Updated: Oct 9
Title: Beach Read
Author: Emily Henry
Genre: Romance, Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Published: 19th May 2022
Start Date: 16th September 2022
Finish Date: 18th September 2022
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.
I loved Book Lovers, but Beach Read just wasn’t for me. It’s not a bad book by any means! What’s unique about Emily Henry’s approach with romance is that her books feel less like a story revolving around relationships and more of a story focusing on individuals who come together and heal together. I appreciated the depth and internal struggles that the characters faced outside the relationship. For some reason though, I wasn’t feeling the romance. Instead, I found myself more invested in the plot of these two authors swapping genres rather than the romance itself.
I felt I was extremely mislead when it came to the title of the book as well as the marketing of the book. Between the bright, illustrated cover and the media packages for Beach Read hyping how much of a “fun”, “upbeat” summer romance this is, many readers are going to be led astray here. They’re going to get 75% into the book and think to themselves, “This entire story is set in a beach house and the one time these two assholes actually go swimming is in a pool?!”Seriously, I think they only went down to the beach together twice in this entire book, so that cover with two people casually reclining on towels and seemingly ignoring each other is a bit of a stretch.
Aside from that I had some issues with the male lead here. He went from aloof and quasi-grouchy in the beginning to over-the-top cheesy by the end. I also didn’t appreciate the fact that once their relationship evolved from friendly into something more he started making all the female lead’s decisions for her. You know, doing that man thing where they try to save you from the world. To me, there’s nothing chivalrous about a guy suddenly assuming that I can no longer make my own goddamn decisions just because I let his penis near me.
The premise of January and Gus, both authors who are suffering from writer's block deciding to switch genres for inspiration, was full of fun potential. I also thought the unique plot line regarding January's dad was gonna be an interesting aspect to the story. I really enjoyed some parts and I was rooting for the main characters! And I really liked the dare. So: January is a romance author and Gus is writes dark literary fiction, and they dare each other to write the thing the other one usually writes! That's the synopsis and it sounded awesome. It was kinda awesome. Unfortunately the second half of the book is a bit of a disaster. Where did the fun plot go?? It's only about Gus and January's relationship and it's filled with unrealistic and imaginary angst. They constantly needed to prove just how much they love each other with a bunch of unnecessary drama. Like at one point January noticed Gus hadn't been home all day. But wait, he never told her he would be gone so he must not love her as much as he says he does right?? So when he returns she cries and he explains to her that he does love her, he just had to go somewhere. Then he kisses her hair and catches her tears with his thumb. Or the time he needed to go somewhere unpleasant so he told her it's best if she doesn't come too. This time she's sure that must mean he doesn't love her as much as he says he does. When he returns she cries and he explains to her that it's because he loves her so much that he didn't want her there. Then he kisses her hair and catches her tears with his thumb. Or maybe this time his thumb made gentle circles on her hip bone. I can't remember as both those things happened a lot. The book did address January's issues with her father at the end and it was tidily resolved in about two pages with no real impact on the story and then it went back to her latest meltdown over Gus.