Author Picks: 7 Quintessential Summer Reads for Your Beach Bag

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Kristy Woodson Harvey is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels, including The Wedding Veil and The Peachtree Bluff series, which is in development for television with NBC. Kristy loves connecting with fans on KristyWoodsonHarvey.com. She lives on the North Carolina coast with her husband and son where she is (always!) working on her next novel.

Summer is my favorite season. I live on the coast, which is lovely all year, but when Memorial Day hits, I grab my beach bag and fill it to the brim with sunscreen and more books than I could ever possibly read in one sitting! As a beach lover, I couldn’t help but partially set my new novel, THE WEDDING VEIL, not only on a North Carolina beach but also on the sandy shores of the British Virgin Islands. And, for mountain lovers, this novel about Edith and Cornelia Vanderbilt and their home, Biltmore Estate, is full of crisp mountain breezes, too. No matter what your favorite summer escape entails, there’s a book on this list that fits the bill. From the Hamptons to Savannah, the Greenbrier to Utah, Nantucket and everywhere in between, there’s no end to the places you can travel through the pages of seven of my favorite summer novels. Happy reading!

On Gin Lane
by Brooke Lea Foster

In this atmospheric new novel, Brooke Lea Foster explores the glittering and bohemian world of the Hamptons in the 1950s—and the dark underbelly that her protagonist never could have imagined. A page-turning mix of historical fiction and coming-of-age, readers will devour ON GIN LANE, and its lessons of self-discovery and following one’s heart will remain long after the final page. This utterly enchanting tale is best savored poolside–and looks stunning on the coffee table to boot!

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On Gin Lane
Brooke Lea Foster

“Utterly captivating. What a lovely summer novel!” —Elin Hilderbrand, New York Times bestselling author

On Gin Lane encapsulates the very best of historical fiction.” —Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author

After her fiancé whisks her off to the glistening shores of Southampton in June of 1957, one young socialite begins to realize that her glamorous summer is giving her everything—except what she really wants—in this new novel from the author of Summer Darlings.

Everleigh “Lee” Farrows thinks she finally has life all figured out: a handsome fiancé named Roland, a trust in her name, and a house in Bronxville waiting for her to fill it with three adorable children. That is, until Roland brings her out to the Hamptons for a summer that will change everything.

Most women could only dream of the engagement present Roland unexpectedly bestows on Lee—a beachside hotel on the prized Gin Lane—but Lee’s delight is clouded by unpleasant memories of another hotel, the Plaza, where she grew up in the shadow of her mother’s mental illness. Shaking off flashbacks, Lee resolves to dive into an unforgettable summer with poolside Bellinis, daily tennis matches, luncheons with her Manhattan circle, and her beloved camera in tow. But when tragedy strikes on the hotel’s opening weekend, the cracks in Lee’s picture-perfect future slowly begin to reveal themselves, and Lee must look deep within herself to determine if the life she’s always wanted will ever truly be enough.

From the regal inns to the farmland, the well-heeled New Yorkers to the Bohemian artists, the East End of Long Island is a hodge-podge of the changing American landscape in the late 1950s—and the perfect place for Lee to discover who she really is.

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The Homewreckers
by Mary Kay Andrews

Summer begins with MKA, and 2022 is no exception. Readers will fall in love with contractor turned unwitting reality TV star Hattie Kavanaugh as she attempts to save Savannah one falling-down house at a time. Andrews’s signature blend of romance, mystery, and fixer-upper fun makes for the perfect beach read that will keep the pages flying so fast you might forget to reapply your sunscreen. 

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The Homewreckers
Mary Kay Andrews

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The Grand Design
by Joy Callaway

When it comes to iconic escapes, nowhere is quite as synonymous with laid-back luxury as the Greenbrier resort. In her latest historical stunner, Callaway brings to life famed designer Dorothy Draper and, in the process, sends readers on the summer vacation of their dreams at the place that Draper is perhaps most famous for. 

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The Grand Design
Joy Callaway

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By The Book
by Jasmine Guillory

A floundering publishing employee considers a blocked, famous writer the key to giving her a leg up in her career . . . but she ends up finding so much more. This retelling of Beauty and the Beast is a feel-good beach read at its happily-ever-after finest. 

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By The Book
Jasmine Guillory

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Author Picks: 7 Quintessential Summer Reads for Your Beach Bag

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Something Wilder
by Christina Lauren

This writing duo never disappoints, and if you’re looking for a charming summer romance, this is the one. A man from the past, a woman trying to make her own way, and a treasure hunt in the canyons of Utah gone deliciously wrong pave the way for a quintessential summer read by two standout voices.

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Something Wilder
Christina Lauren

The “reigning romance queens” (PopSugar) and New York Times bestselling authors of The Soulmate Equation and The Unhoneymooners present a charming and laugh-out-loud funny novel filled with adventure, treasure, and, of course, love.

