Is Always a Good Idea made me smile, cry, swoon, and cheer. It's a beautiful, funny, and relatable story about finding yourself.”
Sarah Smith, author of Faker

“This book ticked so many of my boxes: a perfectly imperfect protagonist on a bittersweet journey of self-discovery, relatable family tensions, vividly portrayed international settings, and an enemies-to-friends-to-lovers subplot that made me smile from ear to ear. A thoroughly satisfying read that tugged at my heart and made me happy-sigh when I reached the end!"
Mia Sosa, USA Today bestselling author of The Worst Best Man

Paris Is Always A Good Idea is the must-have summer read of the year.”
Fresh Fiction

“An entertaining romance along with a story with ever changing scenery makes this the perfect summer read.”
Parkersburg News
© Jacqueline Hanna Photography
Former librarian Jenn McKinlay is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Bluff Point Romances, including Every Dog Has His DayBarking Up the Wrong Tree, and About a Dog, as well as the Library Lover’s Mysteries, the Cupcake Bakery Mysteries, and the Hat Shop Mysteries. Jenn lives in sunny Arizona in a house that is overrun with kids, pets, and her husband’s guitars. View titles by Jenn McKinlay

About

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.

Emily persists, and spending her days bantering with the annoyingly handsome mercurial Irishman only makes her fall more deeply in love with the new life she’s built – and for the man who seems to soften toward her with every quip she throws at him. But when she discovers the reason for Kieran's initial resistance, Em finds herself torn between helping Siobhan find closure with her series and her now undeniable feelings for Kier. As Siobhan's novel progresses, Emily will have to decide if she’s truly ready to turn a new page and figure out what lies in the next chapter.

Excerpt

One

Em, are you all right?" Samantha Gale, my very best friend, answered her phone on the fourth ring. Her voice was rough with sleep and it belatedly occurred to me that nine o'clock in the morning in Finn's Hollow, Ireland, was four o'clock in the morning in Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard.

"Oh, I'm sorry. Damn it, I woke you up, didn't I?" I asked, feeling awful about it.

"No, it's fine," Sam said. "I told you when you left that I'm always here for you." There was a low grumbling in the background and she added, "And Ben says he's here for you, too."

That made me laugh. Sam and Ben had become couple goals for me. Not that I thought I'd ever find anything like the connection they'd made, but they kept the pilot light of my innermost hope aflame.

"Thank you and Ben," I said. "I'm going to hang up now. Forget I ever called."

"Emily Allen, don't you dare," Sam said. Now she sounded fully awake. Oops.

"No, really I-" I began but she interrupted me.

"Tell me why you're calling, otherwise I'll worry." There was more grumbling in the background. Sam laughed and said, "Ben says he's begging you to tell me so that I don't drive him crazy with speculation."

I grinned. She would, too. Then I grew serious.

Glancing around the Last Chapter, the quaint bookshop in which I was presently standing, I noted objectively that it was a booklover's dream come true. A three-story stone building chock-full of books with a small café, where the scent of fresh-brewed coffee, berry-filled scones, and cinnamon pastry permeated the air. I felt myself lean in that direction as if the delicious aromas were reeling me in.

One of the employees had unlocked the front door of the shop, and I had trailed in behind a handful of customers who'd been waiting. I'd been agog ever since.

This was it. The bookshop where I'd be working for the next year. My heart was pounding and my palms were sweaty. The black wool turtleneck sweater I was wearing, in an attempt to defeat the early November chill, felt as if it were choking me and I was quite sure the pain spearing through my head meant I was having an aneurysm.

"I'm supposed to meet my boss in a few minutes, and I think I'm having a heart attack or potentially a stroke," I said.

There was a beat of silence then Sam said, "Tell me your symptoms."

I listed them all and she noted each one with an "uh-huh," which told me nothing whatsoever as to what she thought about my condition. I was three thousand miles away and starting a new job in a bookshop, having put my career as a librarian on Martha's Vineyard on hold to chase some crazy fantasy where I traveled to a foreign destination and lived a life full of adventure.

"I think I'm going to throw up," I groaned.

