“Beach Read”

“Beach Read” by Emily Henry 

Romance writer January Andrews doesn’t think she believes in Happily Ever After anymore.

When her father’s secret affair comes to light after his unexpected death, January can’t help but feel like her parents’ relationship — the relationship she’s idolized and tried to emulate her entire life — has been a lie. And when her boyfriend of seven years breaks up with her a few months later, she begins to think happy endings are entirely fictional.

Her editor has been hounding her to write her next novel, but “here’s the thing about writing Happily Ever Afters: it helps if you believe in them.”

In Emily Henry’s “Beach Read” (Berkley), January is nearly broke, and if she can’t bring herself to write another novel, she’ll have no choice but to move back in with her mother — the mother who refuses to answer any of January’s questions about her father’s affair, let alone acknowledge it.

January sequesters herself to the house off Lake Michigan that she inherited from her father where she hopes to squeeze out any last drop of romance she has into a halfway decent manuscript. She’s got three months left to produce a book for her publisher, and other than cleaning out her father’s “love shack” to put on the market, there should be no distractions.

If it was difficult to write before, it’s damn near impossible now that she’s realized her grouchy new neighbor isn’t a stranger — he’s her college rival, Augustus Everett, the guy she and her best friend nicknamed “Sexy Evil Gus” after a hot and heavy night at a frat party. The man whose own literary career has been a smashing success can be seen brooding, beer in hand, from her porch.

When a drunken January admits that she hasn’t been able to write a word in over a year, Gus suggests a wager as a remedy for writer’s block: He’ll try his hand at a “Happily Ever After” if January steps outside of her comfort zone and writes his kind of literary fiction. The loser will have to endorse whomever’s book sells first.

As the two spend increasingly more time together, teaching each other how to write in their respective genres, January starts to think that maybe “Sexy Evil Gus” isn’t as evil as she once thought … and that he’s still as sexy as ever.

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