Summer Beach Reads 2021

I am so excited about today’s post!! These are always my favorite books of the year. Beach reads are the books I look forward to all year. I love reading them. I love telling people about them. I love sharing them. And I love talking about them. So get yourself ready – make a list and call your local indie bookstore, order them online, or get on the holds list at your library!!

I’ll read beach books on the beach the most, but I will read them anywhere. I read them at the pool, on my deck, at a field, and everywhere I can!

Just like every year, I share the books in the order they are published. I’ll pull the summaries from the authors’ websites because they know it best! Let’s get to the list!!

Published April 20th

Under the Southern Sky by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Recently separated Amelia Saxton, a dedicated journalist, never expected that uncovering the biggest story of her career would become deeply personal. But when she discovers that a cluster of embryos belonging to her childhood friend Parker and his late wife Greer have been deemed “abandoned,” she’s put in the unenviable position of telling Parker–and dredging up old wounds in the process.

Parker has been unable to move forward since the loss of his beloved wife three years ago. He has all but forgotten about the frozen embryos, but once Amelia reveals her discovery, he knows that if he ever wants to get a part of Greer back, he’ll need to accept his fate as a single father and find a surrogate.

Each dealing with their own private griefs, Parker and Amelia slowly begin to find solace in one another as they navigate an uncertain future against the backdrop of the pristine waters of their childhood home, Cape Carolina. The journey of self-discovery leads them to an unforgettable and life-changing lesson: Family–the one you’re born into and the one you choose–is always closer than you think.

Published April 27th

Reunion Beach: Stories Inspired by Dorothea Benton Frank by Elin Hilderbrand, Adriana Trigiani, Patti Callahan Henry, Cassandra King, Nathalie Dupree, Marjory Wentworth, Mary Alice Monroe, Victoria Benton Frank, William Richard Frank, and Peter Frank

Inspired by the title Dorothea Benton Frank planned for her next book—Reunion Beach—these close friends and colleagues channeled their creativity, admiration, and grief into stories and poems that celebrate this remarkable woman and her abiding love for the Lowcountry of her native South Carolina—a land of beauty, history, charm, and Gullah magic she so brilliantly brought to life in her acclaimed novels.
From Elin Hilderbrand, #1 New York Times bestselling author, a sequel to Summer of ’69.
From Adriana Trigiani, New York Times bestselling author, comes a heartwarming, humorous interview from the hereafter with Pat Conroy and Dorothea Benton Frank, two beloved icons of Southern literature.
From Patti Callahan, bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis and Surviving Savannah, comes The Bridemaids, a story about a trip to the South Carolina beach.
From Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author, Mother and Child Reunion, a heartwarming story set under the warm South Carolina sun.
Reunion Beach
 also features letters, short stories, poems, and essays from:

  • Mary Norris, New York Times bestselling author and staff writer for The New Yorker
  • Cassandra King Conroy, bestselling and award-winning author of Tell Me A Story
  • Nathalie Dupree, James Beard Award-winning cookbook author
  • Marjory Wentworth, former Poet Laureate of South Carolina
  • Gervais Hagerty, author of In Polite Company
  • Jacqueline Bouvier Lee, Peter Frank, Victoria Peluso, and William Frank

Infused with Dorothea Benton Frank’s remarkable spirit, Reunion Beach is a literary homage and beautiful keepsake that keeps this dearly missed writer’s flame burning bright.

Published May 4th

The Newcomer by Mary Kay Andrews

After she discovers her sister Tanya dead on the floor of her fashionable New York City townhouse, Letty Carnahan is certain she knows who did it: Tanya’s ex; sleazy real estate entrepreneur Evan Wingfield. Even in the grip of grief and panic Letty heeds her late sister’s warnings: “If anything bad happens to me―it’s Evan. Promise me you’ll take Maya and run. Promise me.”

With a trunkful of emotional baggage…

So Letty grabs her sister’s Mercedes and hits the road with her wailing four-year-old niece Maya. Letty is determined to out-run Evan and the law, but run to where? Tanya, a woman with a past shrouded in secrets, left behind a “go-bag” of cash and a big honking diamond ring―but only one clue: a faded magazine story about a sleepy mom-and-pop motel in a Florida beach town with the improbable name of Treasure Island. She sheds her old life and checks into an uncertain future at The Murmuring Surf Motel.

The No Vacancy sign is flashing & the sharks are circling…

And that’s the good news. Because The Surf, as the regulars call it, is the winter home of a close-knit flock of retirees and snowbirds who regard this odd-duck newcomer with suspicion and down-right hostility. As Letty settles into the motel’s former storage room, she tries to heal Maya’s heartache and unravel the key to her sister’s shady past, all while dodging the attention of the owner’s dangerously attractive son Joe, who just happens to be a local police detective. Can Letty find romance as well as a room at the inn―or will Joe betray her secrets and put her behind bars? With danger closing in, it’s a race to find the truth and right the wrongs of the past.

