Source: purchased from Amazon
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, large print, ebook, audiobook
Genres: Chick Lit, contemporary romance, relationship fiction, women's fiction
Published by Berkley on May 19, 2020
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Publisher's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Bookshop.org, Better World Books
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 has been in the virtually towering TBR pile ever since I read – and fell in love with – Book Lovers early this year. I’ve been “playing along” with the Kindle Achievements every quarter, so when the list of possible titles to fulfill that last badge included Beach Read, it seemed like the universe was telling me that now was the time. So here we are.
Both January Andrews and Augustus Everett are best selling authors – but most definitely NOT in the same genre. January writes women’s fiction (not all that different from the author herself), while Augustus Everett is famous for his dark and gritty literary fiction.
Their characters and worlds do not even begin to intersect – but they do. They are both graduates of the same University of Michigan Creative Writing Program. In fact, they attended together and graduated at the same time, spending four years competing for every single award and critiquing pretty much every single one of each other’s works.
Saying they are familiar with each other is hardly a stretch – even if they have nothing in common. Or believe they have nothing in common. At least not until they find themselves next door neighbors in a northern Michigan beach community, wanting nothing to do with each other.
But needing each other all the same.
They’ve each fallen into some really deep ruts, and they are separately having a damn hard time crawling out of those ruts. January has stopped believing in happy ever afters, after the one she believed her parents had found turned out to be based on a lie. A year after her dad’s death, she has a book due, an empty bank account, and a severe case of writer’s block.
Leading her to her dad’s old home town and the house he shared with his childhood sweetheart at a point considerably after either of their childhoods.
Gus has never believed in happy ever afters. Or even happy for nows. He’s always looked on the dark side and is in the throes of his third book, this time about death cults and their few survivors. But he’s going through his own case of writer’s block, for reasons that he isn’t willing to share with January. Because sharing isn’t something that Gus does easily. Or at all.
Still, they’re both writers and they’re both stuck and they have a whole lot of common ground to build on – even if that ground is more than a bit shaky on both sides. So they challenge each other as a way of breaking their writer’s block.
And it turns into the making of a happy ending for everyone – including sorta/kinda – the protagonists of not one but two surprising new books.
Escape Rating A-: I enjoyed Beach Read, but not quite as much as Book Lovers, because it’s a bit too much like Book Lovers. Which isn’t fair to Beach Read, as it was published first even though I read it second. Still, if you like one you’ll like the other – although it probably isn’t a good idea to read them too close together.
Like Nora and Charlie in Book Lovers, January and Gus are not just both in the book business, but in the same end of the book business as each other. (Nora and Charlie were both editors, January and Gus are both authors). Which means that both books, in addition to being just the kind of stories that January writes, are steeped in the book business – merely different aspects of that business.
And both stories begin when the protagonists meet when both parties are in the midst of a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” What makes both stories fun to read is the way that they get themselves and each other past the horribleness.
We’re in January’s head in this story, so we know what she’s been through, what she’s thinking, and what she’s feeling. Because she and Gus knew each other fairly well – and very nearly better than that – once upon a time, we are also aware of all of her pre-conceived notions of who Gus is and what he thinks of her and in both of their situations.
Which gives Beach Read a very strong sense of “assume makes an ass out of ‘u’ and ‘me’” because January’s assumptions about Gus were and are too frequently wrong, wrong, wrong. But this steers clear of misunderstandammit territory because Gus has a damn hard time communicating his thoughts and feelings in any way other than expiating the worst of them through his writing.
While it was a given from the outset that January and Gus were going to reach at least the kind of happy for now that both the character January AND the author usually write, what made this book interesting and different was the books that January and Gus each produced on their way to it, and how those books managed to be both a departure from their usual styles while still expressing the core parts of their personalities and their reasons for becoming writers in the first place.
So a good reading time was definitely had in Beach Read. Because it was most definitely a good reading time, and because one of the other possible titles for that last achievement was the author’s People We Meet on Vacation, I bought that too. I’m pretty sure I’ll be picking that up and meeting those people the next time I’m looking for a feel-good read!