Book Review | The Last Word by Katy Birchall

Publication date: May 2, 2023

The Hating Game meets Beach Read in Katy Birchall’s enemies-to-lovers romcom The Last Word, about a young journalist who puts her career (and her heart) on the line when her former work nemesis is hired in her newsroom.

Harper Jenkins is at the top of her game. A brilliant, determined journalist with a well-known knack for getting tight-lipped Hollywood stars to open up to her, Harper loves her job as Celebrity Editor at a newspaper’s glossy weekend magazine and has the best contacts in the business.

But when her awful boss hires talented reporter Ryan to be the new Features Editor, Harper is furious. Because the two have met before: a decade ago, they were interns at the same publication, where they fell into a whirlwind romance…until Ryan betrayed Harper, and they never spoke again.

Thrown together in a busy newsroom, their dynamic is a disaster from the start. They can’t agree on anything and bicker constantly—Ryan can’t bear how chaotic and messy Harper is; Harper finds Ryan’s condescending nature infuriating. They clash over who’s writing what article and fight over who’s going to which event.

Yet as they’re forced to spend more and more time together, Harper realizes she may have misjudged Ryan and can’t help but feel a spark growing between them. Long-buried feelings start to resurface, and, when they’re thrown together on a romantic press trip abroad, their chemistry comes to a head.

But all is fair in love and magazines, and with the news that layoffs across the department are imminent, Harper is left to wonder: who will get the last word?

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the free digital ARC of this book to read and review.

What’s it about (in a nutshell):

The Last Word by Katy Birchall is an entertaining enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy that pulls the curtain back on journalists and their approach to stories.

My Reading Experience:

Enemies-to-lovers is my favorite trope, so I happily jumped into this story. What I liked best was its behind-the-scenes look at journalism and people in entertainment. What makes Harper stand out among her peers is the fact that she doesn’t take every opportunity to sensationalize stories. This approach gives her much respect in the entertainment world full of people who often find themselves humiliated in the most public ways possible because of journalism. The human aspect is forgotten in the drive to sell newspapers and magazines. I loved Harper’s approach, which always kept the human factor on top and all that it brings her.

I have to admit, though, that the romance grated on my nerves a bit. Harper and Ryan just bicker all the time over nothing and end their bickering with an angry “Fine.” This bickering isn’t witty at all. I might even say that it’s immature – like two kids fighting in the back seat of a car. I liked them as a couple, but I didn’t care for the path the story took to get them there. And even though I love a happily ever after, I felt that it was too abrupt in this story. It didn’t feel natural at all.

I do have a bunch of little niggles about this story, but overall, I found it entertaining and fun to read, despite those issues.


I admired Harper. She always stays true to herself no matter what anyone says, even her parents (who are not friendly people). Her chronic lateness annoyed me as much as it did the other characters. Still, she’d unapologetically explain that it was just her and that something always managed to delay her. She lives in a creatively chaotic world and loves it.

Ryan is Harper’s opposite, chronically neat and punctual, and thrives in order and cleanliness. It’s no wonder they fall in love, don’t you agree?  

Narration & Pacing:

Harper tells this tale in first-person narration, which should make the pace relatively quick, yet it was a medium speed at best. I don’t know what slowed the pace, but I would guess it was the annoying bickering.

The story is also told in dual timelines, with the current one being the most prominent. August 2012 is the second timeline, and it is when Ryan and Harper first met, fell in love, and parted in a very “I never want to see or talk to you again” manner. The second timeline explains what happened that has Harper in the snit since Ryan started being in such close proximity to her again.


London is the setting for the story, but I felt it could have been utilized more. It could have been set in any significant entertainment hub and been the same story. Even the way the characters spoke sounded more American to me than English. Yet, neither of the main characters was American.

Read if you like:

  • Enemies-to-lovers trope
  • Entertainment industry
  • Mostly closed-door romances (there is one open-door scene)

Overall Rating:⭐⭐⭐⭐

Writing Quality10
Character Development8
‘Couldn’t Put It Down’-ness10
Use of Setting10
All scores, except the overall rating, are on a scale of 1-10. The overall rating is converted to the standard 5-point system.

16 Replies to “Book Review | The Last Word by Katy Birchall”

  1. There has to be a good balance of bickering to pull off a rom com that’s enemies to lovers. I do like that they get a second chance. Awesome review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Enemies-to-lovers trope walk a tightrope in not going too far with the sniping and it sounds like this one fell a few times. That said, I could tell you still enjoyed it despite the weak romance. Great review, Tessa💜 I hadn’t heard of this and will check out the audio sample. Sometimes the narrators can compensate.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wish more journalists would have as much integrity as Harper. Too much of that bickering would have gotten to me, also. Other than that, sounds like you enjoyed it for the most part, Tessa.

    Liked by 1 person

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