Chris Harrison—yes, the longtime host of The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and even Bachelor in Paradise—just released his first novel, The Perfect Letter. What’s it about? Let me instead answer this question: What’s it like? Well, it’s like a mash up of the Reese Witherspoon film Sweet Home Alabama and the Nicholas Sparks book and novel The Best of Me. In case you’re not familiar with those gems, the book is basically about a small-town girl who moves to the big city, finds big-city success and a big-city fiancé, then takes a reluctant trip home—only to find herself drawn to her high school love. The twist? There’s a murder involved!
Yes, this all sounds like a pleasant enough summer read, and I’ll be honest—I didn’t hate this book. It goes quickly, and it’s entertaining enough, provided you can deal with the shame of actually having read the thing. But the real reason anyone will pick up this book is because they’re fascinated by the world of Chris Harrison. He’s been our romantic counselor for more than 30 total seasons of television. We’ve seen him go through—and bounce back from—a divorce with his high school sweetheart. We’ve seen him deflect countless requests to become the Bachelor himself. We’ve seen him ask Juan Pablo why he’s a terrible person, pretty much. We love Chris Harrison!
So here’s what you’ll learn about Chris Harrison if you read this book. Or at least, what hopes you learn.
1. He values literature
Harrison’s heroine, a young woman named Leigh Merrill, has made a name for herself in New York as a fast-rising book editor. What draws her back to her home, in fact, is a book conference that’s invited her to speak. And part of what draws her back to her old beau is the discovery of undelivered letters—which are beautifully written, we’re told.
2. He really does believe in over-the-top romantic dates
He’s definitely learned a thing or two from The Bachelor. Almost every romantic moment in The Perfect Letter takes place in a barn, on a barn loft, or overlooking a picturesque farm. All that’s missing is a mildly popular country band, and we’ve got ourselves a Bachelor date!
3. He doesn’t actually know anything about Austin, Texas
He was born in Dallas, so we’d expect him to know a thing or two about his home state. But his depiction of Austin, where the book is set, is less than accurate. How so? Well…
– As her flight is landing, Leigh can see Austin “tucked between the dark green hill of East Texas…” which is actually 5 hours from Austin.
– Leigh has a fireplace going in May, when the average temperature is in the ’90s.
– The hill country is described as “green and rolling as England.”
4. He knows a little something about looooveeee
Yes, Chris has written one or two love scenes into this novel. They will catch you by surprise if you’re reading this book on public transportation, but they’re pretty PG.
5. Like the contestants on his shows, he really does believe in “The One”
This book was written by a man who believes in True Love. A man who, after 30 seasons of matchmaking and only 2 surviving marriages, still thinks that your soul mate is out there, maybe even in this room! It’s an admirable, even sweet notion. But take our word for it—you can skip this read without missing much.