Written by Emily Henry
Published by Berkley, May 19, 2020
My star rating – 4 stars
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.
Going into this book, I’m not going to lie, I was extremely nervous. I heard a few people mention that they didn’t like this authors adult romance books and, this one in particular, wasn’t your typical “Rom-Com”. While I agree that this book was a lot different than the norm, I think it really worked for me and I enjoyed this one a lot!
So we have romance writer January, who moves into her fathers beach house after she breaks up with her boyfriend and her father passes away, leaving her the keys. Her agent is expecting her next novel any day now and she’s fighting writers block. She figures that she can finally get it done while alone at the beach house as she prepares to sell it. Of course, her next door neighbour just so happens to be her college rival Augustus, who she had a love hate relationship with. When both have writers block, they decide to switch genres – she writes a hard hitting contemporary, and he writes a happily ever after.
As I mentioned, this isn’t your typical rom-com. Of course, there were some cliche rom-com scene’s, and your usual “roll your eyes because go figure” type of moments, but this was so much deeper than that. There were quite a few important topics covered and it all worked well together. We had a little bit of the conversation about men vs women writers and that it seems like men are always the first to be taken seriously. And then there’s the stigma that romance writers aren’t “real writers” which made me crazy but I’ve heard that in real life all too often. She even goes into the fact that when a writer changes genres, they may need to search for a different publisher because they won’t want to publish something that isn’t what the writer is known for. It was all really interesting!
And there was a lot of talk about relationships, from so many different angles. Happy times, hard times, separations, struggles with health problems, affairs, divorce, and a few others. January always thought that her parents were the perfect couple, making the writing of happily ever afters that much easier. But when that spell is broken she finds it difficult to write. I did feel like sometimes it was explaining/glorifying affairs though. People refusing to talk about it and trying to explain why it happened, why they felt it was ok, and why they should be loved regardless of their actions. There’s also the fact that the two main characters were in long and committed relationships and now they need to learn to trust again. I loved the way that part was written because they both had totally different things to get over and they both moved at a different pace.
There was even conversations about losing yourself through being a parent and going through a cancer diagnosis. You give so much of yourself in a day. Either to your partner, your kids, your job, your recovery – and it’s so easy to lose yourself and your identity through it all. We all experience it. I know I have. I’m actually in the middle of it right now lol.
I will say though, that the pace was the biggest issue with this one. It started off strong and then, somewhere around the middle, it stalled. It was the same situation on repeat. The characters would write all week, do research with Gus on Friday, research with January on Saturday, they would feel sparks of attraction then act on them, then completely get scared away and spend the rest of the week trying to forget it ever happened.
Cheating and slow pacing aside, I really did enjoy this book! I liked that it’s a rom-com romance with some harder hitting topics. It felt a little more realistic that everything wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows! I can’t wait to read more of her adult romances in the future!
Until next time, happy reading!