You may want to plan more vacation time to catch up on the new books hitting shelves for summer! We checked out the latest buzz-worthy titles and attended Park Road Books’ summer preview event to find out their picks to stash in your beach/pool bag. New releases include a historical fiction novel by a Charlotte author, a story with romance and shipwreck secrets set on the North Carolina coast, true tales from The Office by two beloved BFF’s, and plenty of page-turning beach reads.
Shop at Park Road Books or Main St. Books in Davidson or shop via the Amazon links below (book summaries pulled from Amazon.com).
Meant to Be by Emily Giffin (Ballentine)
The Kingsley family is American royalty, beloved for their military heroics, political service, and unmatched elegance. In 1967, after Joseph S. Kingsley, Jr. is killed in a tragic accident, his charismatic son inherits the weight of that legacy. But Joe III is a free spirit—and a little bit reckless. Despite his best intentions, he has trouble meeting the expectations of a nation, as well as those of his exacting mother, Dottie.
Meanwhile, no one ever expected anything of Cate Cooper. She, too, grew up fatherless—and after her mother marries an abusive man, she is forced to fend for herself. After being discovered by a model scout at age sixteen, Cate decides that her looks may be her only ticket out of the cycle of disappointment that her mother has always inhabited. Before too long, Cate’s face is in magazines and on billboards. Yet she feels like a fraud, faking it in a world to which she’s never truly belonged.
When Joe and Cate unexpectedly cross paths one afternoon, their connection is instant and intense. But can their relationship survive the glare of the spotlight and the so-called Kingsley curse? In a beautifully written novel that captures a gilded moment in American history, Emily Giffin tells the story of two people searching for belonging and identity, as well as the answer to the question: Are certain love stories meant to be?
The Summer Place by Jennifer Weiner (Atria)
When her twenty-two-year-old stepdaughter announces her engagement to her pandemic boyfriend, Sarah Danhauser is shocked. But the wheels are in motion. Headstrong Ruby has already set a date (just three months away!) and spoken to her beloved safta, Sarah’s mother Veronica, about having the wedding at the family’s beach house in Cape Cod. Sarah might be worried, but Veronica is thrilled to be bringing the family together one last time before putting the big house on the market.
But the road to a wedding day usually comes with a few bumps. Ruby has always known exactly what she wants, but as the wedding date approaches, she finds herself grappling with the wounds left by the mother who walked out when she was a baby. Veronica ends up facing unexpected news, thanks to her meddling sister, and must revisit the choices she made long ago, when she was a bestselling novelist with a different life. Sarah’s twin brother, Sam, is recovering from a terrible loss, and confronting big questions about who he is—questions he hopes to resolve during his stay on the Cape. Sarah’s husband, Eli, who’s been inexplicably distant during the pandemic, confronts the consequences of a long ago lapse from his typical good-guy behavior. And Sarah, frustrated by her husband, concerned about her stepdaughter, and worn out by challenges of life during quarantine, faces the alluring reappearance of someone from her past and a life that could have been.
When the wedding day arrives, lovers are revealed as their true selves, misunderstandings take on a life of their own, and secrets come to light. There are confrontations and revelations that will touch each member of the extended family, ensuring that nothing will ever be the same.
From “the undisputed boss of the beach read” (The New York Times), The Summer Place is a testament to family in all its messy glory; a story about what we sacrifice and how we forgive. Enthralling, witty, big-hearted, and sharply observed, this is Jennifer Weiner’s love letter to the Outer Cape and the power of home, the way our lives are enriched by the people we call family, and the endless ways love can surprise us.
The Homewreckers by Mary Kay Andrews (St. Martin’s Press)
Hattie Kavanaugh went to work restoring homes for Kavanaugh & Son Restorations at eighteen, married the boss’s son at twenty, and became a widow at twenty-five. Now, she’s passionate about her work, but that’s the only passion in her life. “Never love something that can’t love you back,” is advice her father-in-law gives her, but Hattie doesn’t follow it and falls head-over-heels for a money pit of a house. She’s determined to make it work, but disaster after disaster occurs, and Hattie’s dream might cost Kavanaugh & Son their livelihood. Hattie needs money, and fast.
When a slick Hollywood producer shows up in her hometown of Savannah, Georgia, she gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: star in a beach house renovation reality show called The Homewreckers, cast against a male lead who may be a love interest, or may be the ultimate antagonist. Soon, there’s more at stake than bad pipes and dry rot: during the demolition, evidence comes to light that points to the mysterious disappearance of a young wife and mother years before.
