Are you really on vacation without a breezy beach read or two to keep you company? These books offer emotional depth, coupled with a mostly sunny tone that’s just right for relaxing at the beach or poolside.
So, be sure to pack a few of these hot titles in your beach bag or carry-on:
The Romantic Agenda
What would a summer read be without a love triangle (or quadrilateral)? In Claire Kann’s new rom-com, Joy is asexual, proud, and more than a little in love with her (also ace) best friend, Malcolm. When he invites her along on a weekend getaway with his new girlfriend, Summer, and Summer’s friend, Fox, Joy isn’t sure what to expect. A plot to make Malcolm jealous soon spirals into real feelings and new discoveries. And all four must come to terms with what they really want, rather than what they’ve been trying to convince the world they want.
When She Dreams
Looking for a little mystery in your beach read? Try this noir-tinged mystery/romance by Amanda Quick. In 1930s California, Maggie, an aspiring writer and assistant to an advice columnist, enlists the help of Sam, a private investigator, to look into threats against her boss. Instead of just finding a blackmailer, however, the pair find a twisted conspiracy of flash pseudoscience and high-wire cons. And it all might lead back to Maggie and her “talent” for powerful, prescient, lucid dreams.
The Homewreckers: A Novel
Mary Kay Andrews is one of the queens of beach reads, and she’s back again this year with this touching and funny novel. At age 25, Hattie has already built a career in home restoration and has been married for five years. However, when her husband dies suddenly, she throws herself into restoring her very expensive latest project. When a home-restoration TV show comes calling, Hattie jumps at the opportunity, but finds herself butting heads with her costar, who is either her second chance at love or her worst nightmare.
Emily Henry has become a beach-read must, and her latest might be her best yet. Cutthroat literary agent, Nora, is used to being the “other” kind of rom-com woman. She’s not the sweet heroine, but the sharp-edged city girl who gets left behind. When she accompanies her sister on an impulsive small-town vacation, Nora is dismayed to run into Charlie, a grumpy editor she knows and dislikes. However, Nora and Charlie start to realize there’s more to both of them than the roles they’ve assigned themselves.
Every Summer After
Carley Fortune set her debut novel in a lakeside town full of past regrets and second chances. A decade after blowing up her life with a big mistake, Persephone returns to her hometown, where she dreads seeing Sam, the man whose life is tangled with hers in very complicated ways. They’ve got one weekend to reconnect and try again, or to make the same mistakes all over again.
Set on You (The Influencer Series Book 1)
Amy Lea’s debut rom-com puts a smart, body-positive spin on influencer culture and “summer bods.” Crystal, a curvy fitness influencer, isn’t a fan when firefighter, Scott, starts stealing her favorite spot at the gym. When they discover their grandparents are getting married, they’re forced to spend more time together. However, a viral social media post could stop their connection before it’s even had a chance to start.
Mustique Island: A Novel
Sarah McCoy blends history and fiction in this buzzy beach read. Former Texas pageant queen, Willy May, constructs a villa on the glamorous island of Mustique. With international celebrities and even a princess as her neighbors, she soon finds that the decadence of the island is hiding some major secrets. In the end, Willy May will have to decide what price she’s willing to pay for glamour and exclusivity.
The Emma Project: A Novel (The Rajes Series Book 4)
Sonali Dev’s modern adaptations of Jane Austen novels continues with this twist on Emma. After getting out of a fake relationship, Naina wants to spend her time making her microfinance foundation a success. When she crosses paths with her ex’s charming, carefree younger brother, a friends-with-benefits arrangement seems mutually beneficial. Of course, it doesn’t take long for real feelings to emerge and start making things much trickier.
Christina Lauren’s signature style is front and center in this treasure-hunting, romantic adventure. Lily, the daughter of a famed, but absent treasure hunter, makes her living leading tourist-trap “treasure hunts.” When her ex shows up, it’s the last thing she wants. However, when a legendary treasure proves to be the real deal, her entire future gets turned upside down.
The Summer Place: A Novel
Jennifer Weiner’s novels are pretty much a summer tradition, at this point. In her latest, Sarah’s life is thrown into chaos when her stepdaughter, Ruby, announces that she’s marrying her pandemic boyfriend in just three months. Ruby, Sarah, and Sarah’s mother, Veronica, all confront the rough edges of their pasts as they hurtle toward a day that will change all of their lives forever.