"Inhale," Sam said. "You know the drill-in for eight seconds, hold for four, out for eight."

I sucked in a breath. Ouch. "I can't. It makes my head throb. See? Aneurysm."

"Or a lack-of-caffeine headache," she said. "Have you had coffee yet?"

Come to think of it, I had not. I'd been too nervous to make any before I left my cottage this morning so the potential for this skull splitter to be from coffee deprivation seemed likely.

"No," I said. "And I see where you're going, but I still have brutal nausea and I'm sweating. I bet I have a fever. Maybe it's food poisoning from the airplane food last night. I had the beef stroganoff."

"You ate airplane food?" Sam sounded as incredulous as if I'd confessed to eating ice cream off the bathroom floor. She was a professional chef, so not a big surprise.

"I know, I know," I said. "It's pure preservatives. I'll likely be dead within the hour."

There was a lengthy pause where I imagined Sam was practicing her last words to me, wanting to get them just right.

"Em, you know I love you like a sister, right?" she asked.

Well, that didn't sound like the beginning of a vow of friendship into the afterlife.

"I do," I said. "I also know that's how you'd start a sentence I'm not going to like."

"You're panicking, Em," Sam said. Her voice was full of empathy. "And you and I both know that bout of hypochondria you dealt with last summer was how you coped with your unhappiness."

"But I'm not unhappy," I protested. "I'm living the dream in a quaint village in County Kerry where the green is the greenest green I've ever seen and there's a sheep staring at me over the top of every stone wall. Seriously, I'm drowning in picturesque charm, which is probably why I'm about to keel over dead."

A sound came from my phone that resembled someone stepping on a duck.

"Are you laughing at me?" I asked. Rude but understandable.

"No, never," Sam said. She cleared her throat. "I just think you might be freaking out because it's your first day at your new job."

"I'm not," I protested. I was. I absolutely was. "I just think I need to come home before they discover I have some highly contagious pox or plague and I'm quarantined in a thatched stone cottage to live out my days in a fairy-infested forest, talking to the trees and hedgehogs while farming for potatoes."

"Have you ever considered that you read too much?" Sam asked.

"No!" I cried and I heard Ben, also a librarian and formerly my boss, protest as well.

Sam laughed. She enjoyed goading us.

"Just think, if I leave now, we can meet for coffee and pastries at the Grape tomorrow morning."

"While I'd love to see you, you know that, you have to stay in Ireland and see your journey through," Sam said. "If you go home now your mother will guilt you into never leaving again, not to mention clobber you with the dreaded 'I told you so.'"

"Fair point." I sighed. I glanced at the display on my phone. My mother had already called five times and texted twelve and I hadn't even been in Ireland for twenty-four hours yet. I'd let her know I'd arrived safely, but I knew that wasn't what her messages were about.

My mother had made it clear that she expected me to continue in the role of her caregiver, a position I'd assumed when my father left several years ago. Were she incapable of caring for herself, I'd understand, but there was absolutely nothing wrong with her except a scorching case of toxic narcissism. I tabled the mom problem to deal with the one at hand.

"I still think I might pass out and then I'll likely lose the job and this entire conversation becomes moot," I said.

"You won't," Sam said. "Find a place to sit down. Can you do that?"

"Okay." I was standing in the stacks-well, more accurately, hiding. The shelves were dark wood, long and tall and stuffed with books. They comforted me. Scattered randomly amid the shelving units were step stools. I found one and sat down.

"Are you sitting?" Sam asked.

"Yes."

"Good, now put your head between your knees," she ordered.

"Um." I was wearing a formfitting, gray wool pencil skirt. I tried to maneuver my head down. No luck. The skirt was too snug. The closest I could get was to look over my knees at my very cute black ankle boots. "Sorry, Sam, nothing is getting between these knees. Not even a hot Irishman."

Sam chuckled, but over that I heard a strangled noise behind me and I straightened up and turned around to see a man in jeans and an Aran sweater, holding his fist to his mouth, looking as if he was choking. He had thick, wavy black hair and blue eyes so dark they were almost the same shade as his hair. Also, if I wasn't mistaken, he was my new boss.

