I was emailed by the publisher to see if I’d like to read this having enjoyed ‘One Day In December’ by Josie Silver. I always find this a bit more of a risk than selecting something I’ve already seen reviewed on Net Galley – but I went with it!
Here’s the blurb:
“He doesn’t believe in happy endings.
She’s lost her faith that they exist.
But could they find one together?
January is a hopeless romantic who narrates her life like she’s the lead in a blockbuster movie.
Gus is a serious literary type who thinks true love is a fairy-tale.
But January and Gus have more in common than you’d think:
They’re both broke.
They’ve got crippling writer’s block.
And they need to write bestsellers before summer ends.
The result? A bet to swap genres see who gets published first.
The risk? In telling each other’s stories, their worlds might be changed entirely…
Set over one sizzling summer, Beach Read is a witty love story that will make you laugh as much as cry.”
The cover and blurb made me think this was going to be a frothy book to read on a summer holiday (remember those?!) but that was fine with me. But it was so much more than that – and much darker and deeper than I expected.
When I read the first couple of pages I have to say my heart sank – I thought this is going to be a twee American coming of age story – but I decided to persevere – and I am so very, very glad I did!
After the initial back story setting, the storyline follows January and Gus who are now next door neighbours – although in a slight ‘suspend your belief for a bit’ actually knew each other back in college. Both reasonably successful writers – but in totally different genres – and they decide to swap!
As part of the genre swapping they each arrange a weekly trip out (not a date, totally, definitely not a date!) – Gus takes January to interview escaped members of a local death cult (he writes high brow serious literature) and then January arranges a trip to the fair or to go line dancing in true rom com style!
The tension builds as the story twists and turns in a brilliantly clever way – and the sexual tension builds at the same time! There are some really well written sex scenes – not graphic – but incorporate the tension that has built up amazingly well, they were perfect.
Whilst the thread of ‘will they / won’t they’ runs through the book – there’s also some other serious stuff dealt with too – grief for the loss of a parent – and a relationship, finding out secrets about family members you didn’t know, marriage break ups, parental relationships etc – so I would say it falls in between January and Gus’s genres perfectly!!
I loved both January and Gus and their friendship / relationship – and I also really liked the other characters – January’s best friend, and Gus’s Aunt and her wife were brilliantly written and brought new dynamics to the book.
Throughout the book I was desperate to know what was going to happen next – and it was one of those books where you end up going to bed late as you just read that little bit more each time!
I’m not 100% sure why it’s even called ‘Beach Read’ – although books are read on the beach near the end as their houses are on the shores of Lake Michigan – but it’s definitely not a frothy, summer, beach read in my opinion – it’s much better than that. I will be recommending this to friends far and wide when it is published later in the summer in the UK.
Thanks so much to the publishers and NetGalley for my ARC.