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Love Lettering

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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 . . .

307 pages, Paperback

First published December 31, 2019

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About the author

Kate Clayborn

15 books2,928 followers
Kate Clayborn is the critically acclaimed author of six novels. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Oprah Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Bookpage, and more. By day she works in education, and by night (and sometimes, by very early morning) she writes contemporary romances about smart, strong, modern heroines who face the world alongside true friends and complicated families. She resides in Virginia with her husband and their dog.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 6,121 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,200 reviews40.7k followers
May 3, 2021
I couldn’t believe that I’m giving three romantic story with full of signs, shining with its bright lights of big city but unfortunately full of conspiracy and action parts, unexpected twisty turn of the story shattered my soft, swoony plot stars!

When I read the excerpt of this book I cursed a few times, because it ended with a sweet cliffhanger and I thought I had to read this book ASAP.I wanted to devour it so passionately!!! I couldn’t give my soul as a payment method(most of my reviewer readers already know I sold it to Tom Ellis, later I learned he was not even real Lucifer, he was a bloody fictional, six-packed character!) but finally my waiting was over, I got my hands into this precious thing.

Meg is a skilled artist, designing innovative, original custom journals and one day one of her client’s fiancée stops by at her office and shows her the wedding program she’d designed for them. He insists there was a secret code written there says: “MISTAKE” (He is a mathematician so he loves to crack codes or maybe he is a crack-head!)

As it seems like it is an obnoxious, weird claim, Meg confesses him he is right and after that she explains him about the things she observed about he and his fiancee’s attitudes throughout their meeting. Before they say their goodbyes, Meg finds out Reid is about to live the city because he hates NY.

Meg’s guilt feelings and her undeniable attraction to Reid helps her to form an idea on her mind. She needs an inspiration to design a special project for a job opportunity and Reid could help her with his logical, realistic, direct approach. She could also convince him to discover the city and the things he may love about big apple.

Reid reluctantly accepts her offer and their big journey turns into an enjoyable game to find the signs and form different letters into meaningful words. So far the book seems like a delicious, different, entertaining rom-com, right?

Meg is the representative of right part of the brain, creativity, artistic skills, dreaming, optimism are her strongest virtues. And Reid is a quiet representative of left part: mathematics, logic, reasoning, analytic thought. They complete each other so perfectly and of course their shyness towards each, the words they didn’t tell, the feeling they didn’t share, make you want to scream at them: “come on guys, you’re perfect for each other!”

Of course I was waiting for the angst but the final surprising twist was a little overrated and exaggerated for me. I felt like I wasn’t reading a soft, sweet, swoony book and I started to read a thriller with its big schemes and conspiracy theories. That part of the book didn’t fit all the letters, magical signs, finding the glamorous love in the middle of the chaotic, crowded, dirty, cosmopolitan city of the earth! So I got really disappointed and I wished the author found another solution or big surprise that can be easily recovered from.

Still I loved those characters and next visit at my NYC, I’ll start to take photos of the signs and play the game as like the characters did. I loved the concept and inspirational feelings that book gave me. If I could ignore the last third part of the book, I can give my four stars without thinking. So I still want to read more books of the author because she knows how to write about pure feelings and pour them down with proper, lyrical, soul brushing words.

Special thanks to Netgalley and Kensington Books for sharing this romantic ARC COPY with me in exchange my honest review.

Profile Image for Meredith (Slowly Catching Up).
793 reviews12.4k followers
January 7, 2020
3.5 stars


This is a sweet romance with well-developed characters and a little something different.

Meg Mackworth, a letterer, has the gift of being able to decipher signs--Not signs of the universe, but actual signs. Letters, their format, font, hand-painted or printed, speak to her. She has turned her gift into art, but sometimes what she feels comes through in her work, as is the case when she designed a wedding invitation for a couple she thought doomed. What she didn’t realize is that the groom, a mathematician, would be able to see the message she unintentionally wove into their handcrafted invitation. When the former groom, Reid, unexpectedly shows up a year later to confront Meg about her message, sparks fly and romance blooms. But as always, there is more to this story than meets the eye.

There were a lot of elements that I loved about this book, including Kate Clayborn's writing and Meg’s character. Meg is intelligent with a strong voice and a unique gift. I also loved the emphasis on signs and the beauty of letters and Clayborn does a nice job of illuminating Meg’s connection with letters to the reader. There were some parts that I could have done without (the first sex scene felt like different characters and didn't feel natural) and others that just felt like they belonged in a different book. Outside of these moments, Love Lettering was a nice escape read.

I won a copy of this book from a GoodReads giveaway!!!
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,403 reviews1,852 followers
December 30, 2019
This is a hard review to write because I want to get it right. Why I loved this. How extraordinary the writing is, the moments we were given, shown, even the ones that were hidden until they were ready to be told.

To me, this a love story for all the people who were told they were mistakes or were mistaken, and even felt it in themselves. Who never got a do-over, never got a second chance, or the opportunity to explain themselves. It's a quiet story, in a way, one that just goes along with things.. until it doesn't.

I'll preface this, a little belatedly, by saying that if you don't love a little whimsy in your novels, if you can't use your imagination to bring something to mind, you might not always love this read. Fonts, lettering, as one might infer from the title, play a very big part. And I loved this. It offered a richness, a uniqueness, to the characters and this world — even if it is our own.

And speaking of the characters.. they were all, equally, in their own way, five stars. With exception to one obvious selection (Cameron) and one maybe not so obvious (not naming names, cough, Sibby, cough). Meg was a delight; watching her come into her own, every step she made, every mistake.. it was lovely. Reid, however, I almost have no words for. This is the most charming of all romance heroes. Not a grump, not an alpha, not a jerk. Just a giant, awkward, stoic creature. A total gentleman, a diehard math nerd, completely out of his element in almost every situation. He stole my heart, totally, and every interaction between them was just.. I want more.

"Reid, did you make a joke?"
"Probably not. I'm not known for my sense of humour."

For such a quiet story, the plot of this did take me a bit by surprise, but in hindsight everything slots into place. Every t gets crossed, every i gets its dot. But the banter, the chemistry, the build up.. everything, was fantastic.

I hesitate to say more because, again, I really want to get this review right. I'm not sure I succeeded. Just know this book made me laugh, made me soft, made me gushingly share passages with a friend (who had already read it!) and, I mean, full stop, what better expresses a reader's love than that? At this point, all I can say is : read this book.

4.5 stars

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.
Profile Image for Dilek VT.
1,543 reviews1,405 followers
January 27, 2023
Well, I am sorry but... what did I read? What even is this book?

Has it been written to torture us mortals who seek some pleasure in reading or to make us hate reading during this journey?

I picked up this book because the blurb was interesting and I thought the concept was new and intriguing. However, the way it is written is pure torture – very cruel, indeed.

I tried to make sense but most of the time, it was confusing, weird and ridiculous. I was lost in the absurdity of it all.

Such a shame indeed because it sounded so very promising.


The heroine, Meg, is a writing specialist. She is obsessed with letters (the font, the size, the style etc). Letters speak to her and she sees letters in her own mind in various ways that are sometimes the signs of certain things.

She prepares wedding invitations in handwriting and one day she leaves a hidden message in one of her client's wedding program and the message was: M-I-S-T-A-K-E.

The couple never marries and nearly a year later, the man who was supposed to marry comes and asks her how she knew it was a mistake. She immediately remembers the handsome guy from past year.

Reid is a quant (quantitative analyst) and he is good with math and numbers. He found the code hidden in the program she wrote. Meg is surprised to see that gorgeous but strange man again.

Reid is too serious and too stoic most of the time. He also looks sad but she is still interested in him. It all changes when they start to interact, though.

First, a friendship develops between them while they play games with the signs, letters and numbers; then, a sweet kind of love begins between these two quirky people.

The letters, they work on me sometimes. When I’m stressed, when I’m tired, when I’m lonely. When I’m blocked . . . I can’t draw at all, or when I try—I end up saying too much.


The thing is, the letters don’t always tell me truths about myself. Sometimes they tell me truths about other people, and Reid Sutherland is— was —one of those people.

This could totally have been an awesome romance book if it were written in another way. The writing ruins it all.

The complicated, boring and confusing stuff that takes almost half of the book until the romance starts may cause lots of readers to drop the book. I didn’t drop because I was hell bent on satisfying my curiosity, not because I liked it. I only liked it when they fell in love, and it was a short part of the book. Then the FBI thing started. Yeah.. weird book, I told you…

I can’t make you understand how weird it was without giving examples. So, here you are some quotations from the 1st half of the book.

