Spring break is the perfect time to relax under the warm sun, with the sand at your back, the water touching your toes, and a great book in your hands. Even if you’re not headed to the beach yourself, these recently-released and upcoming beach reads will transport you to another place. Publishers’ descriptions included.
A Million Little Things by Susan Mallery
From the bestselling author of The Girls of Mischief Bay and The Friends We Keep comes a twisty tale of family dynamics that explores what can go terribly, hysterically wrong when the line between friendship and family blurs…
Zoe Saldivar is more than just single — she’s ALONE. She recently broke up with her longtime boyfriend, she works from home and her best friend Jen is so obsessed with her baby that she has practically abandoned their friendship. The day Zoe accidentally traps herself in her attic with her hungry-looking cat, she realizes that it’s up to her to stop living in isolation.
Her seemingly empty life takes a sudden turn for the complicated — her first new friend is Jen’s widowed mom, Pam. The only guy to give her butterflies in a very long time is Jen’s brother. And meanwhile, Pam is being very deliberately seduced by Zoe’s own smooth-as-tequila father. Pam’s flustered, Jen’s annoyed and Zoe is beginning to think “alone” doesn’t sound so bad, after all.
Friendship isn’t just one thing — it’s a million little things, and no one writes them with more heart and humor than book club sensation Susan Mallery!
On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins
Read the book that has book clubs everywhere falling in love! From the New York Times bestselling author of If You Only Knew comes an irresistible, heartbreaking novel that is a must read for fans of Jennifer Weiner, Emily Giffin, and Jane Green.
Ainsley O’Leary is so ready to get married — she’s even found the engagement ring her boyfriend has stashed away. What she doesn’t anticipate is being blindsided by a breakup he chronicles in a blog… which (of course) goes viral. Devastated and humiliated, Ainsley turns to her older half sister, Kate, who’s struggling with a sudden loss of her own.
Kate’s always been the poised, self-assured sister, but becoming a newlywed — and a widow — in the space of four months overwhelms her. Though the sisters were never close, she starts to confide in Ainsley, especially when she learns her late husband was keeping a secret from her.
Despite the murky blended-family dynamic that’s always separated them, Ainsley’s and Kate’s heartaches bind their summer together when they come to terms with the inevitable imperfection of relationships and family — and the possibility of one day finding love again.
The Mistress by Danielle Steel
Incomparable storyteller Danielle Steel illuminates rarely glimpsed precincts of unimaginable wealth and power, where love and freedom are the most dangerous desires of all.
Natasha Leonova’s beauty saved her life. Discovered on a freezing Moscow street by a Russian billionaire, she has lived for seven years under his protection, immersed in rarefied luxury, while he pursues his activities in a dark world that she guesses at but never sees. Her home is the world, often on one of Vladimir Stanislas’s spectacular yachts manned by scores of heavily armed crew members. Natasha’s job is to keep Vladimir happy, ask no questions, and be discreet. She knows her place, and the rules. She feels fortunate to be spoiled and protected, and is careful not to dwell on Vladimir’s ruthlessness or the deadly circles he moves in. She experiences only his kindness and generosity and believes he will always keep her safe. She is unfailingly loyal to him in exchange.
Theo Luca is the son of a brilliant, world famous, and difficult artist, Lorenzo Luca, who left his wife and son with a fortune in artwork they refuse to sell. Lorenzo’s widow, Maylis, has transformed their home in St. Paul de Vence into a celebrated restaurant decorated with her late husband’s paintings, and treats it as a museum. There, on a warm June evening, Theo first encounters Natasha, the most exquisite woman he has ever seen. And there, Vladimir lays eyes on Luca’s artwork. Two dangerous obsessions begin.
Theo, a gifted artist in his own right, finds himself feverishly painting Natasha’s image for weeks after their first meeting. Vladimir, enraged that Lorenzo’s works are not for sale, is determined to secure a painting at any price. And Natasha, who knows that she cannot afford to make even one false move, nevertheless begins to think of a world of freedom she can never experience as Vladimir’s mistress. She cannot risk her safety for another man, or even a conversation with him, as Theo longs for a woman he can never have.
From Moscow to the Riviera, Paris, and London, The Mistress is a riveting tale of vast fortune, cruelty, creative genius, and daring courage, as uncompromising individuals chart a course for collision.
