Summary from Goodreads:
In this warm and witty romance from acclaimed author Kate Clayborn, one little word puts one woman’s business—and her heart—in jeopardy . . .
Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing beautiful custom journals for New York City’s elite. She has another skill too: reading signs that other people miss. Like the time she sat across from Reid Sutherland and his gorgeous fiancée, and knew their upcoming marriage was doomed to fail. Weaving a secret word into their wedding program was a little unprofessional, but she was sure no one else would spot it. She hadn’t counted on sharp-eyed, pattern-obsessed Reid . . .
A year later, Reid has tracked Meg down to find out—before he leaves New York for good—how she knew that his meticulously planned future was about to implode. But with a looming deadline, a fractured friendship, and a bad case of creative block, Meg doesn’t have time for Reid’s questions—unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other about their lives, work, and regrets, both try to ignore the fact that their unlikely connection is growing deeper. But the signs are there—irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it’s too late . . .
So, do you like planners and bullet journals and pens and paper? And food and nerdy games? And romance and longing and fantastic hand-written love letters? I have a book for youuuuuu.
The Planner of Park Slope – Meg Mackworth, whose hand-lettering business has taken off after a Buzzfeed profile – is having a creative block. She has deadlines and planner clients and a (huge) secret project for a life-changing opportunity and she just can’t get the design juices flowing. So she’s is helping out a friend in her stationery shop when an old client comes in. Meg hasn’t seen Reid Sutherland since the meeting a year before – a whole 45 minutes – when he came with his fiancee Avery to approve the final designs for his wedding stationery. Reid found a code hidden in the wedding program – he’s a mathematician – and has returned to ask Meg how she knew his marriage would fail (actually, he and Avery called off the wedding in a very amicable way since the discovery of this code gave him the impetus to do so, so don’t worry about evil ex-fiancees coming back to ruin things, this is not one of those books).
Meg is slightly panicked when stern, triple-take handsome Reid confronts her about the program. The code is a tic she has. Sometimes she sees words in specific fonts or forms, sometimes her impression of a client slips out in a tiny way, like specific letters will fall a hair lower than others in a word when she draws them. So she explains this to Reid over a coffee (and tea, Reid is a tea guy). He accepts her explanation and then admits that he only sought her out because he’s probably leaving New York City soon. He doesn’t like the city.
Meg, however, loves New York City and Brooklyn, where she lives. She came to love the city by exploring it on foot, taking notice of signs. How they talk to her, how they use color and design and font to convey information. So when she hits on an idea to break through her creative block she emails Reid and invites him on an adventure – they’ll walk around an area of the city and find signs for inspiration. Reid suggests that they make it a game and use the signs to spell out words of their own.
Thus begins an incredibly charming and cozy romance novel about an artist who creates custom stationery and journals and a Wall Street mathematician. There are so many things I loved about this book. Competence pr0n your thing? YES. Actual adults with jobs and adult stuff who handle their emotional mess through self-reflection and talking about it with others. But they are also in transition, which is what happens when everyone gets into their mid-to-late twenties. People grow and change, their goals change, intended careers don’t pan out, friends develop other relationships. This is where Meg is when the book opens and Reid comes in to ask her about the hidden message in his never-used wedding program. I loved their games, wandering around Brooklyn taking pictures of signs; this is very much a “setting-as-character” kind of novel. There is a hand-written love letter that comes into play late in this book and I may have turned into a puddle on the floor (exhibit A: one of my favorite books on this Earth is Persuasion, which also has a letter at a pivotal point in the plot, and I love this so much).
The book is written in first person present POV, which in general I do not like in my romance novels, but this one is in Meg’s perspective for the entire book. It is so skillfully done. The reader definitely doesn’t lose anything by not having Reid’s perspective alternating with Meg’s. If anything, it helps the story along because we also wonder along with Meg about this mysterious job Reid has and will not talk about.
I loved this book so much I read it twice in a row.
Love Lettering is out today, December 31! Get it and curl up for the New Year! (The cover is so pretty!)
Dear FTC: I read a digital galley of this book from the publisher via Netgalley – twice – and I preordered a copy at my store.
Addendum: this book will make you want to sit down and draw all the prettiest journal pages (spoiler: I have zero drawing capability but I have stickers, washi tape, and all sorts of colored pens. I can fake it 😂).