I've noticed a lot of discussion about what "beach reading" or "summer reading" is, and why it's something unique from all the other reading that one might do during the year. Whether your reading tastes vary during the summer or are pretty consistent throughout the calendar—and I'm definitely of the latter reading group—the books we enjoy most when we're trying to relax seem to have all the warmth of good weather without the biting pain and lasting irritation of mosquito bites.
So here are two warm, wonderful, and just plain lovely books to try this month:
Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan
I love Morgan's writing, and whenever I'm recommending Harlequin Presents, I always mention hers. This is her second single-title romance for HQN, and I happily recommend those, too. This series is set at a ski resort in Vermont, and this romance features Sean, one of three brothers who inherited the resort, and the one who felt suffocated and terrified of taking on the responsibility of the struggling property.
So he did what any dude would do, and became a nationally reknown orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports injuries. But when his grandfather has a heart attack, he has to rush back to Vermont, and confront his family, his brothers, and Elise, the chef at the restaurant with whom he had a very hot one night stand a year earlier. None of those problems are easy for Sean to deal with, but Elise is the most difficult: They're still attracted to one another, and for many distinct and painful reasons, neither wants to establish anything permanent. Those intentions always work out in a romance, right? Ha. Of course not.
The subtle way in which Morgan builds the conflict between and around Sean and Elise, both internal and external, was one of the best parts of the story, and left me with a Happy Reader Sigh. A big one.
Wicked Temptation by Zoe Archer
If you like adventure, or historicals, or historicals with adventure plus very, very smart characters, you'll like the Nemesis Unlimited trilogy. This is the third and final book about an organization that works in Victorian London to exact revenge against aristocrats who got away with horrible and despicable things by virtue of their being aristocrats. The group of agents within Nemesis are at their best when they're arguing with each other—and there's some of the banter I liked in the first novel. Plus their secret lair is above a pharmacy, so I always imagine the chemist below mixing up sedatives to get them all to shut up already.
The heroine of Wicked Temptation is Bronwyn Parrish, a young widow whose husband died unexpectedly and left her completely destitute. The story opens on the day she's supposed to vacate her home, and she's preparing to move to a boarding house where she intends to apply for positions as a paid companion to other ladies, as her options and her funds are extremely limited. When Marco Black shows up at her home and informs her that he can help her try to recover the money she brought to her marriage, which was allegedly squandered by her late husband, Bronwyn decides to be brave.
What I liked very much about this story was the many small and large ways Bronwyn pushes herself to be more courageous, whether it's leaving her house without a veil, despite the social mandate that as a lady in full mourning she should not leave the house or be seen by anyone, or crossing the Channel to go follow a lead in France. Marco tries not to be impressed with her and has no intention of being attracted to her either, but that never works out the way characters in tend in romance, either. Which is good for us readers!
I hope your reading is perfect, warm and sunny!
Sarah Wendell is the co-creator, editor and mastermind of the popular romance blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. She loves talking with romance readers, and hopes you'll share your new favorite romance reading recommendations. You can find her on Twitter or on her couch, most likely with her eyeglasses turned toward a book.