Family Reunion by Nancy Thayer

Eleanor Sunderland loves living on Nantucket, in a gorgeous cliffside home that has been in her family for decades. Yet this year she can’t help but feel a bit isolated, even as the island begins to come alive with summer tourists and travelers. Her best friend has skipped town on a last-minute cruise, leaving Eleanor feeling lonely and nostalgic about her family’s weekend trips to the island, made less frequently in the years since her husband’s passing. Now, her money-driven children contact her mostly to complain and to beg her to sell her beloved home for a steep payout. Hoping to kick the season off on a good note, Eleanor decides her seventieth birthday may be the perfect occasion for a much-needed reunion.

Fresh off the heels of her college graduation, Eleanor’s dear granddaughter, Ari, has just ended an engagement that felt less like true love and more like a chore. She longs for a change of scenery and to venture far from her parents’ snobbish expectations. Taking advantage of her newfound freedom, she heads to Nantucket to clear her head before graduate school, moving in with her grandmother and taking a job at the local beach camp. As she watches Eleanor begin to form a bond with an old acquaintance, Ari herself becomes completely smitten with a friend’s charming older brother. But just as grandmother and granddaughter fall into a carefree routine, a few shocking discoveries throw them off course, and their ideas of the future seem suddenly uncertain.

Eleanor and Ari make exciting connections, old and new, over the course of an unpredictable, life-changing few months, and learn to lean on each other through every new challenge they face in life and love, in this tale filled with Nancy Thayer’s signature Nantucket magic.

Published May 11th

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.

Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

The Summer of Lost and Found by Mary Alice Monroe
Beach House Book #7

The coming of spring usually means renewal, but for Linnea Rutledge, it begins a season of challenge. Linnea faces another layoff, this time from the aquarium she adores. For her—and for her family—finances, emotions, and health teeter on the brink. To complicate matters, her new love interest, Gordon, struggles to return to the Isle of Palms from England. Meanwhile, her old flame, John, turns up from California and is quarantining next door. She tries to ignore him, but when he sends her plaintive notes in the form of paper airplanes, old sparks ignite. When Gordon at last reaches the island, Linnea wonders—is it possible to love two men at the same time?

Love in the time of COVID-19 proves challenging, at times humorous, and ever changing. Relationships are redefined, friendships made and broken, and marriages tested. As the weeks turn to months, and another sea turtle season comes to a close, Linnea learns there are more meaningful lessons during this summer than opportunities lost: that summer is a time of wonder, and that the exotic lives in our own backyards. In The Summer of Lost and Found, Linnea and the Rutledge family continue to face their challenges with the strength, faith, and commitment that has inspired fans for decades.

Published May 18th

The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

Single mom Jessica Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents—who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno—Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father was never around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard…and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: This Jess understands.

At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98 percent compatibility with another subject in the database: one of GeneticAlly’s founders, Dr. River Peña. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Peña. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess—who is barely making ends meet—is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond Match” that could launch GeneticAlly’s valuation sky-high, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist—and the science behind a soulmate—than she thought.

Published June 1st

Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand

On a perfect June day, Vivian Howe, author of thirteen beach novels and mother of three nearly grown children, is killed in a hit-and-run car accident while jogging near her home on Nantucket. She ascends to the Beyond where she’s assigned to a Person named Martha, who allows Vivi to watch what happens below for one last summer. Vivi also is granted three “nudges” to change the outcome of events on earth, and with her daughter Willa on her third miscarriage, Carson partying until all hours, and Leo currently “off again” with his high-maintenance girlfriend, she’ll have to think carefully where to use them.

From the Beyond, Vivi watches “The Chief” Ed Kapenash investigate her death, but her greatest worry is her final book, which contains a secret from her own youth that could be disastrous for her reputation. But when hidden truths come to light, Vivi’s family will have to sort out their past and present mistakes—with or without a nudge of help from above—while Vivi finally lets them grow without her.

With all of Elin’s trademark beach scenes, mouth-watering meals, and picture-perfect homes, plus a heartfelt message—the people we lose never really leave us—Golden Girl is a beach book unlike any other.

The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary

Four years ago, Dylan and Addie fell in love under the Provence sun. Wealthy Oxford student Dylan was staying at his friend Cherry’s enormous French villa; wild child Addie was spending her summer as the on-site caretaker. Two years ago, their relationship officially ended. They haven’t spoken since.