Right now, it’s just me and this word, M-A-Y, and it should be easy.

Sans serif, bold, all caps, no frolicking.

I feel those letters doing their work on me. Telling me truths I don’t want to hear.


M-A-Y, I think, in the pause he leaves there. Flat, flat, flat.


“You don’t like New York?”
“I hate New York.”

It almost makes me recoil, the way he’s said this. Bold, sans serif. No caps, but italics for the hate.


I keep walking, head up, and I feel as if I’m counting, noticing signs I’ve never looked at before, and that’s saying something. It soothes me in the same way it did back then, when I learned the city by walking it, by paying attention. I learned neighborhoods letter by letter, sign by sign. It’s how I got inspired.


Maybe I can remember that every single letter I draw is a sign. No reckless, inappropriate codes necessary. I need to get out here again, walk the streets, see the signs, remember what really brought me to lettering in the first place. Inspiration for this new job, some bonus content for my social media. A series of walks, inspired by the city’s best hand-lettered signs. A bit of research and planning, the warmer months coming—it’s something, something to help me get unblocked.


His profile, even at a distance, is ridiculously handsome. I subtract a few letters from that word that’s been haunting me. His face looks like the word swoon.


I enjoyed watching you work.

I love that word, enjoyed. It sounds small and polite, but it contains something big, passionate.

In my head I see it as it should be, I think. The en- and the - ed should be small, but sturdy. Like bookends, or like hands, supporting something that’s lean and tall, but fragile and new. A fawn’s legs. J-O-Y.

We’d picked something easy for our first try at Reid’s game idea. Each of us, we’d decided, would have to try to find versions of all the letters in the other’s name, Reid including his middle name—Hale, from his mother’s side of the family, he tells me—to even things out. The rules were simple: no using the same sign for more than one letter, and nothing that’s not hand-lettered.


“You should choose one of the letters,” Reid says, interrupting my thoughts. I blink away from the coffee shop and look up at him. “Choose one, and do one of our names, or—a month name, for your project. All from that one letter’s style. Another game.”


The lowercase a that’s pictured on my phone is strange, misshapen. It’s a double-storey, the kind of a with a hook-and-eye look to it that’s common in roman fonts but uncommon in handwriting.

But where most double-storey a's have a circular counter, this one’s counter is triangular, made that way by the odd proportions elsewhere in the letter. Flat along the bottom, thick and blocky outlines, not at all consistent or familiar.

I’m surprised he picked it—orderly, well-shaped Reid—but I’m not displeased.


Doing our names had been easy, obvious, safe. I could suggest something similarly bland—spell out your birthday month, or the name of your first pet. But that feels ludicrously like the beginnings of an identity theft scheme, and anyway, I find myself wanting to have a different kind of conversation with Reid.


“Don’t,” he replies. I see the word in my head, shaped as a set of double doors closing— D-O on one side, N-T on the other. A tiny sliver of space between, narrowing and narrowing as they shut in my face.


I let them know I’ll return shortly, taking one final look at the treatments from this more distant angle. I’m proud of how they turned out—the sleek, upturned serifs reminding me of Sibby’s favorite winged-eyeliner look, the extra-tall ascenders on the complementary cursive reminding me of Elijah’s height.

Anyone who looks closely would see the hidden message here, the only one that matters: Someone who knows Sibby and Elijah—someone who loves them—created these letters.

Please... Please tell me. Is it me only who finds this stuff weird?


I wanted to DNF this book a million times but then, skipping a few pages when it was too much, I went on reading just to see how the romance would make me feel.

Up until 50%, there is NO romance. When a relationship slowly begins between the main characters, it gets better. At least, the book sounds less like Handwriting 101 coursebook from that point on. Still, I had a hard time understanding their sign games, or letter/number games.

In a book like this, the first kiss and the first sex was “Wow"… It was intense, emotional and hot. I thought for a moment there if the writer was confused and mistakenly put the chapters of another book here.

Let me give you some good quotations from their romance.

“I realized I’m not always honest with you.”
“But you… you always say what you mean.”
“I don’t. Because if I did— if I did, I would say that last week I watched every video you’ve got on your website so I could hear the sound of your voice again. I would say that a woman stood next to me on the subway and I think she used the same shampoo as you, and I could hardly breathe for how much I missed you. I would say that I walked around all day with a Meg-shaped shadow beside me, and I only came in here because of the signs outside, and so I wouldn’t call you up at nine o’clock on a Friday night and beg you to talk to me again—about Frisbee, the weather, the name for that piece of a letter you told me about…”


“I wanted to be around you. You’re the only person here who doesn’t treat me like I’m a calculator. When I’m around you, I don’t think about numbers. It’s a relief.”


“I don’t want to stop seeing you,” he adds. “I’d see you any way you wanted. Only the walks, if that’s all I can have.”

It’s not all you can have.

The thought is immediate, but I say nothing, not yet. “It’ll probably never work,” I say quietly, but I also desperately, desperately want him to convince me. “We’re total opposites.”

The hand that’s not holding mine reaches out, and Reid sets a gentle finger to one of the buttons on my jacket. “Letters, numbers,” he says, a familiar beat to the words, as though he’s saying po-tay-to, po-tah-to. “They’re not so different.”

I raise my eyes to his, and I’m not sure when we managed to get so close. Close enough that I can see the red-blond stubble along his jaw, close enough that I can smell my soap on his skin. “Both codes,” he adds.


“You seem nervous.”
I blink up at him, then close my eyes again and shake my head, feel those fingers stroke, patient and soothing, against me. Of course he’d know. Of course he can read every code, every sign my body leaves for him.


In my mind there’s a gorgeous, dangerous L taking shape, swooping across my thudding, happy heart, looping behind and around it, catching it unaware, holding it fast and tight.
In a sort of desperate, surprised panic, I clutch at Reid’s sides, pulling him closer to me, relieved when the bolt of pleasure I get from feeling the full length of him inside of me scatters the rest of those too-soon letters from my mind as if they’re pencil shavings I’ve blown from the page.


“You hate New York,” I say.
“It’s growing on me.”
“I think you have to love it to stay.”

I see my words float up to the place where we’re both staring. It wouldn’t be difficult at all, to hide something in them. It’s all there, after all, everything I’m not really saying, everything I’ve been trying not to let myself think. The I, the love, the you. The stay.


“For most of my life, whenever I wasn’t with my family, I felt, somehow, mistaken. Mistaken as cold or rude or boring or distant. All my best intentions, in school, at work—mistaken. But you were the first person in this city who made me feel I was more.”


As you see, the romance was good but after the romance and intimacy scenes, the book changes direction again and FBI/conspiracy theme starts. Thank God, it doesn’t last too long.

Actually, the book is Handwriting 101 coursebook first, romance in the middle and mystery in the last part.

I still don’t know WTF the epilogue referred to in the last 3 pages.

Don’t worry, it is a happy ending, they are together and in love.


I had such expectations about this book and I am sorry to say that this book felt like a joke to me. I am glad that some people really loved it because that means the book wasn’t a torture for them – sadly, it was to me.



The book can be divided into 2:

First 50% - The weird and boring stuff about letters, signs etc. --> Sorry, but zero points

Second 50% - Romance + Mystery --> 2 out of 2,5 stars


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Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
February 5, 2020
4.5 stars.

Love Lettering was a slow-burn rom-com that snuck up on me and grabbed my heart!

First of all, I’ve got to say that this book wins for the most unusual professions of its main characters. Meg is a designer who specializes in hand lettering—she does in journals, planners, signs, cards, etc., and has even been called "The Planner of Park Slope"—and Reid is a quant, or quantitative analyst. (He’s a numbers guy in the finance world.)

Meg met Reid about a year ago when she was finishing up all of the printed material for his wedding. Something about that encounter and the dynamic between Reid and his fiancée compelled her to sneak a secret message of warning into their wedding program, amidst the frills, flowers, and fairies. No one will notice, right?

A year later Reid returns, and wants to know how Meg knew that his marriage was doomed to fail. (Of course he found the message. He finds patterns and signs every day.) Of course, Meg is most worried what Reid's discovery—and the possibility of him going public with it—could do to her career.

They couldn’t be more different from one another. But with a major deadline looming and her creativity blocked, Meg tries to enlist Reid into noticing the beauty of letters, fonts, and signs throughout New York City and Brooklyn. As the tension between them thaws, her creativity flows again.

But both are tightly wound, heavily guarded people, unwilling and unable to let the other in. And when a scandal erupts, both must decide whether signs point to a future together or apart.

