Dinner and a Movie: Love by the Book (with Sweet Valley Cameos!)

We're continuing our Dinner and a Movie Valentine's week with another amazing book-themed Hallmark recap, Love by the Book. Be sure to enter our Sun Basket giveaway so you have the chance to cook something delicious, and then settle in for some amazingness.

We open on “THE PAST” – and two little girls playing by a pond of ducks. It’s very idyllic. The sisters, Emma and Jane, play princesses. Emma’s waiting for her man.

And suddenly it’s THE PRESENT. They’re grown up and meeting for breakfast. Jane and her man Greg have news to tell Emma — they’re engaged! The ring is not fancy, you guys. They’re getting married in one month at Greg’s family reunion. Emma’s face tells us she does not approve, but she rolls with it.

Emma has a meeting with her boss about her non-thriving bookstore, Barouche Books. She goes to talk to the coffee shop purveyors, who assure her she’ll find love — and then she bumps into a dude! The bumpee is Eric, her boss Frank’s son. 

Eric is going to shadow Emma for a few weeks as he learns his dad’s empire. He’s an MBA with suggestions. He also has a job in Aspen, so he won’t be overstaying his welcome. Emma is inhospitable.

The next day at work, Emma and Eric are bantering. You guys, the store doesn’t have a website. And Emma is kind of a jerk about it. He wants to change the name to incorporate her nickname — wait for it — The Book Lady. Originality is not this movie’s strong suit. She’s a hopeless romantic, he’s all about the bottom line. They literally say these things out loud, so as to spell out the clichés for us. Handy!

While bantering about the puppet theater Emma wants to build for the store but can’t afford, another dude shows up. Emma thinks he’s very cute, and we know this because she trips and falls into him. Landon’s looking for a poem, they both know it and recite it in unison. He obviously asks her out in front of Eric, who is none too pleased. Landon looks familiar to me, and after extensive Googling I discover why — he used to be Todd on Sweet Valley High. How the mighty have fallen, Todd, how the might have fallen.

SVH's Todd Joins Us

"I'm sorry, what's going on with my career right now?"

Greg cancels on wedding planning again because of work — whatever, Greg — but also he brings Jane wiper blades which is honestly adorable. The sisters decide to Google stalk Landon. Emma says, “You and Erica are so obsessed with the Internet.” This movie came out in 2015. I checked. Landon has a blog where they find out all about his life. Convenient!

Emma gets flowers from Landon. Eric snarks. She calls Landon to thank him, and they make a date. Eric wants Emma to start a blog. You can guess how she reacts to this suggestion. They make a bet: if Emma’s still dating Landon in one month, Eric will buy her the puppet theater. (Kinky! No. Nothing about this movie is kinky.) If she dumps Landon before one month, Emma has to implement all of Eric’s suggestions.

Landon has planned a cute date for Emma, a picnic! You guys, he brings out a book of poetry to read to her. Could you ever imagine this happening on a date? What would you even do? What would Elizabeth Wakefield do?

Eric calls just as Emma gets home from her date. She does have a cell phone, so that’s something of this century about our heroine, anyway. He harangues her about her blog entry. (That’s what the kids are calling it these days.) (Not really.) She writes her blog post …

Elizabeth Wakefield blogs

2015 Elizabeth Wakefield would have totally been a blogger.

… and then in the morning she reads it to her coffee klatch. Frank is back! Everyone applauds. Should I start doing that with my blog posts? You guys never applaud me.

Eric tells Emma to open a cook book section, they’ll host a signing to draw a crowd. Eric knows a well-known local chef who could sign her new book. You guys, is this really boring? Because it feels really boring. Landon sends a gaudy bracelet to ask Emma out again. Emma pretends to like it.

Jane calls, Greg ditched her again for work. Emma goes with her to the cake tasting. Jane wants a coconut cake because Greg hates coconut. Real nice. They decide to plan a double date so Landon’s romantic nature rubs off on Greg. Leave Greg alone! Then Jane Googles Eric, who apparently runs a consulting group to help businesses in dire straits.

Emma and Landon are out on date number two. She tries to talk to him about her work trouble, and Landon’s like, whatever let’s just order. It’s weird, and she calls him on it, but only for a second.

Emma goes home and Googles Eric, who indeed specializes in helping small, at-risk businesses. Shouldn’t she be happy for the help? Instead the next morning she yells at him about how she’s just a balance sheet to him. IDEK.