With a burned out detective investigating the case, an arsonist on the loose, two men playing with her emotions, and layers upon layers of vintage wallpaper causing havoc, it’s a question of who will flip, who will flop, and if Hattie will ever get her happily-ever-after.
The Hotel Nantucket by Elin Hilderbrand (Little, Brown and Company)
Fresh off a bad breakup with a longtime boyfriend, Nantucket sweetheart Lizbet Keaton is desperately seeking a second act. When she’s named the new general manager of the Hotel Nantucket, a once Gilded Age gem turned abandoned eyesore, she hopes that her local expertise and charismatic staff can win the favor of their new London billionaire owner, Xavier Darling, as well as that of Shelly Carpenter, the wildly popular Instagram tastemaker who can help put them back on the map. And while the Hotel Nantucket appears to be a blissful paradise, complete with a celebrity chef-run restaurant and an idyllic wellness center, there’s a lot of drama behind closed doors. The staff (and guests) have complicated pasts, and the hotel can’t seem to overcome the bad reputation it earned in 1922 when a tragic fire killed nineteen-year-old chambermaid Grace Hadley. With Grace gleefully haunting the halls, a staff harboring all kinds of secrets, and Lizbet’s own romantic uncertainty, is the Hotel Nantucket destined for success or doom?
Filled with the emotional depth and multiple points of view that characterize Hilderbrand’s novels (The Blue Bistro, Golden Girl) as well as an added dash of Roaring Twenties history, The Hotel Nantucket offers something for everyone in this compelling summer drama.
On Gin Lane by Brooke Lea Foster (Gallery Books)
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.
The Grand Design by Joy Callaway (Harper Muse)
In 1908, young Dorothy Tuckerman chafes under the bland, beige traditions of her socialite circles. Only the aristocracy’s annual summer trips to The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia spark her imagination. In this naturally beautiful place, an unexpected romance with an Italian racecar driver gives Dorothy a taste of the passion and adventure she wants. But her family intervenes, sentencing Dorothy to the life she hopes to escape.
Thirty-eight years later, as World War II draws to a close, Dorothy has done everything a woman in the early twentieth century should not: she has divorced her husband—scandalous—and established America’s first interior design firm—shocking. Now, Dorothy returns to The Greenbrier with the assignment to restore it to something even greater than its original glory. With her beloved company’s future hanging in the balance and brimming with daring, unconventional ideas, Dorothy has one more chance to give her dreams wings or succumb to her what society tells her is her inescapable fate.
Based on the true story of famed designer Dorothy Draper, The Grand Design is a moving tale of one woman’s quest to transform the walls that hold her captive.
This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub (Riverhead)
On the eve of her 40th birthday, Alice’s life isn’t terrible. She likes her job, even if it isn’t exactly the one she expected. She’s happy with her apartment, her romantic status, her independence, and she adores her lifelong best friend. But her father is ailing, and it feels to her as if something is missing. When she wakes up the next morning she finds herself back in 1996, reliving her 16th birthday. But it isn’t just her adolescent body that shocks her, or seeing her high school crush, it’s her dad: the vital, charming, 40-something version of her father with whom she is reunited. Now armed with a new perspective on her own life and his, some past events take on new meaning. Is there anything that she would change if she could?
Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt (Ecco)
After Tova Sullivan’s husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up. Keeping busy has always helped her cope, which she’s been doing since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat in Puget Sound over thirty years ago.
Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine but wouldn’t dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captors—until he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova.
Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova’s son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it’s too late.
Shelby Van Pelt’s debut novel is a gentle reminder that sometimes taking a hard look at the past can help uncover a future that once felt impossible.
Horse by Geraldine Brooks (Viking)
Kentucky, 1850. An enslaved groom named Jarret and a bay foal forge a bond of understanding that will carry the horse to record-setting victories across the South. When the nation erupts in civil war, an itinerant young artist who has made his name on paintings of the racehorse takes up arms for the Union. On a perilous night, he reunites with the stallion and his groom, very far from the glamor of any racetrack.
New York City, 1954. Martha Jackson, a gallery owner celebrated for taking risks on edgy contemporary painters, becomes obsessed with a nineteenth-century equestrian oil painting of mysterious provenance.