"The point is...sometimes fighting isn't about leaving, it's about staying. It takes practice to get it right, and it's painful, but if you want to stay with people, you do it."

This book was enjoyable and unique in many ways, even as it followed the traditional rom-com patterns. I loved the juxtaposition between the creative and the analytical, and Meg and Reid's relationship really seemed believable. This one isn’t too steamy (one or two scenes but that’s it) but the whole story, and Kate Clayborn's storytelling, are just so appealing.

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2019 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2019.html.

Check out my list of the best books of the decade at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-favorite-books-of-decade.html.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for emma.
1,825 reviews48.4k followers
March 9, 2020
Y’all know where I can meet and befriend a professional calligrapher with a cute Brooklyn apartment and great style?

Or, perhaps - and hear me out here - a nerdy but extremely hot math guy who is emotionally available and ready to take long scavenger hunt walks around New York at any time?

Asking for a friend.

Also, their names should be Meg and Reid, respectively. Thanks.

This was just so cute and fun. I loved Meg (my new calligrapher best friend) and I was so invested in her life and everyone in it.

Also, it was nice that this didn’t follow the typical romcom structure of 150 pages of getting to know you flirting then kiss then some happy fun times then OH NO DISASTER then 50 pages of disaster then recovery then book ends.

I mean, I do love that structure. Drama > happily ever after any day.

But this worked too.

Plus this had my favoritest rom com thing ever: friendships that grow and change in addition to romantic relationships. Yay friends :):):)

Bottom line: For some reason many months ago I had a feeling I would like this, and then it came out and I read it and I did! Hurray for my newfound psychic abilities!


in a word: swoon.

review to come / 4 stars


just sat down to read a bit of this and accidentally read 100 pages.

Profile Image for Alexis Hall.
Author 51 books10.8k followers
January 25, 2022
Source of book: Bought by me
Relevant disclaimers: None
Please note: This review may not be reproduced or quoted, in whole or in part, without explicit consent from the author.

I think this book might be polarising? And the thing is, it definitely has elements that don’t quite come together for me. But mostly? Overwhelmingly? I loved it. LOVED it. It just … spoke to me. It really, really spoke to me in a way that’s sufficiently personal that everything else falls away. Which is not to say, I hasten to add, that I’m comfortable with the idea that not liking this book to the degree I do (or, indeed, at all) makes you a bad person or a bad reader or a bad reviewer. We all bring our own stuff to books and have our own reactions to them: as long as those reactions aren’t manifestations of bigotry or other problematic expressions of privilege then … that’s okay? To me, for a book to work, there have to exist in the world people it doesn’t work for. I mean, obviously books shouldn’t set out to deliberately offend and alienate but it’s simply not possible to create art that is universally loved. That shouldn’t even be the goal. I think might be possible to create art that most people kinda feel on the positive side of indifferent to? But no: the fact that this book doesn’t speak to some people in the way it speaks to me just means the author committed to her own text. She took risks. And that’s the thing, Kate Clayborn is a risky writer. Not in a flashy, look at me, I so maverick kind of way. But in the laser-like precision of her characterisation and her willingness to allow things to be complex and subversive and messy. It’s one of the many reasons I lose my ever-loving shit over her work.

Anyway the deal is that the heroine Meg is a calligrapher (hand letterer? Is that a word?) whose design skills have brought her a certain amount of fame in New York, drawing wedding stationary, individualised planners etc. But despite her growing success, all is not as well as it seems with Meg: she has the option to pitch a concept to a major planner company called Make It Happyn (which is just a *chef’s kiss* name for a fake planner company) but is suffering from quite a severe creative block, on top of which she’s dealing with a certain amount of estrangement from her parents and her best friend and roommate has grown accountably cold to her in recent months. Into this slightly tense life situation comes Reid Sutherland, a man Meg met a year earlier while designing wedding stationary for his then-fiancée. One of Meg’s, err, somewhat unfortunate habits is doodling secret messages into her work, something she tries to suppress, but confronted with what was clearly a failing relationship she traced ‘mistake’ into the whimsical design of the programme. Her code-doodling is not something anybody has ever noticed, but Reid (now separated from his former fiancée) wants an explanation. And, yikes, I do not envy whoever wrote the back cover copy for this book because that’s A LOT.

What follows is a beautifully-evoked and tentative friendship between—it quickly becomes clear—two deeply lonely people. Reid is buttoned up and closed down, miserable in New York, and apparently hating his high-powered job in finance. Meg, of course, desperately needs inspiration. And so together they go to explore the city’s history of public signage as a way to help Meg plan her pitch to Make It Happyn and show Reid that New York isn’t as terrible as he believes it to be.

There’s SUCH a lot of interesting stuff going on in this book. From a certain perspective the book’s motifs are almost too-close to the surface—the heroine sees the world in fonts and signs, the hero is a numbers guy—but they’re worked so deeply into the characters that it never felt artificial or too much, at least to me. On top of which it’s a theme that feeds both directly and indirectly into what I’m inclined to see as an interrogation of gender codes that can be traced through much (all?) of Clayborn’s work. Because *obviously* it’s not as simple as Man Do Numbers Because Practical and Woman Do Letters Because Emotional (which would be utter bollocks, in any case): Love Lettering is about language, about how we communicate, about how the world shapes those communications (for example while Meg is certainly whimsical, creative and sunshiny she’s also painfully aware to the degree to which some it is also performance: her need to defuse tension and avoid confrontation partly preference and partly social conditioning) and how falling love is an act of communication that transcends the restrictions of our (inescapably gendered) cultural context.

Obviously that’s …er … that’s the sort of thing I dig the crap out of it. And it works so beautifully, not just as a love story that unique and particular to Meg and Reid, but as an exploration of some fundamental truths about love that feel—well, feel to me—universal.

Let me just add, while I’m trying to navigate this book without spoiling it, I really love the way Clayborn writes her heroes. Obviously the role of the hero, especially in m/f romances, is quite complicated in the sense that we come back to the whole co-protagonist versus subject-of-desire dealio that I’ve spoken about before. Obviously those aren’t oppositional categories (if your love interest isn’t desirable something has gone pete tong somewhere along the line) and I am certainly not complaining about the reality of heroes who exist only to reflect upon the worth of the heroine (“Lord Syphilis had pierced the virgin core of sixty gazillion women but none had inflamed his loins like prim little Miss Neversuck”) or as kind of … achievement unlocked rewards for the heroine on her journey towards self-actualisation and personal fulfilment. I mean, given so much of what is presented to the world as “default” literature involves female characters breasting breastily through the narrative, it would be beyond hypocritical to get lecturesome about the objectification of men in romance. The problem is, such characters—while they are definitely fulfilling an important role in particular stories and for particular readers—aren’t presented as potential spaces of identification: even when they have interior monologue, it’s usually 80% the heroine’s nipples, 10% directionless manrage, 3% protective thoughts towards a sibling, and 7% uncontrolled erection.

Clayborn’s heroes though? Even if we’re not in their POV, they always seem like fully three-dimensional people, created with the same care, depth and compassion as the heroines. Is that a necessary feature of a romance? Not remotely. But, God, it’s nice when it’s there. And what I find extra fascinating about this in Clayborn’s case is that she uses her unexpectedly complicated men to reflect upon … I suppose I’d call it, at the risk of sounding like I need to be holding forth on a Reddit forum somewhere … the challenges of masculinity and the limitations of its portrayal within the romance genre. I mean, not to spoil a SECOND Kate Clayborn book, but take Aiden from Luck of the Draw: when we first meet him he seems like a typical taciturn genre alpha, sullen, resentful and completely shut off from his emotions. But—again without going into too much detail—we soon learn that what’s come perilously close to breaking Aiden isn’t a lack of emotion, it’s too much emotion. While being a very different kind of character Reid, too, seems at first glance to be a very typical genre archetype: private and distant, remorselessly practical, reserved to the point of repression. But as Meg learns to read Reid’s “signs” (oh GAWD, I just noticed he’s literally called Reid. Well-played, Kate Clayborn, well played) she starts to catch glimpses of another man beneath this performance of masculine reticence. Like Aiden, Reid is not who he seems to be. And, like Aiden, the reality of him is far more interesting, far more romantic, than the trope he originally seems to represent.

