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The 12 Best Romance Novels for Beach Read Season

Tertulia •
May 25th, 2023

Just in time for Memorial Day, we’ve collected the best love stories to read to the soothing sound of the waves—whether you’re really at the beach this summer or simply wishing you were there. There are two Regency-era romps for Bridgerton fans, a crop of fresh releases heating up BookTok, plus an SNL-inspired love story that’s giving some readers serious Pete Davidson vibes. Grab a cocktail, put on your shades and dive in!

Newly released

Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld

In this sexy SNL send-up, an exasperated late-night comedy show writer who’s soured on finding love meets a dreamy pop star who flips her dating worldview upside down. W Magazine’s Kate Dwyer couldn't put it down, "Everyone I know who has read Romantic Comedy has devoured it in less than 48 hours; I myself pulled an all-nighter." And the sensational Brandon Taylor confessed, "She has so accurately conjured this annoying man that I keep wanting to google him to see what he looks like."

This Bird Has Flown by Susanna Hoffs

Do you feel our hearts beating? A fading one-hit wonder gets a second chance at love and stardom after meeting a handsome stranger on a flight, in this humorous debut from the co-founder of beloved 1980s band The Bangles. It’s "the smart, ferocious rock-star redemption romance you didn't know you needed," gushed The New York Times

To Swoon and to Spar by Martha Waters

Attention all Bridgerton fans, the Queen hath spoken: "I love this book... you've got a marriage of convenience, and you've got a house that might be haunted... the characters are lovable and three-dimensional, and the dialogue is sharp. I really think that Bridgerton fans will like this one." Fine praise from the original author of the Netflix smash hit, Julia Quinn, who knows how to quicken hearts with a Regency-era romance.

Happy Place by Emily Henry

No rom-com essentials list is complete without the bestselling author of Beach Read and People We Meet on Vacation. Even rom-com screen icon Drew Barrymore is obsessed with Henry's addictive, fun-filled romances. In her latest, we meet a broken-up couple pretending to be together on vacay with friends in a charming Maine cottage. Add wine, cheese, luscious lobster—and voila! A scrumptious seaside escape awaits!

Rosewater by LIV Little

Singer John Legend's Get Lifted imprint leaves us smitten with a fierce debut novel that packs steamy hook-ups, poetry, and self-discovery into one emotional coming-of-age tale. Evicted from her south London flat and couchsurfing with friends, a queer Black poet named Elsie yearns for love while struggling to make ends meet. Acclaimed author Bernardine Evaristo declares that "Little has created a lively, believable and likable female protagonist whose relatability lies both in her strength and vulnerability. I imagine many young people have been waiting for just this novel to speak to them and about them. It is a generational first."

Super Bloom by Megan Tady 

Adrift after her boyfriend’s untimely passing, a lonely masseuse at a high-end Vermont spa gets a second chance at love when a famous romance novelist visiting the resort makes her a tantalizing offer. It’s a tender tale of love, friendship, new beginnings and the healing power of words, which novelist Steven Rowley found to be a “quirky, wryly funny look at grief,” and Kirkus called “an alternately heartbreaking and hopeful debut about the importance of writing your own story.”

Out in Paperback

A Lady's Guide to Fortune-Hunting by Sophie Irwin

Another Regency-era delight starring an unconventional heroine on the prowl for a husband in London’s high society. This American Library Association Alex Award winner is “a delicious take on the marriage plot” per Daisy Jones and The Six author Taylor Jenkins Reid, who told her Insta followers: “It is sharp and smart and immensely fun and was such a blast to read.”

The Homewreckers by Mary Kay Andrews

Who says you can’t find love while gut-renovating your dream beach home? In a Savannah, Georgia-set romantic caper full of twists and turns, a struggling young widow gets a once-in-a-lifetime shot on a reality TV show, but is thrust headfirst into a mysterious missing persons case. Lilac Girls author Martha Hall Kelly called this southern charmer “the perfect combination of romance and mystery.”

Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan

When her marriage falls apart, a small town screenwriter writes an emotional script about the collapse. But when the suddenly hot screenplay is picked up by a major studio and a former Sexiest Man Alive is cast as her deadbeat ex, things really start to get interesting for the newly single mom and her kids. Readers who finish devouring this sweet escape can jump right into her latest romantic tale coming on June 6.

Booktok famous

​Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman

With more than 25 million TikTok views and counting, this sizzling tale tracks a young journalist whose interview with a Hollywood dreamboat turns into way more than either of them ever expected. And Sussman’s devoted fans can rejoice because next week she’s got another steamy helping of celeb-heavy romance on the way.

Honey and Spice by Bolu Babalola

A double whammy Reese and TiKTok Book Club pick about a young Black British woman who finds herself swept up in a phony relationship with a notoriously smooth player at her university. But it’s not just fawning followers singing the sexy debut novel’s praises. "If she weren’t a writer, Bolu Babalola could be a great cultural anthropologist. Her work is rife with observations that have the richness of field notes," proclaimed Carole V. Bell in The New York Times.

Every Summer After by Carley Fortune

What if you could go back and do it all over again? A 30-year old urbanite returns to the idyllic lakeshore of her youth hoping to rekindle a glorious summer love affair that went up in flames a decade ago. Millions of TikTokers are obsessed with this emotional bestseller, and her next book is already picking up steam with more than 2 million views since dropping this month.

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