by Jen Moyers (@jen.loves.books)
Thanks to Partner Edelweiss for the digital ARC of Emily Henry's Beach Read in exchange for an honest review. The book
releases Tuesday, May 19.
"And that was the moment I realized: when the world felt dark and scary, love could whisk you off to go dancing; laughter could take some of the pain away; beauty could punch holes in your fear" (loc. 76).
Emily Henry's Beach Read is one of the best romances I've read in a while. Yes, it's one of those books that made me giddy. Henry does SUCH a fabulous job in establishing and developing her characters that I felt every moment of their relationship. January Andrews, the protagonist, is reeling after the unexpected death of her beloved father . . . and the discovery that he had a hidden life with a woman other than her mother. January travels to the home her father shared with That Woman (yes, this is how January refers to her through the book) to (1) clean it out so she can sell it and (2) try to overcome her writer's block to meet her publisher's deadline. January, a romance writer, has been unable to believe in the optimism of a happily ever after ending after finding out the truth about her father.
On the night she arrives, January has a verbal altercation with her neighbor, a total grump. Soon, she realizes that the "grump" is Augustus Everett, acclaimed author of dark and despairing literary fiction. Basically, her polar opposite. And then she realizes that she knows Gus, that they were in creative writing classes together in college.
What results from their shared background is a wager: January and Gus will switch, each writing in the other's chosen genre, to see who can be more successful. And along the way, they'll tutor each other: January will set up perfect dates fit for the romance genre, and Gus will teach her all about the type of research necessary to write deep, dark literary fiction.
This book is so sexy, a slow burn with plenty of steaminess. It also has legitimately sad moments, as we watch January mourn her father--and her illusions about her father--and as Gus reveals, layer by layer, exactly what in his life led him to his grim outlook on the likelihood of happily ever afters. These are characters who work hard to understand each other and, along the way, come to understand themselves better. (Yes, that sounds cheesy. But it really happens in this book!) I absolutely loved the debates between January and Gus about the value of romance vs. literary fiction (as fans of both types of books, I alternately cheered for both!); I loved Emily Henry's patient development of this relationship; and I loved the beauty of the writing. Upon hitting the final page, I wanted to turn back to page one and immediately begin re-reading.
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