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Our Review

‘She was in pain. I knew that. But I was in pain too, so much of it that for once I couldn’t laugh or dance any measure of it away. I couldn’t even write myself a happy ending.’

Beach Read by Emily Henry without question one of our favourite books of 2020. The storyline is so much more than what the cover and synopsis imply. So much more. We’ll come back to the cover later. Beach Read had us sobbing, it had us questioning human relations. It had us compelled! The writing was outstanding. This is so much more than a romance. It is a plethora of stories entwined perfectly crafted and shaped into an all-encompassing story of life. Beach Read is also a truly wonderful love story which slowly builds across the chapters.

“Promise not to fall in love with me.”

You know those romance books where the romantic tension is so agonisingly slow that it builds and builds your anticipation into something so excruciatingly intense that you crave it so badly your anticipation is almost unbearable. The lingering touches the eye contact, the subtle body language and racing thoughts and hearts. The anticipation of that first kiss, the heated desire for what comes after. Emily Henry magnificently wrote this to perfection.

‘He was always leaning on something, like he couldn’t bear to hold all his own weight upright for more than a second or two. He lounged, he sprawled, he hunched and he reclined. Now I wondered if he was simply tired, if life had beaten him into a permanent slouch, folded him over himself so no one could get at that soft center…’

Gus and January are two very complex and completely lovable characters who happen to become neighbours on the beachfront of a small town. Both are authors; of literary fiction and happily ever after romance, respectively. On paper, they could not be any more different even if they tried, but then again, the action is a reaction to what lies underneath and what spurs the pen isn’t it?! Carrying heavy loads and a clogged up minds, both are suffering from writers’ block and need something epic to happen to release the flow of words. A dare becomes an out of control animal which forces these two wonderful characters to face not only themselves but the truth they so desperately hide from.

‘…nothing felt more important than the book, than giving these fictional lovers the ending they deserved, giving my readers the ending they deserved. People clinging to whatever steadfast thing they could find? Yes. Yes, that made sense. It made perfect sense.’

We all have a very personal perception of life, the people in it and how they see us. It is shaped by experience, actions and their consequences. Ours and theirs. It is not always a perception based on a full picture or truth, because no one truly knows what motivates another person’s actions or reactions. The way in which Emily Henry writes a story is truly mesmerising and engages every single one of our emotions. It’s truly stunning, and we have to mention how brilliant it is to feel so immersed and fully engaged in character conversations, be they hilarious banter, raw emotions or grief stricken anger. This Author gave us the opportunity to experience everything which is so refreshing, as opposed to being told what happened and how to feel. She afforded us the intense experience of peeling the layers off one by one, to take a chisel to two hearts, thus discovering and forming a true and honest comprehension and connection to January and Gus.

‘…if I ever got to kiss Gus again, I wanted it to be this version of him. The one who didn’t feel so weighed down by the world around him that he had to lean just to stay upright.’

We literally couldn’t have loved this book any more than what we did. We loved the humorous banter, the romantic and sexual tension, the personal discoveries, the tragic heartbreak, the second chances at life and love, and the underlying message that if you find yourself stuck in life, look for an outside perspective. Whilst we only hear January’s POV, the superb way in which Beach Read was written ensured that we fully connected with Gus. We felt his pain, we cringed at his awkwardness and we felt his passion.

“When you love someone, you want to make this world look different for them. To give all the ugly stuff meaning, and amplify the good. That’s what you do. For readers, for me. You make beautiful things, because you love the world, and maybe the world doesn’t always look how it does in your books, but…I think putting them out there, that changes the world a little bit. And the world can’t afford to lose that. I always admired that. The way your writing always makes the world seem brighter, and the people in it a little braver.”

We do have to mention the book cover in direct relation to the actual story within. We can’t quite decide if this cover is a clever satirical decision or an ironic nod to what the title Beach Read actually represents or whether it is fully intended to imply that this is a book you would grab to get lost in, whilst living your best life in the sun. Any which way, this cover does not, in our humble opinion, reflect the life and love story within, which is what is in fact sporadically argued in this story, and we have to say -great point well made-` by Emily Henry. Yet it is also a truth that it would indeed turn many readers off, which is a sad fact. So to play devil’s advocate, what the gist of truth in the words within are conveying, they will in fact be lost at the first hurdle. The irony and sarcasm is certainly transparent in the storyline and quite frankly incredibly apt. Beach Read is a brilliant read, the snarky and cheeky banter, the intense emotions, the heartbreak, the self-realisations and the overcoming of life’s severe kicks in the gut. It’s just such a wonderful read. So, we urge readers to pick this book up, especially the readers who may fall at the first ‘book cover hurdle’. This is not a story to be missed!

“I’ve never met someone who is so perfectly my favorite person. When I think about being with you every day, no part of me feels claustrophobic.”


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.

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  1. Favbookshelf said:

    Such a well written review. The way you have inserted quotes is amazing. I guess this is going straight to my TBR.


    1. TotallyBookedBlog Post author said:

      Thank you, hope you enjoy it as much as we did! x x


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