Of course, books are complex entities, and this is an ambitious one so it’s not … like flawless. Although, to me, what it achieves far outstrips the minor niggles I can find to poke at with my minor niggle poking stick. I guess, there’s a couple of plot elements that I don’t feel are completely necessary (Reid punches a guy, I think, to prove to the reader he’s masculine enough to do punching? I don’t know) and I think relationship between Meg and her parents could have worked just fine without the additional element of biological parentage thrown into it. Obviously I’m looking at this from the perspective of someone whose concept of family is very much disconnected from, err, genetics but it just felt ill-thought through. Obviously learning something about your family, especially as it pertains to your role in it, that you didn’t know previously is going to be shocking and potentially feel like betrayal: but Meg had plenty to feel betrayed about in that family without the “twist” of parentage thrown in. Plus there’s a queer person who is on page for all of three seconds, and her entire role is going HEY I’M A QUEER TO PROVE QUEERS EXISTS (when she should be a wee bit more focused on, y’know, the actual job she’s doing right then?) Obviously I’m all for representation but the line between representation and tokenism is … well. It’s a line. It’s thin by definition.

And also I’m … err … I’m not the biggest fan of Clayborn’s sex scenes. For books that are so very interested in the way gender is constructed and navigated, they’re often slightly character-less and somewhat heteronormative in what feel like unexamined ways. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s not more heedlessly heteronormative than most of the m/f books I read and banging on about heteronormativity in m/f books the majority of whose audience is going to be, um, heterosexual feels ungenerous. But I think it stands out noticeably to me in Clayborn’s books because it’s SUCH a contrast to the surrounding material: it’s like every time she has to write a sex scene she descends to her basement in order to consume the special serum that releases her heteronormative alter ego to then rampages through her draft, leaving her with no memory of what scenes where added in when the serum wears off. It makes me wish that there was less scrutiny given to the existence or non-existence of sex scenes in the genre as a whole: for me personally, I’d rather have no sex scenes than sex scenes that feel forced or under-characterised.

Take this one. The moment Reid and Meg get bangsome, Meg admits to Reid that she has trouble orgasming with a partner: so far, so good, I mean, I wish it wasn’t a character note that existed solely for the sex scene but, well, okay? In any case, things start out really nicely with both characters communicating a lot, and Reid being sort of slightly stern but very respectful, and Meg embracing the vulnerability and exposure that comes from expressing her desires. She eventually gets off this way, and it feels sweet and authentic, and Reid very properly says he’s cool to call it there. At which point Meg is suddenly “actually, no, I, a woman who has never experienced orgasm with a partner except just now, have an abrupt desire for missionary penis-in-vagina sex, from which I shall come internally and simultaneously with no further stimulation, and it will be the best sex I’ve ever had.” I mean, I’m not objecting to this fictional woman’s second orgasm, but the end of the scene felt like it solely existed for the sake of the perceived audience expectation (PIV sex: check, best sex ever: check, g-spot orgasm: check, simultaneous orgasm: check, magic penis: check) than because it seemed authentic to the characters or necessary to the story.

Hmm, I just realised this is a non-ideal stopping point for those people who haven’t read the book yet, as it’s minor grumbling. So here are some other things I find super well-done in Love Lettering that I rarely see explored in the genre elsewhere:

1. Creativity as labour: one of the most interesting things about Meg as a creative heroine struggling with inspiration is that get to see her WORK. Like actually work on overcoming her block, revise her ideas, think about how she wants to shape her art to meet the opportunities presented to her. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places, but I usually see “creativity” portrayed as this abstract force, like in the old Sex and the Cities where SJP would sit cross-legged at her laptop waiting for a pithy question to strike her out of nowhere. Usually creative blocks are presented as insurmountable and uncontrollable, something you have to wait out in a state of self-destruction depression until your natural genioos reasserts itself. There was something that felt really refreshing to me in Meg, refreshing and recognisable both.

2. Heroine is a businesswoman who can, y’know, run her own business. So often the dynamic I see when the heroine is running a small and quirky business is that she’s an arty creative type who needs a NUMBERS MAN PERSON to unite forces with her and save the corner bookshop or Mom’s bakery or whatever. Meg and Reid actually have a moment of conflict where he (out of social discomfort I should add, rather than arrogance) tries to ‘fix’ her business by offering advice about pensions and insurance. In the end, though, he finds a way to help Meg in the way she needs—by joining her in pursuit of her inspiration—while she runs her own damn business, thank you very much.

3. Meg is, at one point, on her period, which leads to her having a crap time attempting to wander the city with Reid. Reid handles it with awkward solicitousness, being neither horrified nor, like, Super Period Man.

4. Clayborn is, in general, so good as presenting male vulnerability without fetishising it. Again, I don't want to earn my BA in Hypocrisy by digging too deeply into the fetishisation of men in the romance genre and obviously there's nothing wrong with enjoying, y'know, the whole alpha on his knees / hero grovel thing. But Clayborn has a way of allowing her men to be flawed and vulnerable to her heroines in a way that feels very *human*: it invites empathy rather than, you know, consumption. Reid is no different here: he has some truly lovely moments of tenderness and vulnerability, especially in retrospect when we, too, have learned to--ahem--read him.

On top of which, I have big warm feelings for New York in general and Love Lettering is, heh, among many other things a love letter to that city. It also just one of the most breathtakingly romantic books I’ve ever read: Reid is so careful with his words, that when he offers them they hit with the force of Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball. Oof. So, err. Yes. If any of these catches you in your heart place, you should probably read Love Lettering. Thank you and goodnight.

Profile Image for Bibi.
1,282 reviews3,268 followers
October 12, 2021
Oh, the joy of our heroine, Meg, introspecting on the profundity of fonts, alphabets and other zany lettering things.

I must say that I myself love a good Baskerville bold font. Really gets the blood pumping.
Profile Image for Anne Bogel.
Author 7 books54.8k followers
October 29, 2020
I just realized I never reviewed this! I loved it and was thrilled to include it in the 2020 Modern Mrs Darcy Summer Reading Guide.

Hand-letterer Meg designs custom journals and sees the world in fonts and signs. She also sees the signs other people miss, like the time she wove a secret message into a doomed couple’s wedding invitations. She didn’t count on the groom to actually notice—or for him to track her down a year later and demand answers.

I especially enjoyed how this novel weaves typography and long walks through NYC into the fabric of the story, and the prominent theme of female friendship.

Heads up for a few open-door scenes.
Profile Image for Tina.
511 reviews795 followers
March 4, 2021
Love Lettering was a Hoopla library audiobook I listened to. I thought the premise was intriguing and very unique. I'm not sure if I would have enjoyed this one more if I'd actually read it. The narration was ok but seemed a little bland. The story was sweet but started off a little slow. It did pick up and I was surprised by the little twist near the end. I was not expecting that and it added to my enjoyment of the story.
Profile Image for Christy.
3,815 reviews32.4k followers
March 20, 2020
4 stars

 photo F47EADAD-6CF5-45C2-92DF-F41771C9184C_zpsewoojsaj.png

The thing is, the letters don’t always tell me truths about myself. Sometimes they tell me truths about other people, and Reid Sutherland is— was —one of those people.
Love Lettering is the first book I’ve read by Kate Clayborn and I really enjoyed it. It had a unique premise, and though it took me a while to get invested in the story, once I did, I devoured it.

Meg and Reid meet in an unconventional way. Meg is a professional at hand-lettering and she did the invitations to Reid’s wedding. Meg put a little something extra in that invitation and thought no one would notice… well, a year later Reid appears and he definitely did.

Reid is a numbers guy. He’s analytical, smart, and standoffish at times. Not your typical romance hero, but I really liked him. I like heroes that aren’t the same alpha male you get in so many romances. I loved watching these two become friends of a sort, and slowly fall for one another. 

What I liked most about this book is that Reid and Meg aren’t like every other hero or heroine you read about. They’re different, in a good way most of the time. Honestly, the one thing that could have made me take this book from ‘I liked it a lot’ to ‘I absolutely loved it’ is being in Reid’s head. I didn’t love being in Meg’s head the entire story. I think this is one of those books where it would have been beneficial to have the male POV as well. 


listened to this book in audio format and it’s narrated by Nicol Zanzarella. This is the first book I’ve listened to narrated by Nicol and she did a great job. The audio book had no issues and I enjoyed listening to it.

Love Lettering was a well written slow-burn romance that I would recommend to anyone looking for a sweet, unique, and witty romance with two quirky characters. 

It feels like floating, like being untethered. Like writing without letters. Like counting without numbers. It feels like love.

Profile Image for human.
640 reviews989 followers
March 22, 2021

This book was basically a love letter to hand lettering and numbers, and if you know me, you'll know that I love hand lettering. Am basically obsessed with it. There really was no surprise that I loved this as much as I did.

