The temperature is slowly rising, the calendar has turned to June and that means summer, and with it summer rom-coms, are here. There is nothing better than a warm day, a dry breeze and a swing in the hammock with a love story that warms the heart.
In this month's roundup, USA TODAY staff read a collection of new rom-coms, books starring a middle-aged magazine columnist who manages to create a family in the most unpredictable place, a woman in her 30s at a crossroads when it comes to having a baby, and a pair of brides who turn a small Scottish town upside down.
Here are our picks for June's most delightful new romance novels.
May's top rom-com reads: Emily Henry's 'Book Lovers' and Casey McQuiston's 'I Kissed Shara Wheeler'
‘As Seen on TV’
By Meredith Schorr. ★★★ (out of four). Out now.
Forget small-town girl moving to the big city. In this trope turned upside-down, “As Seen on TV” follows ambitious city dweller Adina Gellar, who's trying to launch her journalism career in the most energetic way – by finding the perfect Hallmark movie-esque town to write her breaking story on. As she spends more time in the small town of Pleasant Hollow, Adina comes across a mysterious man named Finn. She also notices that things aren’t exactly how she expected them to be. What starts as a young woman with an inspiring goal turns into a lesson on how to continue following your dreams even when things don’t entirely go as planned. This upbeat and lighthearted read has all the necessary ingredients any hopeless romantic could want: the importance of love, family and finding oneself. Her journey shows us that at the end of the day, even our smallest expectations of people and places don’t always match up to reality, and that’s OK. — Madison Yerke
'Nora Goes Off Script'
By Annabel Monaghan. ★★★ (out of four). Out now.
"Nora Goes Off Script" is a lighthearted rom-com about the nuances of life, love, relationships and fame. Nora is a screenwriter for the Romance Channel. After her husband leaves her and her children, she turns to writing at her studio. After selling a screenplay about her marriage's collapse, the filmmakers take up residence in her writing sanctuary. The novel feels like the perfect escape from reality for both the characters and the reader, especially for those of us who have or want kids (and those who need some healing from their own childhoods). There’s a truthful realness to the bond between the film's leading man Leo and Nora (and Nora's kids) that you immediately feel. It’s an easy read that feels like something Nora herself would create for the Romance Channel, but in the best way. — Jillian Lucas
April's must-read rom-coms: A tangled story about a wedding guest who falls for the groom makes the cut
By Lizzy Dent. ★★★ (out of four). Out now.
Will she, or won’t she? That’s the question author Lizzy Dent poses to readers within the first few chapters of "The Setup," her sophomore romantic comedy. The "she" in question is silly-to-start main character Mara, who leans on astrology with the kind of blind faith reserved for children who believe in Santa Claus. She is sure she meets the man of her dreams on a weekend trip to Budapest and embarks on a self-improvement project for when she sees him again. As for the question: Dent challenges Mara with many "will shes." Will she save lido, the local pool and rec center, from being sold? Will she cultivate some friends and fix everything that’s wrong with her life? Will she learn to trust herself? Will she choose her dream man over the real one who is present in her life? You’ll just have to read this book to find out. — Leigh Harrington
'Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting'
By Clare Pooley. ★★★★ (out of four). Out now.
Romantic comedy comes in all forms in "Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting." There is unrequited love, familial love, romantic love, enduring love and, not to be forgotten, platonic love. Iona is a middle-aged magazine columnist who religiously takes the train to and from work. She has a seat, a companion (her dog Lucy) and a code of conduct for the train. She has named all her fellow commuters with apt nicknames and goes about her business of commuting. That is, until "smart-but-sexist-manspreader" chokes on a grape and Iona starts seeing her nicknames as actual people. Much like the author's previous book, "The Authenticity Project," what ensues is a hilarious and sweet creation about a group of individuals who form a family with love at its core. — Mary Cadden
March rom-com roundup:Jesse Q. Sutanto's ‘Four Aunties and a Wedding' strikes a sweet note
‘Meant to Be Mine’
By Hannah Orenstein. ★★★ (out of four). Out now.
