I typically only write up book recommendations for books that I would actively recommend to anyone and everyone. These books tend to have some teeth to them and therefore have more substance to discuss in a full post. There are many books I read in a given year that I enjoy and even give 4 stars to, but don’t ever end up writing a book recommendation for because they just don’t quite have enough oomph to warrant a solo post. I still think these books deserve their time in the spotlight, so I’ve decided to compile a list of 10 4 star reads I have been enjoying lately. Pretty much without exception, these are light, fun, breezy books that will fill your eyes with hearts. The writing isn’t going to go down in history, the stories aren’t completely original, but boy did I enjoy reading them! Some of these have served as palate cleansers between denser books or books outside of my usual comfort zone, while others were books I picked up purely because I wanted to chew on some bubble gum. Perhaps you will find something you like among these:
My Favorite Half-Night Stand – Christina Lauren
This is a friends to lovers Rom-Com from the dream team that is Christina Lauren. On the Christina Lauren spectrum of romance heat, this one is more of a medium heat for them. The story follows Millie, a professor in southern California, as she and her 3 best guy friends, also professors, navigate being single and online dating. Things are made more complicated when Millie and one of these friends, Reid, have a half-night fling. This is a story of friendship and family, like so many of Christina Lauren’s books. Such a fun read, really truly, I will read anything by these two!
A Girl’s Guide to Moving On – Debbie Macomber
This was my first Debbie Macomber book and I wasn’t expecting to make it through to the end if I’m being perfectly honest. All I knew of her as an author was that sometimes her books become Hallmark Channel Movies, which isn’t typically a selling point for me in a book. Nevertheless, this book was a total delight to read as you get to know Nichole and her mother-in-law Leanne just after they both leave relationships with unfaithful men. The two of them move to NYC to start over and both begin relationships with men quite different from their usual crowd.
99 Percent Mine – Sally Thorne
This poor book is a victim of living in the shadow of its beloved, older sibling, The Hating Game. 99 Percent Mine is a different book, so don’t go into it expecting it to be the same and I think you’ll be just fine. This book centers around Darcy Barrett and her newly tethered life. Normally traveling all over the world doing whatever she pleases, Darcy is brought home to decide what to do with her recently inherited family home. She and her twin brother disagree on just about everything and their childhood best friend, turned contractor, is sent to do her brother’s bidding in order to fix the house up to sell. As their childhood memories rise to the surface, so do their feelings and the truth about who they really are. It’s a fun, fixer-upper, romance novel that I breezed through while fixing up my own new home.
The Secret Life of Violet Grant – Beatriz Williams
I actually read this book several years ago and really liked it, but couldn’t remember it. I went and saw Beatriz speak about her new book, which inspired me to read this book again and finish this little trilogy about the Schuyler sisters. This story stars with the youngest Schuyler sister, Vivian, as she tries to begin a career in journalism. A large, old suit case shows up at her door, introducing her to a handsome good Samaritan who helps her carry it home as well as her great aunt Violet who owned said suitcase. The story flips between Vivian’s 1964 NYC and Violet’s 1914 Berlin. A bit of mystery, a bit of history, a bit of love. The complete package. I really like Beatriz Williams’ writing and the plucky characters she creates.
Good in Bed – Jennifer Weiner
After reading and really liking Jennifer Weiner’s most recent release, Mrs. Everything, I was excited to pick up this book after finding it at a book fair for $0.25. This story picks up with Cannie Shapiro just as she reads her ex-boyfriends column about what it was like to “Love a Larger Woman.” Coming to terms with her plus-size body has been a life-long challenge, but reading her ex-boyfriends words and knowing that others also read it sends her on a bit of a spiral. Although this spiral is really just beginning for her, this new trajectory completely transforms her life and requires her to face her past and all that is keeping her from living her best life. This book has a lot of heart and sometimes goes to some crazy places, but I love where it ended. Could not be more different than Mrs. Everything, but from what I understand most of Weiner’s books are more in the vein of Good in Bed.
