I first saw Beach Read (2020) by Emily Henry on my library’s website. I was about to head to Hawaii on vacation, and it seemed like the perfect book to bring with me. Unfortunately, there was quite a wait for it at the library, so I didn’t get to read it until after I returned from vacation.
January Andrews is a best-selling romance novelist, but she is dealing with a lot these days. Most devastating, her father recently died of a heart attack. As difficult as this unexpected death is, it is made worse when she discovers that her father was having an affair with another woman. January misses her father terribly, but she also feels like their whole family life together was a lie. Her long-term boyfriend couldn’t handle the stress of it all and broke up with her. To make matters worse, the deadline for her next book is coming up and she has written nothing. With nowhere to live and almost no money, January is forced to take residence in the lake house that her father left her. She is reluctant because the lake house is where her father and the “other woman” spent their time together, but she has no other options. January is desperate to write her next book, but she is stymied by a monster case of writer’s block.
January quickly antagonizes her next door neighbor before she even realizes that he is Augustus Everett: the accomplished literary writer and an old, college classmate. After running into each other a couple of times, they talk enough to realize that they are both in the same position: under pressure to write their next book and going nowhere. Augustus proposes a bet. He will write a happily-ever-after romance novel, and January must write a somber, literary novel. Whoever gets published first wins, and the loser has to write a blurb for the winner’s cover.
Surprisingly, this contest helps both of them get started. January and Augustus spend even more time together as they teach each other the ways of romance and literary research. Not surprisingly, they begin to fall for each other.
My two favorite things about this book were the banter between January and Augustus and the process of January writing her book. I loved the idea of January writing out of her comfort zone. I thought it was interesting to see how she used the events in her life to inspire what became a completely different story but with the same emotional underpinnings.
My two least favorite things from this book were the unnecessary drama near the end of the novel and the tent scene. I kind of lost interest in this book near the end. The drama between January and Augustus felt manufactured and unnecessary when their relationship had been going so well. I also really did not like their romantic interlude in the tent. I love camping, but it is uncomfortable at the best of times. And that’s when you have beautiful weather and you’re prepared. If you think you’re out for a day hike and end up wet and cold in a tent with a couple of granola bars for food, it sounds like hell to me. Even if you get to have sex with a hunky guy.
It’s a shame the end of the book did not quite live up to my early expectations.
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