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Ready for a fresh batch of beach books? And what are beach books? Many would define them as stories that are, of course, mostly set by the beach, but they also often include a charming family summer home, a touch of romance and a happy ending. Here are seven to pack in your beach bag.
Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand
Hilderbrand's new Nantucket-set novel is already at the top of the best-seller list, and for good reason: It may be one of her best. Famous beach-book writer (ha) Vivi Howe is killed in a hit-and-run while out jogging, causing chaos among her three grown children and friends, who want to understand what happened. Meanwhile, Vivi has gone to “the Beyond,” where she's told by an Hermès scarf-wearing character named Martha that she holds three “nudges” to affect life on earth. While deciding how to use those nudges, Vivi watches her loved ones with concern as they go through their summer days — until an unexpected stranger threatens everyone's peace.
Summer on the Bluffs by Sunny Hostin
This debut novel by The View cohost Sunny Hostin is set on Martha's Vineyard (what is it about Massachusetts’ islands?) during one seminal summer. Afro Latina lawyer Perry Soto is visiting her godmother Ama's stunning ocean-side home, Chateau Laveau, in Oak Bluffs, the island's real-life affluent Black beach community known for its beautiful Victorian-era houses. When Ama announces she's giving up the house to either Perry or one of her fellow godchildren Olivia and Billie (she'll tell them whom at the end of the summer) to go live with her lover in France, Perry is stunned. They all desperately want it — but can the secrets they each harbor derail their chances of inheriting it?
Family Reunion by Nancy Thayer
While Thayer always revels in Nantucket's island manners and mores down to the tiniest piece of scrimshaw, in this novel she uses yacht-club dances and landscaped gardens to celebrate change and real connection. Here, members of a traditional family learn how to cast off stuffiness and remake their lives after several revelations blow up their carefully crafted images. Eleanor Sunderland, a widow who's shepherded her family's rambling seaside home through the decades, feels pressure from her children to sell the beloved place. With the help of her granddaughter Ari (who finds romance during this life-changing summer), Eleanor sees that what works best isn't always the same old thing in this paean to life's many stages.
An Invincible Summer by Mariah Stewart
Mariah Stewart sets her new series on the South Shore, a quiet ocean-side haven in Massachusetts, where BFFs Maggie, Emma and Liddy reconnect at their 40th high-school reunion in Wyndham Beach. When Maggie runs into her long-ago love, Brett, now the town's police chief, emotions from the past are stirred up — even more so as she's decided to move back with her two daughters. Through events that involve a major rock star, a failing bookstore, DNA testing and much more, the book's feel-good message comes through: It's not too late for second chances.
The Summer of Lost and Found by Mary Alice Monroe
As comforting as a pot of Low Country Boil, this novel finds Mary Alice Munroe's Beach House Series characters back on the Isle of Palms, off the South Carolina coast — and caught in the global COVID-19 pandemic. Linnea Rutledge, furloughed from her aquarium job, moves into her Aunt Cara's 1930s cottage (her old flame is in the carriage house next door). It grows crowded as she's joined by Cara's daughter, then her own best friend, her younger brother and, finally, her English boyfriend Gordon. As the summer drags on, Linnea and her “pod” discover new challenges and new joys.
The Summer Seekers by Sarah Morgan
This one is a little different: While part of Sarah Morgan's new novel takes place on England's Cornish peninsula, much of the rest happens on the iconic Route 66 here in the United States. Eighty-year-old Kathleen, who once hosted a TV travel program called The Summer Seekers, loves her coastal home but longs for something new, while her daughter Liza has lost herself beneath the demands of teenaged twins, her apathetic husband and her teaching job. Enter Martha, who answers an ad Kathleen placed looking for a driver; soon Martha and Kathleen are zipping across America in a Ford Mustang, in search of adventure — and Liza bolts to her mother's house, in search of peace and quiet. Everyone finds what they seek and more in this light, fast-paced book.
The Newcomer by Mary Kay Andrews
From its urgent opening scene, in which Letty Carnahan discovers her sister Tanya's corpse and takes off with Tanya's 4-year-old daughter Maya, to its well-earned conclusion, The Newcomer is a first-rate beach-blanket thriller. Yes, Letty winds up in the tiny Florida coastal town of Treasure Island, at a down-on-its-luck retro motel called The Murmuring Surf — so there's plenty of sea, sand and salt to satisfy — but there are also villains (including the dastard who killed Tanya), heroes (like Ava, the feisty motel owner) and, of course, unexpected romance.