I absolutely LOVED Meg and Reid. The way that their relationship grew as they walked through the city and looked for signs was honestly so perfect. They were so fecking cute and wholesome together, to the point where I had a derpy smile on my face the entire time, probably looking something like this:

I also adored Meg's friendship with Sibby. Even though it's obvious that things are changing between them, with Sibby moving out, I love how their friendship evolves over the course of the story. This, too, was incredibly wholesome, and I just loved how they were able to reconcile and learned to stay friends without drifting apart.

Meg herself was actually REALLY funny. I loved her hilarious, internal dialogue, and had such a fun time being able to walk around New York with her thoughts.

The plot was actually really great until about three-quarters in, when things got randomly confusing. There was the whole situation with the FBI, which I honestly felt was incredibly random and sudden. It just happened all of a sudden, and if I'm being honest here, it wasn't expanded upon all too much, either.

The writing was borderline purple prose, but I... enjoyed it?? I'm not even really sure what was going on with some of Meg's descriptions of her script, but it was strangely vivid. Incredibly so. Additionally, there were some smut scenes in the book. They were alright, but I think that the story would have been fine without them.

Overall, this book combined two things that I absolutely love - that is, hand lettering and a cute romance - and absolutely did not disappoint.


i have a weakness for handlettering
i guess that carries over into books as well
Profile Image for preoccupiedbybooks.
458 reviews1,028 followers
January 24, 2021
A charming and emotional love story between an artist, a mathematician, her friends, her art and NYC!

Meg Mackworth is an artist, who creates using letters and words. She makes beautifully creative journals and wedding invites, but sometimes her feelings seep through into her work! When she designed wedding invites for a couple who she thought were doomed, she didn't count on the groom seeing her hidden message, or on him confronting her on it a year later, hugely impacting her life in all areas!

So until this book, I'd had a terrible start to my reading year, with only one book completed! I felt a bit blocked, like Meg in Love Lettering, and couldn't even log onto GR much, sorry guys! I kept starting books, feeling meh, and then watching tv instead 😯At the beginning of this book, I have to admit, I thought it would be the same, as I felt a bit confused. There was a lot of technical descriptions of artistic lettering, very subtle hints about what to come, and I wasn't at all sure abut how the main characters met! BUT I'm so glad that I persevered, because not only did I finish this book, I became really invested!
I loved the imperfect characters, and my heart swelled at Meg's character development, as the story progressed. Her life was a bit of a mess at the start, but I really liked seeing her mature, face things head on, make mistakes, and confront the issues in her life. It is a hard thing to do, and easier to hide, as Meg found out, but was so rewarding to see her work hard at not hiding! Meg was a really likeable character, and I enjoyed reading this from her POV.
Reid was just such an adorable, charming, awkward maths nerd! I loved him so much, and really rooted for both him and Meg, individually, and as a couple, despite them seeming like complete opposites!
Love Lettering was very whimsical, and fonts, lettering and signs played a big part, as did creativity and being blocked, but it was such a unique romance story! The writing won't be for everyone I don't think, the quite repetitive talk about typography, and fonts like sans serif, and the use of swoonsh became quite irritating, but if you can get past that like I did, or have an interest in that, then its definitely worth it!
Similarly to Love at First, my first book by Kate Clayborn, this was a quiet and beautiful book. It was very slow burn, and it did take a while for the romance to get going, but this book snuck up on me and burrowed under my skin! There were only a couple of steamy scenes, but they were well done, and the romance was just so goddamn lovely!

Meg and Reid had great chemistry, banter, and I loved their games around NYC. It was nice to get an insight to the city! I also loved the side characters Lachelle, Cecelia, Lark and Sibby (eventually). There was so much about female friendship here, and I really loved it!

Now, I did love this book, but the plot twist did throw me a little, in that I didn't see it coming at all, and I'm still not sure how I feel about it! Having said that, I did like how it was all resolved, and how the book ended. The whole book was a bit weird, but both characters were a bit weird, so it worked for me🤷‍♀️
Despite the left field plot twist, and all the typography and crafts (really not me), I really did enjoy this, and will remember it for a while. I'm definitely looking up Kate Clayborn's other books that I haven't read!

If you're looking for a romance, which is a bit different, which includes friendships, and characters growing and finding themselves, and their place, then give this a try! 💛💛💛💛
Profile Image for Bookphenomena (Micky) .
2,418 reviews384 followers
April 19, 2020
2.5 stars

I saved this book for when I needed a go-to, guaranteed great romance. I had a number of friends singing it’s praises. Let me tell you, that backfired on me so bad. I’m not here to rant just to tell you why this didn’t work for me.

I was confused when by 20% I just did not get what was going on with this couple. I got that Meg was trying to engage Reid but what did Reid think he was there for? Reid was a super awkward character that I think may have had ASD (just my take, unconfirmed) and I really liked him. However, I felt like a spectator without a translator, missing half of the story and I promise, I was concentrating.

I can say I finally got into this a bit more by 60%, which is too much reading commitment for me to finally feel a bit of something. From there on I did feel chemistry with the MCs but overall, the story fell incredibly flat for me. Reid’s big secret seemed unnecessarily shoe-horned into the story but I’d lost my give-a-damn by then.

I’m sorry I missed what so many found special about this story, but it is what it is, a flop for me.

This review can be found on A Take From Two Cities Blog.
Profile Image for Chloe Liese.
Author 18 books6,552 followers
March 16, 2022
This book was a fresh-concept, gently-paced, tender love story. It felt slow in the best way, an intentional, methodical unfurling that I found very engaging and also...peaceful somehow. I really *really* loved the chemistry between Reid and Meg but I will warn diehard romance readers it takes us a bit to get there and their initial reason for hanging out isn’t a true meet cute—in fact it’s a bit weird. But that works for these two—Reid who is awkward and quiet and pensive, Meg who is hiding so much feeling, blocked creatively, and suffering under the weight of a strained best-friendship.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story about friendship and chosen family, about finding belonging and growing into a fuller expression of yourself as you fall in love. This is a romance I won’t soon forget.
Profile Image for Aisling Zena.
635 reviews462 followers
February 2, 2020
3 stars


I don't know what happened.. I wanted to love this. The concept and blurb sounded so original, they truly intrigued me. Somehow all that excitement fizzled out and I was left deflated. And I still don't really understand how that happened.

The beginning was so promising and made me relate to Meg on so many levels. The loneliness in a new city, the best friend that starts behaving odd without explanation, the fear of confrontation, not wanting to rock the boat in case you drown and so many more. Also the lettering descriptions were original and captivating. I loved how the author took something so visual like lettering and described it in words you could not only follow but picture in your head.

Yet, somehow all the things I loved in the beginning, really bothered me the more I read. By 80% I was very tired of being in Meg's head constantly. Hers was the only POV and we were so deep in her head that at some point I feared that if she went to the loo, we'd read about which fonts she would use to write the word "poo" in her head.. I think that if we had more dialogue it would be better but I see how being in her head so much made her loneliness all the more apparent. But after she started coming out of her shell and meeting new friends or making more solid relationships, the loneliness aspect could have been lifted with more dialogue and less inner thoughts..

Her relationship with Reid also started off great but again somewhere in the middle I couldn't understand how they got together. Reid was mostly stoic and silent with monosyllabic answers to her bubbly questions. I felt she attributed a lot of his character in her head that would not necessarily be there. The chemistry, attraction and passion were not overt. More like a slow undercurrent that never rushes to the surface.

As for her bestie, because I've been there I could interpret the signs and knew why she was pulling away from Meg but I didn't like their eventual confrontation or how the bestie returned at a specific critical moment.

For me the beginning and end were good but the middle just lost me. Please do read other reviews, just because it didn't entirely work for me doesn't mean it wont for you.



April 2019

I'm all for this concept and blurb!! But damn that 2020 publishing date is killing me!

Profile Image for *The Angry Reader*.
1,374 reviews304 followers
November 11, 2019
Have you ever reached 15, 20% in a “romance” book and thought “there’s nothing here for me. I don’t understand these characters. I don’t see myself anywhere?” That happens to me - over and over again. Sometimes a book is just a book - and sometimes it’s more. It sends a message about relationships and how we feel about ourselves and What an author thinks about women and love.

In 2018 I read 253 books. In 2017 I read 299. 2018 had 31 “best of the year” books. 2017 had 36. So about 12% of my reads made it to my “best of” list. This is my 118th book this year. And it’ll be my 35th “best of 2019” book. My rate of awesome book is growing.

I used to devour shifter romances. Vampires. Men who felt it was okay to answer a serious inquire with “babe.” But I grew uncomfortable. I read some articles about reading. I found this cadre of reviewers who wrote reviews that made me feel smart. And heard. And understood. And I started picking different books to read.

