I honestly stumbled on this drama and I’m so so so glad I did. Netflix you really outdid yourself this time. In case you missed the title, this review is going to be in-depth so SPOILERS ARE AHEAD. Read at your own risk.
In a Nut Shell:
A divorced woman struggling to find a job gets her big break at a publishing company where her childhood friend works. The two hide the fact they know each other, but things get complicated when they develop feelings for each other.
In the first couple of episodes we are introduced to Kang Dani-i (Lee Na-young), a 37-year-old divorcee who’s down on her luck. Like REALLY down on her luck . First, our leading lady hits financial trouble when her husband’s business goes belly up. To make matters worse she finds out he’s been cheating on her. In spite of her hurt and disappointment, she desperately tries to hold on to her failing marriage, but her no-count husband pulls the rug from underneath her and leaves to lead a life with another woman (TRASH). Without a husband or a job to support her, her financial situation spirals out of control and she finds herself on the verge of homelessness. She now desperately needs a job but Dan-i took a career break once she gave birth to her daughter. Maybe that’s not the end all in the States, but Korea’s job force is brutal and virtually un-accepting of those who have been out of the job sector for so long. Company after company rejects her and there is no hope in sight that she will ever land a job again.
On the flip side we see the quite successful life of Cha Eun-ho (Lee Jong-suk) the 32 year-old editor in chief of Gyeroo Publishing. Not only is he one of the founding members of the publishing company, he’s the youngest editor in chief there, and he’s also a best-selling author. What do Eun-ho and Dan-i have to do with each other? The two are actually childhood friends. The two met after Dan-i saved Eun-ho from getting hit by a car when he was a child. She landed in the hospital for a whole year, and while she recovered, Eun-ho became a bit of an errand boy for her. During this time, Dan-i turned Eun-ho onto books and challenged him to write his first novel.
The two had been friends ever since and thought of each other as a younger brother, older sister type duo. However, Eun-ho developed a crush on Dan-i that never went away, even after she married her sleezball husband.
The first couple of episodes we see Dan-i struggling in a way that really just breaks your heart. We see her living in her abandoned home that’s set for demolition, going from job to job in practically the only suit she owns, rejected numerous times and finally breaking down after nothing ever seems to go right. To find some relief, she secretly lives in Eun-ho’s house as the housekeeper he’s unaware of. One day while cleaning, she discovers a flier that says Gyeroo Publishing is hiring. The advertisement indicates age and educational background doesn’t matter so Dan-i get’s the bright idea to apply-as a high school graduate. In essence, Dan-i literally threw away years of experience as an accomplished and award winning advertiser and marketer. She’s desperate so I don’t blame her.
As the first round of interviews begins, Eun-ho is ready to judge the applicants as one of the company’s founding members. He’s shocked to see Dan-i show up in the pool of job seekers, sparking a series of questions about what’s really going on in Dan-i’s life. After the interview is over he begins to ask her why she’s there and what’s going on with her husband. She doesn’t answer and after Eun-ho unsuccessfully tries to contact her (ex) husband and finds her house up for demolition, he begins to slowly put the pieces together.
So now on to the juicy stuff. Eun-ho finds out the whole truth about the divorce and her secretly living in his home. He’s devastated he didn’t know about her troubles and tells her that she can live with him for however long she needs to to. Dan-i tells him that she will move out in six months. Dan-i lands the job at Gyeroo Publishing on the Task Support team which is essentially the errand boy or girl in this case. Eno-ho isn’t thrilled about the new role, knowing that she’s capable of much more than that but goes along with it since Dan-i eagerly accepts the job.
The story begins to unravel as we see Eun-ho’s feeling for Dan-i grow and grow with each episode. To make matters worse, second male lead Ji Seo-joon (Wi Ha-joon) who is actually a coveted book designer (and eventually signs a contract to work with Gyeroo Publishing) throws his hat in the ring for Dan-i after meeting her by chance (to the dismay and horror of Eun-ho).
