29 Jun Ten of the Best Holiday Reads 2022!
There are so many brilliant books out this year that I struggled to limit myself to just 10 – and I’m cheating slightly by including one of last year’s best-sellers.
But I couldn’t pass up on reading The Getaway by Isabelle Broom when I learned it was set in Hvaar, Croatia, the holiday island where I spent a week last month.
I’m back from Cyprus now, too, so if anyone has any recommendations for gorgeous romantic reading set on that island, do let me know.
Meanwhile, here’s my 5-starred pick of the best, set near and far, that I’ve read so far in 2022 …
The Getaway by Isabelle Broom
When her proposal to boyfriend James goes horribly wrong – and even more horribly viral – Kate flees her shame and heartbreak for a summer on Hvaar. Will the hazy heat of Croatia, the love and support of her brother Toby, and her blossoming friendship with ex-pat Jack-of-all-trades Alex give balm to her wounded heart? This book is more than a romance. It’s about self-acceptance, finding your passion and following your own dreams. The characters were great – Kate is very empathetic, Alex is so endearing, while laidback Toby and his husband Filippo are a fun foil to the intensity of the emotional turmoil Kate is going through. A fabulous holiday read.
Isabelle’s new book The Summer Trip is definitely next on my TBR pile!
One of the Girls by Lucy Clarke
When six hens arrive on the fictional Greek holiday island of Aegos to celebrate prospective bride Lexi’s upcoming wedding, all they’re looking for is a bit of fun. Or are they? As the hen weekend progresses, things unravel, friendships fractures, and more than one person finds herself facing danger. With its well-paced plot, engaging setting and fantastic cast of characters, this is a great book for anyone who wants their summer romance reading set on fire with added element of darkness, danger and disaster.
Summer At The French Café by Sue Moorcroft
Kat is living the dream in France, running a bookshop/cafe, living in a charming small-town apartment and enjoying a romance with handsome Jacques. Then her world comes tumbling down when she learns Jacques is already in a relationship. Handsome Noah comes on the scene, but with his own family problems in the shape of an ex-wife who has run away with his small daughter, can he really be the one to heal Kat’s heartache? Or will she be second best again?
As always, Sue Moorcroft delivers up a cracking tale where the outcomes are never quite certain. The setting of the bookshop in Parc Lemmel in the Alsace is a lovely backdrop for Kat and Noah’s story – a perfect summer romance that delivers warmth, depth and a dose of much needed sunshine.
One Last Letter From Greece by Emma Cowell
When Sophie travels to Greece in search of a lost artwork by her late mother, she does not expect to uncover family secrets, too. Will learning the truth help her cope with her grief? And will her relationship with handsome Greek fisherman Theo prove to be more than a summer fling?
This was a lovely romantic read for summer, with a strong element of mystery to keep the reader turning the pages. There’s extra interest in the ongoing story of Sophie’s friend Tiff, back in the UK, who is undergoing IVF – a reflection of Sophie’s dilemma that one day she would like to be a mother, too.
Couple the intriguing plot with the atmospheric evocation of life on a sunny Greek island, and your perfect summer escape is guaranteed!
Out of her Depth by Lizzy Barber
A tragic outcome to a Tuscan summer comes back to haunt Rachel Bailey 20 years later when Sebastian, the boy she adored, is released from an Italian prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Now seeking the truth, will he put Rachel in danger? The story toggles back and forward between her life now as a teacher and the summer that 18-year-old Rachel spent working in Tuscany.Rachel finds herself caught up in this world of privilege when she first meets wealthy Diana, her fellow worker at the Villa Medici pension, and then Sebastian, the rich young Englishman whose parents own the neighbouring villa. As summer wears on events escalate and culminate in unspeakable tragedy.
Wow! What a story of toxic friendship! With relatable characters, a well-paced plot, and ever-mounting tension, both in the past and present narratives, it kept me truly gripped.
A Taste of Greek Summer by Mandy Baggot
When food writer Lydia meets Corfiot chef Thanos, sparks fly from more than the cooking pot. But will their sizzling hot romance get off the ground in the face of various obstacles? I loved this story – it’s so redolent of Corfu with its sunny beaches, flowery villages and charming tavernas. It really made me feel I was there, savouring the stifados and partaking of the baklava.
