Summer is the season for beach reading (otherwise known as reading for fun) and what could be better beach reading than the genre of books known for being fun, sexy and happy? When it comes to a totally pleasurable reading escape, there’s nothing better than a romance novel—maybe that’s why romance readers have made them into a popular, billion dollar industry and almost a third of the adult fiction market in the US. If you need an excuse, we'll give you nine: here are the reasons you need to read a romance novel this summer.
You may be tempted to ignore these books because of their cheesy covers or some sexist tropes—but don’t write off romance novels just yet. Romance novels are actually totally feminist to read (and write), thanks to empowered heroines, heroes who respect women, and great attention paid to female pleasure (wink!).
Whether they’re sweet inspirationals or erotica, paranormal or historical, set in the small town or big city, you know you’re guaranteed a page-turning love story that will end with a happily ever after — perfect for a day at the beach or a hot summer night. Do you need any other excuse? I certainly don't think so, but here are nine reasons to read a romance novel this summer.
1. Because they're hot.
True fact: many romance novels are steamy, sexy reads. Whether you giggle at the sexy bits or get really into them, there’s no denying that a romance novel gives a little extra meaning to the phrase reading for pleasure. Pretend your blush is sunburn and keep reading.
Check out Be My Fantasy by Alisha Rai — an ambitious hero discovers that the prim and polished boss’s daughter is hiding some very sexy secrets.
2. Because the heroines take the lead.
While Hollywood may be behind in depicting female characters of depth, substance or just plain speaking roles, romance novels rock when it comes to nuanced portrayals of female characters. No way will the girl be relegated to wife, girlfriend or bond girl status; the heroine’s story is the story.
Check out Why do Dukes Fall In Love by Megan Frampton, in which the duke of Hadlow needs a proper bride, but he really fancies his sensuous and intelligent secretary, who wants a passionate affair and nothing more.
3. Because a romance novel is the perfect escape.
Whether a small town in Texas, Regency London, or some paranormal universe, romance novels take place all over the place. They’re a perfect substitute for the escape you might not be able to take IRL because of work, budgets or because we haven’t figured out this whole time travel thing yet.
Try Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh, the first book in her epic Psy-Changeling series. As one of the ruling Psy, Sascha Duncan must hide any desire—especially for changeling hottie Lucas Hunter.
4. Because they’re unapologetically fun.
All the reasons people make fun of romance novels are all the reasons readers love these books: they’re sexy, emotional, easy to read love stories that always end happily. In short, because they are unabashedly, unapologetically fun. So go ahead and snicker at the sexy bits or the naked man chest covers. Romance readers don’t care, because they're too busy reading for pleasure.
Check out Chasing Lady Amelia by Maya Rodale (me!). A runaway heiress meets a sexy rogue with an ulterior motive in this Regency romp.
5. Because there are swoonworthy heroes.
Among the things that are guaranteed in a romance novel: hot, hunky heroes who know how to please a woman (or who are willing to learn!). For every hyper-alpha like Christrian Grey, there are heroes who are less alphahole and more just awesome and able to work through their angst without being a jerk to the heroine. Fetch the swelling salts, I might swoon.
Check out Signs of Attraction by Laura Brown. This sweet romance between a deaf hero and hard of hearing heroine shows them both overcoming drama in their past, empowering each other and finding happiness together.
6. Because they are perfect for a summer fling.
Who doesn’t want a little summer romance to sweeten the season? With a romance novel, you’re guaranteed a sexy, pulse racing fling—no strings attached—and with no risk of messing up a real life relationship either. If you’re reading for some serious commitment, try getting involved with a romance series.
For a fun summer fling, try Flirting With Fire by Kate Meader. A PR executive for the Chicago Mayor’s office has to reform a bad boy firefighter. Sparks fly. Warning: their relationship is not strictly professional.
7. Because there is a romance novel for everyone.
Despite what you may find on the shelf at your local bookstore, there is an increasing amount of diversity to be found within the pages of a romance novel and within the romance community. Romance authors are writing romances featuring characters of every sexual orientation, skin color, body type, heat level, subgenre etc, etc, and all kinds of combinations of the above.
Not sure where to find these books? Start with Women In Color In Romance and the offerings from Riptide Publishing, or check out Radio Silence by Alyssa Cole about an “average post grad” heroine falling for her roommate’s brother... in a post-apocalyptic world.
8. Because a romance novel won’t ruin your mood.
As a rule, romance novels end happily. No, that doesn’t necessarily mean marriage and a baby carriage; it means resolution to all the conflamma (read: conflict and drama) that was keeping the couple apart. It means you can relax into the story and feel ALL the feelings, knowing the that all will end well and you’ll be felt feeling warm, fuzzy, and happy by the end of the book. Just a little more sunshine for your summer!
All romances end in a feel-good way, but check out Lord of Deceit by Sara Ramsey. An innocent courtesan and charming Lord/spy team up to ruin a house party for revenge and end up falling in love.
9. Because a romance novel is the ultimate beach read.
Romance novels are written to entertain and delight. They are written to make you feel all the feels, fall in love with characters, and feel hopeful and happy at the conclusion. Unlike other stuff in life, reading a romance is supposed to be a relaxing, indulgent escape… which makes them perfect beach read.
For a fun seaside read, pick up Hot In Hellcat Canyon by Julie Anne Long—down on his luck superstar finds himself stranded in a small town and falling for waitress Britt Langley. There are secrets and sexy times and happily ever afters.
Image: Alyssa Foote/Bustle