A few years ago while hanging by the sea with some friends of friends, the subject of hot summer reads came up among the chicks present.  I mentioned I was loving a new paranormal romance about a warrior-vampire brotherhood that was getting a lot of buzz. 

One of the women emphatically stated she never reads romance, to which her friends vociferously agreed. They immediately began discussing a popular novel about a woman who bears a child she hopes will serve as a kidney donor for her other child, one who is terminally ill and who eventually will need a renal transplant.


Keep in mind, please, that at the time of this convo, I not only am writing as a "romance fiction expert" for a major media concern, but also have a transplanted kidney I'd received about 18 years before from my older brother.  The expertise I bring to bear on either subject was neither asked about nor discussed.


Why didn't I dive into the mix to defend romance fiction - or my feelings about bioethics concerning growing potential organ donors? A) I was on vacation, and 2. Life's too short to waste precious beach time defending anything, when one instead can be reading romances.

It's in that same spirit I'm offering those of you who'd rather your heartstrings be tugged all honest-like - and don't mind your libidos shaken and stirred along the way --my picks for this summer's  

Top Ten Unabashedly Pleasurable Beach Reads (From Which No Maudlin Movie Starring Michelle Pfeiffer Ever Will Be Made)


1. Butterfly Tattoo/Deidre Knight -- After his lover's tragic death, Michael finds unexpected solace in the arms of a woman whose ability to overcome her own pain might calm his, and reunite him with his daughter.  A brilliant exploration of the fluidity of sexuality - and the tenacity of the human spirit. Sure to grace many Best of '09 lists.

Goddess of the Hunt  /Tessa Dare - Cheeky Lucy Latham decides to practice her seduction skills on Jeremy Trescott, her bro's best friend, so she'll be prepared to snare the real husband of her dreams.  Yet neither she nor Jeremy is ready for the sensual and emotional journey in store in this sensational debut, the witty and warmly sensual first novel in a back2back trilogy. 

Hot in Here  /Sophie Renwick - Celebrity chef Bryce Ryder's known home-town girl Jenna McCabe forever.  Yet once she's in charge of cleaning up his bad-boy act - and he's seeing her in an all-grown-up-and-takin'-charge light - Bryce starts cookin' up fantasies with one main ingredient: a suddenly sexy Jenna McCabe.

Knight of Desire  /Margaret Mallory - After he slays her traitor husband, a knight offers the traitor's widow a devil's deal: Marriage to the knight, or imprisonment in the Tower.  Turns out the brawny warrior shared an anonymous, kiss with the lady years before that only one of them remembers - yet both can't help but recreate at every turn.  First in Mallory's "All the King's Men" series.

Tan Lines  /JJ Salem - Sex, murder, sex, backstabbing, the Hamptons, sex, rock n' roll and more sex.  Not a romance per se - though there's one happily ever after (HEA) -- "Tan Lines" is decidedly well written, trashy beach-read nirvana.

Liaisons  /Various - Highly erotic, delightfully literary anthology of the kinds of no-holds-barred sexual fantasies women love.  Each short riffs on the theme of illicit or daring rendezvous -- with happy endings to happily ever afters.

Mother Nature Matchmaker series: Temperatures Rising  /Brenda Jackson; Sultry Storm (Kimani Romance Series #142)  /Celeste O. Norfleet; Sensual Winds  /Carmen Green - These luscious little, down-to-earth love-fantasies follow three buds in the Florida Keys who meet strong, beautiful women during a tumultuous season of hurricanes and whirlwind emotions. 

Tails of Love  /Lori Foster, Stella Cameron, et al. -- Sweet to sassy to sexy collection of short romantic stories, each with a pet pal helping bring together folks who simply were meant to be in love.  This fun-to-read collection raises funds for pets in need.

Mating Game  /Janice Maynard -- Nola Grainger's on the fast-track to the altar ‘cause granny's left her everything - as long as Nola gets hitched. So Nola's gon' try on for size three potential grooms on the way to HEA in this very "non-traditional" traditional romance.

