Beach Read takes place in North Bear Shores, Michigan. January Andrews has lost her father over a year ago and is finally going to clear out her father’s lake cabin that he shared with his mistress. January is a best selling romance writer and is in a slump and has been since her father died. She dropped out of college when her mother was diagnosed with cancer for the second time. She moved back home to take care of her and never left. At her father’s funeral, she meets her father’s mistress, Sonya, when Sonya hands her a letter and key to the lake house. This created a riff between January and her mother. Now, a year later, and after her boyfriend of seven years, Jacques, dumped her, January has taken the step to move to North Bear Shores and sell the house.

Augustus Everett is the polar opposite of January. He writes literary fiction and kills his entire cast off. He and January went to college together and were never really friends. After all, they were completely different. In college, Augustus, or Gus, would always critique January’s work to the bone. Of course January wouldn’t like him. Gus has been living in North Bear Shores for five years now and is currently in a writing slump as well. Conveniently, Gus lives right next door to January’s dad’s house. The two live next to each other comfortably for a while, till one hazy evening, the two start a bet to get them out of their slumps. Gus will spend the summer writing something happy, while January will write the next Great American Novel. The person who gets their books bought first, using a pen name, wins and the other has to endorse the book. And of course, bragging rights. To help each other get into the right mindset for their genres, Gus takes January to interviews with surviving members of a backwoods death cult, and January takes Gus to cute, rom-com dates. Gus makes January promise not to fall in love with him….

When I started Beach Read, I was not expecting the emotional novel that revealed itself to me everytime I flipped the page. The first half of the book was a little hard to read. It was kind of slow and I didn’t get what the plot was or how we would get to end and wrap the book up. Of course, I had some idea because this is classified as contemporary romance, and that has certain expectations. They were met. The second half of the book was when I really got into the story and couldn’t put it down. There was something so real and lifelike about the story and the writing. There weren’t typical rom-com problems in the story. The characters were real and had real problems and emotions. It was nice to finally see a realistic “rom-com” story. I put rom-com in quotes, because that wasn’t the main plot for the story. The story was about January navigating life after her father’s death and his affair coming to light. 

I really resonated with this book because I’ve had to deal with losing someone to cancer in my family. I’ve dealt with the aftermath of someone passing that was so close to you, that you felt like you weren’t going to make it without them. This book had me in tears multiple times. A few times I had to stop and sleep off the pain because there were so many emotions going on. Place on shelf: earned.