About the Book

Title: Happy Place
Published: 2023
Swoonworthy Scale: 9

First Impressions: If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It
Meet Cute: Resistance Is Futile
The Lean: From Slow Burn to CALL 911 THIS PLACE IS ON FIRE
Dirty Talk: Erotic & Evocative
We Need to Talk: Friends With Benefits
Was It Good For You: Maine Squeeze

First Impressions: If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

This artwork has the same aesthetic as the covers of Emily Henry’s previous adult novels, with bright colors and cute illustrations. Obviously, I ADORE the hot pink, and I get why they want to maintain a certain look (you know this sells like hot cakes at the airport bookstore), but there’s a shade of melancholy to this story that isn’t mirrored by this SUPER SUMMER FUN TIMES cover. I’m not sure how you would capture that, though, so I’ll just take what I can get because this is really gonna *pop* on my shelf. 

What’s Your Type?

  • Second Chance Romance
  • Fake Dating
  • Only One Bed
  • Beach Towns
  • Squad Goals
  • Sweet Home Alabama minus the South

Seriously, this book has everything

Dating Profile:

Harriet, exhausted from her medical residency and heartbroken by a devastating break-up with her fiancé, Wynn, is finally headed back to her happy place: a house on the coast of Maine where she’s spent golden summers with her college besties. It’s a shining beacon of nostalgia and joy, and she can’t wait to bask in the company of her former roomies, Sabrina and Chloe, and their respective others, Parth and Kimmy.

But the minute she arrives, her happy place no longer turns that frown upside down, because Wynn is there. Sure, technically, maybe it’s their fault for not telling their friends they broke up five months ago and now live in different states. And yeah, okay, Wynn is only there because, surprise, Sabrina and Parth are getting married at the end of the week, because (bad) surprise, Sabrina’s dad is selling the house, so obviously the crew all had to be there for one last hurrah. 

Rather than rain on the parade, Harriet and Wynn decide to pretend that everything is fine, which means they have to share a room with one king bed and put on the greatest hottest show on earth for their pals who continue to believe in their happily ever after. But maybe, just maybe, Harriet still believes in it too?

Meet Cute: Resistance Is Futile

Harriet reminds me (in the best way) of a Sarah Dessen heroine. She’s not flashy but she brandishes a clever wit; she’s never loud but she’s quietly charming; she’s totally in her head but always focused on the feelings of others; she’s on her way to becoming a hardcore brain surgeon but loves cozy mysteries. Having grown up with parents who cared for her but didn’t really care for each other, Harriet is terrified of being loved and then losing that love, so when she meets Wynn, who’s been living with her besties while she studied abroad, she draws a friend zone line hard in the sand. 

Because Wynn is too gorgeous, too piercing, too damn magnetic to be part of her world. He’s an A+ flirt, buoyed by his larger-than-life family in Montana, and the minute he picks up Harriet from the Maine airport after her semester abroad (Chloe and Sabrina were too drunk, bless), he’s immediately smitten. But, like Harriet, he wrestles with his own self-deprecating fear: in his case, he worries about being boring and generally unsuccessful, which, I’m sorry, is such a criminal deception that his brain should be sentenced to jail. Dude has charisma for days and a killer sense of humor, not to mention he’s devoted to his family. (And the chiseled features sure don’t hurt.)

Suffice it to say, the two end up getting together, and the book flashes back and forth between the past (their burgeoning relationship) and the present, where they’re pretending not to be separated for the sake of their friends, for one last perfect week in Maine. 

The Lean: From Slow Burn to CALL 911 THIS PLACE IS ON FIRE

So, I’m a fan of the delicious torture of a drawn-out romance, for whatever reason: characters too scared to admit their attraction; two enemies grappling with an undeniable chemistry; people kept apart by circumstance yet still drawn together by the universe. And guess what? Emily Henry gives us ALL of those things in this book! Because we are SO LUCKY you guys!!

While I relished the butterflies and warm gut fizzies (you know what I mean) of Wynn and Harriet’s early days, I was ALL kinds of hot and bothered over their farce of an engagement in the present day. The pretense of being together becomes a way for them to exorcise their animosity and frustration towards each other, and the result is a sexy, sexy game involving PDA and a whole lotta pent-up desire. 

Dirty Talk: Erotic & Evocative

It continues to be a relief to me that Emily Henry, while advancing her career as a romance novelist, has never forsaken the lush prose and poignant emotions of her YA work. Happy Place is both spicy and bittersweet, and the writing affected my heart and my lady parts in equal measure. Plus, her ability to capture the sublime summertime of the Maine coast honestly made me sigh with sweet envy. I guess you know you’re old when descriptions of crisp white wine and creamy lobster rolls make you legit swoon.

Oh and it probably goes without saying, because Henry always nails the banter, but THE BANTER. LORD. IT SIZZLES.

Ms. Perky’s Prize for Purplest Prose:

…he seems to forget what he was saying, pushes me back into the wall, our hips grinding together, nails skating over wet skin. He lifts me a half inch so he’s right against me now. It’s not enough. I roll my hips against him. He grabs the top of the wall again for support as we move together.

“Harriet,” he rasps against my ear. “You’re so fucking soft.”

“Thanks,” I say, breathless, “I don’t work out.” 

We Need to Talk: Friends With Benefits

One of the best parts of this book is the supporting characters. Yes, of course, this is about Wynn and Harriet, but it’s also about the incredible friendship between college roomies; it’s about that moment in your 20s when you realize people change (and you change!) and it’s sad and hard but it’s also okay; it’s about the impact of places and the weight of memories and the way we cling to halcyon days. 

Happy Place offers so much more than romance, and while Emily Henry has always shown a gift for crafting enchanting side characters, she gives more of a spotlight in this book to the ensemble cast. And the development of people like Sabrina, a Grace Kelly type who happens to love Stephen King and cackle like an old crone, and Kimmy, who does a terrible worm dance and gets bloodthirsty over Grocery Gladiators*, enriches the story and makes it even more pleasurable to inhabit. 

*So, the gang has developed various traditions at the Maine house, including this grocery store game as well as a book store event known as “Murder, She Read?” Like y’all I can’t even express how much you’re gonna wish you rolled with this crew.

Was It Good For You: Maine Squeeze

Is this Emily Henry’s best book to date? YES. 

Yes, yes it is, and, like, I realize that might be a bold statement but gah! The depth of feeling! The beautiful mess of human relationships! The burning heat of attraction juxtaposed with the cold darkness of doubt and fear! The amount of lines in the book I highlighted and wanted to quote in this post but couldn’t because it needed to be an actual review and not just like a D+ high school English paper! (Ask me about Sabrina’s “Carol Singers” sign or Wynn and Harriet’s convo about duels.) 

Happy Place is tantalizing and aching like the briny waves of the sea, but after tossing you around a bit, it lands you in front of a warm crackling fire with a belly full of love and laughs, and I’ll be delighted to return to it, summer after summer, because it truly is my happy place. 

Literary Matchmaking

Beach Read

After Happy Place, Beach Read remains my favorite Emily Henry romance (and shares the same summery vibes!).

The Ex Talk

Craving another forced proximity scenario? Pick up The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon.

Boyfriend Material (London Calling #1)

Alexis Hall’s Boyfriend Material offers a slow burn romance with fake dating.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Berkley. I received neither cocktails nor compensation in exchange for this review. Happy Place is available now!

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Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.