Edie Meyer knows she’ll meet her true love when she’s 29 years old. Her beloved grandmother has a supernatural ability to predict the date members of their family will find their match, and those predictions have been bulletproof. Edie’s sure she can't fight fate, so when a hot musician plops down beside her on a plane on the allotted day, she decides he’s the one. But as serious cracks emerge in their nascent relationship – and a shocking truth comes to light – Edie will have to decide whether it’s possible to fight fate. “Meant to Be Mine” shines as a celebration of family, friendship and Jewish heritage. It's a fun beach read with philosophical notes about free will and destiny. I love that it includes a recipe for matzo ball soup that was passed down from Orenstein's grandmother. But I was left with some lingering questions about the story's magical elements when I turned the last page. — Sara Tabin
‘A Proposal They Can’t Refuse’
By Natalie Caña. ★★★1/2 (out of four). Out now.
What do you get when you combine two childhood friends, two successful businesses and two meddling family members? You get a funny, heartwarming story about two grandpas who blackmail their grandkids into getting married. Kamilah Vega, a fiery but sweet Puerto Rican chef, and Liam Kane, a stoic but soft-hearted Irish whiskey maker, decide to go along with their grandpas’ plan, but only because they don’t want them to sell the businesses – and the building that houses them. The plan sounds easy at first, but with a past romantic history, Kamilah and Liam suddenly find themselves questioning everything they thought they knew about love, family and how to run a business. Caña has crafted a wonderful story about putting faith in yourself and opening your heart to love. — Joanna Nelius
February rom-com reading list:Ashley Herring Blake's 'Delilah Green Doesn't Care' hits a perfect ★★★★
‘How to Fake It in Hollywood’
By Ava Wilder. ★★★ (out of four). Out now.
Grey Brooks and Ethan Atkins might be two of the most erotic romance leads this year. They are both struggling to revive their acting careers. But it’ll take a fake-dating scenario to turn their mutual apprehension and sexual interest into a full-blown romance. Finding out whether Atkins, a traumatized A-list celebrity, can overcome his struggles with alcoholism is just one more reason why readers won’t be able to stop reading Wilder’s debut novel. The emotional journeys Brooks, a former teen soap star, and Atkins undergo makes their eventual romance all the more satisfying. — Mabinty Quarshie
‘Lucie Yi Is Not a Romantic’
By Lauren Ho. ★★★★ (out of four). Out now.
Lucie Yi is at a crossroads. She’s spent most of her adult life focusing on her career, but now that she’s in her late 30s, she’s hearing her proverbial clock tick louder. Lucie realizes yes, she does want a family, but after a harrowing break-up two years earlier, she’s done with dating. She signs up for an elective co-parenting website that will give her the chance to be a parent without all the romantic nonsense – or at least, she hopes so. What follows is a hilarious, messy and incredibly relatable series of events that makes Lucie question what she really wants from life. Lauren Ho masterfully captures the internal struggle many women go through when trying to balance work life, familial and societal expectations, and their own happiness. — Joanna Nelius
Rom-com roundup:'Weather Girl,' 'Lucky Leap Day' top January reading list
'An Island Wedding'
By Jenny Colgan. ★★★★ (out of four). Out now.
