Jasmine Guillory’s By the Book is pure magic. The newest book in the Meant to Be series, part of Disney’s Hyperion Avenue imprint, features a whimsical and incredibly creative spin on a beloved tale when publishing assistant Izzy finds herself trying to inspire a grumpy writer to deliver his book.
Izzy started out as an optimistic young editorial assistant, happy to be part of the publishing world. As one of the few Black employees, she was intent on making the most of her dream job. Soon enough, though, she started to see that her dream job wasn’t going anywhere and she was increasingly unhappy. The opportunity to meet with the reclusive writer could be the opportunity she needs to show her boss she’s ready for more.
Beau Towers is standoffish and rude. He’s been locked away in his mansion in Santa Barbara, ignoring pleas from Izzy’s boss to write the book that he’s under contract to deliver. He’s also hiding some deep pain that prevents him from letting anyone get too close.
When Izzy arrives, her hopeful optimism starts to fade when she encounters the walls that Beau keeps putting up in front of her. However, after a while they both start to see that there may be something there that wasn’t there before…
Beauty and the Beast references abound in this charming story. Izzy’s publishing house, for example, is Tale as Old as Time Publishing. Some of the references are obvious while others are so tongue in cheek you can’t help but smile.
One of the recurring themes of By the Book is the importance of perspective. The key to understanding other people lies in seeing, acknowledging and respecting their perspective. Izzy and Beau come from very different places. They think they have each other figured out in the span of those precious seven seconds it takes to form an opinion of someone. But when they stop and really listen to each other, they discover they have more in common than not.
Jasmine Guillory sprinkles Disney magic throughout By the Book. If ever there was a movie made from one of Hyperion Avenue’s books, it’s this one. Izzy and Beau’s story is so magical, you’ll be rooting for them until the very end.
If you’d like to read more in the Meant to Be series, check out Julie Murphy’s 2021 novel If the Shoe Fits, the first book in the series.