Four Dukes and a Devil  /Maxwell, Fox, Frost, Nash, Warren -- 2 zingy paranormal contemporary tales nestle among three delish historical novellas in this made-for-down-time treat from top-of-their-their-game scribes. My fave is Sophia Nash's "Catch of the Century."


What romances top your Unabashedly Pleasurable Summer Reads List?  Which of those would you like to see made into summer blockbusters?


Michelle Buonfiglio writes daily about romance fiction and pop culture at Romance: B(u)y the Book (RBTB).  Catch all her UB posts here.
Message Edited by Michelle_Buonfiglio on 06-30-2009 01:44 PM
Message Edited by Michelle_Buonfiglio on 06-30-2009 07:38 PM
by Author PortiaDaCosta on ‎06-30-2009 02:47 PM

I'm so glad you enjoyed Liaisons! My contribution was fun to write, and a self indulgent fantasy outing with a version one of my favourite crush guys. :smileyhappy:


No beach for me, but it's hot and sunny at the moment, and my high summer read is A TOUCH OF WICKED by Jennifer Haymore. I'm loving it. It's emotional, angsty [but in a good way] and full of wit. One of those books where you're always dying to know how the dilemmas of the plot will be resolved. I'm fighting the urge to flip to the last page, and have managed to resist so far. 


Recommend this one highly! And yes, I could see it as a big costume movie too. 

by Author Deidre_KnightGA on ‎06-30-2009 04:37 PM

Okay, hoping this isn't a double post! But the Net shut down on me when I tried before. 


Thank you SO MUCH for listing BUTTERFLY TATTOO as #1 on your list of beach reads.  I'm so proud of that book, and it really is very "beachy", with the surfing and Malibu factoring in. :smileyhappy:


I'm honored to be on such a great list!! Thanks again.

Deidre Knight

by Author Sophie-Renwick on ‎06-30-2009 04:48 PM
What a thrill to be included! Thanks so much for the honor! I hope Bryce and Jenna satisfied. Definitely keep a spritzer and a cabana boy handy!!!! Thanks again! Sophie Renwick
by Moderator dhaupt on ‎06-30-2009 05:57 PM
Well It looks like I'll be adding some more reading to my summer of romance, but hey, what else is there to do. I found a new author who has her second book coming out tomorrow, Marie Force and her new book is called Love at First Flight, her first book, Line of Scrimmage was one hot read. Plus the cast of thousands that will be with me through the summer.
by Deeprosewriter on ‎06-30-2009 06:34 PM
As a romance writer I am so pleased to see this post. We have a place in the world of writers and it's nice to be recognized. Romance novels don't appeal to everyone but that could be said about any genre. We spend just as much time, energy, creativity and craft to create our stories and we have loyal readers that love what we do. Thank you for highlighting some great reads. I have a few new ones to add to my list now.
by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎06-30-2009 07:44 PM
Ah, yes, Portia, could that crushable lad happen to be a guy like that darling Chaz Epps from 'Numb3rs?'  Nah. That'd be too coincidental.  But, goodness, what a naughty young man -- and spectacular finish to "Liaisons!'
by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎06-30-2009 09:13 PM
Thanks for stopping by Deidre.  I'm glad to note for fellow BN.com friends that Deidre's book is an example of the dynamic, trend-setting style of romance offered from authors who publish with digital as well as print publishers. The medium of legitimate digital  publishing often offers the luxury to authors of creating bolder stories. "Butterfly Tattoo" will be available in print in '10, but I don't suspect you'll want to wait that long -- except to be able to display it on your Keeper Shelf.

Hi, Sophie!  It's so hard to find good help these days. 

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎06-30-2009 09:22 PM
Debbie, you wrote: but hey, what else is there to do. I agree w/you. It's clear you and I lead very full lives.  I don't know of the author you've mentioned, but judging from just the titles, I'm thinking they're calling my name.  Thanks for the rec.