Always by Sarah Jio
Enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner with her fiancé, Ryan, at one of Seattle’s chicest restaurants, Kailey Crain can’t believe her good fortune: She has a great job as a journalist and is now engaged to a guy who is perfect in nearly every way. As she and Ryan leave the restaurant, Kailey spies a thin, bearded homeless man on the sidewalk. She approaches him to offer up her bag of leftovers, and is stunned when their eyes meet, then stricken to her very core: The man is the love of her life, Cade McAllister.
When Kailey met Cade ten years ago, their attraction was immediate and intense — everything connected and felt right. But it all ended suddenly, leaving Kailey devastated. Now the poor soul on the street is a faded version of her former beloved: His weathered and weary face is as handsome as Kailey remembers, but his mind has suffered in the intervening years. Over the next few weeks, Kailey helps Cade begin to piece his life together, something she initially keeps from Ryan. As she revisits her long-ago relationship, Kailey realizes that she must decide exactly what — and whom — she wants.
Alternating between the past and the present, Always is a beautifully unfolding exploration of a woman faced with an impossible choice, a woman who discovers what she’s willing to save and what she will sacrifice for true love.
The Young Wives Club by Julie Pennell
In Toulouse, Louisiana finding your one true love happens sometime around high school. If you’re lucky, he might be the man you thought he was. But as four friends are about to find out, not every girl has luck on her side in this charming debut novel perfect for fans of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Desperate Housewives.
Laura Landry’s quarterback husband was her ticket out of Toulouse. But when a devastating football injury sidelines him, they’re forced to move back to the small town she was so desperate to leave. As Brian starts drinking instead of rehabbing his knee, Laura must reevaluate what her future looks like… and if it includes her husband.
For years, Madison Blanchette has been waiting for bad-boy musician Cash Romero to commit to her. When wealthy George Dubois asks her out, she figures she may as well wait in style. Life with George means weekend trips to New Orleans, gourmet meals, and expensive gifts. At first she loves how George’s affection sparks Cash’s jealousy, but when George proposes to Madison, she finds herself torn between two men…
All Claire Thibodeaux wants is to be the perfect wife and mother. If she can do everything right she won’t end up like her mom, a divorced, single parent trying to make ends meet. But when Claire’s husband Gavin, a well-respected local pastor, starts spending late nights at work and less time in their bed, she can’t help but fear that history is about to repeat itself…
Gabrielle Vaughn never thought she’d end up with someone like her fiancé. The son of a prominent congressman, Tony Ford is completely out of her league — which is why she lied to him about everything from having a college degree to the dark truth about her family. She knows she has to come clean, but how do you tell the love of your life that your entire relationship is a lie?
As these young wives come together to help each other through life, love, and heartbreak, they discover that there are no easy answers when it comes to matters of the heart.
Forever is the Worst Long Time by Camille Pagán
From acclaimed author Camille Pagán comes a wry, heartfelt exploration of love and loss.
When struggling novelist James Hernandez meets poet Louisa “Lou” Bell, he’s sure he’s just found the love of his life. There’s just one problem: She’s engaged to his oldest friend, Rob. So James toasts their union and swallows his desire.
As the years pass, James’s dreams always seem just out of reach — he can’t finish that novel, can’t mend his relationship with his father, can’t fully commit to a romantic relationship. He just can’t move on. But after betrayal fractures Lou’s once-solid marriage, she turns to James for comfort.
When Lou and James act on their long-standing mutual attraction, the consequences are more heartbreaking — and miraculous — than either of them could have ever anticipated. Then life throws James one more curveball, and he, Rob, and Lou are forced to come to terms with the unexpected ways in which love and loss are intertwined.
My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
Part love story, part workplace drama, this sharply observed novel is a witty critique of the false judgments we make in a social-media-obsessed world. New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella has written her most timely novel yet.
Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle — from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she’s desperate to make her dad proud.
Then, just as she’s finding her feet — not to mention a possible new romance — the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away — until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.
Sophie Kinsella is celebrated for her vibrant, relatable characters and her great storytelling gifts. Now she returns with all of the wit, warmth, and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her bestsellers to spin this fresh, modern story about presenting the perfect life when the reality is far from the truth.