Washington, DC, 2019. Jess, a Smithsonian scientist from Australia, and Theo, a Nigerian-American art historian, find themselves unexpectedly connected through their shared interest in the horse—one studying the stallion’s bones for clues to his power and endurance, the other uncovering the lost history of the unsung Black horsemen who were critical to his racing success.
Based on the remarkable true story of the record-breaking thoroughbred Lexington, Horse is a novel of art and science, love and obsession, and our unfinished reckoning with racism.
The City of Likes by Jenny Mollen (NacelleBooks)
Megan Chernoff is a talented but unemployed copywriter in an identity crisis after the birth of her second child. Seeking a fresh start, she and her family move to New York City, where she meets Daphne Cole-a gorgeous, stylish, well-known momfluencer. To Meg’s surprise and delight, Daphne shows an inordinate amount of interest in Meg, showering her with compliments, attention, gifts, and all the perks that come with having a massive digital platform. Before she knows it, Meg finds herself immersed in Daphne’s world-hobnobbing at exclusive power mama supper clubs, partaking in fancy wellness rituals, and reveling in the external validation she gets from her followers who grow daily by the thousands. Her friendship with Daphne, as well as the world she’s been granted access to, is intoxicating and all-consuming. But is it authentic? When Meg realizes she’s losing track of what matters most-her relationship with her sons and her husband-the deep cracks in Daphne’s carefully curated façade are finally exposed. It’s up to Meg to find her way back to her real life. But first she must determine what “real” even means.
Written with Jenny Mollen’s signature razor sharp wit, City of Likes is a compulsively entertaining, unforgettable, and unsettling satire of modern life and relationships in a “pics or it didn’t happen” world.
Nightcrawling by Leilla Motley (Knopf)
Kiara and her brother, Marcus, are scraping by in an East Oakland apartment complex optimistically called the Regal-Hi. Both have dropped out of high school, their family fractured by death and prison
But while Marcus clings to his dream of rap stardom, Kiara hunts for work to pay their rent—which has more than doubled—and to keep the nine-year-old boy next door, abandoned by his mother, safe and fed. One night, what begins as a drunken misunderstanding with a stranger turns into the job Kiara never imagined wanting but now desperately needs: nightcrawling. Her world breaks open even further when her name surfaces in an investigation that exposes her as a key witness in a massive scandal within the Oakland Police Department.
Rich with raw beauty, electrifying intensity, and piercing vulnerability, Nightcrawling marks the stunning arrival of a voice unlike any we have heard before.
Mysteries and Thrillers
Last to Vanish by Megan Miranda (Scribner / Marysue Rucci Books) Release date: July 26
Ten years ago, Abigail Lovett fell into a job she loves, managing The Passage Inn, a cozy, upscale resort nestled in the North Carolina mountain town of Cutter’s Pass. Cutter’s Pass is best known for its outdoor offerings—rafting and hiking, with access to the Appalachian trail by way of a gorgeous waterfall—and its mysterious history. As the book begins, the string of unsolved disappearances that has haunted the town is once again thrust into the spotlight when journalist Landon West, who was staying at the inn to investigate the story of the vanishing trail, then disappears himself.
Abby has sometimes felt like an outsider within the community, but she’s come to view Cutter’s Pass as her home. When Landon’s brother Trey shows up looking for answers, Abby can’t help but feel the town closing ranks. And she’s still on the outside. When she finds incriminating evidence that may bring them closer to the truth, Abby soon discovers how little she knows about her coworkers, neighbors, and even those closest to her.
Megan Miranda brings her best writing to The Last to Vanish, a riveting thriller filled with taut suspense and shocking twists that will keep you guessing until the very end.
The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager (Dutton) Release date: June 21
Casey Fletcher, a recently widowed actress trying to escape a streak of bad press, has retreated to the peace and quiet of her family’s lake house in Vermont. Armed with a pair of binoculars and several bottles of bourbon, she passes the time watching Tom and Katherine Royce, the glamorous couple living in the house across the lake. They make for good viewing—a tech innovator, Tom is powerful; and a former model, Katherine is gorgeous.
One day on the lake, Casey saves Katherine from drowning, and the two strike up a budding friendship. But the more they get to know each other—and the longer Casey watches—it becomes clear that Katherine and Tom’s marriage isn’t as perfect as it appears. When Katherine suddenly vanishes, Casey immediately suspects Tom of foul play. What she doesn’t realize is that there’s more to the story than meets the eye—and that shocking secrets can lurk beneath the most placid of surfaces.
