"It is still surreal to me that not only do I work [at the library] – but I actually get to be a part of how others might plan their summer reading." -- Claire
We all have favourite books. The comfort reads. The ones where we know what will happen but not necessarily how it will. For me, these comfort reads are almost always romance. I’m an equal opportunity romance reader, but I know there are many who pick up these “beach reads” as soon as the weather starts to look up. These are the books that we read in the sun in our backyards, in parks while our children play, at beaches where a good story can drown out the noise, and during those quiet camping nights.
I am a re-reader. Controversial, and yet brave to admit, I know. There are so many books, and so little time, yet I cannot help but re-visit some old favourites again and again. These suggestions are by no means in any particular order or even exhaustive. And only having three does feel like a full crime.
Summer Sisters by Judy Blume
One of my earliest reading memories is of Judy Blume’s Summer Sisters. I was maybe eleven, and my sister had this “adult” book that she couldn’t put down. Obviously, I needed to get my hands on that book. Back in the day (I say winkingly), there was a gap in some of what we would call Young Adult now. Having this book – READING this book – felt like contraband. The tattered copy of that summer, many times passed around to friends, is long gone. Since that time, some twenty plus years ago, my sister and I still remember that read – and the many re-reads since.
As the title would suggest, this one had to make it onto the list. It is ready for the next group of too young-somethings to pick it up and be filled with glee at the drama, the friendship, and the tears of that final chapter. This book follows two seemingly unlikely friends through years of summers spent together. Caitlin is that magic girl. The one that makes everything seem possible. She plucks Victoria (Vix) out of near obscurity, and so starts the many years of the summer sisters. As adults Caitlin and Vix are estranged leading up to Vix’s wedding. Their reunion forces some hard truths to come to light, and an examination of whether you really can go back again. I cannot recommend this book enough, and part of it may in fact be nostalgia. It is completely worth the read.
Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh
Paranormal romance has long been a favourite of mine. As a now *elder* Millennial, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was the epitome of romance, and the paranormal romance genre feeds that part of me that still exists. You can get no finer a paranormal romance author than New Zealander Nalini Singh. Her Psy-Changeling series began in 2006, and has since spawned a spin-off called Psy-Changeling Trinity.
Though I could recommend literally (and I don’t use that word lightly) any entry in this long running series, I will put forward Mine to Possess for your consideration. This is a paranormal best friends to lovers second chance romance. I MEAN C’MON. I definitely have read (at least the earlier books of this series) out of order. Which, yes, can be annoying for die hard series readers. However, and in my defense, her books were very difficult for me to get a hold of, and so I read them as I was able to find them. (Side note: This is before the days of easy interlibrary loans).
Clay and Tally may be one of my all time favourite paranormal pairings. Tally and Clay had been childhood best friends who lost contact some years before. Clay had assumed Tally dead, so when they reunite he has many questions, and she is less forthcoming with her answers. The angst. The drama. The swooning. It’s all there. There are some books, even some series, you wish you could discover again for the first time. This is one of those series for me, and I hope it will be for you.
Impulse by Candace Camp
I was never an historical romance reader until I was. Readers of romance might understand what I mean by that. Up until a certain point, whenever people thought of “romance” they thought of the old school, shirtless men covers, and bodice-ripping reputation. In my younger years, I thought they were the worst of the worst. I have since grown enough as a person to admit how wrong I was. From Kathleen Woodiwiss to Judith McNaught, these romance pioneers bore the brunt of such ridicule and criticism.
Once you read historical romance, I’d argue it’s nearly impossible to stop. Over the years I have indeed read many, but the one I keep coming back to is Candace Camp’s Impulse. It has all my favourite historical romance things: high drama, reunion romance, and a swoon-worthy historical hero.
Angela Stanhope was the daughter of a gentleman, and the young man she loved was from *gasp* the working class. The two young lovers were torn apart by her family only to find themselves reunited nearly fifteen years later. Cameron is now a wealthy self-made man. The Stanhopes are not as untouchable as they once were, and Cam has returned seeking revenge for his younger self’s broken heart. Of course he’s not admitting that part – but dear readers, we *know* it’s true.
Angela unknowingly wed a violent man to save Cam from her grandfather’s false accusations. Upon Cam’s return to England, he himself has created a situation to force a marriage with Angela. I know, I know. But hear me out – it is not quite as bad as it appears. Part of romance – especially historical romance – is the suspension of disbelief, and reality.
I borrowed this one from the library one of the first summers that I worked here. I have since purchased a copy to keep and re-read. I must also admit to the library’s copy being long retired, as paperbacks are not long for this world – but can be procured through interlibrary loan at any time. Do it, it’s perfect for a hot summer afternoon.
Reading is one of my favourite things in the world. I can remember many summers as a child being a part of the Summer Reading Club here at the library. It is still surreal to me that not only do I work here – but I actually get to be a part of how others might plan their summer reading. I hope that if you are a romance reader, I’ve brought something new for you, and if you’re not – start. You have to*. It’s my summer wish (I’m making that a thing).
*the fine print: you don’t, but please do.