SUMMER FESTIVAL: 12 Love Stories That’ll Light Up Your Summer by Erica Hollis

The term “beach read” has always been a bit nebulous, in my opinion. Does it have to be one of a select few genres? Does it have to be under a certain length? Must it have been purchased in an airport? Any book is a beach read if you’re not a coward!

But whether I’m actually stretched out on a towel listening to the waves, chilling out by the pool, or stuck on a six-hour flight with twenty screaming babies, there’s definitely something about the summer heat that makes me want to bask in the warmth and enjoy a book that draws me in immediately. Something that I can’t put down, that makes me want to devour the whole thing in a single sunny day.

Here are fourteen fun and engaging romances for when you’re eager to lose yourself in a book and forget about the real world.

Crave by Tracy Wolff

The first in a paranormal romance series that’s swept the globe, Crave is Gothic, eerie, emotional, and completely engrossing. The story of Grace, a teenage girl sent to a mysterious boarding school in a castle located in the middle of Alaska after the deaths of her parents, and Jaxon, the broody, funny hot guy with a dark past, completely swept me away from the very first chapter. There’s nothing more fun than losing yourself in a story of forbidden love, vampires, dragons, and the high school I lowkey wish I could’ve attended. Even though I would definitely die immediately.

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi

Looking for a graphic novel to enjoy, and a big, sweeping story to get invested in? Meet Usagi, an average student who’s just learned she has the ability to transform into the glamorous, magical warrior, Sailor Moon, and the responsibility to save the world. This classic manga is the story of the Sailor Scouts and their quest to protect the Earth from a myriad of magical threats, and Usagi’s fated romance with a mysterious boy she knew in a past life. The art style is soft and lush and so, so pretty, and the nonstop drama and action makes this one of the most engaging reads you can hope for.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

In this dark, twisty retelling of Beauty and the Beast, you’ll be enchanted by the tension and chemistry between Ignifex, the immortal demon ruling the realm, and Nyx, his fiancée who has one mission: kill him, and free her people. With all the twists and turns in the story and the searing enemies-to-lovers romance, this is one you’ll want to read in a single sitting.

Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber

The first in a trilogy by the author of Caraval, this is the lush and gorgeously written story of a girl who finds herself entangled with the mysterious and powerful Prince of Hearts. In exchange for a favor from the Prince, Evangeline Fox must grant him three kisses—not for him, but someone else of his choosing, when and wherever he pleases. Evangeline quickly realizes she may have gotten herself in over her head, but soon, there’s nothing she can do but try and stay alive in the chaos the Prince of Hearts has sowed.

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

This charming, funny, and emotionally intense contemporary romance has taken the world by storm, and anyone can see why. Alex is the First Son of the United States. Henry is the Prince of Wales. And they hate each other… until they don’t. But if the First Son and the Prince of Wales being in a feud was bad PR, them falling in love could spell “absolute disaster.”

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

Alice is a funny, outgoing young woman who plans to spend her summer taking it easy, especially since her girlfriend just dumped her. She’s fine, though. (TOTALLY FINE.) She’s just decided she’s not gonna worry about dating… possibly ever again. But when she meets her gorgeous coworker Takumi, she can’t help it—she’s head over heels! Alice is tempted to give love another chance, but she’s not sure it’s worth the risk; she’s asexual, and that’s why her ex dumped her. What if Takumi considers that a dealbreaker, too? This is a lovely romantic comedy that I read in a single day, and Alice and Takumi are ADORABLE. You’ll be rooting from them from the moment they meet.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

A sweet, charming love story that’s held a place in my heart since high school, this is the story of Hadley, an American girl headed to London for her father’s wedding, and Oliver, a dreamy English guy she meets in the airport. Over the course of an overnight flight, the two fall quickly and deeply in love—but what happens when the plane lands and they have to deal with the outside world once again?

Dramacon by Svetlana Chmakova

A manga trilogy all centered around an anime and manga convention—if you know fandom and con culture, and especially if you were there for it in the 2000s, this series is for you. Christie is an aspiring manga author who’s super stoked to be at her first-ever anime convention, getting a chance to show her work to the world and maybe even meet her favorite artists and writers… and less stoked that her boyfriend has a habit of flirting with every girl in sight. After a fight with her boyfriend, Christie flees and literally runs into Matt, a handsome but incurably cynical cosplayer who, despite his prickly nature, lends Christie an ear and a shoulder to cry on. What follows is a sweet, hilarious, and sometimes heartbreaking story of second love, chasing your dreams, and trying to navigate the ever-wild world of fandom.  

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Dear God, I love this book. This one has been in my heart since I read it in a single day back in high school, and I’m so thrilled it’s finally coming to the big screen. Set in 1980s El Paso, this is the intimate, emotional love story of two Mexican-American teenage boys, Aristotle and Dante. Dante is quick to accept and embrace his love for Ari, but Ari isn’t so certain. As the two navigate the ever-blurring line between friendship and romance, Ari also contends with his family’s secrets, and his own identity. This is a modern classic of young adult literature, and one that will stick in your mind for years to come.

Skye Falling by Mia McKenzie

This is a gorgeous, hilarious contemporary read that deserves way more hype. Our heroine Skye doesn’t have it all together—in fact, one could argue she has virtually nothing together at any moment. But she likes it that way; she likes jetting around the world with no major commitments and no roots anywhere, especially given her chaotic family life and less-than-stellar romantic history. That all changes when she discovers that one of the eggs she donated to an infertile friend over a decade ago has grown up into a headstrong, outgoing twelve-year-old girl who wants to know her biological mother. Oh, and that girl’s aunt? The one she lives with? Yeah, turns out Skye has an absolutely massive crush on her. Skye Falling is one of the best books I’ve read in recent memory, and I think it’ll captivate your attention and thoughts the way it’s captivated mine.

Have a great summer, and get reading!

For fans of Abigail Owen and Samantha Shannon comes a breathtaking, energetic novel where the only way to defeat a dragon is to outsmart it…

Most dragontongues don’t live long enough to learn from their mistakes. Lotte Meer is luckier than most, surviving long enough to communicate with the fierce, sullen, and temperamental dragons who are not above enjoying a human as a light snack. And she has the scars to prove it.

Now a massive, foul-tempered dragon has taken over the town of Morwassen’s Pass, taking the citizens hostage. As long as they bring him their gold and treasure, he won’t reduce their city to a smoking heap of ash and death. Only, the treasure is running out and Lotte—with the help of sharp-tongued, unbelievably cute Maryse Basvaan—is their last and only hope.

But this dragon is more cunning—and more cruel—than any other. Not only is he holding Lotte’s estranged mom captive, but he has a taste for betrayal…and somehow he’s stricken some kind of secret deal with the girl who’s already gone and stolen Lotte’s heart.

Lotte won’t fail. She can’t.

Because if she does…everyone dies.

About The Author

Erica Hollis (she/her) writes about queer girls and magic, and getting to do that for an actual job is still unreal to her. HEARTS FORGED IN DRAGON FIRE, her debut F/F fantasy romance, is available in June 2023 with Entangled. Erica’s other passions include cats, book shopping, anime, fairy tales, and being extremely bad at video games but playing them anyway. Feel free to chat with her via her official twitter @EHollisAuthor!

You can follow Erica on Twitter and check out her website to stay up to date with the latest news!

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