On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman
At 32, Faith Frankel has returned to her claustro-suburban hometown, where she writes institutional thank-you notes for her alma mater. It’s a peaceful life, really, and surely with her recent purchase of a sweet bungalow on Turpentine Lane her life is finally on track. Never mind that her fiancé is off on a crowdfunded cross-country walk, too busy to return her texts (but not too busy to post photos of himself with a different woman in every state). And never mind her witless boss, or a mother who lives too close, or a philandering father who thinks he’s Chagall.
When she finds some mysterious artifacts in the attic of her new home, she wonders whether anything in her life is as it seems. What good fortune, then, that Faith has found a friend in affable, collegial Nick Franconi, officemate par excellence…
Elinor Lipman may well have invented the screwball romantic comedy for our era, and here she is at her sharpest and best. On Turpentine Lane is funny, poignant, and a little bit outrageous.
All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg
From the New York Times best-selling author of The Middlesteins comes a wickedly funny novel about a 39-year-old single, childfree woman who defies convention as she seeks connection.
Who is Andrea Bern? When her therapist asks the question, Andrea knows the right things to say: She’s a designer, a friend, a daughter, a sister. But it’s what she leaves unsaid — she’s alone, a drinker, a former artist, a shrieker in bed, captain of the sinking ship that is her flesh — that feels the most true. Everyone around her seems to have an entirely different idea of what it means to be an adult: her best friend, Indigo, is getting married; her brother — who miraculously seems unscathed by their shared tumultuous childhood — and sister-in-law are having a hoped-for baby; and her friend Matthew continues to wholly devote himself to making dark paintings at the cost of being flat broke.
But when Andrea’s niece finally arrives, born with a heartbreaking ailment, the Bern family is forced to reexamine what really matters. Will this drive them together or tear them apart? Told in gut-wrenchingly honest, mordantly comic vignettes, All Grown Up is a breathtaking display of Jami Attenberg’s power as a storyteller, a whip-smart examination of one woman’s life, lived entirely on her own terms.
Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel
One admission can change your life… forever.
When ambitious grad student Kate Pearson’s handsome French “almost fiancé” ditches her, she definitely does not roll with the punches, despite the best efforts of family and friends. It seems that nothing will get Kate out of pajamas and back into the world.
Miraculously, one cringe-worthy job interview leads to a position in the admissions department at the revered Hudson Day School. Kate’s instantly thrown into a highly competitive and occasionally absurd culture, where she interviews all types of children: suitable, wildly unsuitable, charming, loathsome, ingratiating, or spoiled beyond all measure. And then there are the Park Avenue parents who refuse to take no for an answer.
As Kate begins to learn there’s no room for self-pity or nonsense during the height of admissions season or life itself, her sister and friends find themselves keeping secrets, dropping bombshells, and arguing with each other about how to keep Kate on her feet. Meanwhile, Kate seems to be doing very nicely, thank you, and is even beginning to find out that her broken heart is very much on the mend. Welcome to the world of Small Admissions.
The Antiques by Kris D’Agostino
On the night of a massive hurricane, three estranged siblings learn that their father is dying. For the first time in years, they convene at their childhood home in upstate New York, where the storm has downed power lines, flooded houses, and destroyed the family’s antique store.
The Westfalls are no strangers to dysfunction. But never have their lives felt so out of control. Armie is living in their parents’ basement. In Manhattan, Josef, a sex-addicted techie, is struggling to repair his broken relationship with his daughters. Their sister, Charlie, who works in Hollywood as a publicist for a wayward young actress, just learned that her son has been expelled from preschool. Amid the storm, they come together to plan their father’s memorial service, only to learn his dying wish — they must sell his priceless Magritte painting. As their failures are laid bare, they discover that hope often lurks in the darkest of places. And so, too, can hilarity.
Complete with an irresistible plot and deeply flawed, affectionately rendered characters, Kris D’Agostino’s “sharp, funny [novel] conveys the disorienting and ever-shifting effects of grief” (The New York Times) and the unexpected epiphanies that emerge in chaos. This “darkly humorous portrait of the American family under duress… balances scathing and humorous commentary on the foibles of family with keen insight” (Publishers Weekly). Perfect for “fans of funny family dysfunction novels like Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You… and Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s The Nest” (Booklist), The Antiques is a heartbreaking, nimble, laugh-out-loud funny send-up of modern family life.
