January Andrews has watched her mom survive cancer. Twice. But then, suddenly, it’s her dad who drops dead. He leaves her a beach house and a ton of emotional baggage she was not prepared for. She’s grieving, nursing a breakup, and owes her publisher a book by the end of the summer. She’s not exactly in the right headspace to crank out the women’s fiction (aka “chick lit”) she’s known to write and is dealing with a serious case of writer’s block. Enter Gus Everett, her next door neighbor who just happens to be her college rival and acclaimed writer of literary fiction. Turns out he, too, is suffering from writer’s block so they make a bet to swap genres. Gus aims to write the type of happy ending he loathes/doesn’t believe in and January will get serious. Of course, there’s lots of pent up sexual frustration thrown in for good measure.
I’m not one for rom-coms in literature. I prefer to leave that to film. But this one drew me in specifically because of the last line in its description:
Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.
That hooked me. It signaled this would be more than just a fairy tale; it would show us a bit of the characters. As someone who loves reading, writing, and the process of both, that was something I could latch onto. Turns out there was more romance in this one than I expected. Like way more. This is a full on rom-com…but I didn’t hate it! In fact, I found myself going back to re-read some of the more fun sections the way I watch movies like When Harry Met Sally or Crazy Rich Asians over and over (and over) again. Am I turning into a chick lit fan?! I did love how it called out people like me who often shame the genre. Ok, Beach Read, I see you.
It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also a book for people who love books. And for people who know what it’s like to work through something when they’re stuck at home. Considering that’s all of us right now in quarantine, it feels highly relatable.
4 out of 5 stars.
Pair with: A Twisted Tea