Evvie Drake Starts Over – Linda Holmes
The cover on this book accurately depicts the cuteness of this book. It’s a story that begins following Evvie Drake a year after her husband died suddenly in a car crash, incidentally the same night Evvie was planning to leave him. Keeping her true feelings about her marriage to herself now that her husband’s death has made him a town hero, she is stuck in the role of being his widow and convinced it is the only role she will ever have. Into town comes a baseball player, Dean Tenney, whose career recently ended after his pitches lost their power and accuracy. He came to the small Maine town to disappear from the media and make a new game plan. Evvie ends up serving as landlord and the two become a bit more than that. Predictable? Yes. Enoyable? Absolutely!
Tiny Little Thing – Beatriz Williams
Another of Beatriz Williams’ Schuyler sisters books, this one following the oldest, Tiny. Staying staunchly in the mid-to-late 1960s, this historical novel is about Tiny’s marriage to an aspiring and ambitious politician who is from a rich, storied Boston family. Tiny is sometimes overwhelmed with the need to keep up appearances, which is continually an issue for her, dating back to the days right before her marriage when she meets a handsome stranger in the most heroic of ways. Flipping back and forth between Tiny’s perspective in 1966 and the handsome stranger’s perspective in 1964, this story is full of the fun that I love about Beatriz Williams stories as well as a few mysterious circumstances that completely surprised me. I loved this book just as much as Violet Grant, and look forward to reading the third one, which follows the middle sister, Pepper.
Say You Still Love Me – K.A. Tucker
I have read other books by K.A. Tucker, which I haven’t loved, but this one I liked. It’s about a wealthy girl who strikes up a relationship with a bad boy at a summer camp who never get the chance to see what might have been after that fateful summer. Flash forward to adulthood, the two of them are still remembering that lost summer love and when they have a chance to rekindle, their positions are so different it might stand in the way. I always love a story that brings back first love later in life. I love the nostalgia factor and how much longing it typically depicted through the many years between encounters. This is not a high quality book, which is to say the writing is not fantastic, but the story drew me in and kept me invested throughout the whole story. This is the quintessential beach read, well, in the way that I define a beach read.
Well Met – Jen DeLuca
I feel like the setting of this rom-com was half the reason I liked this book so much. Emily finds herself without a job or a boyfriend suddenly (like the start of every rom-com) so she packs her bruised ego and heart and moves in with her much older sister and niece. This actually works out really well because her sister and niece were recently in a serious car accident, which has left her sister unable to work or walk or do anything to take care of herself or her teenage daughter. So Emily is happy to find her place with them and find herself being needed again. When her niece joins the town’s Renaissance Faire, as per usual, Emily is the form of transportation. When they arrive at Faire the first day she is told that in order for an under-18 to volunteer at Faire they must also have an adult volunteering. This is how Emily finds herself dressing in a corset and acting as a wench in 1601 England. There is a romance involved, of course, but I found the setting so compelling, it’s almost like the romance is the background and the Faire is the foreground. I have never been to a Ren Faire before, but you better believe I have plans to head to one before our local Faire closes at the end of October. For me, this was a first having a book set at a Ren Faire, so it makes this rom-com stand out among the crowd.
The Unhoneymooners – Christina Lauren
As I have already mentioned, Christina Lauren are my auto-read authors (author? I never know who to refer to the duo), and once again they didn’t disappoint. This is an enemy to lovers story that follows Olive and Ethan as they step in to take the honeymoon of Olive’s twin sister, Ami, and Ethan’s brother, Dane, after the two are too ill to go. So off they fly to Hawaii for a 10 day lovers retreat that Ami won for free. Due to strict rules of the sweepstakes, Olive must pretend to be Ami and therefore Ami and Ethan have to put on a facade of being newlyweds. Things grow more complicated as they each run into people from their real life back in Minnesota. This is a story that explores the relationship of twins and siblings, loyalty to family, and whether luck is made or fated. Referring back to the Christina Lauren heat spectrum, this book I would say is more of the mild heat level, and so I think would appeal to a wider audience. A really fun read!