Cover People We Meet on Vacation Emily Henry

About the Book

Title: People We Meet on Vacation
Published: 2021
Swoonworthy Scale: 10

First Impressions: Have We Met Before?
What’s Your Type?
Friends-to-Lovers, Hotel with One Bed, Flashbacks, Close Proximity, Opposites Attract, Vacations
The Lean: Longing 4 U
We Need to Talk: Top Shelf Reposado
Was It Good For You?
Sleep Deprived

LET’S GET IT ON with People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry

First Impressions: Have We Met Before?

Obviously this cover is super cute and designed to pair well with Henry’s previous adult romance Beach Read. But maybe it’s (don’t hate me) TOO much like Beach Read? I know this is being nitpicky, but these two books are different and I thought People We Meet On Vacation deserved something a bit more unique. Same style, sure, but maybe suitcases might’ve been better since Poppy and Alex are in the desert this go-round, and not all of their vacations have been beachy.

What’s Your Type?

  • Friends-to-Lovers
  • Hotel with one bed
  • Flashbacks
  • Close proximity
  • Opposites attract
  • Vacations

Dating Profile:

Poppy, a travel writer, and Alex, a teacher, have been best friends since college. Every year, they go on a summer vacation together—the last few years those trips have been funded by the magazine Poppy works for, making them extra special and bougie But two summers ago, something went down while Poppy and Alex were in Croatia, and they haven’t spoken since. Now, Poppy finds herself having a bit of a life crisis. She’s not happy at her job, she’s not happy with her life in NYC, she’s just not happy. And she has a feeling that not having Alex in her life may be a contributing factor. So she breaks their silence in an attempt to convince him to go on one last summer vacation with her. But without the travel magazine funds, Poppy’s plans start to derail quickly and her idea for a perfect trip turns out far from perfect. She has one disastrous week in Palm Springs to convince Alex that they CAN be friends again. Best friends. JUST friends…right?

Meet Cute:

During a quick introduction at college orientation, Poppy and Alex realize they’re from the same hometown. After orientation, they go their separate ways and sort of forget about each other. So when a friend helps Poppy find a ride home to Ohio for holiday break, she’s shocked to find Alex waiting for her. The next few hours in the car together oscillate between awkward and fun, with Poppy and Alex realizing that despite being total opposites, they have a pretty good time together and more than a few things in common. They make a deal to hang out over the holidays, and suddenly, a best friendship is sealed.

I loved this meet cute because it felt like such a strong foundation for a friendship that would end up spanning a decade. There was no instant crush, no kismet or romantic soulmates. Just a mutual respect and sincere enjoyment of the other person’s company that turned out to be the most important part of Poppy-and-Alex.

The Lean: Longing 4 U

What makes People We Meet On Vacation so sexy is the longing. The charged touches. The close contact. The heat of an Airbnb with only one bed and no air conditioning. But that longing isn’t only of a romantic nature. These are two best friends who care deeply for each other, who haven’t spoken in nearly two years, and who really, really miss each other. They’re longing for days of yore when there was no weirdness between them, but you know how when you’re on a diet and shouldn’t think about food, THE ONLY THING YOU CAN THINK ABOUT IS FOOD? Whatever happened between Poppy and Alex two years ago is the thing they can’t stop thinking about. The reader is left in the dark, but you still feel it with every glance and half smile and inside joke they share. They are longing to have their best friend back, and tiptoeing around the elephant in the room, but now that they’ve had a taste…it’s hard to ignore the craving.

Dirty Talk:

It’s pretty clear from the get-go that whatever happened on Poppy and Alex’s fated last trip that nearly ended their friendship was of a more-than-friends nature. As readers, we don’t know the details—a hookup? Professed feelings by one or both parties? Extreme jealousy of another partner? The not knowing amps up tension throughout, but because the flashbacks are told in order from their first trip until the most recent, and mixed in with the present day trip in which Poppy is trying to save their friendship, sex isn’t really happening until you get closer to the end of both stories. The tension between Poppy and Alex crackles like electricity on the page, building toward a thunderstorm (literal and metaphorical) of sexiness that is absolutely worth the wait.

Ms. Perky’s Prize for Purplest Prose:

Teacher types on laptop while talking to student
Typing a romance novel on a computer screen

“God, how are you so good at this,” I say, and his laugh grates against my ear as he kisses behind it.
“Because I know you,” he says tenderly, “and I remember what you sound like when you like something.”
Everything in me pulls taut in waves. Every move of his hands, every thrust threatens to unravel me.

We Need to Talk: Top Shelf Reposado

Full disclosure: I am a VERY PICKY contemporary romance reader. A badly written contemporary romance can give me SO MUCH second-hand embarrassment. It’s why I prefer historical romance – much harder to be cheesy when everyone’s talking like they’re in a Jane Austen novel. But Emily Henry’s characters are always complex and flawed and cool, their relationships imperfect, and their environments realistic. Her writing never fails to sparkle. A badly written contemporary romance novel can feel like a shot of well tequila – they get the job done even if they make me cringe a little. But Emily Henry romances are a top shelf Reposado, something I want to slowly sip and savor, chaser not required.

I loved the non-linear storytelling—getting to see Poppy and Alex’s friendship form, grow, deepen, then ultimately get very complicated as they took their annual trips. They have other relationships, and even attempted one trip with their significant others, which I especially appreciated because no amount of “we’re just friends”-ing is going to fly when two hot people in relationships with other people want to go to Italy with each other.

As always, the jokes are laugh out loud funny, the teasing is sexy, and the amount of unspoken STUFF between these two people had me so full of feelings I sometimes forgot to breathe.

Was It Good For You? Sleep Deprived

This book had me up alllll night. *wink* Despite it being such a popular trope, I actually think best friends-to-lovers is a really hard one to pull off. More often than not, it feels like one of the friends is CLEARLY head over heels while the other is ANNOYINGLY oblivious to it. Finding a balance of actual, real, two-sided friendship and authentic more-than-friends feelings that grow slowly over time between both parties is a fine line, but Henry manages to walk it like Simone Biles on an Olympic balance beam.

FTC Full Disclosure: I did not receive money or Girl Scout cookies of any kind (not even the gross cranberry ones) for writing this review. People We Meet on Vacation is available now.

Rosemary lives in Little Rock, AR with her husband and cocker spaniel. At 16, she plucked a copy of Sloppy Firsts off the "New Releases" shelf and hasn't stopped reading YA since. She is a brand designer who loves tiki drinks, her mid-century modern house, and obsessive Google mapping.