After reading (and loving) You and Me on Vacation, it was only right that I gave its predecessor, Beach Read, a go.
I started reading this one a while back but, for some reason or another, I put it down and didn’t pick it back up again until the end of last month. Although I didn’t read it on a beach like I’d planned to, I still really enjoyed this book.
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.
Beach Read wasn’t what I expected, but in a good way. I thought it’d take place on a beach, which it largely didn’t, and that was pretty much it.
January Andrews is broke and, out of options, she finds herself in the beach house which used to belong to her father. Luckily, the story doesn’t stop there as — thanks to a rather loud party — she finds out her college writing rival Augustus Everett is her new neighbour and, from there, plenty of chaos — and a sizzling summer romance — ensues.
January is sassy, snarky and determined. I liked that she had an edge to her but, at her core, she was sensitive and still trying to process her grief both for the father she lost and the man she thought he was. I was a little bit worried that the fact the story is from her point of view would mean we only saw Gus through January’s eyes but — in spite of the single narrative throughout the book — Henry gives Gus as much depth and characterisation as January.
Gus is brooding and full of secrets, a kind of Byronic hero in board shorts. Luckily, like January, Henry gives this character depth and we see he has dealt with difficult relationships, both romantically and in terms of his family. I was instantly drawn to January (as the wannabe, but eternally procrastinating, writer in me found her very relatable) and, whilst it took me a bit of time, I warmed to Gus’s character as well (Reader, I fancied him).
Whilst this book is bogged down by some heavy topics, the overriding narrative is two writers trying to, well, write. This might not be the case for everyone but I personally found the parts about the writing, publishing and print process very interesting to read. It was cool to see how much work goes into something a lot of us take for granted. It wasn’t just a detailed description of the writing process, as that would get boring (even for me!), this book also explored writing outside of your genre.
It was when the story moved in this direction that it got truly interesting for me. Though I’m a massive cynic trapped in the body of a hopeless romantic, I can’t deny how much I enjoy a love story. This one took its time but, as it spawned from my favourite trope of all time (enemies to lovers), it was worth the wait. The banter between the pair was funny and cute and, before I knew it, Henry took it up a notch and the story became a sizzling, sexy summer romance.
Beach Read might not have been what I was expecting but, just as the plenty of reviews I’ve read said, it’s a joy to read. It might not take place on a beach, or in a particularly sunny climate, but the romance is hot enough. Henry created characters you learned to root for and, because of that, the romance felt sweeter, more realistic and more passionate. It is not just a romance, though, it’s a story about writing, about people and relationships: relationships lost, relationships gained — it’s the perfect summer read.
You can buy Beach Read here.