Today, Dylan’s and Addie’s lives collide again. It’s the day before Cherry’s wedding, and Addie and Dylan crash cars at the start of the journey there. The car Dylan was driving is wrecked, and the wedding is in rural Scotland—he’ll never get there on time by public transport.

So, along with Dylan’s best friend, Addie’s sister, and a random guy on Facebook who needed a ride, they squeeze into a space-challenged Mini and set off across Britain. Cramped into the same space, Dylan and Addie are forced to confront the choices they made that tore them apart—and ask themselves whether that final decision was the right one after all.

Published June 8th

Pack Up the Moon by Kristan Higgins

Joshua and Lauren are the perfect couple. Newly married, they’re wildly in love, each on a successful and rewarding career path. Then Lauren is diagnosed with a terminal illness. 
 
As Lauren’s disease progresses, Joshua struggles to make the most of the time he has left with his wife and to come to terms with his future–a future without the only woman he’s ever loved. He’s so consumed with finding a way to avoid the inevitable ending that he never imagines his life after Lauren.
 
But Lauren has a plan to keep her husband moving forward. A plan hidden in the letters she leaves him. In those letters, one for every month in the year after her death, Lauren leads Joshua on a journey through pain, anger, and denial. It’s a journey that will take Joshua from his attempt at a dinner party for family and friends to getting rid of their bed…from a visit with a psychic medium to a kiss with a woman who isn’t Lauren. As his grief makes room for laughter and new relationships, Joshua learns Lauren’s most valuable lesson: The path to happiness doesn’t follow a straight line. 

Published June 22nd

Blush by Jamie Brenner

For decades, the Hollander Estates winery has been the premier destination for lavish parties and romantic day trips on the North Fork of Long Island. But behind the lush vineyards and majestic estate house, the Hollander family fortunes have suffered and the threat of a sale brings old wounds to the surface. For matriarch Vivian, she fears that this summer season could be their last—and that selling their winery to strangers could expose a dark secret she’s harbored for decades. Meanwhile, her daughter, Leah, who was turned away from the business years ago, finds her marriage at a crossroads and returns home for a sorely needed escape. And granddaughter Sadie, grappling with a crisis of her own, runs to the vineyard looking for inspiration. 
 
But when Sadie uncovers journals from Vivian’s old book club dedicated to scandalous novels of decades past, she realizes that this might be the distraction they all need. Reviving the “trashy” book club, the Hollander women find that the stories hold the key to their fight not only for the vineyeard, but for the life and love they’ve wanted all along. 
 
Blush is a bighearted story of love, family, and second chances, and an ode to the blockbuster novels that have shaped generations of women. 

Sunrise by the Sea by Jenny Colgan

Marisa Rosso can’t understand why everyone else is getting on with their lives as she still struggles to get over the death of her beloved grandfather, back home in Italy. Everyone loses grandparents, right? Why is she taking it so badly?

Retreating further and further from normal life, she moves to the end of the earth—the remote tidal island of Mount Polbearne, at the foot of Cornwall, hoping for peace and solitude, whilst carrying on her job as a registrar, dealing with births, weddings, and deaths, even as she feels life is passing her by.

Unfortunately—or fortunately?—the solitude she craves proves elusive. Between her noisy Russian piano-teaching neighbor, the bustle and community spirit of the tiny village struggling back to life after the quarantine, and the pressing need to help save the local bakery, can Marisa find her joy again at the end of the world?

Those are my official Summer Beach Read picks for 2021. I call these authors my “Girls of Summer” because I can always count on them to deliver a book that is perfect for summer reading! I have more books that I am looking forward to reading this summer so I thought I’d recommend a few more. I hope you enjoy them, too!

More Summer Beach Reads

That Summer by Jennifer Weiner Published May 11th

Daisy Shoemaker can’t sleep. With a thriving cooking business, full schedule of volunteer work, and a beautiful home in the Philadelphia suburbs, she should be content. But her teenage daughter can be a handful, her husband can be distant, her work can feel trivial, and she has lots of acquaintances, but no real friends. Still, Daisy knows she’s got it good. So why is she up all night?

While Daisy tries to identify the root of her dissatisfaction, she’s also receiving misdirected emails meant for a woman named Diana Starling, whose email address is just one punctuation mark away from her own. While Daisy’s driving carpools, Diana is chairing meetings. While Daisy’s making dinner, Diana’s making plans to reorganize corporations. Diana’s glamorous, sophisticated, single-lady life is miles away from Daisy’s simpler existence. When an apology leads to an invitation, the two women meet and become friends. But, as they get closer, we learn that their connection was not completely accidental. Who IS this other woman, and what does she want with Daisy?