Welcome, deeprosewriter!  It's hard for those of us who love books not to respect and admire authors of any genre.  The cool thing about writing about romance here at BN.com is that nobody expects one to convince him or her that romance and romance writers count.  Man, that's saweet!  I'm so glad  I've always had a 'define, don't defend" attitude about romance, and you've stated so well the nature of the romance author/reader connection.  I'm so glad you stopped by and hope we'll see you again.
by amyskf on ‎07-01-2009 12:19 AM

Great list Michelle. I already had a few of these on TBR list - now I need to add more. Darn. Just Kidding. And Portia, you know I'm dying to read anything of yours.


How about Jo Davis's new Fire Station 5 book, Under Fire, talk about adding a little heat to the beach.



by Moderator becke_davis on ‎07-01-2009 12:58 AM

I keep hearing about Butterfly Tattoo so that's on my list, and I already planned to get Tessa Dare's book. Now my TBR pile is going to grow even more!


I would add both of Toni Blake's books to this list, and anything by Kristan Higgins. And Skinny Dipping by Connie Brockway, Wild at Heart by Patricia Gaffney, anything by Jennifer Crusie, Suzanne Brockmann and Susan Elizabeth Phillips, all of Anna Campbell's books -- oh rats. I could go on for hours. 

by Author LLFoster on ‎07-01-2009 07:16 AM

Michelle, you have to be one of the coolest people I know. LOL. I agree 100% about not wasting a vaca in heavy-duty "defense" discussion. It's pointless. Romance needs no defense, imo, and the kidney transplant... well, since I'd only just found out about your transplant a few weeks ago, I know  you're not someone who shouts about it from the rooftops.

All of the books you mention sound SO good! I just turned in a single title (finally!) so I hope to get some reading done now. I've missed it. I've missed living, actually. LOL. I have been sooooo busy, it'll be terrific to NOT be so crushed for a little while.


Love your blog. Thank you for being you, and for being such a wonderful romance spokesperson.




by Author Keri_Stevens on ‎07-01-2009 07:43 AM
Toni Blake's One Reckless Summer and Tails of Love are both at the top of the "I can't get to the beach, but still . . ." reading list.  Adding Suzanne Enoch's Always a Scoundrel.  Butterfly Tattoo is on my hard drive. My really, really hard drive.
by Moderator Melanie_Murray on ‎07-01-2009 03:50 PM

This is probably my favorite week of the year. It's a holiday solely about relaxing (and celebrating our independence, I know.) I am thrilled with this top ten! I've read the Margaret Mallory and concur. What a sexy hero in that one, and I love the scene that depicts their first kiss, oh so many years ago.


I posted over in our romance forum about my beach reads. I'll be tackling Dirty Sexy Knitting by Christie Ridgway, Lord of the Fading Lands by C.L. Wilson, and The Inn at Eagle Point by Sherryl Woods. Then I realized that I have no historicals packed, and so I'm bringing along Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas and The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley. And if I make it through this pile, I'm heading STRAIGHT to the bookstore (because I am free to do so - Happy Fourth!) and buying the new Meredith Duran.

by Author DianneCastell on ‎07-02-2009 09:44 AM

Hi, Michelle.


So glad you enjoyed Tails of Love. All the authors had a great time writing this book...what's more fun than stories about pets and falling in love.


