It happens the same way every year. One day, you're trying to pick out the right bathing suit for your first weekend away at the beach, and the next, BAM! June and July are in the rear-view mirror, and September is looming on the horizon. Suddenly, you're trying to do everything on your summer bucket list — seeing outdoor movies in the park, kayaking on the ocean, going to a concert — within the thirty-one days of August. If having a summer fling is one of those things you meant to get around to but you still haven't found that someone special, don't worry, there are plenty of romance novels that are suitable fill-ins for some summer lovin'.
OK, so you can't makeout with books like you can real-live romantic partners, and perhaps they don't make for the liveliest plus one at the wedding, but books, especially romance novels, are better than summer flings in a lot of ways. They are almost always guaranteed to have a happy ending, which is more than I can say for any summer hookup I've encountered. Novels, unlike complicated, messy IRL romances, can accompany your everywhere, even on your family vacation, without you having to worry about explaining or defining your relationship to your parents. And unlike someone you've claimed as your summer arm candy, you won't be sent into a jealous fit of rage when you see your book in the arms of another woman. A romance novel has the power woo you with words, take you on romantic and extravagant dates you'd never even dreamed of, and maybe even sing to you under the stars. But the thing that makes romance novels the best summer fling substitute? The fact that, when it's all over, you can keep them long after the summer sun has set.
So if you're still on the look out for a summer sweetheart, may I suggest these nine romance novels instead:
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
Possibly the ultimate summer love story, Nicholas Sparks's The Notebook makes just about every other fling (and serious relationship for that matter) look like child's play. Nothing can keep Allie and Noah apart — not meddling parents, not a world war, and not even an engagement to another man. Sweet, tender, and utterly swoon-worthy, The Notebook just might change your standards for romance. If you've only seen the movie, it's time to read the book.
The Harlow Hoyden: A Regency Romance by Lynn Messina
Steal an apple, land a nobleman. Or at least that's how it happens for Emma Harlow when she's caught stealing from the Duke of Trent's orchard. Though she originally notes the Duke's affection for her sister, the chemistry she feels between them is undeniable. If you don't fall in love with the romantic plot lines in The Harlow Hoyden , you certainly won't be able to resist the charm and sass of Emma, a does-what-she-wants kind of heroine. Bonus: this romance is a series, and the fourth installment, The Bolingbroke Chit, came out this past spring.
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Not only is it one of the greatest American novels of all time, this is also one of the best love stories every told. Gone With the Wind is on my summer reading list every year. It has everything a summer fling has: drama, love triangles, betrayal, redemption, and, of course, true love. Forget finding the perfect stranger on the beach and let yourself get swept away with the winds of war and the tides of romance in Margaret Mitchell's classic instead.
Something About You by Julie James
Is a round up of romance complete without a mention of Julie James? The answer is no, and for this round up, I'm recommending Something About You , the story of two enemies, one a high powered female assistant U.S. Attorney and the other a grudge-holding FBI agent, who, despite their hatred for one another, find comfort in each other's arms. Steamy, fast-paced, and suspenseful, this romance is not for the faint of heart.
Indigo by Beverly Jenkins
In this historical romance novel, two conductors of the Underground Railroad — one, a feisty, beautiful escaped slave woman and the other, a wealthy, sometimes arrogant man — have dedicated their lives to helping others, but they never expected to find love along the way. Like so many other soulmates, Hester and Galen are less then thrilled with one another at first, but it doesn't take long for sparks to begin to fly. As they fight for freedom and their lives, they must also fight to preserve their own true love.
One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
Opposites attract in Jojo Moyes's latest love story. Jess's life is a mess — her husband is more than absent, her son is bullied, and she can't afford to fund her daughter's dream — and the last thing she thought she needed was an obnoxious, dysfunctional nerd, who happens to employ her, to interfere. But Ed just might be the man she's been waiting for all along. Wonderful, touching, and heartwarming, this is Moyes at her best.
Silver Wings by H. P. Munro
Another unique historical romance novel, Silver Wings tells the moving and inspirational lesbian love story of two members of WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots), Lily and Helen. The women must summon their courage, not only to help them serve and protect their country, but to allow them to be who they truly are, and love who they are meant to love.
Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot
What girl hasn't dreamed of being a princess and finding her own Prince Charming? Even more to the point, what girl has't imagined being Princess Mia, the frizzy-haired freak turned royalty? OK, so plenty of girls haven't, but if it's your fantasy, this is a book for you. In Royal Wedding , Mia's longtime boyfriend Michael has finally popped the question, and the two couldn't be happier — if only her grandmother and all of Genovia could feel the same way. As funny and delightful as the ten other installments of the Princess Diaries series, Royal Wedding will let you live out your dreams of being a in a fairytale royal romance, without all the hassle of the paparazzi.
Bet Me by Jennifer Cruise
If She's All That proved one thing it's that the fastest way to a woman's heart is through a bet. OK, so maybe not, but it does make for an interesting, dramatic, and usually funny love story. In Bet Me, Minerva is the farthest thing from a romantic; so when Calvin asks her on a date as part of a bet, she agrees because, why not? Things don't seem to work out, and the two agree to go their separate ways. Only fate (obviously) brings them back together. This one is sexy and witty — what more could you ask for from a summer fling?
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