Growing up the daughter of notorious treasure hunter and absentee father Duke Wilder left Lily without much patience for the profession…or much money in the bank. But Lily is nothing if not resourceful, and now uses Duke’s coveted hand-drawn maps to guide tourists on fake treasure hunts through the red rock canyons of Utah. It pays the bills but doesn’t leave enough to fulfill her dream of buying back the beloved ranch her father sold years ago, and definitely not enough to deal with the sight of the man she once loved walking back into her life with a motley crew of friends ready to hit the trails. Frankly, Lily would like to take him out into the wilderness—and leave him there.

Leo Grady knew mirages were a thing in the desert, but they’d barely left civilization when the silhouette of his greatest regret comes into focus in the flickering light of the campfire. Ready to leave the past behind him, Leo wants nothing more than to reconnect with his first and only love. Unfortunately, Lily Wilder is all business, drawing a clear line in the sand: it’s never going to happen.

But when the trip goes horribly and hilariously wrong, the group wonders if maybe the legend of the hidden treasure wasn’t a gimmick after all. There’s a chance to right the wrongs—of Duke’s past and their own—but only if Leo and Lily can confront their history and work together. Alone under the stars in the isolated and dangerous mazes of the Canyonlands, Leo and Lily must decide whether they’ll risk their lives and hearts on the adventure of a lifetime.

From the author of the “heartfelt and funny” (Publishers Weekly) sensation The Unhoneymooners, this page-turning adventure full of second chances, complicated relationships, and the breathtaking beauty of the American Southwest will take fans on one wild ride.

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Summer Love
by Nancy Thayer

Many of us wonder, at some point, what might have been. That is exactly the question Nancy Thayer sets out to answer in her latest summer stunner. When four friends reunite on Nantucket, twenty-six years after the fateful summer they spent together, they are forced to confront old wounds, face dreams that haven’t come true, and reflect on the meaning of friendship. Pick it up for the summer escape to Nantucket, stay for the beautiful storytelling. 

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Summer Love
Nancy Thayer

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The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie
by Rachel Linden

Speaking of a chance at another life, in THE MAGIC OF LEMON DROP PIE, Lolly Blanchard’s great-aunt—via her magic lemon drops—gives her niece the opportunity to try on a few different lives in order to choose the one she loves most. Rachel Linden creates unforgettable characters that will work their way into your heart and a compulsively readable story that will turn any beach day into an adventure. The ideal read for anyone who has ever wondered “What if?” And isn’t that all of us?

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The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie
Rachel Linden

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The Wedding Veil
by Kristy Woodson Harvey

THE WEDDING VEIL is available now!

Present Day: Julia Baxter’s wedding veil, bequeathed to her great-grandmother by a mysterious woman on a train in the 1930s, has passed through generations of her family as a symbol of a happy marriage. But on the morning of her wedding day, something tells her that even the veil’s good luck isn’t enough to make her marriage last forever. Overwhelmed and panicked, she escapes to the Virgin Islands to clear her head. 1914: Socialite Edith Vanderbilt is struggling to manage the luxurious Biltmore Estate after the untimely death of her cherished husband. With 250 rooms to oversee and an entire village dependent on her family to stay afloat, Edith is determined to uphold the Vanderbilt legacy—and prepare her free-spirited daughter Cornelia to inherit it—in spite of her family’s deteriorating financial situation. But Cornelia has dreams of her own.

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The Wedding Veil
Kristy Woodson Harvey

The New York Times bestselling author of Under the Southern Sky and the Peachtree Bluff series brings “her signature wit, charm, and heart” (Woman’s World) to this sweeping new novel following four women across generations, bound by a beautiful wedding veil and a connection to the famous Vanderbilt family.

Four women. One family heirloom. A secret connection that will change their lives—and history as they know it.

Present Day: Julia Baxter’s wedding veil, bequeathed to her great-grandmother by a mysterious woman on a train in the 1930s, has passed through generations of her family as a symbol of a happy marriage. But on the morning of her wedding day, something tells her that even the veil’s good luck isn’t enough to make her marriage last forever. Overwhelmed and panicked, she escapes to the Virgin Islands to clear her head. Meanwhile, her grandmother Babs is also feeling shaken. Still grieving the death of her beloved husband, she decides to move out of the house they once shared and into a retirement community. Though she hopes it’s a new beginning, she does not expect to run into an old flame, dredging up the same complicated emotions she felt a lifetime ago.

1914: Socialite Edith Vanderbilt is struggling to manage the luxurious Biltmore Estate after the untimely death of her cherished husband. With 250 rooms to oversee and an entire village dependent on her family to stay afloat, Edith is determined to uphold the Vanderbilt legacy—and prepare her free-spirited daughter Cornelia to inherit it—in spite of her family’s deteriorating financial situation. But Cornelia has dreams of her own. Asheville, North Carolina has always been her safe haven away from the prying eyes of the press, but as she explores more of the rapidly changing world around her, she’s torn between upholding tradition and pursuing the exciting future that lies beyond Biltmore’s gilded gates.

In the vein of Therese Anne Fowler’s A Well-Behaved Woman and Jennifer Robson’s The Gown, The Wedding Veil brings to vivid life a group of remarkable women forging their own paths—and explores the mystery of a national heirloom lost to time.

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Photo credit: iStock / Canetti

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