A Five-Star Worthy Beach Read

by Beth Cranford

Alrighty, my friends, we are now officially into summer here in the USA and that means it’s time to talk beach reads, which yes, is one of our 350+ keywords. But before we do, did you know that in Australian seasons start on the first day of the month? I had NO IDEA the USA was different until I moved over here, and I gotta say, I was shocked.

Anyway, Beach Reads. What are they? A quick Google search tells me that while they used to be considered big books published by the trad pub houses in the summer months, they’re now not one thing in particular, but varied depending who you ask. My reader’s soul tells me they’re any book that you could rightly, happily, and easily read on the beach, so that’s what I’m sharing here today. However, since I’m feeling a little saucy — and because summer boredom also means online window shopping — I also scoured the internet for things to make your (okay, my) beach reading experience 5-star worthy. It was hard, truly, looking at all the pretty things. But not as hard as narrowing down my choices for books that’ll only make your beach reading experience better. So, without further ado, here we go!

The Book: When I Fall by J. Daniels

I had a little trouble deciding which of the Alabama Summer books to include (don’t even get me started on my Dirty Deeds conflict) because they’re all so flipping good, and I am a big fan of starting at the start of a series, but… Reed and Beth will always be special to me (full disclosure: the Beth that this book is dedicated to is me *grins*) and that’s why they are the chosen ones. This is a funny, sexy AF story with a taco eating competition. What more do you need?

Maybe this?!

It’s a towel poncho thingy (← technical term for it, for sure) that has a hood and covers you up if you’re a) cold; b) not about the “here’s my body in a bathing suit” life because that’s okay, you don’t have to be even though you are perfect as you are; and c) you need to slip out of the wet bathers and into some dry undies. B and C most definitely apply to me, plus my kids have cool towel poncho thingys, so why not me too?

The Book: Chasing the High by Beth Michele

Here’s one that features an actual beach setting, which makes its inclusion on this list irrefutable. And that’s before you factor in that this MM romance is simply beautiful. I have long been a reader of Beth Michele’s (no, not because her name is Beth but that would be very on-brand for me), and this book is a clear indication of why. She balances tension, heat, and sweetness in a way that makes Sam and Drew’s story compelling and unforgettable. My review at the time of release called it a “sensual, soft, gorgeous romance” and I stand by that.

Wear your pride!

Although Pride Month is over, that doesn’t mean your pride can’t be worn loudly and lovingly all year ’round. After a childhood lived in thongs (err, I mean, flip flops), Havaianas are still my go-to brand, and I have five pairs already. With a sixth pair — this pair — on their way here now. #NoRegrets Havaianas have made their Pride line part of their regular line of products AND they support All Out, an LGBTQIA+ organization, so I can’t think of a better reason to buy.

The Book: Mr. Hotshot CEO by Jackie Lau

He’s an obsessive workaholic who is forced to take a break, and she’s the one he pays to help him enjoy it. NO, NOT THAT WAY. Perverts. Jackie Lau writes amazing rom-coms and this one is probably my favorite of hers — but that could change at any moment because there are so many contenders. In any case, it’s light but not shallow, funny and full of feels, and about a man working out how to enjoy vacation and fall in love. He shoulda just read this book, I tell you!

Don’t forget…

…to grab some sunscreen before you read this book. Because if you’re like me, you’re going to want to keep reading through the very end and baking in the sun without protection is a bad, bad idea. I like the spray sunscreens because I don’t want greasy hands, and I loved the look of this particular one because it’s vegan and cruelty free and smells like peach blossoms. Surely we can all agree that scent and romance books go together like an alpha male and sandalwood??

The Book: Worth the Fall by Claudia Connor

If you haven’t met Matt McKinney and Abby Davis, then I need you to rectify that, ASAP. Their meet cute IS on a beach (total “beach read” points) and while she’s a pregnant single mother of four and he’s a SEAL with promises to keep, they are still one of my top couples of all time. I think about them often. Their heartbreak and their electric chemistry and their love of family. It’s an emotional one, so beware, but it’s also all the way worth it. And hey, single Abby is a single mom, and any trip to the beach, for me at least, includes my kids, why not grab . . .

Beach toys FTW!