They go for a walk, and Eric tells her the business has six months before problems get serious. But he can help! They have a plan: inventory and cook books. They convince Frank to dump more money into the project. No one applauds this time, though.

Emma decides to do the entire inventory in one night and Eric offers to help. Landon shows up with — no lie — a puppy. The puppy is just a visitor, as Landon thinks that pet adoption is a very serious thing. He sounds as if he’s reciting a PSA. It’s very Elizabeth Wakefield. Emma tells Landon she has to work, so he leaves. So random. Eric says he prefers the practical to the romantic, your windshield wipers to gaudy bracelets, if you will. They talk about their lives. Zzzzz.

Jane busts into the store in the morning, worried because her sister never told her she wasn’t coming home. She even called Frank! Emma’s phone died, apparently. Did you know she’s not great at technology? She’s not. Emma tells Jane she made a double date — my man Greg is not impressed — and then suddenly Eric has to leave for Aspen.

Montage of Jane wedding planning while Greg ignores and Emma prepping for her signing and blogging. It’s as exciting as it sounds. This is like watching a movie of my life. Books and blogs. I should really try to be more exciting, apparently.

Time for the double date! Greg awkwards about how the restaurant is really expensive. They toast. Later Emma tries to talk about work, and Landon doesn’t want to hear it. She calls him on it. I bet Todd had to listen to Elizabeth Wakefield talk about the newspaper all the time. Landon gives some bullshit explanation that Elizabeth would never have stood for.

Emma’s at work when she discovers that Eric stocked the office with her favorite snack. It’s cute. Meanwhile, Landon sent apology flowers. Suddenly, Eric’s back! And, aw, he brings her a rare copy of Emma. You guys, that’s serious love to a book lady.

Eric and Emma have dinner at the bookstore. They talk about braces and recipes. Seriously. That is what’s happening. But oh! He asks her out. She says she’s seeing Landon. Elizabeth Wakefield would never make such a bad choice. Oh wait, she totally did all the time.

At home, Emma finds a crying Jane. You guess it, Greg ditched her again. Okay, let me say something positive about this movie: they have a great sisterly relationship and really care about each other. It’s nice. My heart is not black, you guys. It’s grey. Jane does that thing where the secondary character says something revelatory that makes the heroine rethink her entire life. You know. She says that your person should be invested and care about what you do. Is this true? Should I wake up my husband and make him watch the end of this movie with me? He’s not invested in how this all turns out. I can tell because he’s snoring. Also, he never applauds my blog posts.

The twins!

Some other sisters who loved each other a whole lot. (No I will not stop. YOU stop.)


Emma tries to talk to Eric at work, but Landon shows up to take her to lunch. It’s awkward.com. Emma blogs some more.

It’s time for the signing! There’s a nice crowd. Eric tells her she has to introduce the chef. She freaks, but he gives her a sweet pep talk. She holds his hand. And here I thought this movie was G-rated. She gives a nice speech. She heads toward Eric, but Landon grabs her for a kiss. By the time she detaches herself, Eric’s gone.

Emma gets more flowers from Landon. She heaves a sigh. She’s totally over it, you guys. Which is really more of a Jessica Wakefield behavior, if I have to be honest. Eric sent her the puppet theater. Emma realizes her true feelings because she got the gift she wanted.

My man Greg calls Emma, frantic. Jane is missing. Emma goes to find her sister. Jane has been doing that couple thing where she covets another, newer relationship. But Emma tells her she’s dumping Landon. And she talks up Greg, big time. Atta girl, Emma! Jane realizes she’s been dumb. She and Greg make up. Turns out he’s been working so hard because he was saving for a big ring. This movie is pretty materialistic.

Emma dumps Landon. He takes it like a man, and then heads back to Sweet Valley, hoping Elizabeth is still available.

Emma blogs and maid of honors at Jane’s wedding. After the vows, she’s sitting alone, feeling sad that Eric is gone. Why didn’t she just call him? He thinks she’s dating Landon.

Eric gets in a cab for the airport. He stops to read her blog post, as one does, and then shows up at the wedding. They kiss. The end!

The SVH Twins!

Bye, girls!

Did you catch Love by the Book? Do you really want to read some SVH right now? We understand. We hope you're enjoying our Valentine's Week coverage — and check out more of our recaps here