Hello friends! Today I’ve brought you three adorable, wholesome romances that will make you smile and laugh, and (hopefully) brighten your summer a teeny, tiny bit. This summer (and spring) has been an absolute nightmare, so we need all the happiness we can get from books, in my opinion. 🥰
Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein
The past seven years have been hard on Avery Abrams: After training her entire life to make the Olympic gymnastics team, a disastrous performance ended her athletic career for good. Her best friend and teammate, Jasmine, went on to become an Olympic champion, then committed the ultimate betrayal by marrying their emotionally abusive coach, Dimitri.
Now, reeling from a breakup with her football star boyfriend, Avery returns to her Massachusetts hometown, where new coach Ryan asks her to help him train a promising young gymnast with Olympic aspirations. Despite her misgivings and worries about the memories it will evoke, Avery agrees. Back in the gym, she’s surprised to find sparks flying with Ryan. But when a shocking scandal in the gymnastics world breaks, it has shattering effects not only for the sport but also for Avery and her old friend Jasmine.
💛 Content Warnings: sexual assault, emotional abuse
💛 I was glad to see that Orenstein went out of her way to show all the parts of being a gymnast; the good, the bad, and everything in between. I particularly appreciated that she included sexual assault in the novel, as I think most of us will remember the 2017 US gymnastics sex abuse scandal.
💛 I loved Avery! Seeing her slowly but surely find her footing and build new friendships made me so happy. The only thing I missed was a bit more information on her parents; they felt only half-developed and they effectively disappeared by the end of the novel.
💛 While I enjoyed the romance, the way the main conflict between Avery and Ryan was handled made me frustrated. I can’t go into details about it lest I spoil something, but the key problem is that Ryan didn’t take Avery’s word for something she knew of first hand. The hurt he caused Avery with his actions was swept under the table pretty easily, which is especially frustrating if we recall how hard/how many times Avery tried to convince Ryan of the truth.
💛 Even so, Head Over Heels is a solid four star read that is made sweet not only by the romance and by Avery’s lovely personality, but also by her wonderful relationship with the girl she and Ryan are training for the Olympics.
Beach Read by Emily Henry
Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.
They’re polar opposites.
In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.
Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.
💛 Content Warnings: cheating (not between the main characters)
💛 Given all the praise I’d seen for Beach Read, my expectations were extremely high… and the novel did not disappoint! I found myself engrossed in the story from the first page, and I can confidently say that this is one of the best summer reads I’ve ever read.
💛 I loved the romance! They had a bit of a back-and-forth because the typical, “I think, I’m bad for you” argument appeared, but nonetheless I was utterly charmed by this couple. Their banter was entertaining, and the way they slowly got closer to each other made me beam so much.
💛 I’m granting the novel bonus points for the Taylor Swift-esque messaging Gus and January had going on. Their desks in their separate houses were facing each other, so they could communicate by holding up notes. Cute.
💛 The beautiful setting and the fun supporting cast added a lot to the novel; I loved meeting Pete and Maggie, and I enjoyed the descriptions of the beach and this small town.
Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom.
When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out, his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse?
Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf’s secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his… um, thighs.
Suddenly, the easy lay Dani dreamed of is more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?
💛 Content Warnings: anxiety, depression
💛 Ahh, a new Talia Hibbert novel always, always makes me excited and Take a Hint, Dani Brown was no exception. Waiting for this novel to be released was a pain, but the wait was so worth it, as I ended up loving every single moment of this novel.
💛 As per usual, Hibbert created funny, charming characters whose interactions were a dream to read. Over and over again, I found myself laughing out loud because these two were hilarious together (and on their own too, to be honest.)
💛 I love romance series where the previous novel(s)’s main characters pop up in the sequel(s), and I was extremely happy to see Chloe and Red appear from Get a Life, Chloe Brown. (Have you read my review of that? Click here if you want to!)
💛 The rest of the supporting cast was also a delight – the Brown family is incredible, I especially love how close the three sisters are, and I’m eagerly awaiting the third sister’s novel. Dani’s best friend is bloody fantastic and Zaf’s friends and family were also A+. I love it when the supporting cast is just as memorable as the protagonists.
💛 Unfortunately, I was in a pretty bad reading slump when I was reading Take a Hint, Dani Brown, which resulted in me being unable to get completely engrossed in the novel, no matter how hard I tried. I’m 99% sure this is on me, not on the novel, but despite that, this is “only” a four star read as of right now. That said, I’m very much looking forward to rereading in one day, and possibly raising my rating to five stars.
What’re some of your favorite “summer reads”? (Depends on you what genres you’d put into that category!) Have you read any of these novels? Maybe something else by their authors? Are you planning on reading these books?