Why do people read romance? I suppose it’s escapism for some of us, but I also believe most of us are simply hopeless romantics- people who believe happily ever afters still happen and are worth pursuing (even if your HEA doesn’t come with an extravagant grand gesture or a handsome billionaire).
But what happens to a romance writer when her belief in love- and its durability- is shaken?
January is grief-stricken, heart-broken, and dead broke. A deadline is looming. Her agent is calling. And she’s got nothing. Nothing except an empty beach house her deceased father shared with the mistress she never knew of. Oh- and the house comes with a grumpy literary fiction writer who lives next door. And did I mention Gus (better known as the illustrious Augustus Everett) was her college rival?
It turns out Gus is battling a case of writers’ block himself. So they decide to shake things up by writing in the others’ genre. January will dip her toes into the dark moments of life, and Gus will give his characters a happy ending. The first to publish wins the competition. Their friendly bet takes a more serious turn, however, when the stories January and Gus share are their own.
Beach Read is very close to a perfect novel. As a writer, I connected with the characters who are struggling to eek out their story. As a lover of romance, I appreciated all the ways Henry worked in the genre conventions, but did so in a way that felt fresh and original. It’s so well done that non-romance readers could pick this up and not even realize what they were getting until the main characters are dancing in the rain… Yup. That does happen.
Beach read was fun and funny. I loved the witty banter between January and Gus. It reminded me a little bit of the early seasons of Gilmore Girls. The sexual chemistry was excellent and the slow burn was well-played. There is sex on the page, but I wouldn’t call it graphic. Most importantly, these characters felt like real people, with believable motivations and internal conflicts.
I can’t think of a single thing I’d change. For that reason, it’s getting 5 stars from me!
Favorite Tropes: Forced proximity, second-chance-romance, enemies to lovers, writers, family secrets, slow burn, and grumpy-sunshine.