On the flip side of worse, Eno-ho’s junior and colleague
Song Hae-rin (Jung Yoo-jin), who serves as Gyeroo Publishing’s
lead content development editor has mad feelings for Eun-ho and has been secretly confessing her feelings for him through letters she leaves on his home bookshelf. Things are mess since Eun-ho and Dan-i can’t reveal they live together and without Dan-i knowing how Eun-ho truly feels about her, things get sticky when Seo-Joon starts showing his affection. Perhaps the real kicker of the story is identity and how everyone plays a part in the life a well-renowned’s author desire to leave behind pen and paper for good.
I could spoil the whole story for you but I won’t and let you watch for yourself how this story plays out.
I think what I truly loved about this drama was Eun-ho and Dan-i’s relationship (yes, they do eventually get together). I’m sucker for anything romance and these two were gushing with it. I think it was small things that made it evident that Eun-ho loved Dan-i. For example he finds her sleazeball ex-husband by chance and beats him to a pulp (rightfully so) and then makes him pay child support for Dan-i’s 12-year-old daughter. He’s upset when she is and celebrates her victories no matter how small. He may be younger but I see him as such a protector, trying his hardest to shield his Dani-from the world. Even the way he confessed was so sweet since he was nervous to come out right with ‘hey, I love you.’ (You’ll have to watch to see what I mean).
Eun-ho and Dan-i had a believable chemistry which I can honestly say not all drama couples do. Even though Eun-ho was younger, he had a maturity that matched Dan-i’s quite well. From the sweet kisses to tender words of affirmation, Eun-ho and Dan-i had something that made all the couples jealous.
My only qualm with this couple is that it did seem Dan-i kinda fell for Eun-ho out of nowhere. Like one moment she’s like I dunno if I like you and then she’s like you know what I think I’m in love with you. I think I would have liked to how she fell in love. What made her realized she loved him? Not a huge deal since they were such a stellar couple, but it would have been nice.
As for the story line, it’s very solid and not your typical boy meets girl and falls in love. This drama’s theme revolved around books (hence the title) but the books actually tie into how the characters are viewed. For example Dan-i is portrayed several times as book you want to read over and over again, where readers find something new to love out the book everyday. (So sweet, I know. It had me crying).
I love how the theme revolved around books and how books can change people’s lives. Using that, the writers portrayed each person like a book, with interesting plot twists and memorable quotes. No character was flat with a dull personality. Everyone seemed to have an story ( at least the three main characters) that helps viewers realize there’s more on the surface.
The second male was quite likable. Seo-Joon had a tender spirit about him and was very genuine with Dan-i. You could tell from their first meeting he was drawn to her and his pursuit of her heart was the sweetest thing. You kinda wanted to cheer him on (but obviously he’s second-male lead so he’s automatically in the friend-zone). The only time you doubt him is toward the end of the drama when you find out his true identity. But even then you can forgive him considering his circumstances and you see that he truly didn’t have any malice in his heart.
A+ for the side characters! So Gyeroo Publishing is filled with a myriad of employees and we actually get to delve into a quite of few of their stories. From the divorced couple who just couldn’t make it work to the naive girl trying to desperately get away from her mother’s controlling spirit, the side characters give another layer of surprises to the story.
Don’t judge a book for by its cover may be a cliche statement but I think it sums up the message of this drama pretty well. With relateable characters, a believable story, a sweet romance, humor, candor, emotion and depth, Romance is a Bonus Book is well-rounded drama. I’m not the one to bash a Korean drama because I feel like their all good but if you haven’t had a chance to dive into this sweet story of love, acceptance and understanding, don’t wait any longer!
Remember — the Moon is Beautiful (you’ll get it once you watch it 🙂 )
Five out of five stars! No complaints!
Release date: 2019
Episode length: About 1 hour
Platform: Netflix, Kiss Asian, Drama Cool (English Subtitles Available)