Kate Clayborn is the current apex of my reading metamorphosis. An author who clearly likes women - she makes my awkward, worried, 39 year old self feel seen. And loved. Represented.

Meg was quirky. Making bad decisions - mistakes even. She struggled with some ghosts of her past. She was also adorable. Believable. Compelling and smart. I rode every high and every low in this book with her - breath held or grinning ear to ear. There’s something magical about a heroine I can respect - they are scarce on the ground in contemporary romance.

And Reid. Stoic awkwardness is a big fat turn on. Reid had me making heart eyes early on with his rudeness and his discomfort and his tics. Reid was authentic and real and a joy to read.

This is one of the best slow burns I’ve ever read. And also likely the best book I read in 2019. An ode to self-respect and real conversations and doing the right thing and the hard thing and not running away. A book that celebrates intelligence and consent partnership and all the best things about relationships.

I couldn’t put this book down, and I am ecstatic about watching your reviews roll in. I think you all are going to love this.

Profile Image for Sam (AMNReader).
1,259 reviews275 followers
December 6, 2019
When I started reading this book, all I could think of was the phrase killing me softly

This book is full of this quiet angst, the kind you feel everyday in relationships. The kind you relate to, wondering what you did, where you went wrong, if mistakes are really ever forgiven and what they mean. And holy hell, this will be my fourth review of Kate Clayborn where I'm at a loss for what to even say.

It will be a time I say once again why I love her-her inclusiveness as a matter-of-life. Her feminism, quietly shining through the page. Her evolved men who are clearly, incredibly leaders without (and sometimes with) the grunting physical presence. Is that enough? I will mention her settings again. This time, in New York, this time taking in every sign and letter. Relating numbers to letters. As if I didn't love this author enough. Her settings, the characters careers, the secondary characters all speak to make a complete, beautiful, fully alive story. And she twists the knife. Subtly, slowly. And you just get it. You feel it.

But that's not all. Because this is key: She writes extraordinary love stories for basically ordinary people falling in love in ordinary ways. She does so convincingly, quietly....killing us softly.

Reid and Meg burst with courage. They grow because of each other. They explore vulnerabilities, so much so we often take a deep breath with Meg when she begins her direct confrontations. And though I didn't find what Reid was doing much of a mystery, I appreciated the way it was integrated in the story and the conflict it created. It was well done without being sensationalized.

This book is all first person POV, and I didn't mind. I enjoyed getting to know Reid through Meg's open book. Through her loneliness and desperation, and I enjoyed getting to see her friends in the same way.

And despite this, I felt I knew Reid quite well because he was direct. That said, he is easily one of the most unique heroes I've ever read. Reid still felt whole, and I just loved him. I loved everyone in this book. I loved Meg's development and finding her own way. I loved the settings. Her unique job. His unique passion.

Love, Love, Love, it beats.
yep, that about sums it up.

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC. This has not affected my views on this book. I can't wait to get my hard copy, in fact.

November 12, 2019
Syrupy sweet, Love Lettering is a romance with a very, very slow beating heart.

The premise had potential and I really wanted to like it more than I did. The characters are endearing and charming, but the story is bogged down by poor pacing and semi- torturous, long winded inner monologue. I was surprised and blindsided by the sex scene as it seemed to not flow with the rest of the story. Cute and quirky storyline, la la la, then BOOM--hot and heavy. I trudged through and probably would have abandoned this book if it weren't a NetGalley copy. I appreciate the author's effort but the execution of this story left much to be wanted.

2 stars/5

Thank you to NetGalley for granting me a copy for review.
Profile Image for Jenny Jo Weir.
1,545 reviews79 followers
January 27, 2020
I'm most definitely in the minority here, but I just don't get how people like this book. I couldn't connect to any of it. Maybe I'm too realistic...but I love fiction so...IDK.

The best thing about this book was the title. The next best thing was…hmm, nope, I guess that’s the only good thing about it, the title. The entire "game" and "code" thing was over the top ridiculous.

I don’t know if I should be proud of myself for finishing this book or if I should be worried about why I torture myself this way. It took me about 4 times as long to read this book as I normally take. I had to put it down repeatedly to take a breather from the shear joke of it. There were sooooooo many things I didn’t like about this, pretty much the whole thing. I honestly think this book will be the lesson I need to learn to finally allow myself to DNF books. No one should have to endure this nonsense. No one.

No love here.
Profile Image for Astrid - The Bookish Sweet Tooth.
794 reviews876 followers
January 5, 2020

AUTHOR: Kate Clayborn
RELEASE DATE: December 31, 2019
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
THEMES & TROPES: Opposites Attract
RATING: 5 Stars


When I read a sample of LOVE LETTERING a while ago, I knew I had to have this book. Kate Clayborn is a new-to-me author but what jumped right at me was her insane talent to bring multi-faceted characters to life over the course of a couple of pages and from a single point of view. I was so intrigued that I wanted to see if the rest of the story would be able to fulfill the promise.

Meg's whole thought process is built around letters. As a hand-lettering artist that's not surprising but it may distract you at first since she uses graphic design jargon. Fear not, it's not rocket science and if you know a little about fonts this will be fun because visualizing the things Meg saw in her mind became my favorite past time while reading this book. So heads up - this may start out a little slower for some readers.

Meg and Reid are like Yin and Yang. Coffee and milk. Gin and Tonic. Ice cream and cone. You get the gist. Total opposites but perfect for one another. While Meg's creative, loyal and sweet character is being revealed through her thoughts, Reid's needs to be uncovered one layer after another through Meg's experience with him. To him numbers are what letters are to Meg, and if you thought you've read about multi-layered characters, try Reid Sutherland. At the beginning he comes across a bit stuffy, formal sometimes even a little rude and a lot sad but the deeper you get to know him the more his softer, more romantic and playful side becomes apparent. There is an unexpected sweetness to him that just had me fall head over heels for him.
I know that I could have my eyes closed this way and I’d still know Reid’s kiss anywhere, because Reid’s kiss is everything I like about Reid—firm and direct, with a sweetness you have to know to truly recognize.

Meg loves New York as much as Reid hates it. Together they discover the city from a completely different point of view by inventing games they play on their strolls together. And this is where the magic happens - I loved how Meg reflects on everything she does, how willing Reid is to learn Meg's language and how they obviously make each other happy. How Meg, who shies away from conflict in the beginning learns how to confront issues straight on. How this reserved man opens up to her and finds delight and love for the city he couldn't wait to leave in the beginning.
“You’re the best part of this city,” he whispers...

There is no point in the story where you can point at and say that they fell in love right there and then. It's a gradual, slow burn that will have you giddy for all their firsts.

LOVE LETTERING is a clever, beautifully written story that shines and sparkles brilliantly and has so much depth and a lot of sweetness that never gets cloying. I enjoyed the development of Reid and Meg's relationship, the friendships that are an integral part of Meg's life and the twist towards the end, that took me by surprise. This book made me happy, so happy that I went and bought the audiobook. I'll be checking out Kate Clayborn's backlist!
It feels like floating, like being untethered. Like writing without letters. Like counting without numbers. It feels like love.

Profile Image for Blackjack.
424 reviews142 followers
November 25, 2019
As it turns out, my favorite book this year is an arc for 2020. I've enjoyed all of Kate Clayborn's books and she just keeps getting better and better with each one. Love Lettering is my favorite for many reasons, and not least because it is elegantly and intricately written, with each piece of the story falling perfectly into place to illuminate key themes of the life of an artist, of how we navigate our way in the world through visual images, and of how much we rely on visual cues to communicate effectively with loved ones. While the book is at heart as romantic as romance novels get, the romance unfolds slowly and visually and at times made me feel as if I was watching a film -- perhaps just on an aesthetic level, Woody Allen's Manhattan in its ode to falling in love in the great city itself.

In Clayborn's novels I've noticed that the main characters often revere a medium of art and find their way to each other through it, an extended metaphor of art is love and love is art. In Beginner's Luck the main couple discover each other as they restore an old home, taking mutual pleasure in the hunt for the perfect antique knob for a cabinet door. In Best of Luck, the couple fall in love while working together on a photography project. The process of taking the perfect photo leads them deeper into love with each other. Here though in Love Lettering I do think Clayborn interweaves the art and artistic world of calligraphy so thoroughly with the romance that it's impossible to separate the two.

