Author: Emily Henry
Publication Date: May 19, 2020
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.
Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.
They’re polar opposites.
In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.
Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.
Okay. I am going to apologize, but this review is going to start out with a bit of a rant. Beach Read is a classic example of why the illustrated cover trend needs to go. When I look at this cover, I think cute and happy romance. Then, I read the blurb and it confirms cute and adds funny to the happy romance. I seriously thought I was going to be reading a rom-com. People, I have not been this bamboozled by a cover and blurb since Meet Cute by Helena Hunting. The marketing for Beach Read is ALL wrong. This story does have a romance and there are some funny moments, but this is NOT a rom-com. It’s women’s fiction. Beach Read is an emotional journey filled with ups and downs. Plus, the cover and title don’t even fit the book. There’s not really much beach or a beach read involved. I struggled the first 15% of this book because I was expecting a rom-com. I was in the mood for a rom-com. I seriously debated DNFing. I had to put the book down for a day and come back to it with adjusted expectations. That’s the only thing that saved it for me. If this book hadn’t had such a sunny cover and a blurb that sounded more fun than emotional journey, I don’t think this all would have been an issue.
Okay, end rant. Let’s move on to the actual story. Emily Henry is a talented writer. She takes the characters (and reader) through some pretty heavy stuff while managing to add in some funny and romantic moments. This kind of gave the story a feel of being out on a lake — up and down with the waves of happiness and sadness. I really enjoyed the mix of emotional journey, mystery, romance, and familial relationships this book tackled.
January was a mess of a character. I understand why she had to be this way, but I kept thinking she felt more like a teenager than someone close to thirty. The way she avoided what needed to be dealt with was both annoying and understandable. I liked how she grew over the course of the book.
Gus was a lot of a mystery because we don’t get his perspective. It didn’t do him justice not to have his POV. It made him come off as a bad guy more than once. That being said, I loved it when he and January were in a groove together. They were a great couple who totally clicked.
So, yeah. I ended up enjoying Beach Read way more than I expected while I was in that first 15%. I enjoyed the journey it took me on and felt its impact at the end. Fans of the women’s fiction genre are going to like what this book has to give.