Two

Um, Sam, I have to go," I said.

"The breathing helped, right?" she asked.

"Totally. Call you later." I ended the call and stood up. The man cleared his throat and dropped his fist. Now that I could see his face, it was indeed my new boss, Kieran Murphy. He appeared to be trying to figure out what to say, so I jumped in and asked, "You didn't happen to hear what I just said, did you?"

My long auburn hair was pinned at the nape of my neck in a loose bun and I pushed my large wire-framed glasses up on my nose. Suddenly, I was overly warm and not in a good way. I paused to consider it. I was only twenty-nine. This could not be a hot flash . . . could it?

"Just the last little bit," he said. His voice was deep and his brogue was thick and it curled around me as if it were a magic spell being cast. He tipped his head to the side and said, "Should I take it as a warning?"

"Oh, no, it wasn't meant that way," I protested. "I'd be happy to have a hot Irishman . . . er . . ." I paused and shook my head. "That's not going to come out right either."

I wanted to smack my forehead. I didn't. Instead I stood there, feeling my face heat up with extreme self-consciousness, which no doubt would turn my pasty complexion the shade of an overripe tomato. I probably looked like I had a horrible skin condition.

Mr. Murphy's unwavering gaze had me completely rattled. Not just because he was my boss but because he was a hot Irishman and I was sure that penetrating stare of his could see into my very soul. What a sorry impression I was making. I felt like the human embodiment of embarrassment wrapped in mortification dipped in humiliation.

"Yes, well." He cleared his throat and said, "I think we can just leave that to be sorted another time, all right?"

"Absolutely. No need to talk about it." I pressed my lips into a tight line, determined to do just that. But being me, I couldn't. "Unless you wanted to discuss that bit of awkwardness right now, which would alleviate me from stressing about the first impressions I made, because I totally will-all day."

He looked surprised and then he laughed. It was a rich rumble that came from his chest and I felt it reverberate in my spine. It was a good laugh. When I smiled in return, he abruptly grew serious, as if he'd caught himself being amused by me and shut it right down. Huh.

"How about we just start over?" He held out his hand. "Emily Allen, I presume?"

"Yes." I clasped his hand in mine a bit too enthusiastically and he winced. I immediately let go. "Sorry."

"No need, fingers are overrated," he assured me while he wiggled the blood back into his. "I'm Kieran Murphy."

"It's nice to meet you, Mr. Murphy," I said.

"Just call me Murphy," he said. "Everyone does."

"All right, Mr. . . . uh . . . Murphy," I agreed. He didn't seem like a Murphy to me. In my mind, he was Kieran, or Kier for short, a romance-hero-worthy name for a man who certainly looked the part. I could picture him on a seaside cliff, the wind tousling his thick dark curls and lifting the ends of a red cashmere scarf he'd casually draped around his neck, while he stood with his legs braced and his broad shoulders squared, daring the wind to knock him down as he squinted out at the ocean, looking for, well, obviously his long-lost love.

He was watching me as if waiting for something. It belatedly occurred to me to invite him to use my first name.

"And please call me Emily or Em, that's what my friends call me, you know, if they're close friends, or Red, some people call me Red, well actually, no, only strangers who couldn't be bothered to learn my name have called me Red." I was babbling. I shut my mouth.

Murphy nodded. "So noted . . . Red."

Was he saying we'd remain strangers? Well, that wasn't very friendly.

He turned and we left the shelves behind us. I followed him feeling like an idiot-why the hell had I told him strangers call me Red? But was it really my fault? The man was insanely attractive. If I could have managed it, I would've taken a stealth picture of him and sent it to Sam. She would die. We'd noted he was good-looking from the picture on the bookshop's website but the live-action Kieran Murphy was next level.

I was completely unprepared for this contingency. Why couldn't he be a much older man with thinning hair, a beer gut, and a roguish twinkle in his eye?

"Why don't I show you around a bit before you meet Siobhan." He glanced over his shoulder at me. His expression was shuttered, adding one more layer to his perfection as a brooding romance hero.

