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Source: Purchased

‘Thank goodness for books,’ Bryony said. ‘They rescue us so many times, don’t they?’

(from Natural Born Readers)

Natural Born Readers is the third book in The Book Lovers series by Victoria Connelly. Although it can be read on its own, it builds on the previous books, so I highly recommend that you read The Book Lovers and Rules for a Successful Book Club first.

The series centers on the members of the Nightingale family, who own a trio of bookshops in the small village of Castle Clare. Natural Born Readers focuses on Bryony, who runs the children’s bookshop. Bryony is an outgoing, colorful, and passionate person, but she’s hurting inside and has been since her best friend and childhood sweetheart Ben Stratton left Castle Clare behind six years ago to travel the world. She couldn’t bring herself to go with him and didn’t understand how he could leave her behind. And then Ben comes back and seems to want to pick right up where they left off, but he broke Bryony’s heart, and she is determined for him to feel the same pain that he caused her.

Of course, there are things that Bryony doesn’t know, like why Ben was forced to leave Castle Clare, and since she refuses to talk to him, he doesn’t have an opportunity to tell her. Meanwhile, Bryony befriends her neighbor, Flo, an older woman who lives alone and spends her time gardening and caring for the animals on her property. Flo’s life is turned upside down when her great-nephew, Sonny, is dropped on her doorstep, and Bryony is there to provide support when Flo learns the reason Sonny has been left in her care.

Natural Born Readers is another fantastic installment in the series. I can’t get enough of the Nightingales, their Sunday gatherings, their love of books, and their close bond. I liked that Connelly presents the different viewpoints of each character so you can really understand them and their motivations. I wanted to smack Bryony at times and tell her to just tell Ben how she feels, but it was realistic that she wasn’t willing or able to welcome Ben back with open arms after so many years. Bryony and Ben are far from perfect, and I loved that Connelly showed their strengths, their weaknesses, and their mistakes. I can’t wait to see what happens next in this series, as there are still some Nightingales left with stories to tell! Stay tuned for my review of Christmas with the Book Lovers, a novella set between books 1 and 2.

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