Beach Read by Emily Henry
Maturity Level: 5
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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.
Whew, what a book! Half romance, half “women’s fiction” about grief, half a writer’s book for writers, all spectacular reading.
As a romance novel this book had everything I didn’t know I wanted. The banter was EXCELLENT. Sometimes they were making pop culture references at each, other times just being sarcastic af, and sometimes just making me laugh my butt off. The romantic scenes were real spicy, but there was more kissing and chemistry than on-the-page sex, which is definitely my preference. It has fun, quirky side-characters. No meet-cute, but plenty of cutesy romance cliche scenes like carnivals and beach walks. And it wasn’t as obviously trope-y as other romance books, though it’s definitely got the enemies-to-lovers vibe.
As women’s fiction, it handled the topic of grieving a parent and dealing with their imperfections seem so real. Henry wasn’t afraid to show her protagonist at her worst, as we often are when life hits us with an earthquake followed directly by a volcanic eruption. I thought January handled her grief in extremely human ways, ways that could have easily turned self-destructive. Which it would have, if this had been Gus’s book. Instead Gus comes to her rescue NOT as a knight in shining armor, but as a human with his own problems who helps January remember who she is and why she believes in happy endings.
I loved that, by the way. Gus does stand in for the hero saving the damsel, but he doesn’t actually save January. He just helps motivate her to save herself. And was super sexy while doing so.
But more than anything else, I felt like this was a love story to authors. This book is about writer’s block, about challenging yourself creatively, about how someone who understands you as an artist means everything. It’s about how romance authors ARE real authors, and that genre snobbery is ridiculous. And it’s just about … writing. It’s what makes this book really unique.
I have to say, however, that I was VASTLY disappointed in how little of lake life is on the page. As a person who vacationed on Lake Huron every summer for like, eighteen years, there’s something so special to me about the small town charm, the smell of the seaweedy-water breeze, the crying of the gulls. Though some of that is in this book, I was really hoping to read more of it. Other than a few scenes that really pulled it back to Michigan (the icy cold water), it could have been any beach in the world. I just wish there had been more scenes at the mom and pop ice cream parlor or actually on the beach.
Can’t recommend this book highly enough for romance readers. Sally Thorne meets Nicholas Sparks, but like, REALLY good.