No, no, no. I hadn't been on a date in forever but there was no way I was going to start crushing on my new boss. Not when I was on a mission of self-discovery. I had to keep my priorities straight. The only relationship I was having on this trip was with myself.

"That would be lovely." I sounded entirely too eager. I cleared my throat and asked, "How did you know who I was?" I didn't mean to be so blunt, but my curiosity was highly verbal and very direct.

"Deductive reasoning," he said. He gestured to the customers with whom I'd entered the building. "You're the only person I didn't recognize so I figured you must be our new hire."

"Oh." There was no faulting that logic. "Mystery fan, are you?"

He glanced at me with one eyebrow raised slightly higher than the other. It was a dead sexy look. I tried to blink it away like those spots that blur your vision when you inadvertently glance at the sun.

"Indeed I am," he said. "Mostly noir but a bit of traditional as well. And you?"

"Agatha and Dorothy are my girls," I said. He nodded in what I hoped was approval or at the very least acceptance. Mystery readers could be so judgy about the cozy subgenre.

I glanced at the signs over the shelving units. We'd moved from fiction, through books of Irish interest, and now we were standing beside the history section.

"Here's a hypothetical," Murphy said. "A lad comes in and asks for books on magic. Where do you direct him?"

Reviews

A LibraryReads Hall of Fame selection!

"Hilarious, deeply emotional, and brimming with swoon-worthy passion, this is an enemies-to-lovers tale that every romance reader should have the pleasure of enjoying at least once in their lives. Dazzlingly fabulous!”
—Holly Cassidy, author of The Christmas Wager

"Whimsically wonderful and wryly witty…. This is a swoon-worthy romance that has not only a great deal to say about self-love, forgiveness, and the importance of living in the moment but also celebrates the undeniable magic of books and the important place they hold in a reader’s life."
Booklist (starred review)

"A cleverly written forced proximity romance for book lovers."
Kirkus Reviews

"The ultimate bookish romance! With the endlessly charming backdrop of a cozy bookshop in the idyllic Irish countryside, a wholly lovable supporting cast, and several heartstring-pulling subplots, Love at First Book is the perfect escape for any romance fan."
—Nicolas DiDomizio, author of Nearlywed

"Love at First Book is so tender-hearted, and I couldn’t help but root for Kier and Red! A delight for book lovers and anyone who loves to armchair travel, I couldn’t love this novel more! The setting in Ireland was an escapist dream. I read it in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down!"
—Jamie Varon, author of Main Character Energy

“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.”
–Harlequin Junkie

Praise for Jenn McKinlay's romance novels

"With the light touch of a whisk-you-away rom com, Summer Reading explores some of the most important relationships in our lives. The characters are fresh and beautifully drawn, and the chemistry is magic. It’s the perfect summer vacation." 
—Annabel Monaghan, author of Same Time Next Summer

"Jenn McKinlay writes sexy, funny romances that will leave you begging for more!"
Jill Shalvis, New York Times bestselling author of Almost Just Friends

"Summer Reading is a pure delight! Has all the elements of a perfect story: small island setting, a feisty yet vulnerable heroine, and a nerdy hero who stole my heart."
—Jennifer Probst, New York Times bestselling author of Our Italian Summer

“A playful breezy read that I couldn't put down!”­
Abby Jimenez, New York Times bestselling author of Yours Truly

Eat Pray Love meets Mamma Mia! I devoured this clever novel in one sitting!"
Lori Nelson Spielman, New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany

“In turns poignant and amusing, Summer Reading belies its title to tackle serious issues with aplomb, exploring essential definitions of self, friendship, family, and love while maintaining a breezy wit and pleasing pace. McKinlay’s writing is sure to charm.”
—Shana Abe, New York Times bestselling author of The Second Mrs. Astor

"McKinlay's fresh spin on a favorite trope is as frothy and pleasing as a piña colada, delivering both laughs and poignant tugs on the heartstrings. Perfect summer beach read."
—Lori Wilde, New York Times bestselling author of The Moonglow Sisters