This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
This is how a family keeps a secret… and how that secret ends up keeping them.
This is how a family lives happily ever after… until happily ever after becomes complicated.
This is how children change… and then change the world.
This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess.
When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.
Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.
Laurie Frankel’s This Is How It Always Is is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. And it’s about the ways this is how it always is: Change is always hard and miraculous and hard again, parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts, children grow but not always according to plan. And families with secrets don’t get to keep them forever.
The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker
She was the first person to see me as I had always wanted to be seen. It was enough to indebt me to her forever.
In the male-dominated field of animation, Mel Vaught and Sharon Kisses are a dynamic duo, the friction of their differences driving them: Sharon, quietly ambitious but self-doubting; Mel, brash and unapologetic, always the life of the party. Best friends and artistic partners since the first week of college, where they bonded over their working-class roots and obvious talent, they spent their twenties ensconced in a gritty Brooklyn studio. Working, drinking, laughing. Drawing: Mel, to understand her tumultuous past, and Sharon, to lose herself altogether.
Now, after a decade of striving, the two are finally celebrating the release of their first full-length feature, which transforms Mel’s difficult childhood into a provocative and visually daring work of art. The toast of the indie film scene, they stand at the cusp of making it big. But with their success come doubt and destruction, cracks in their relationship threatening the delicate balance of their partnership. Sharon begins to feel expendable, suspecting that the ever-more raucous Mel is the real artist. During a trip to Sharon’s home state of Kentucky, the only other partner she has ever truly known — her troubled, charismatic childhood best friend, Teddy — reenters her life, and long-buried resentments rise to the surface, hastening a reckoning no one sees coming.
A funny, heartbreaking novel of friendship, art, and trauma, The Animators is about the secrets we keep and the burdens we shed on the road to adulthood.
If Not for You by Debbie Macomber
#1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber has written an emotionally stirring novel that shows how sometimes a choice can seem wrong even though it’s absolutely right.
If not for her loving but controlling parents, Beth Prudhomme might never have taken charge of her life and moved from her native Chicago to Portland, Oregon, where she’s reconnected with her spirited Aunt Sunshine and found a job as a high school music teacher. If not for her friend Nichole, Beth would never have met Sam Carney, although first impressions have left Beth with serious doubts. Sam is everything Beth is not—and her parents’ worst nightmare: a tattooed auto mechanic who’s rough around the edges. Reserved and smart as a whip, Beth isn’t exactly Sam’s usual beer-drinking, pool-playing type of woman, either.
But if not for an awkward setup one evening, Beth might never have left early and been involved in a car crash. And if not for Sam — who witnessed the terrifying ordeal, rushed to her aid, and stayed with her until help arrived — Beth might have been all alone, or worse. Yet as events play out, Sam feels compelled to check on Beth almost daily at the hospital — even bringing his guitar to play songs to lift her spirits. Soon their unlikely friendship evolves into an intense attraction that surprises them both.
Before long, Beth’s strong-willed mother, Ellie, blows into town spouting harsh opinions, especially about Sam, and reopening old wounds with Sunshine. When shocking secrets from Sam’s past are revealed, Beth struggles to reconcile her feelings. But when Beth goes a step too far, she risks losing the man and the life she’s come to love.
Release date: March 21
The Forever Summer by Jamie Brenner
The discovery of long-buried secrets brings three generations of women together to Cape Cod for the summer homecoming of a lifetime.
Marin Bishop has always played by the rules, and it’s paid off: On the cusp of 30 she has a handsome fiancé, a prestigious Manhattan legal career, and her father’s hard-won admiration. But with one careless mistake at work, Marin suddenly finds herself unemployed and alone. Before she can summon the courage to tell her parents, a young woman appears, claiming to be Marin’s half-sister. Seeking answers, Marin agrees to join her on a soul-searching journey to Cape Cod, to meet the family she didn’t even know she had.
As the summer unfolds at her grandmother’s beachside B&B, it becomes clear that her half-sister’s existence is just the first in a series of truths that will shake Marin’s beliefs — in love, and in her own identity — to the core. Filled with shocking revelations, heartfelt romance, and resilient women banding together against the most unexpected twists of fate, The Forever Summer is an emotionally resonant page-turner, and a delicious escape for any season.
Release date: April 25
What beach reads would you add to the list? Tell us in the comments!
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