Old roots, new faces and relationships – new, old and still developing. Those elements are what make Colgan’s latest, “An Island Wedding,” so entrancing – even if you’ve never set foot in a place like Colgan’s fictionalized Scottish isle of Mure. Flora MacKenzie is getting married to Joel. She’s thrilled, even if it’s to be a small affair, a “sweetheart wedding.” But things are complicated when Olivia MacDonald, a Mure native and sister to Jan – a peer of Flora’s with whom she has a complicated relationship, at best – returns to the island with intent to marry, too. Olivia brings with her Instagram fame, a fiancé’s wealth and unresolved tensions with her sister when she decides she wants to get married at The Rock, the inn Flora runs. The drama that unfolds surrounding the wedding pulls in nearly the rest of the small town, which seems a world of its own. Can the relationships between lovers, friends and family take the pressure? Or will any combust? “An Island Wedding” is a great escape for any reader. — Morgan Hines
‘Maggie Moves On’
By Lucy Score. ★★★ (out of four). Out now/
For anyone who’s ever flipped back and forth between HGTV and the Hallmark channel, “Maggie Moves On” will feel right at home. Maggie Nichols, house flipping YouTube star, throws herself wholeheartedly into her fixer-uppers, leaving little room in her heart for love. But when she meets flirtatious, often shirtless landscaper Silas Wright in Kinship, Idaho, sparks and sawdust immediately fly. While the foundation of their romance is at once heartwarming and downright hot, will Mr. Wright be Mr. Right for Maggie, or will she continue to move on? The novel tells several intertwined stories, featuring everything from a fabulously feisty pit bull and GIF-filled family group chats to local lore and hidden secrets. Come for the romance, stay for the mysteries and scene-stealing side characters. — Hannah Southwick
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'For the Love of the Bard'
By Jessica Martin. ★★★1/2 (out of four). Out June 28.
Reading "For the Love of the Bard" is like entering a fantasy written specifically for bookworms. A successful author as the main character? A family that owns both a bookstore and bakery? A hometown obsessed with Shakespeare? This book has them all. Miranda, behind on her latest novel and suffering from writer’s block, returns home to reset and reinspire herself while helping her mother plan the centennial of the local Shakespeare festival. Enter the man who broke her heart in high school, who is, of course, the vet who cares for her chocolate-eating dog, as well as her dad’s set-building assistant. This is a delight, full of florid language, slow-building tension, groan-inducing puns, loads of food descriptions, and a fun and fleshed-out supporting cast. I recommend having a chocolate croissant and Shakespeare play teed up for when you finish it. — Rebecca Viser
‘The Dead Romantics’
By Ashley Poston. ★★★1/2 (out of four). Out June 28.
Florence Day doesn’t believe in love, but she does believe in ghosts. She has to – they talk to her. But while she can ignore the apparitions she sees on her commute and in her neighborhood, her lack of faith in love is having major professional consequences. As a ghostwriter (yup) for one of the biggest romance names in the business, she’s down to the wire on a deadline, but a soul-crushing breakup has given her a crippling case of romance-writer’s block. A disastrous meeting with her handsome but chilly brand-new editor Benji Andor makes it clear she’s not getting an extension. After family tragedy pulls her back to her small Southern town, the deadline takes a back burner to confronting the past she thought she’d left behind. Oh, and the ghostly version of Benji who shows up on her doorstep. Florence and ghost Benji’s tentative steps to connection play out against the backdrop of Florence’s journey to make peace with her past. Even if you don’t believe in ghosts either, you’ll root for them to believe in each other. — Jennifer Ernst Beaudry
Also new in June
"Four Ways to Wear a Dress," by Gillian Libby (out now). When Millie Ward is fired (again), she packs it up and moves in with her best friend, an Instagram influencer in California.
"Island Time," by Georgia Clark (out now). The island vacation of Australian and American in-laws with little in common is disrupted by an erupting volcano.
"Good Morning, Love," by Ashley M. Coleman (out now). Musician and songwriter Carlisa Henton's life is upended after a chance meeting with a rising pop star.
"Here for the Drama," by Kate Bromley (out now). Budding playwright Winnie is hired as an assistant to a famous feminist playwright, and drama and love ensue.
"American Royalty," by Tracey Livesay (out June 28). A prince who wants to live out of the spotlight falls for a daring American rapper.
"The Sizzle Paradox," by Lily Menon (out June 28). A student studying sexual chemistry in romantic partners is lost when it comes to her own dating life.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Best sellers Clare Pooley, Lauren Ho, Lucy Score: June's top rom-coms