Other summer reads I love are Karen Kelley's How to Seduce a Texan for something hot and sexy and Rosemary Laurey's Bloody Good for a terrific fantasy.



by LaurinW on ‎07-02-2009 10:26 AM
Lots of good books here to add to my summer TBR pile.  Thanks!  I have to add Pamela Palmer's first Feral Warriors book, Desire Untamed, to everyone's must read list.  It's dark, sexy, hold on to the edge of your seat, paranormal romance and best yet, there are two more coming back to back this summer.  These books will NEVER be made into maudlin Michelle Pfieffer movies!
by Moderator becke_davis on ‎07-02-2009 11:11 AM
All these book recommendations - I have no power to resist!
by Moderator dhaupt on ‎07-02-2009 12:41 PM
Oh Becke you love it and you know it.
by Moderator becke_davis on ‎07-02-2009 03:29 PM
Well, yeah, but still. . .
by Author Jessa_Slade on ‎07-02-2009 04:11 PM

I'm on a  Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson kick right now. Technically urban fantasy, I think, but the heroine is just so cool.  And if she'd finally admit how hot the alpha werewolf is, it WOULD be a romance!  I read the fourth book out of order and immediately went back for books 1-3, that's how good they are.


> when one instead can be reading romances. 

Michelle, I end half my sentences this way!

by Moderator becke_davis on ‎07-02-2009 05:45 PM

I've only read one of Patricia Briggs books (maybe two) and I liked it (them) enough that I bought more. The others are in my TBR pile, waiting for me to get off the computer and READ!


I did just finished reading Sunday's New York Times. It's only Thursday -- that's pretty good for me! 

by on ‎07-02-2009 05:47 PM
Paranormal "Urban" fantasy, is thick with romance. As a cross genre beast that part of it's very nature. Besides with the Mercy books that tention between them is one of the better aspects.
by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎07-02-2009 11:04 PM
Ah, TiggerBear, you're a better bear than I, cause I cain't staind the waiting on the tension between books! It drives me batty! 

So, Jessa, I'm not the only one who uses that excuse not to clean, cook, leave the house...  I literally had to tell a publicist today: Yeah, I thought I left that manuscript under the kitchen chair a couple weeks ago so I'd remember to look for it, but it's not there now.  So, I guess I should be checking out these mercy books?  I think half the reason I fear series like that is I'll get hooked and won't rest til I read them all.

Impressive, Becke, very impressive.  So you should be starting on the crossword just about now...
by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎07-02-2009 11:16 PM

Laurin, did you say fuh-fuh-fuh-Feral Warriors? I think I'm in love! Oh, how did I miss these boys?!  And a zero-maudlinicity quotient? (it's a word if i say it is)!  Man, you got me jonesin now.

Hiya, Diane!  Totally loved TOL, and for such a great cause!  A pet and a romance goes a long way toward feelin great for so many of us.  And what a great title for the laurey book. I've gotta check that out; I know you like your love stories heavy on both the commitment and the hot.


Oh, Melanie, those are great contemps and paras, but,  nary a carriage scene among em! for shame; I expect better from you..  "Not Quite a Husband' is every bit as spectacular as one expects from Sherry Thomas (Who's "Private Arrangements' was an RBTB Year's Best Winner), and I believe "Lord Ian" will live on my Keeper Shelf.  Have a great weekend!



by on ‎07-03-2009 04:10 AM

Ah, TiggerBear, you're a better bear than I, cause I cain't staind the waiting on the tension between books! It drives me batty


It's like waiting for Christmas, starting in July. (chuckle)


Think about it this way. How many shows got burned by having the characters giving in to the urges (Moonlight for example)? Some times it's waiting for that kiss to happen, that makes it all the worth.


So long as they get together at the end, I'm on for the full ride.

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎07-03-2009 12:37 PM

Well, ch'yah, tiggs, I with you on the full ride thang. But the waiting may be an immaturity issue for me.  I'm going to have to think about whether I've ever been able to do a series like that... Now I'm feeling guilty...

Ames, if I hadn't mentioned "Under Fire" before, it totally would have been, like, my Top Beach Read list.  The Station Five books define Romance Beach Read for me.  Jo Davis just gets it; she understands romance.

Becke, having lived in Minnesota for 4 years, and having spent time pondering the imponderables of 'fish houses' and "butter heads,' I highly recommend "Hot Dish,"  and 'skinny dipping,' too.


And Toni Blake's books definitely are made-for-summer reads!

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