Our Last Days in Barcelona
Chanel Cleeton’s latest features a mother and daughter who both find answers (and new questions) in Barcelona, 30 years apart. In the 1930s, Alicia Perez leaves Cuba after a shocking revelation about her marriage. She then confronts what might have been when she crosses paths with the man who could have been the love of her life. In the 1960s, Alicia’s daughter, Isabel, heads to Barcelona in search of her espionage-involved sister and uncovers family secrets along the way. Release date: May 24
On Gin Lane
There’s more than meets the eye going on at a glamorous beach hotel in the 1950s. In this engaging story by Brooke Lea Foster, Lee is thrilled to be marrying charming, suave Roland and leaving her family’s difficult past behind. When he presents her with a beach hotel as a pre-wedding gift, it seems like all is well—until a mysterious fire breaks out on opening night. Lee soon discovers some unwelcome truths about her fiancé as well as some much-needed realizations about herself. Release date: May 31
The Beach Trap
In Ali Brady’s novel, Blake and Kat first met at summer camp when they were 12 and were instant BFFs—until they learned they’re really half-sisters. Fifteen years later, their father dies and leaves them both a rundown beach house. Stuck working together to repair it, the sisters will have one last chance to mend their relationship or leave each other’s lives forever. Release date: June 14
How to Fake It in Hollywood: A Novel
Ava Wilder’s new romance leans into one of the genre’s favorite tropes: fake dating. Grey, a TV star whose career-making role just ended, agrees to a PR relationship with Ethan, a burned-out heartthrob looking to finish a project he started with his former partner. Of course, neither is prepared for actual feelings to develop. Release date: June 14
Island Time: A Novel
Georgia Clark’s new novel starts when the Kellys and the Lees reluctantly agree to take a joint vacation on a tropical island off the Australian coast to spend time with their married daughters. When a volcano erupts, travel to and from the island is suspended, leaving these two very different families (and a few staff members) all stuck together. As they finally start to deal with all the emotional baggage, it’s possible they might find some common ground after all. Release date: June 14
A decade ago, the Pavlin jewelry family was on top of the world. Then, a PR stunt pitted the three sisters against each other, leaving one heartbroken, one isolated, and one dead. In Jamie Brenner’s new novel, the dead sister’s daughter is searching for the truth about her mother’s death. In the process, though, she tracks down a legendary diamond and could make a name for herself without her family’s help. Release date: June 21
Fake It Till You Bake It
Fake dating plus reality TV plus baking equals Jamie Wesley’s fabulous new romance. After turning down a proposal on a reality TV dating show, Jada tries to get her life back on track by taking a job at a local bakery. When a reporter mistakes Jada and her ex-football-star boss, Donovan, for a couple, they take advantage of the opportunity. As they try to rehab their reputations and save the shop, those fake feelings become all too real. Release date: June 21
Lucie Yi Is Not a Romantic
Lucie Yi, the titular heroine of Lauren Ho’s latest novel, has sworn off romance after one too many bad breakups. To the horror of her conservative family, she signs up for a co-parenting website. She meets a man named Collin, and they agree to a totally platonic relationship to have children. Once Lucie is pregnant, she has to face her family’s disapproval and the reappearance of her ex, as she struggles to figure out what to do when life doesn’t go according to plan. Release date: June 28
The Dead Romantics
Florence, the heroine of Ashley Poston’s latest romance, lives a double life: romance ghostwriter by day, and post-breakup cynic the rest of the time. When she returns home after her father’s death, Florence is reminded of all the reasons she left in the first place. However, when she sees the ghost of her new editor lingering in her family’s funeral parlor, she’s swept up in a mystery that might even change her views on love. Release date: June 28
American Royalty: A Novel
How does a royal romance sound? That’s what Tracey Livesay delivers with a twist. American rapper, Dani “Duchess,” is shocked when buttoned-up, academic Prince Jameson asks her to be part of a tribute concert to the Queen’s late husband. The pair clash almost immediately. However, the more time they spend together, the more they realize they’re both trapped by public pressure. Release date: June 28.
Bet on It: A Novel
If a bingo hall doesn’t sound like a particularly alluring setting for romance, well, Jodie Slaughter’s latest will change your mind. After a disastrous first meeting in the frozen foods section, Aja doesn’t expect to be so attracted to Walker, her elderly bingo buddy’s estranged grandson. As Aja and Walker try to turn their mutual attraction into a no-strings arrangement, they both discover that love (unlike bingo) isn’t an easy game. Release date: July 12
No Funny Business
Stand-up meets rom-com when Amanda Aksel sends her characters out on the road. Aspiring comic, Olivia, struggles to balance her dreams with her day job. But when an audition in Los Angeles is too good to pass up, she’s stuck road-tripping to it with Nick. An established comedian, he annoys her, helps her, and flirts with her, all in equal measure. Release date: July 12
For Butter or Worse: A Rom Com (The Hollywood Series, 1)
Nina and Leo are TV baking show cohosts who can’t stand each other in Erin La Rosa’s new romance. But when a “not what it looks like” moment goes viral, fans think they’re a couple and absolutely love it. So, to make their career dreams come true, they’re stuck with each other, even though they majorly push each other’s buttons. Will one of them push too hard? Release date: July 26