Packed with sharp characters, psychological suspense, and gasp-worthy plot twists, Riley Sager’s The House Across the Lake is the ultimate escapist read . . . no lake house required.
The Lost Summers of Newport by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White (William Morrow)
2019: Andie Figuero has just landed her dream job as a producer of Mansion Makeover, a popular reality show about restoring America’s most lavish historic houses. Andie has high hopes for her latest project: the once glorious but gently crumbling Sprague Hall in Newport, Rhode Island, summer resort of America’s gilded class—famous for the lavish “summer cottages” of Vanderbilts and Belmonts. But Andie runs into trouble: the reclusive heiress who still lives in the mansion, Lucia “Lucky” Sprague, will only allow the show to go forward on two conditions: One, nobody speaks to her. Two, nobody touches the mansion’s ruined boathouse.
1899: Ellen Daniels has been hired to give singing lessons to Miss Maybelle Sprague, a naive young Colorado mining heiress whose stepbrother John has poured their new money into buying a place among Newport’s elite. John is determined to see Maybelle married off to a fortune-hunting Italian prince, and Ellen is supposed to polish up the girl for her launch into society. But the deceptively demure Ellen has her own checkered past, and she’s hiding in plain sight at Sprague Hall.
1958: Lucia “Lucky” Sprague has always felt like an outsider at Sprague Hall. When she and her grandmother—the American-born Princess di Conti—fled Mussolini’s Italy, it seemed natural to go back to the imposing Newport house Nana owned but hadn’t seen since her marriage in 1899. Over the years, Lucky’s lost her Italian accent and found a place for herself among the yachting set by marrying Stuyvesant Sprague, the alcoholic scion of her Sprague stepfamily. But one fateful night in the mansion’s old boathouse will uncover a devastating truth…and change everything she thought she knew about her past.
As the cameras roll on Mansion Makeover, the house begins to yield up the dark secrets the Spragues thought would stay hidden forever….
The Love of My Life by Rosie Walsh (Pamela Dorman Books)
From the New York Times bestselling author of Ghosted comes an up-all-night page-turner that has “cleverly integrated twists that not even jaded readers will be able to predict…”*
Emma loves her husband Leo and their young daughter Ruby: she’d do anything for them. But almost everything she’s told them about herself is a lie.
And she might just have got away with it, if it weren’t for her husband’s job. Leo is an obituary writer; Emma a well-known marine biologist. When she suffers a serious illness, Leo copes by doing what he knows best – researching and writing about his wife’s life. But as he starts to unravel the truth, he discovers the woman he loves doesn’t really exist. Even her name isn’t real.
When the very darkest moments of Emma’s past finally emerge, she must somehow prove to Leo that she really is the woman he always thought she was . . .
But first, she must tell him about the other love of her life.
The Island by Adrian McKinty (Little, Brown and Company)
After moving from a small country town to Seattle, Heather Baxter marries Tom, a widowed doctor with a young son and teenage daughter. A working vacation overseas seems like the perfect way to bring the new family together, but once they’re deep in the Australian outback, the jet-lagged and exhausted kids are so over their new mom.
When they discover remote Dutch Island, off-limits to outside visitors, the family talks their way onto the ferry, taking a chance on an adventure far from the reach of iPhones and Instagram.
But as soon as they set foot on the island, which is run by a tightly knit clan of locals, everything feels wrong. Then a shocking accident propels the Baxters from an unsettling situation into an absolute nightmare.
When Heather and the kids are separated from Tom, they are forced to escape alone, seconds ahead of their pursuers.
Now it’s up to Heather to save herself and the kids, even though they don’t trust her, the harsh bushland is filled with danger, and the locals want her dead.
Heather has been underestimated her entire life, but she knows that only she can bring her family home again and become the mother the children desperately need, even if it means doing the unthinkable to keep them all alive.
The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor–the Truth and the Turmoil (Crown)
“Never again” became Queen Elizabeth II’s mantra shortly after Princess Diana’s tragic death. More specifically, there could never be “another Diana”—a member of the family whose global popularity upstaged, outshone, and posed an existential threat to the British monarchy.
Picking up where Tina Brown’s masterful The Diana Chronicles left off, The Palace Papers reveals how the royal family reinvented itself after the traumatic years when Diana’s blazing celebrity ripped through the House of Windsor like a comet.
