Title: Beach Read
Author: Emily Henry
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication date: 20th August 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Review copy from publisher via NetGalley
Rating: 10 stars
Description: He doesn't believe in happy endings.
She's lost her faith that they exist.
But could they find one together?
January is a hopeless romantic who likes narrating her life as if she's the heroine in a blockbuster movie. Augustus is a serious literary type who thinks true love is a fairy-tale. January and Augustus are not going to get on. But they actually have more in common than you'd think:
They're both broke.
They've got crippling writer's block.
They need to write bestsellers before the end of the summer.
The result? A bet to see who can get their book published first.
The catch? They have to swap genres.
The risk? In telling each other's stories, their worlds might be changed entirely...
Set over one sizzling summer, Beach Read is a witty, feel-good love story for fans of The Flat Share and Our Stop.
My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. January and Augustus are both published novelists. When January's father died, she inherited a lakeside house she didn't know he owned, which she finds out about when his mistress turns up at the funeral to give her the keys. So she's a little conflicted arriving there, and is planning to finish writing her latest novel in some peace & quiet while also clearing out the house to sell. The first night, she has an awkward encounter with the neighbour next door - Augustus. I won't spoil the details, but when they run into each other in daylight, it turns out she's met him before, and knows who he is, although he clearly doesn't remember her.
They don't get on, but gradually their antagonism leads to the bet described in the blurb: they're going to swap genres for their current writing projects, and they each try to show the other some 'research situations' to help them with the new genre. I read a lot of light contemporary romance of characters being away somewhere for the summer, meeting someone, and having some important realisations over the course of the book. I love that stuff, and Beach Read does it perfectly. But it's like it takes that typical light, quick, contemporary romance read and elevates the writing level a step. I don't know how to describe it better, just that it seemed... deeper, than some things I've read recently. The story itself wasn't so different, but the telling of it made it stand out. You also only get the story from January's point of view, so that adds some more tension to things in particular places, wondering what on earth Augustus is doing or thinking.
As an aspiring writer myself, and working in publishing, I particularly loved that Augustus and January were writers. It prompted me to do a bit of writing on my own stuff, reading January's struggles! And I love the small town setting, especially being by the water, as that's very similar to the way I grew up.
Overall, I highly recommend Beach Read. It was one of my favourite books I read last year, and I'd like to get a physical copy at some point so I can reread it and keep it on my shelves. Contemporary romance at its best.