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.

DISTRACTION OR INSPIRATION?

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 she can’t help but notice that he’s still as sexy as ever.

AUTHORS OF THEIR OWN FATES

Amidst navigating the quickly blurring lines between writing partners and friends, and friends and something more, Gus and January will have to let go of the narrative they think fate has been writing for them and bravely take back the pen.

Emily Henry’s Beach Read redefines the story of love as one we write ourselves one word at a time, day by day, rather than as some uncontrollable tale spun for each of us by the universe. There are good days and days that’ll drive us mad, but if we add up “all the shit and all the wildflowers, the world [will] come out positive,” simply because there will always be people and moments that make life and love worth trudging through the muck thrown our way.

Although written with the intention that this story would be enjoyed at the beach, I’m sure, Henry’s novel is certain to brighten up any space with its humor and romance. Beach Read, especially in uncertain times such as these, reminds us that we each have the power to choose to bask in the light peeking through the storm clouds over dwelling in their darkness.

Visit the Penguin Random House website for more on the book and how to purchase.

Photo © Devyn Glista, St.Blanc.Studios

About Emily Henry:

Emily Henry writes stories about love and family for both teens and adults. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the New York Center for Art & Media Studies and now spends most of her time in Cincinnati, OH, and the part of Kentucky just beneath it.