Brown takes readers on a tour de force journey through the scandals, love affairs, power plays, and betrayals that have buffeted the monarchy over the last twenty-five years. We see the Queen’s stoic resolve after the passing of Princess Margaret, the Queen Mother, and Prince Philip, her partner for seven decades, and how she triumphs in her Jubilee years even as family troubles rage around her. Brown explores Prince Charles’s determination to make Camilla Parker Bowles his wife, the tension between William and Harry on “different paths,” the ascendance of Kate Middleton, the downfall of Prince Andrew, and Harry and Meghan’s stunning decision to step back as senior royals. Despite the fragile monarchy’s best efforts, “never again” seems fast approaching.
Tina Brown has been observing and chronicling the British monarchy for three decades, and her sweeping account is full of powerful revelations, newly reported details, and searing insight gleaned from remarkable access to royal insiders. Stylish, witty, and erudite, The Palace Papers will irrevocably change how the world perceives and understands the royal family.
The Office BFF’s by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey (Dey Street Books)
Receptionist Pam Beesly and accountant Angela Martin had very little in common when they toiled together at Scranton’s Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. But, in reality, the two bonded in their very first days on set and, over the nine seasons of the series’ run, built a friendship that transcended the show and continues to this day. Sharing everything from what it was like in the early days as the show struggled to gain traction, to walking their first red carpet—plus exclusive stories on the making of milestone episodes and how their lives changed when they became moms—The Office BFFs is full of the same warm and friendly tone Jenna and Angela have brought to their Office Ladiespodcast.
Finding Me by Viola Davis (HarperOne)
This is my story, from a crumbling apartment in Central Falls, Rhode Island, to the stage in New York City, and beyond. This is the path I took to finding my purpose but also my voice in a world that didn’t always see me.
As I wrote Finding Me, my eyes were open to the truth of how our stories are often not given close examination. We are forced to reinvent them to fit into a crazy, competitive, judgmental world. So I wrote this for anyone running through life untethered, desperate and clawing their way through murky memories, trying to get to some form of self-love. For anyone who needs reminding that a life worth living can only be born from radical honesty and the courage to shed facades and be . . . you.
Finding Me is a deep reflection, a promise, and a love letter of sorts to self. My hope is that my story will inspire you to light up your own life with creative expression and rediscover who you were before the world put a label on you.
The Brighter the Light by Mary Ellen Taylor (Montlake) Release Date: July 1
When a shipwreck surfaces, old secrets are sure to follow.
Or so goes the lore in Ivy Neale’s hometown of Nags Head, North Carolina. When Ivy inherits her family’s beachfront cottage upon her grandmother’s death, she knows returning to Nags Head means facing the best friend and the boyfriend who betrayed her years ago.
But then a winter gale uncovers the shipwreck of local legend―and Ivy soon begins to stumble across more skeletons in the closet than just her own. Amid the cottage’s clutter are clues from her grandmother’s past at the enchanting seaside resort her family once owned. One fateful summer in 1950, the arrival of a dazzling singer shook the staff and guests alike―and not everyone made it to fall.
As Ivy contends with broken relationships and a burgeoning romance in the present, the past threatens to sweep her away. But as she uncovers the strength of her grandmother and the women who came before her, she realizes she is like the legendary shipwreck: the sands may shift around her, but she has found her home here by the sea.
By the Book by Jasmine Guillory (Hyperion)
Isabelle is completely lost. When she first began her career in publishing after college, she did not expect to be twenty-five, still living at home, and one of the few Black employees at her publishing house. Overworked and underpaid, constantly torn between speaking up or stifling herself, Izzy thinks there must be more to this publishing life. So when she overhears her boss complaining about a beastly high-profile author who has failed to deliver his long-awaited manuscript, Isabelle sees an opportunity to finally get the promotion she deserves.
All she has to do is go to the author’s Santa Barbara mansion and give him a pep talk or three. How hard could it be?
But Izzy quickly finds out she is in over her head. Beau Towers is not some celebrity lightweight writing a tell-all memoir. He is jaded and withdrawn and―it turns out―just as lost as Izzy. But despite his standoffishness, Izzy needs Beau to deliver, and with her encouragement, his story begins to spill onto the page. They soon discover they have more in common than either of them expected, and as their deadline nears, Izzy and Beau begin to realize there may be something there that wasn’t there before.
Book Lovers by Emily Henry (Berkley)
Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.
Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.
If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.