The Break-Up Book Club by Wendy Wax Published May 18th

On paper, Jazmine, Judith, Erin and Sara have little in common – they’re very different people leading very different lives. And yet at book club meetings in an historic carriage house turned bookstore, they bond over a shared love of reading (and more than a little wine) as well as the growing realization that their lives are not turning out like they expected.

Former tennis star Jazmine is a top sports agent balancing a career and single motherhood. Judith is an empty nester questioning her marriage and the supporting role she chose. Erin’s high school sweetheart and fiancé develops a bad case of cold feet, and Sara’s husband takes a job out of town saddling Sara with a difficult mother-in-law who believes her son could have done better – not exactly the roommate most women dream of.

With the help of books, laughter, and the joy of ever evolving friendships, Jazmine, Judith, Erin and Sara find the courage to navigate new and surprising chapters of their lives as they seek their own versions of happily-ever-after.

The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent Published May 18th

What if you could be someone else? Just for the summer…

Birdy has made a mistake. Everyone imagines running away from their life at some point. But Birdy has actually done it. And the life she’s run into is her best friend Heather’s. The only problem is, she hasn’t told Heather.

The summer job at the highland Scottish hotel that her world class wine-expert friend ditched turns out to be a lot more than Birdy bargained for. Can she survive a summer pretending to be her best friend? And can Birdy stop herself from falling for the first man she’s ever actually liked, but who thinks she’s someone else?

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid Published June 1st

Malibu: August 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time for him to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come rising to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.

And Now You’re Back by Jill Mansell Published June 8th

They thought they’d never see him again…

Didi Laing met her first love, Shay Mason, on a magical winter visit to Venice. For six months after that they were rapturously happy together and Shay came to work at Didi’s parents’ hotel in the Cotswolds. One event changed everything, shocking the town, and leading to Shay’s disappearance.

In the thirteen years after Shay walked out, no one expects ever to hear from him again. Then one day, out of the blue, Shay returns to Elliscombe to fulfill his father’s dying wish and unintentionally upends Didi’s life. Moving into the best suite in her hotel sparks all kinds of rumors and sets off a chain of events that affects the whole town. The residents of Elliscombe all have their own stories and secrets, more intertwined than anyone could have guessed…

The Beach House by Jenny Hale Published June 9th (ebook only I think)

When her gram passes away, Melanie Simpson feels utterly lost. But her grandmother’s will gives her a purpose: an inheritance to buy a crumbling house in Rosemary Bay. They used to visit the village every summer, sit by the sparkling gulf on a beach the color of a fresh pearl, and daydream about turning the place on the corner into a bed and breakfast.

On her first night in her new hometown, Melanie meets local contractor and landowner Josh Claiborne, whose eyes match the dazzling sea. Melanie plans to restore the beach house to its original glory, and Josh is the perfect person to help renovate the wrap-around porch weathered by the coastal breeze and the peeling white paint faded by the sun.

Josh might be born and raised in the seaside village, his family going generations back, but in a few days he’s moving to New York––leaving Rosemary Bay, and all the memories it holds, behind. Melanie tries to ignore their undeniable chemistry and how Josh’s smiles take her breath away, because soon they’ll be thousands of miles apart.

But hiding in a closet is a yellowing stack of letters that could change everything. The looping handwriting reveals the mystery of the rickety house––a buried history that touches everyone in Rosemary Bay. Will its secrets bring Melanie and Josh together or tear them apart?

Sometimes these new releases can be hard to get ahold of at the library or are expensive in hard cover at your local indie bookstore. The previous year’s summer beach reads are usually easier to find at the library or are out in paperback.
Summer Beach Reads 2020
Summer Beach Reads 2019
Summer Beach Reads 2018

To celebrate one of my favorite posts of the year, I have a little giveaway for you. Comment with the book you are most looking forward to reading this summer, from this list or not, to be entered. I will announce the winner on Monday, May 10th. I can’t wait to hear what you are looking forward to reading!

I can smell the sunscreen and feel the ocean breezes now, can you?? You are most definitely ready for a great summer full of sunshine and books!

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30 thoughts on “Summer Beach Reads 2021

  1. Mary Lees Gunther says:

    I love how we like the same style of books for summer reading. Who am I kidding…this is what I read most of the time. Looking forward to reading Jennifer Weiner’s That Summer…sounds intriguing! Carry on and read! Enjoy your summer Sarah!

  2. rekha108 says:

    So excited to see some of my favorite authors on this list (Jenny Colgan, Beth O’Leary, Jill Mansell, Mary Kay Andrews)! Looking forward to all these, but probably the Mary Kay Andrews and Jill Mansell most of all. I need to pin this entire post. Thanks for the list!

  3. Domisty Menius says:

    I have 4 Elin Hildebrand books & 2 Kristy Woodson Harvey books that I bought at the Restore and have been saving them for the summer!

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