When I stumbled upon Beach Read in the technical services department at the library where I work, I immediately added it to my TBR list. Everything about this book screamed fun romance, from the cover art to the back cover description.
The first act of the book fulfilled my expectations - two rival authors happen to live next door to one another at the beach one summer and love brews. They make a bet to write outside their comfort zones. Hunky, emotionally complicated Augustus Everett's last literary fiction novel is still on the New York Times best seller list one year after publication. Meanwhile, our witty, hopeless romantic protagonist January Andrews churns out romance after romance that tie up nicely with a happily ever after. Having known each other since college (and not-so-secretly crushing hard then and now), January and Augustus challenge each other to write a full-fledged manuscript in the other's genre by the end of summer. Whoever's book gets published first will get a glowing review from the loser.
But after the first act, Beach Read doesn't follow your stereotypical beach read's plot. Our protagonist, whose father died unexpectedly, goes through all the stages of grief throughout the book. She stays angry for a long time, due to the new knowledge that her father lived a secret second life. The house she is living in was actually his hookup spot with his mistress. January even runs into said mistress on multiple occasions during her summer. Writing a not-so-happy book is cathartic for her, as is falling head over heels in love with her neighbor, who has his own troubles to work out on his own.
While the ending was predictable, the journey along the way was unexpected. If you're looking for a beach read, Beach Read may not be the book for you. But if you're looking for a romance with substance and characters with complications, it may be the perfect escape. You can borrow Beach Read from your local library or purchase it from your local bookstore or order it on Amazon here.
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Danielle Kelley Tolbird
Surrounded by books by day, Tolbird works as the communications coordinator of her local library. She writes about her favorite books, faith in God and daily life.