Meg's unique creative work as a calligrapher and Reid's impending marriage and need for a wedding program initially bring them together. They see things in each other in their first meeting that haunt them and haunt much of the plot of the story. Everything, even numbers, become a sign that keeps them continually in each other's orbit as they slowly attempt to build on moments together. At times, especially early in the novel, their interactions range from painfully awkward, hesitant, and even hostile, but it is hard to shake the sense that fascination, attraction, simpatico, ultimately love, and maybe even fate undergird all of their interactions. I felt riveted by each encounter. Each scene builds on the previous on, creating a complex relationship to show us how perfectly Meg and Reid suit each other, even as the characters themselves struggle to understand their connection.

As a former resident of Manhattan, I felt pleasure in the many walks the couple took taking photos of signs and graphic images to try to articulate their feelings and their lives to each other, and yet I also sympathized with Reid's sensory overload living in the city entails. Falling in love with the city ends up becoming as complicated as falling in love with the person. And yet, can I just say how happy I am to read a contemporary urban romance. And in keeping with Clayborn's view of the world, this novel, like all of her books, is peopled with diversity. It's also wonderfully filled with stories of acceptance and forgiveness. She creates a world where women are kind to other women and flaws do not end relationships. She is very much an author who likes and respects women. And finally, many romance authors today are creating wonderfully respectful and loving men. Reid Sutherland is right up there as one of the best. We meet him and get to know him through Meg's eyes, and so we learn along with her how to read all of his signs that make him such a wonderful hero.

In keeping with the theme of this book, I hope my first reading experience of 2020 is a sign & harbinger for what's to come in the new year.💞
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,478 reviews19.3k followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
August 19, 2020
DNF @ 35%: I feel like I've been DNFing books a lot lately, but this one really just didn't grab me the way I was hoping it would. I may give this another chance someday but right now it just feels too bland to bother with. Womp. Onto the next one!
Profile Image for Anna.
157 reviews130 followers
May 12, 2022
When I read this book for the first time, I was on a roadtrip with my family.

I remember people were raving about it on Twitter, so I was like, ‘this seems cute; I'll just download it on my phone and read it in the car’.

So you can see why I was completely taken aback when I was faced with Kate Clayborn's beautiful, magical, lyrical words and her incredibly heartfelt story while stuck in a car, unable to run around screaming about this treasure I had found.

Love Lettering tells the story of Meg Mackworth, a professional calligrapher with the bad habit of sneaking secret messages onto the projects she does for her clients. Her messages would be almost impossible to decode by someone who wasn't looking for them – which makes it very fucking odd that, a year after working on Reid Sutherland and his fiancée's wedding program, he would come looking for her, sans wedding ring, demanding an explanation as to why she hid the word mistake in the invitations she designed for them.

This is, at its core, a book about the beauty of learning how to fight with the people you love and for the people you love. It talks about the pain of friendship break-ups and the difficulty of making the right choices. It talks about the perfect specimen that is Reid Sutherland and his triple-take-face and his genius brain. I just loved every single thing about it.
Profile Image for Geo Marcovici.
1,240 reviews296 followers
August 5, 2020
Translation widget on the blog!!!
O lectură plină de viață, de energie și emoție! Asta am simțit citind Dragostea e scrisă în semne a autoarei Kate Clayborn. O lectură complexă, asemănătoare unui puzzle în care fiecare piesă nou descoperită pare a releva cititorului o nouă enigmă.
Prin intermediul lui Meg, care este personajul principal feminin al romanului, pătrundem într-un domeniu nou, necunoscut pentru mine și totuși, captivant: cel al caligrafiei! Am aflat termeni noi, semnificații ce-mi erau necunoscute până acum, modele ascunse în această tehnică aparte.
O poveste plină de romantism, vibrantă, duioasă. Un cuplu care nu se grăbește spre partea erotică, ci se cunosc mai întâi. Meg și Reid sunt două personaje pe care ajungi să le descoperi și să le îndrăgești treptat, iar povestea lor de dragoste ți se lipește de suflet.

Recenzia mea completă o găsiți aici:
Profile Image for Joanna Loves Reading.
563 reviews215 followers
December 17, 2019
I stayed up late finishing this book. That is a rare occurrence these days. So while I don’t think this was perfect, it was consuming. It was intricate and interesting and unique.

This is the story of Meg, a hand letterer who is having a bit of a mid-life crisis. She has a big career opportunity and is having a creative block and is lonely, with her best friend drifting away. This has a romance but Meg was central to the story as it is told from her POV entirely. I do prefer a less one-sided story with greater interaction between the hero and heroine, but Clayborn weaves magic here and drew me in. Reid, the hero, was lovely. He was shy, reserved, awkward. He was honest, caring and patient. While I loved Meg, I would have enjoyed Reid’s POV too. Their attraction was clear from the start, and how they overcame their self-imposed obstacles was a fun journey.

So, I have been sitting on this review for a week now. And I haven’t been sure what I wanted to say. These things come easy sometimes, others not. I guess it’s a not this time. What I know is that Kate Clayborn is an amazing writer. Her writing moves me in small or significant ways every time I read her stories. This was no exception.

*Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. This is my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,447 reviews7,544 followers
March 12, 2021

Full disclosure: I probably would have never even heard of this book if it hadn’t been part of some “Big Library Read” or something like that last month. While I didn’t participate in any of the online discussions/activities surrounding the group read, I did cash in on the instant gratification of no waiting list for a book that I was almost positive I was going to love.

So the premise here is that Meg is a Manhattan calligrapher who has really made a name for herself and turned what most people do as an Etsy shop into a lucrative business. On the verge of being hired by a national brand that will put her work in stores all over, Meg’s life is going in the right direction. That is, aside from the fact that she and her BFF/roommate seem to be growing apart and Reid, a man whose wedding invitations she designed, appears a year after his scheduled nuptials to point out he caught the little hidden message she put on the announcements of their big day . . . .

Okay, it said “mistake” but obviously if I can find calligraphy that says fart I’m going to use it.

This sounds great, right? Well, it probably will be for many of you, but there was SOOOOOOOOOO much calligraphy talk and I am just basic enough to have a hand-lettered “Gather” sign in my dining room, but not so much to fawn all over the trend more than that. Also, while the meet-cute was original and oh-so-very promising, I never felt any sort of chemistry between the two characters and their budding friendship never felt authentic either. Going around NYC looking at various signs as a game???? Snore. A good thing? That cover. A second good thing? This author has a new book and due to it using a similar title, cover art and hand-lettered-looking title it caught my eye enough to make me read the blurb. And I’ve already put myself on the waiting list. This one didn’t work for me (however it apparently worked for everyone else because it has a whole laundry list of accolades it received), but I’ll gladly give Kate Clayborn a second chance. I only suck half a turtle on this one ; )

Profile Image for Sara the Librarian.
748 reviews323 followers
February 12, 2020
You know what drives me absolutely nuts? Something I call "The Felicity Paradox." That's where you're reading or watching a romantic comedy and the heroine is living this absolutely absurd life that no one in any kind of reality actually lives. Like she's a college student (Felicity) who lives in a "dorm" that is basically a brownstone in the Village and never seems to actually go to any classes but ends up valedictorian. Or she's a quirky "dress designer" or a frazzled but adorable "wedding planner" with some incredible loft office and a quirky gay assistant and clients coming out of her ass and she's brilliant at her job but doesn't see how amazing she is and everything sucks anyway because she's sooooo looonnneeelllyyyy.

And the way dirty, grimy, insane New York gets turned into this magical fairy tale land where the streets sparkle in the rain and Central Park is some kind of damn wonderland where everyone's having a catered goddamn picnic on the worlds most comfortable rock. And everyone is just so hip and amazing and perfectly dressed even if they're at the damn gym or caught by their handsome frickin' next door neighbor in the midst of a Netflix marathon, they'll just happen to be wearing designer yoga pants and an adorable cranberry peasant top while their gorgeous, auburn hair falls adorable awkwardly into their cerulean eyes.

God how I hate The Felicity Paradox.

So the very idea that I would fall immediately and violently in love with Meg Mackworth the hand-letterer who designs custom journals and wedding invitations for the elite of New York is, in and of itself, something of a paradox. The very idea that I should now be longing for her New York with all its beauty and symmetry and signage and wacky bodega owners and perfect little boutique stationary shops and hole in the wall noodle restaurants where the smelly old guy behind the counter has your order ready the second he sees you come in the door, is just a great big goddamn mystery.

Yet here we are. Me, New York, Meg and her hand lettering in a firmly committed relationship for the rest of my damn life.