"With lovable characters and swoon-worthy moments, this heartwarming tale has it all."
—Woman's World


“A delightful romance with characters I adored! Jenn McKinlay takes readers along on a fun and charming adventure in Paris Is Always a Good Idea.
Emily March, New York Times bestselling author of Teardrop Lane

"Humor wrapped up in late nights are involved in Jenn McKinlay's new book. Trust me, from page one to the end, this one is a keeper."
—Carolyn Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Bride For A Day

"Everything felt real with the emotions relatable, and yet it was loads of fun, too… Summer Reading is a winner all the way around!”
—Lori Foster, New York Times bestselling author of The Honeymoon Cottage

"McKinlay writes with compassion and heart-breaking bravery, and with a truly unique voice—captivating, hilarious, and supremely romantic. This is exactly what we dream of in a summer read—an instant relationship with the characters, a propulsive plot, a tumultuous series of decisions, and the perfect ending that brings tears to our eyes."
Hank Phillippi Ryan, USA Today bestselling author of The House Guest

"[A]n opposites-attract summertime fling that will quite literally have you flinging around with joyous glee."
The Everygirl

“With a picturesque setting and plenty of entertaining storylines and well-developed characters, this fast-paced, steamy rom-com from McKinlay will enchant book lovers and foodies looking for an upbeat beach read.”
Library Journal (Starred Review)

“McKinlay’s charming latest opens with a meet-cute no reader will forget and blooms into a multifaceted story replete with lovable characters, mouthwatering descriptions of food, and a vicarious vacation to Martha’s Vineyard…. The well-developed emotional growth between the protagonists makes their connection feel real. This is a keeper.”
Publishers Weekly

"Jenn McKinlay's writing sparkles in this wonderfully beachy summer romance. A tale of family, self-discovery and love, Summer Reading is one literary escape you don't want to miss!"
Kate Bromley, author of Here for the Drama and Talk Bookish to Me

"Pairing a snarky dyslexic chef with a sunshiny 'hot librarian guy', Summer Reading is the perfect blend of sweet, heat, and just pure fun."
Cathy Yardley, author of Ex Appeal

“[An] immensely enjoyable rom-com… Is it possible to identify, retrieve, and restore missing pieces in life? And if so, how do such discoveries change relationships? McKinlay's breezy, pleasure-filled escape probes these questions and more, while happily entertaining romance readers along the way.”
Shelf Awareness

“McKinlay spins a funny yet poignant tale.”
Jen DeLuca, author of Well Met

“A funny and charming romp of self-discovery…. You’ll feel like you’ve been on a European vacation even if you didn’t make it out of your own back yard.”
Kwana Jackson, USA Today bestselling author of Real Men Knit

"Sparkles with wit yet is profoundly humane at its core. You will be rooting for Chelsea through all her travels."
Jenny Holiday, USA Today bestselling author of Mermaid Inn

“Paris Is Always a Good Idea made me smile, cry, swoon, and cheer. It's a beautiful, funny, and relatable story about finding yourself.”
Sarah Smith, author of Faker

“This book ticked so many of my boxes: a perfectly imperfect protagonist on a bittersweet journey of self-discovery, relatable family tensions, vividly portrayed international settings, and an enemies-to-friends-to-lovers subplot that made me smile from ear to ear. A thoroughly satisfying read that tugged at my heart and made me happy-sigh when I reached the end!"
Mia Sosa, USA Today bestselling author of The Worst Best Man

Paris Is Always A Good Idea is the must-have summer read of the year.”
Fresh Fiction

“An entertaining romance along with a story with ever changing scenery makes this the perfect summer read.”
Parkersburg News

Author

© Jacqueline Hanna Photography
Former librarian Jenn McKinlay is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Bluff Point Romances, including Every Dog Has His DayBarking Up the Wrong Tree, and About a Dog, as well as the Library Lover’s Mysteries, the Cupcake Bakery Mysteries, and the Hat Shop Mysteries. Jenn lives in sunny Arizona in a house that is overrun with kids, pets, and her husband’s guitars. View titles by Jenn McKinlay