A Smattering of Summer Stories

In the early winter, when the holidays roll around, the world is awash in Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s themed stories. Six months later it is summer, with July 4th (a holiday I am partial to)—but I realized that no one seems to celebrate summer in writing the same way we do in December. So I decided to pull together a “smattering” of summer stories—stories that feature and celebrate summer in the same way that Christmas stories celebrate Santa Claus.

Leading the pack: Shining in the Sun by Alex Beecroft, her first foray into a contemporary story. The cover alone, with its gold tones, ocean, and a surfer brought me right into the hot days of August. I’ve never been to the beach in England but I’ve been to the shore in the US plenty of times and Beecroft, with her usual lush prose, fully captures the sights, sounds, and scents—suntan lotion, fried foods, and the crash of the surf in the distance. Shining in the Sun takes place over the month of August—I shared Alec’s anticipation of his month-long respite away from family, work, and daily responsibilities; I shared his mounting anxiety as his vacation time drew short. Funny how a month seems endless on the first day of vacation but three weeks in, where has the time gone? Shining in the Sun is a book that begs to be read in August, while on holiday. If you haven’t done so yet, put it on your TBR list and pick it up in a few weeks—preferably at the beach.

Lessons in Desire, the second book in the very popular Cambridge Fellows series by Charlie Cochrane, features Jonty and Orlando on holiday on the Channel Island of Jersey. Orlando, straight-laced fellow that he is, learns to unwind a bit and enjoy traditional summer vacation activities: walking on the beach and collecting shells; eating fish and chips out of a newspaper packet; and yes, even a little skinny-dipping with a chaste, but public kiss. I’ve enjoyed all the stories in this series but Lessons in Desire stands out in my mind because of the lovely holiday setting and the relaxed and enjoyable time that Jonty and Orlando share, even in the midst of solving a murder.

16730Aidan and Colm spend quite a bit of time on the beach in The Rest of Our Lives by Dan Stone. Their sojurn in Provincetown, Massachusetts was particularly romantic. It made me wish the Tarot Inn really existed so I could stay in their beautifully appointed suite. The Pilgrim Monument does exist, however, and thinking of them making love atop of it, as a thunderstorm flashed in the sky around them—well, it was hot. They have magical powers and when they really get going they levitate, which is a particularly handy skill when having sex on the beach—which they do, quite a few times. Note that Colm and Aidan are a little more lusty than the characters in the preceding two books, but that was fine with me. It fit the tone and kept things sizzling for this hot summer book.

L.A. Heat by P.A. Brown takes a different view of summer: Detective David Laine is not on vacation but working hard in the blistering heat of Los Angeles in July and August. He is on the trail of a serial murderer, nicknamed “The Carpet Killer.” Golden-haired Chris Bellamere is an early suspect; with his fabulous California good looks, he should be on a surfboard, not in a line-up. As the investigation drags on, David gets hot under the collar, for more reasons than one. This is definitely a steamy summer book and one that I re-visit on a regular basis. Brutal killings as a comfort read? It works for me because I really love the developing romance between Chris and David in this first entry in the “L.A.” series.

My last two choices don’t feature summer quite as prominently, but it still comes through in the story. In Taming Groomzilla by E.N. Holland, Joel and Luke are busy planning their October wedding after an April proposal. One hot Saturday in July, Joel suggests that they go shopping for wedding rings, giving them the opportunity to spend a few hours in air conditioning. The owner of Page Jewelers is a longtime friend of Joel’s family; when he introduces Luke as his fiancé and explains the purpose of their visit, he notes Mrs. Page’s reaction:

I saw a slight shadow flicker across her face, a tiny look of disapproval in her eyes. I couldn’t really blame her. She was older, from a different generation. Men didn’t marry men in her day. Instead, they got thrown in jail.

A bittersweet moment for the couple, one that contrasted with the heat of the day.

4538Perfect by Julia Talbot takes place over a year. It starts in July with Avery and Louis breaking up and concludes a year later when they finally get back together. It holds a particular place of affection in my heart because Avery shares a birthday with me (July 2nd) and like me, he always thinks the July 4th fireworks exist especially for him. It’s a very happy ending to a sweet book that I enjoyed very much.

So there you have it. A six-pack of summer treats, offered up for your enjoyment. All have been reviewed on this site. I include the links below if anyone wants to refresh their memory on what the reviewers had to say about each of them. And now, I ask the readers here: what are your favorite summer stories? Please share in the comments!

Shining in the Sun by Alex Beecroft (reviewed 6/9/2010; 4.5 stars)
Lessons in Desire (Cambridge Fellows #2) by Charlie Cochrane (reviewed 3/3/2009; 5 stars)
The Rest of Our Lives by Dan Stone (reviewed 9/29/2009; 4.75 stars)
L.A. Heat by P.A. Brown (reviewed 1/11/2010; 4.75 stars)
Taming Groomzilla by E.N. Holland (reviewed 9/4/2009; 4.5 stars)
Perfect by Julia Talbot (reviewed 3/8/2010; 4.25 stars)


  • I love Ally Blue’s Catching A Buzz which I reviewed a long time ago. Every time I reread it I love it even more, :)and of course Alex’s Shining in the Sun.

    I have to check out Matthew’s Hot Weather because I don’t recall reading it.

  • Thanks for the recommendation, Leslie! *g* One of the things I wanted to do with Shining in the Sun was to wrap up a Cornish summer holiday so that you could put summer into your pocket and carry it with you, even in the middle of winter. I’m very glad to know it worked 🙂 Thank you!

      • Thanks for the article, Leslie. Such a simple idea – looking for summer themed books – but really effective when they’re all drawn together.

        Makes me want to go on holiday right now…

  • Thanks for the suggestions. I’ll definitely look for Hot Weather — that sounds good.

    Another one that occurred to me, after I wrote this post (and that I reviewed here) was The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd. It’s a coming of age story that takes place over the summer between HS graduation and the start of college. Summer definitely plays a role in that one.


  • One of my favourite stories (which I should be reading although it will likely make me even hotter if that is possible) is Matthew Haldeman-Time’s Hot Weather. You can get it from Samhain (and other places probably since it’s older).

    Recent graduate and former football player John is stuck in the college town for the summer working during a heatwave and lamenting the days of his youth hanging out at the beach. He stumbles into a local diner and meets adorable waiter/student Keith and they start flirting but Keith wants to wait which makes John crazy but he keeps coming back for more. The descriptions of the heat are terrific and the build-up of light flirty friendship to something that culminates in some steamy smexin’ is great. I’d say it’s my favourite summer story.

    I’ve read and enjoyed Taming Groomzilla and Lessons in Desire as well. Great idea. Looking forward to all the great recommendations.

    • I second Hot Weather, really liked that book.

      Also, I’ve just read a great summer book Everything Under the Sun by Rachel West. It takes place during a hot Californian summer and steamy hot in the relationships too :).

  • Ally Blue’s, Catching a buzz,
    Cassandra Gold Fantasies series, they all take place in a tropical resort.
    Cameron Dane, Dreaming in colour. Pacific Ocean island setting.
    Cooper Davis, Boys of summer.
    Chris Quinton, Sea of change, takes place on Hawaii.

    I went trough my book list and saw lots of books that take place in summer or summery locations but that doesn’t really have an impact on the story like winter and christmas do have.

    • Definitely Catching a Buzz. I just reread that yesterday. LOL It’s so hot I’m finding it difficult to concentrate on new books (no central air) so I’ve been rereading some faves.


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