Honestly though my heart would have to be made of stone not have fallen for this book. Kate Clayborn is a goddamn poet and I defy you to read this and not decide hand lettering is the greatest art form in the known universe. Cause she makes it sound fucking magical. Like I REQUIRE a hand made custom designed journal right this very second! I care about TYPEFACE people! I care so, so much!!!! San Serif foreeevvveerrrr!!!!

Meg is a wonderful, magical artist and a beautiful human creature. She's a little bit broken and very lonely but the way she sees the world, the way she sees New York and the way she loves it makes it so easy to see why someone like Reid Sutherland, a math genius who's about as sad and lonely as she is, would fall almost immediately under her spell. I mean I did and I hate everyone.

The two lonely souls meeting in NYC trope has been done so many times its basically its own damn genre but this feels like the very first time Cinderella was ever read out loud or the first screening of "When Harry Met Sally." It just feels fresh and alive and so romantic.

Meg and Reid meet for the first time because Meg is designing all the letter related details of Reid's wedding to a very perfect NYC socialite. Almost exactly one year later they meet again in the shop Meg helps out in. But Reid isn't there for a paper related one year anniversary gift. He's there to find out how Meg knew that his relationship wasn't going to work out. Because it turns out that sometimes Meg leaves messages in the letters she creates, she just assumed no one else could see them.

From there they build a cautious friendship that slowly, deliciously builds into a very passionate romance. Their chemistry is insane and the sex is...its good guys. Its really, really good. There's an entire scene where she just shows him what she wants him to do and the way he is utterly enraptured and concentrated entirely on being exactly what she needs is...its a lot.

Of course they must overcome some obstacles, no contemporary romance worth its box of chalky heart candy stamped with naughty words would leave out some bumps in the road. But there's a strength in the relationship they build throughout the story that makes it hard to doubt they'll find their way through the thornier bits. Though these thorny bits are a doozy that I did not see coming!

This is also a story that gets into other kinds of love. Meg's loneliness isn't the kind of thing that can be fixed just with a strong man in her life. She spends almost as much time navigating the difficult road of a changing long term friendship and trying to make connections with people she's always kept at a distance in a misguided attempt to keep herself safe from loss. Those characters are equally wonderful and nuanced rather than the typical "token black friend" and "gay guy with string of increasingly weird boyfriends."

Kate Clayborn's writing is all kinds of meandering and sweet. Its writing to get very lost in, which I did and which caused me to take slightly longer than fifteen minutes breaks and stay up way too late because I simply did not want to put this down. Its a slightly underbaked brownie with vanilla ice cream and a marathon of Spike's best Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes (Once More With Feeling huh? am I right? how much am I dating myself right now?) and falling asleep to a spring rain outside your window knowing that you don't have to go to work the next day. Its all that's right in contemporary romantic fiction. Its good, beautiful story telling.

Everything about this book is romantic magic.
Profile Image for b.andherbooks.
2,092 reviews924 followers
July 29, 2020
What can I say about Love Lettering? The writing is so gloriously evocative of the craft of the heroine that I dreamt in script? That I almost wore out the highlight button on my Kindle? That Reid and Meg have my heart?

I fell in love with Kate Clayborn's writing with the Chance of a Lifetime series and this book just cements her place as an important voice in the Romance genre.

Thank you to the publisher for the ARC. I will write a better review when I have collected my feelings!

Okay so I'm still having trouble putting my thoughts together in to a coherent review, but honestly just go read the on Aarya Marsden wrote over on Smart Bitches. It is brilliant. I'm just here to say I love this story so absolutely much AND that the audiobook is perfection. The wonderful narrator makes Meg and Reid's raw loneliness and their slow-burn chemistry absolutely come alive. Hearing Reid's "Good." is UNF.

Reread for my book to art club. I started with the Meg goes to find Reid at Swine scene and couldn't stop. I love these two with my whole heart.
Profile Image for captain raccoon..
238 reviews114 followers
December 30, 2019
Probably going to be pelted with rotten fruit and veg by romancelandia for not unequivocally loving this but whateverrrrrr.

So what happened here? It was like I read a book of two parts. The first part (which was almost 50%) I thought was excellent and easily going the way of 5 stars. I loved Meg; loved getting to know her. I loved the way her job was written about, and the way you can be doing well, know you’re good at what you do, but still not be satisfied. She had relationships independent of the one with Reid. Basically she was allowed to have a life. The writing was beautiful and made everything feel so warm and lovely and real. And the feels, omg. So plentiful. There was just lots of really, really good stuff in the first part.

Then… God, I don’t know. But something changed. Where the writing was beautiful, it then became something I noticed the tense it was written in. Reid went from being someone I was intrigued by, to someone I wanted Brock Lesner to send to Suplex City. And Meg? My wonderful, wonderful Meg? I went from thinking I knew her to being baffled about her choices. The disconnect between the two parts was such that I did wonder if the second part was rewritten.

The first red flag about this going from a 5 star read to… not, was how irritated I got about the first sex scene. Something that’s become a pet peeve of mine in cishet m/f romances is when heroines have some sort of sex hang-up, only for that hang-up to be magically banged out of them (or into? if it’s a matter of never having had an orgasm) by the hero’s magical dick. Here, Meg has some problems when it comes to orgasming which ceases being a problem once she has sex for the first time with Reid. Because OF FUCKING COURSE. God forbid Meg’s allowed to know her own body. Or have good sex prior to Reid. Or continue to not always have an easy time of it when it comes to coming and for that to be treated as something that’s, you know, actually probably fine?

I also didn’t enjoy the whole Meg & Sibby thing. Initially I really loved that we got to see what it can be like when a close friendship is breaking. The confusion and hurt Meg felt was painful to read, with the way it was written feeling relatable. Even when the inevitable showdown between the two revealed some jealousy pertaining to Meg having a successful career and seemingly not needing to be so reliant on Sibby (because OF FUCKING COURSE women have to be jealous of each other), I was still on board because after clearing the air, Meg & Sibby going in different directions felt like the right thing for the both of them. Then when The Big Thing with Reid happens (which I will get to later), and Sibby comes back to Meg, I felt… unsettled about it? I think Sibby coming back was done with the intent of having it seem like she was showing up for Meg when it mattered? But... I didn’t see it like that. It felt to me like Sibby came back purely because Meg’s life/career was in chaos, which meant she and they could assume the roles they had prior to things falling apart. Speaking from experience, a friendship like what I feel theirs was isn’t one that’s sustainable. It just can’t be if there’s such an emotional imbalance and one-sidedness. Basically I finished Love Lettering feeling as though I was leaving Meg entrenched in a toxic friendship.

When you read a lot of queer books, especially by queer authors, it’s maybe a little easier to spot the difference between a genuine attempt at inclusiveness and token diversity in non queer books. And with the introduction of a minor queer character (and she really was very minor), I felt Love Lettering was guilty of token diversity. When your only queer character can be described as a “queer special agent”, and queer can be replaced by any other word relating to a marginalised person without it changing the character—then that’s not being inclusive. It just comes across more like you want cookies for being seen to be inclusive but without actually bothering to treat that person like an actual person and fleshing out their character. It was so poorly done and I really hated that a book which had so much warmth and heart at times did that.


It’s very apparent early on that he has a secret—but Jesus Christ on a cracker did I hate what it was. My reaction was very much influenced by how much I hate deception. And look. I get the seriousness of what Reid was hiding and that legally he wasn’t allowed to talk about what was going on. BUT. He still had the option to (a) not start anything romantically with Meg in the first place, (b) of calling things off when ~feelings became a thing, or (c) calling things off once he learned that Meg had grown up being lied to and the impact that lying had on her life. What added to my anger was the ripples from what Reid was hiding ended up affecting Meg’s career. Yes, he couldn’t have predicted it but there was always going to be consequences borne from that level of deception, and not knowing what those might have been didn’t give him a pass, imo. Alsoooo. I hated that instead of his deception being something he explained to Meg’s face, it was done via a letter and what he said was enough for Meg to be okay. I mean. Ugh. I get the author was likely going for symbology? But when a portion of the book was spent with Meg trying to learn how to fight in the right way (argument-wise and not fisticuff-wise), her being denied a grovel she was owed not only allowed Reid to wriggle off the hook, but it also made a part of the book redundant. I personally wouldn’t have been able to forgive what he did, but nowhere near enough was done to show why and how Meg was able to.

I think there’s a lot to like about Love Lettering—it did a lot right. I can see why readers do/will love it. But the second half of the book went in directions that made it hard for me, personally, to believe a solid relationship could be built on such deceptive foundations, and that in turn meant I didn’t believe in Meg & Reid’s HEA.

arc provided by the publisher via netgalley
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