Cover for Beach Read by Emily Henry

About the Book

Title: Beach Read
Published: 2020
Swoonworthy Scale: 10

First Impressions: Cartoon Cutesy
What’s Your Type?
Enemies to Lovers, Forced Proximity, Bets, Beach Houses, Writers, Opposites Attract, Old Grudges
The Lean: You Love to Hate Him
We Need to Talk:Fluent in Sexy
Was It Good For You?
Smart AND Hot

First Impressions: Cartoon Cutesy

This cover is so adorable, and perfect for the book. Cutesy cartoons are all the rage right now, but I find this one particularly well done. Maybe my favorite detail is the way “a novel” is embroidered on the rim of January’s hat!

What’s Your Type?

  • Enemies to lovers
  • Forced proximity
  • Bets
  • Beach houses
  • Writers
  • Opposites attract
  • Old grudges

Dating Profile

January Andrews has it all, she’s a young, best-selling romance author with a perfect apartment, perfect boyfriend, perfect family. That is, until she suddenly finds herself single and homeless with nothing left but the key to her dead dad’s love shack. Yeah, you read that right. Her dad died and left her the beach house where he used to shack up with his mistress. Y I K E S.

So when January arrives at her new home, she’s already in a pretty shit mood. Finding out she has an asshole, partying neighbor is just the icing on top of the shit cake. And the rainbow sprinkles on top of the icing on top of the shit cake? The fact that her asshole, partying neighbor is none other than acclaimed literary fiction author Augustus Everett, a.k.a. the pretentious asshat she had to take creative writing classes with all through college.

Turns out January and her long-time rival are both struggling with a bit of writer’s block, and in an attempt to get those creative juices flowing, they make a bet. January has to spend her summer writing a literary fiction novel, and Gus has to write a romance novel. And when they aren’t writing, January will school Gus on all the best rom-com tropes, and Gus will take January to interview former members of a doomsday cult. Suddenly, these two college rivals find it hard to deny that they have more in common than they always thought.

Meet Cute

Before she even knows who he is, January knows she hates her neighbor. He’s kind of a jerk to her one night when it’s too dark to see his face, and then he has this huge obnoxious party while she’s desparately trying to write. When she stumbles into the small town’s book store and offers to sign copies of her books – only to be told by the bookstore owner that they don’t HAVE any copies of her books for her to sign – she is mortified when none other than Augustus Everett himself appears in the store. AND OF COURSE the store not only has tons of copies of his books, but an entire display of them in the middle of the store. It’s a perfect set up to lend weight to January’s hatred of her old rival Gus, and the reader is immediately on her side as she commences hating him once again.

But with Gus living next door, it’s almost impossible for them to avoid each other. And once they realize that they’re in the same writer’s-blocked boat, they throw caution to the wind and decide to stop trying to avoid each other and instead trying to work together…apart. Which is more challenging than expected.

The Lean: You Love to Hate Him

From While You Were Sleeping, Bill Pullman explains attraction to Sandra Bullock

As a person who reads/writes romance novels AND loathes pretentious, literary asshats, this enemies-to-lovers set up was incredibly enjoyable for me because Gus is totally the guy I love to hate. Only he’s also hot, and he can banter with the best of them, and okay, maybe he’s not as bad as January always thought. The set up for their mutual disdain felt real but so did the undercurrent of HOT attraction they’d both been trying to deny since college. It’s inevitable that they eventually give in and jump each other’s bones (this is a romance novel, after all), and when they do, the decade’s worth of pent up sexual frustration sets these pages ablaze, baby!

Dirty Talk

Henry makes us wait for it, but the build-up is so heady at times that Gus and January’s banter feels like actual foreplay. There are enough sexy moments sprinkled throughout to satiate, but the pacing doesn’t drag. Even once January and Gus give in to their lust (a poem!), there are still plenty of things keeping them apart, which makes every moment they have together sexy as hell.

Ms. Perky’s Prize for Purplest Prose

Teacher types on laptop while talking to student
Typing a romance novel on a computer screen

Henry knows how to please a reader: sex against book shelves. The ultimate fantasy! Here’s a sneak peek at one of January and Gus’ more *ahem* literary moments.

His first thrust was mind-meltingly slow, and everything in my body pulled taut around him as he sank deep into me. My breath caught, stars popping behind my eyes from the surprise of his size and the wave of pleasure racing out of him.

“Oh god,” I gasped as he rocked into me.

“Are you praying to me?” he teased against my ear, sending a tingle down my spine.

We Need To Talk: Fluent in Sexy

Here at FYA, we were already big-time fans of Emily Henry. Not only is Beach Read her first crack at adult romance, it’s also a rare instance of contemporary writing for her that isn’t magical realism (the exception to this being Hello Girls, a YA Thelma and Louise that she co-wrote with Brittany Cavallaro and which you should absolutely read this instant). I was excited to get my greedy hands on this book for, like, all the reasons listed above, but also because I was interested to see how Henry’s ethereal writing would translate to adult rom-com. And great news for all of us: it translates flawlessly.

Was It Good For You? Smart AND Hot

Girl, yes! This felt like such a smart romance novel. It has all the tropes you love, without ever crossing the line into cheesy cliches. The banter was witty and never cringey. The characters are cool and eccentric but feel like real people that you definitely want to hang out with IRL. The slow burn from enemies to…not enemies is well-paced and filled with a few surprises along the way.

FTC Full Disclosure: I did not receive money or Girl Scout cookies of any kind (not even the gross cranberry ones) for writing this review. Beach Read is available now.

Rosemary lives in Little Rock, AR with her husband and cocker spaniel. At 16, she plucked a copy of Sloppy Firsts off the "New Releases" shelf and hasn't stopped reading YA since. She is a brand designer who loves tiki drinks, her mid-century modern house, and obsessive Google mapping.