My son came to sit beside me while I was looking at stuff online and he singled out two things that he wants for our next beach trip and now seems to think he’s getting since he declared that. One is a Melissa & Doug Sand Cookie Set, which, yeah, is cute. The other is more traditional: a tote of shovels and rakes and molds. We usually grab something like this each year for summer and this looks pretty damn good. Perhaps if I get him this, he’ll forget about the cookie set?! #WishfulThinking

The Book: Finding Dandelion by Lex Martin

All three books in this series are beach-read-worthy, but I picked this particular one for two reasons. One, I read this one first, even though it’s book two, and it hooked me on the Dearest series. And two, the bright red dress on the cover is so pretty and gives me a summery vibe, so deal with it. It’s definitely time for a reread for me, since I read it when it first came out seven years ago, but I am totally good with that because Jax and Dani still make me smile whenever they randomly (or not so randomly) pop into my mind.

Pro tip:

Reading on the beach — even with the aforementioned sunscreen — may still result in sunburn. I’m not saying I know this from experience, except that I am and believe me, it sucks. So as to not lose the joy of a five-star read because of redder-than-red, burning-hot skin, make sure you’re prepared with some aloe vera. Again, I love a spray, so this is the one that appealed most. It’s also fun saying “‘Allo, Vera’” with a ridiculous(ly bad) accent when you use it. Not that that’s a reason to buy it, but . . . *shrugs*

The Book: Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas

For obvious, title-related reasons, and because no list is complete without a historical, I picked the first Wallflowers books from the amazing Lisa Kleypas, but honestly, any of these seasonally titled books would be perfect for relaxing on the beach with. Summer Night has one of the most memorable endings of all time, however, and the heroine has a great name (which she shares with my daughter), so I feel good about this rec. You might want to read this one in privacy because of the swoons, which leads me to . . .

A tent, naturally.

I don’t always go to Cabela’s (read: I only go when my husband drags me there), but they do have these beach tents, which are perfect for keeping out the worst of the noise and the crowds as you read. Feel free to cry, like I did, is what I’m saying. Also, since a Lady should not have freckles, protection from the sun is of the utmost importance. And finally, it’s a great place to close your eyes and dream finding your true love even if he’s a cit who thinks you should be his mistress at first. Wait, what?!

The Book: Getaway Girl by Tessa Bailey

The set-up: He’s a future mayor with a biteable ass who has just been left at the altar. She’s the chaotic woman who helps him get away (title shoutout!) from the fallout. Together, their story is ridiculously good. I’m talking amazing. I love these two opposites who attract and match, and they will leave your heart in a really good place. Oh, and your panties in a puddle, because WOW, the sex scenes in this one were on fire. On the one hand, it’s already hot during the summer, which could be a problem, but on the other hand, if I didn’t make that connection, then I wouldn’t be able to recommend this:

Rosewater spray.

I’ve been using this stuff for years. I don’t make a habit of extolling face care products, mostly because I don’t often engage in face care. Sunscreen, yep. Moisturizer, of course. And this Rosewater Balancing Mist from Jurlique. That’s about the extent of it. But this spray is cooling and hydrating, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve squirted it on my face (I should probably say something more appealing, liking misting, huh? *Shrugs*) just because I know it’ll feel nice. Slightly off topic: the smell reminds me of my mum, which is another reason I will never stop using it. #MummasGirl

And there you have it. Some five-star books to read on the beach (or by a pool, lake, any body of water that’s safe to swim in…) and my afternoon of window-shopping-that-became-actual-shopping all in one place. Let me know if you have read or are going to read any of these books, okay? And while I am ALWAYS down to talk romance, which should be obvious, I’m also happy to hear about your beachy shopping recommendations and experiences because for someone who doesn’t actually like to shop as much as it might seem, I love to shop vicariously. And online.

Happy reading!

About Beth

Beth Cranford was born and raised in Australia, but followed her heart (and her husband) to the United States in her late 20s. As the mother of two kids, she’s learned that you can turn anything into a song and that slime does not belong in carpeted areas (or polite society). You can most often find her with her Kindle in hand, listening to Taylor Swift on repeat, or spending way too many hours playing Animal Crossing.

Follow her @BethCranford on B+M Bites.

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