It has a great cast of characters – Lydia and Thanos are both lovely people – each with challenges, of course, but all the more interesting for that. The folk around them add colour and interest to the narrative, too – people like Lydia’s madcap friend and colleague Caroline, Thanos’s brother Onassis and his old neighbour Ismena (along with her mad cat) whose well-meaning efforts to keep Lydia and Thanos on course for a happy ending are often more hindrance than help.
Funny, emotional, with a well-paced and believable plot and a simmering backstory waiting to come to the boil before the final resolution – this was the perfect romance for sunny days.
The Summer That Changed Us by Cathy Bramley
When three women meet on a Northumberland beach, they form a friendship that will give them each the support and strength to face their problems. Owner of a small lingerie shop, Katie, is being blackmailed over old, nude photos of herself taken when she was much younger; fisherman’s wife Robyn worries that her preventative surgery for breast and ovarian cancer has made her unattractive to her husband, Finn, while newly widowed Grace is reeling from the betrayal of her late husband’s first family as they set out to destroy her happy memories.
With three empathetic characters and underlying issues of self-confidence and how easily it can be destroyed, this is a strong, ultimately joyous and life-affirming story.The various plot threads keep the momentum going, and there’s lots of fun, laughter and romance amidst the angst and tears.
The women often collect seaglass, and I felt it was a great analogy for each of them – beaten and buffered by life’s waves that only make them stronger and more beautiful, the rough edges of day-to-day life smoothed away with each emotional beating they face down.
The Girls by Bella Osborne
This was a totally different read to what I’ve come to expect from Bella Osborne, but I enjoyed it just as much as her fun romances. Four former flatmates reunite at the 80th birthday party of Zara, who has achieved her ambition of becoming an internationally acclaimed actress. With her health failing she suggests the others comes to live with her in a mutally beneficial arrangement. With nothing to lose, the others agree but as they settle into Zara’s palatial French villa in Nice, they realise that Zara’s offer came with strings attached. Is she expecting too much of them? Will they regret giving up their previous lives? As the action moves towards denouement, it seems that Zara’s final solution won’t suit everyone!
A fabulously fun exploration of female friendship that isn’t always sweetness and light, this is a laugh-out-loud read that nevertheless addresses the serious issues of ageing, loneliness, coming to terms with who you are and what life throws at you.
The Holiday Bookshop by Lucy Dickens
Best friends Jenny and Marianne have run a successful bookshop together on a Cornish beach for over three years. They complement each other well – Marianne is creative and full of ideas, Jenny is forward thinking with a sharp business brain. But now Marianne wants to go off on an extended US road trip with new boyfriend Drew, Jenny is left feeling betrayed and let down, and impulsively takes a job that will see her spend three months in the Maldives launching a bookshop at a high-class resort.
With Marianne’s brother Evan left behind to run the bookshop, both girls set off to follow their new dreams – will things go as planned, and more importantly, will the split spoil their friendship?
This is a wonderful holiday read but the story also had unexpected depth in its exploration of both Jenny and Marianne’s journeys of self-discovery, Friendship and romance are both strong themes here, too, and there are plenty fun moments to enjoy, especially in Marianne’s madcap adventures in Las Vegas. The Maldives are portrayed as the perfect paradise I’ve always imagined – who wouldn’t want to lie and read on a hammock on a golden beach with waves lapping on the shore and turtles swimming in the water? But the author avoids cliches, presenting the Maldives as more than a holiday destination by exploring the opportunity for conservation.
Reading this book, I feel I’ve been on a wonderful journey of discovery that has taken me from east to west, with a feast of friendship and romance to enjoy along the way.
Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband by Lizzie Damilola
On the surface, this is a light-hearted romantic novel introducing us to 31 year old Yinka, British daughter of a Nigerian widow, who sets out to find her happy-ever-after in a process that sees her meeting an array of unsuitable men while ignoring what’s under her nose the whole time.
But on the other, it’s a real insight into the life challenges faced by a dark-skinned woman who judges herself by other’s standards of beauty, and who feels her achievements are constantly unfavourably compared to her peers. Will she ever find the courage to be just herself, and conquer her insecurities?
With colourful characters and an often hilarious narrative, the story offers a tantalising glimpse of the culture and values of the Nigerian community. Even as Zinka’s mum prays over her – in public! – that she will find a “huzband” we can’t help warming to the true family feeling and close bonds we sometimes seem to have lost sight of in the west.
A fun, warm-hearted and unforgettable read, the perfect book to finish off your beach reading!
I hope you enjoy some of my choices – keep checking my review pages as I continue to add all the best new reads in all different genres