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May 19, 2020
January Andrews is struggling to write her next happy romance. She’s a successful author, with more than a few novels under her belt, but when her beloved father dies, revealing a vibrant, ahem, secret life very separate from January and her mother, January is forced to come to terms with, not only the gaping hole of his absence, but now his betrayal. With a deadline from her publisher looming, January decides to get away for the summer to focus on writing.
Unfortunately for her, the house she’s moved into happens to be located directly next to the home of an old college rival, Gus Everett, fellow writer and permanent curmudgeon. The two don’t exactly get off to a great start, especially since they’re both frustrated by their own writer’s block. In the midst of insulting each other’s preferred writing styles one day, they make a deal. Gus will write a novel with a happy ending, and January will write something dark. They decide to make it educational and promise to teach each other about the necessary elements of their respective genre tropes through weekly educational field trips (like to the romantic ferris wheel at the county fair…or to a burned down family of cult cabins, whatever). Whoever gets published first wins the right to declare themselves the better writer. In the end, though, their separate stories may bring them closer than ever.
It seems that just about everyone who reads this book loves it, and I am no exception. It can be tricky to pull off a novel about writers—since writers tend to take it all so seriously—but Beach Read stays light and playful, even while tackling complicated relationship issues (both familial and romantic). I loved the slow rollout of Gus and January’s backstories, and as I got to know them, I better understood and appreciated their dueling perspectives on life and love. The book’s ending was a little rushed, but I absolutely adored how the bet turned out. This was a really lovely story, overall, and a perfect escape during these long quarantine days.
Thank you to Net Galley and Berkley for the ARC!