on May 19, 2020
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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.
I had set myself up for heartbreak and now I suspected there was nothing I could do but brace myself and wait for it to hit.
If I had picked this up first, I might have been hesitant to read People We Meet on Vacation. The vibe of these two books could not be more different. They have the same delicious, slow burn of attraction and romance with cutesy heroines and broody heroes, but that’s the extent of the overlap. Beach Read is darker, moodier, complex. Unless you’re into true crime, dark family dramas, with a smallish side of kissing, this book is anything but the beach read the title and cover suggest. There is a heaviness – much like the humidity of a Midwestern summer – that just seeps into everything. It’s not often that I would choose to pick up a book about dead mothers (his) and cheating fathers (hers), but this scratched and unknown itch amid my parade of fluffy cotton candy books. Despite its flaws, I didn’t want to stop reading.
The rain fell all around us, and I let go of everything that wasn’t Gus, wasn’t this moment. I lost myself in him, and instead of trying to convince myself that someday everything would be okay, I focused on the fact that, right now, it already was.
Emily Henry’s writing is gorgeous. I could read her prose nonstop and never tire of it. She writes some of the hottest make-out scenes I’ve read in ages that left me feeling like a raging hormone-monster teen all over again (but in a good way, if that exists?). I could have done with way less of the New Eden cult secondary plot line; it was full of abuse and trauma that I frankly didn’t feel was necessary, and ultimately is responsible for the missing stars in my rating. There was already sufficient evidence to support the “we’ve both seen some shit, but let’s bang it all better” that was always going to happen between Gus and January. Unless their joint investigation somehow wrapped back around to directly impacting our MCs, the only cult I’m interested in when it comes to romance is that of Meg Ryan.
I know no matter how long I get to love you, it will be worth whatever comes next.