Looking to escape to the beach this summer? Make it a double vacation by bringing along an engrossing read to enjoy during your down time while in transit or while you’re lazily soaking up the gloriously sunny atmosphere. Not only are you escaping to the beach, you’re also escaping your usual life as you slip in the shoes of your current main character. Of course, that’s assuming you’re not reading The Game of Thrones, where the character’s lives (or lack of it) don’t really offer much of an escape.
Young Adult Romance: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
When Reagan O’Neill joins her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery’s 24-city tour to get a fresh start on a life plagued by bad decisions and a bad boyfriend, the last thing she expects is to meet boy-next-door Matt Finch, Lilah’s opening act who exudes charm with a capital C.
Open Road Summer may be a YA read, but it’s a perfect escape for older readers, too. It’s the kind of story that makes you want to relive your teen years and wish for a Matt Finch of your own. Also recommended: The Start of You and Me, also by Emery Lord.
New Adult Romance: The Deal by Elle Kennedy
The Deal puts together Hannah Wells, a girl with quite a few issues with sex, and Garrett Graham, a college hockey star who has more than enough women willing to go at it with him. The two strike a deal: Hannah tutors Garrett to help him stay on the team, while Garrett pretends to date Hannah to increase her chances of catching her crush’s attention. Of course, this being a romance, the two end up wildly attracted to each other. But is their mutual attraction enough to keep them together?
Despite the emotional baggage carried by both characters, this read doesn’t come off as a heavy read. It deals with the drama without exploiting our emotions and quite frankly, it’s a refreshing turn. And have I mentioned that this book is oh-so-sexy-fan-me-before-I-spontaneously-combust? Also recommended: The Mistake, the second book in this series.
Adult Romance: Risking It All by Tessa Bailey
Tessa Bailey is known for ultra-sizzling romances with lots of empowered women and dirty talk. She’s back in form with Risking it All, the first book in her series Crossing the Line. Seraphina Newsom is an NYPD detective who has gone undercover to investigate and avenge her brother’s death. The guy, Bowen Driscol, is the reluctant heir to a crime syndicate, who is blackmailed by the NYPD to secretly keep an eye on Seraphina. Which is easier said than done, especially when he has to fight his growing attraction for her.
Secret identities, high stakes, a damaged hero seeking redemption and the main characters going at it like rabbits. This book is an engrossing read that’s impossible to put down. But be warned; if you blush easily, don’t read this in public. Or at least, read this while you’re sunbathing so you have an excuse for when you blush from your head to the tips of your curled toes.
Adult Fiction: Nowhere but Home by Liza Palmer
A feel good story about Queenie Wake, a country girl who returns from her citified life as a professional chef in New York to the small town life in North Star, Texas, where she needs to deal with family, the people gossiping about her family, her lack of prospects, and her lack of disinterest with her old high school love.
This book is funny and endearing, with compelling characters who you will easily root for. It also has a deep emotional backbone that uplifts instead of depresses, leaving you feeling good and with a new revitalized outlook.
Fantasy: The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
The story starts in colonial Malacca, but it doesn’t stay there as it travels from this plane to the next. It tells the story of Li Lan, a girl from a good, but bankrupt family, who receives a wedding proposal to be the bride of a powerful family’s son. The only catch? He recently died under mysterious circumstances. In effect, she would be bethroed and married to a dead man.
While the story seems to begin like an Amy Tan novel, a family drama deeply steeped in Chinese tradition, it quickly evolves into a wondrous fantasy, complete with dragons and vengeful spirits, much like those told by fabled Japanese director, Hayao Miyazaki. The transition sounds weird on paper, but it works wonderfully in the book. Once you’ve entered the story’s world, you’ll want to get lost in it forever.