Summary (from the publisher):
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.
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
Beach Read has deservedly found it way into nearly every corner of the book blogging community. So many of my bookish friends have loved this contemporary romance, myself included!
Since there have been a ton of Beach Read reviews floating around the book blogosphere, I’ve decided to forgo my usual review style to explain why you need to actually pick up this must-read beach read of summer 2020.
It’s much more complex than the title & official synopsis suggests. Beach Read does meet its synopsis: Augustus, a literary fiction writer, and January, a romance writer, are both in writing ruts and decide to challenge each other by writing a book in the other’s genre. But Beach Read goes beyond this competition.
I don’t want to include too many spoilers, but both January and Gus have experienced some hardship and loss. After the death of her father, January is left with his beach house in Michigan. January is struggling to cope with his death, his hidden past, and the manuscript of her latest romance novel that is due to the publisher by the end of the summer. January decides to spend the summer at the beach, packing up the house and writing her novel. Early on in the story, it’s revealed that January’s grumpy neighbor is none other than Augustus, a best-selling literary fiction author AND January’s college rival.
There’s a ton of exploration into the two main characters’ past, loss, and their college history. As Gus and January move from enemies to lovers (you really don’t believe that the synopsis says no one falls in love, right?), the two reveal more about their family and relationship history. Somewhat unrelated and a bit random I admit, Gus is also doing a lot of research on cults for his book. The two spend a few of their literary fiction research nights on that subject and interviewing people with heavy histories of their own.
While there is heaviness and depth, there is plenty of humor. I wouldn’t say that Beach Read is a rom-com (sidenote that I agree with the growing sentiment that publishing is using ‘rom-com’ too much to describe contemporary romances), but Gus and January have such incredible chemistry that leads to a lot of laugh and a few jokes at the other’s expense (in the most light-heartedly way possible).
I couldn’t write a review about a contemporary romance without mentioning the romance right? I think there are a total of 5 or 6 hardcore romance scenes between Gus and January, and I loved them ALL. Again without too many spoilers, I loved their first romance scene in the car. What makes the romance so well done, aside from what’s going on in the scene itself, is the dialogue and chemistry (okay, STEAM), growing between the two.
There are some fun pop-culture references, from Pirates of the Caribbean to Taylor Swift. Maybe not so funnily, January says that her past self is hiding wherever they hid the old Taylor Swift. I’m not a fan of Pirates of the Caribbean, but the two seem to make a lot of jokes about the films (I loved the joke at the end).
January and Gus’ windows perfectly align with one another, so whenever they had writing sessions in their own kitchens, they would hold up hand-written messages on notebook paper Taylor Swift via the “You Belong With Me” music video style.
There are plenty of relatable & fun moments related to publishing & writing. If you’re a reader who loves books about books and reading, you’ll love Beach Read’s publishing and writing talk. January is a romance writer, who is struggling to write her fifth book. January’s agent, Anya, is so encouraging and willing to do anything for her author, but Anya reminds January that her publisher is really being strict about this upcoming deadline. January is the queen of writing ‘Happily After Evers,’ but her heart just isn’t in it this time around.
Emily Henry has some great conversations about writing and romance books between Gus and January. Gus seemingly holds a lot of stereotypes about the romance genre, which leads to January expressing both her frustration and love for being categorized as a women’s fiction author. While there are few scenes dedicated or focused on January’s writing, she usually comments on how much she wrote or how much time she spent writing in between scenes. Going along with my love for the T-Swift inspired signs, her and Gus often exchange many messages about the painful experience that can be writing.
Although we spend the most time with January and Gus, Beach Read has some great secondary characters. January has some funny text conversations with her best friend, Shadi, about Gus and Shadi’s own romantic endeavors. Gus and January often spend time with Gus’ aunt, Pete, who runs the town bookstore, coffee shop, and the book club where all the two’s (mis)adventures really begin.
Its setting makes for a perfect summer or you guessed it, beach read. Beach Read takes place in a Michigan beach town, with both January and Gus’ houses right on the water. Its small town atmosphere was really fun. I would love to be able to buy one of their books from Pete, but maybe not her coffee…
Overall, Beach Read is worth the hype and more. This is a 2020 contemporary romance not to miss this summer!
Have you read Beach Read? Is it on your TBR? What contemporary romances are you picking up this summer? Share in the comments!