Remember that final scene in Grease? The gang all dancing in the school yard, Sandy and Danny in the car as it starts to rise into the air.... All the blue sky and sunshine? That's summer and it's here. It's time for road trips and graduations, barbecues and summer camp. That's what I had in mind when I wrote the last scene of my new adult romance The Partnership (not a spoiler). For new adult and YA novels, organized around the rhythms of school, summer seems to be an ending but it can also be a new beginning, a release. Grease provides a new twist on the most classic open-ended ending of American film: by riding off into the sunshine.
What are your favorite summer romances? Grease is obvious but top of my list anyway. Sandy and Danny's romance circles the summer, though the flashback of them frolicking on the beach never made much sense. (Where was that beach anyway? The geography—like the physics of that car floating away—was shaky.) The lift of the car conveys that sense of relief and release when school lets out. Danny sheds his leather jacket; Sandy strips off her poodle skirt. They start to see each other and they start to reveal themselves; that's the intimacy romances embrace.
Summer romances have a flavor and a scent, a look and a feel. They often invite nostalgia (cue Grease again). That's the mood behind romances set at proms and high school reunions, behind Sixteen Candles and Romy and Michele. I can think of few compelling camp romance novels surprisingly, but it's no accident that the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's romantic obsession begins with a camp boyfriend. Those summers away from home create a unique bonding experience. For beach romances, I like the surfer heroines in Christina Lauren's Wicked Sexy Liar and L.J. Shen's Scandalous. For road trips, the twists and turns in the Romancing the Clarksons series by Tessa Bailey.
Those are the stories of summer anyway, but there's a flip side and, strangely, I'm heading for the southern hemisphere this month, where it's (disorientingly) winter in June. My best recs from Down Under? Karina Halle's memorable road trip romance Where Sea Meets Sky, set in New Zealand, and Kylie Scott's Flesh series, where zombies take over Australia. Not the best known work by either author, but awesome.
Hot or cool, what's up on your summer reading list?