Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

15 June Romance Novels to Cure the Summertime Blues

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Jessica Pryde

Contributing Editor

Jessica Pryde is a member of that (some might call) rare breed that grew up in Washington, DC, but is happily enjoying the warmer weather of the desert Southwest. While she is still working on what she wants to be when she grows up, she’s enjoying dabbling in librarianship and writing all the things. She can be found drowning in her ever-growing TBR and exclaiming about romance in the Book Riot podcast (When in Romance), as well as on social media. Find her exclamations about books and pho on twitter (JessIsReading) and instagram (jess_is_reading).

Guess what, everyone? It’s JUUUUUUUUNE! June, while also having the honor of being my birth month, is an amazing month for books! It’s not only the height of release times for traditionally published books, but every indie author and their mother also wants to make sure you’ve got their book in hand for your next trip to the beach or your library’s adult summer reading challenge.

June is also an odd month. For half of the world, it’s the start of the sticky, sweaty period where we alternately want to be outside enjoying the sunshine and indoors enjoying the air conditioning. It’s when school lets out for the year and vacation exploits begin. Whether we are in school, have kids in school, or just want to brain less in the hotter months, we look forward to the summer months, even if just for nostalgia’s sake. And whether we have an actual summer break or not, something about the time period inspires us to do the Fun Things that we might not be as inclined to do in the winter months. (Maybe it’s because all our shows are over until the fall? That’s a possibility I hadn’t thought of.)

Either way, June 2024 is going to be THEE month for romance (she says as she knows that each month will continue to be THEE month for romance until she dies). There were so many books listed that I was beside myself with trying to cut the list down to the titles you see here. You’ve already got Not in Love by Ali Hazelwood and Leather & Lark, the sequel to Butcher & Blackbird, on your radar. You might be ready to pick up Vajra Chandrasekera’s Rakesfall, even though it doesn’t promise an HEA. (That cover, tho!) And these 15 books? They’re all promising to be absolute bangers.

cover of Birding With Benefits

Birding With Benefits by Sarah T. Dubb

How often do you read a romance in which the main characters are both birdwatchers?

Empty-nester (and recently divorced) Celeste winds up in an interesting bind when she offers to do a favor for a friend of a friend. Thanks to some miscommunication from all sides and a newfound desire to be a little more adventurous, she not only ends up John’s partner in a birding competition but also pretending to be his girlfriend? The joy of learning a new skill and exploring the desert wilds on the outskirts of Tucson, along with the fun of getting to know each other, makes for a delightful romance! (Transparency note: Sarah and I are IRL friends!)

cover of Isabel and the Rogue

Isabel and the Rogue by Liana de la Rosa

This follow-up to Ana María and the Fox brings us back into the world of the Luna sisters, who have left their homeland of Mexico to live in relatively increased safety in London. Here, the titular Luna sister uses her reputation as a wallflower to gather information, particularly as it pertains to the success of her beloved Mexico, which is still enduring occupation by France. But when she stumbles upon an agent of the crown seeking his own intelligence, the pair clash in all the best ways, even as the opposing information-seeking they pursue puts them at odds.

Cover of Pardon my Frenchie

Pardon My Frenchie by Farrah Rochon

Ashanti is the thriving owner of Barkingham Palace and is looking to expand into the building next door. But the space is instead taken over by Thaddeus, who intends to make it a watering hole for his fellow returned servicemen. It’s not only the building that Thaddeus has acquired but his grandmother’s standard poodle, Puddin’ (who, of course, spends his time at Barkingham Palace). When Puddin’ and Ashanti’s dog Duchess inspire a viral moment on Barkingham Palace’s livestream, the pair — who have done nothing but snipe at each other since meeting — might find something in each other as they brave the media storm.

Cover of Lady Eve's Last Con

Lady Eve’s Last Con by Rebecca Fraimow

This is the summer of sci-fi, and Lady Eve’s Last Con combines two of my favorite things: science fiction and noir. Con woman sisters Ruth and Jules have been at the game for a long time, but falling in love with one of their marks and then being abandoned for revealing the truth left Jules down in the worst way. Now, Ruth is in disguise and ready to make him fall in love with her, only to take his money and beat it — but his sister Sol is something else entirely, and Ruth isn’t sure how to keep her from getting under her skin in the best of ways.

cover of Match Me If You Can

Match Me If You Can by Swati Hedge

Jia lives a pretty great life in Mumbai and is set to make it even better with a new matchmaking column at the city’s most popular women’s magazine. All she has to do is set up the perfect couple at work, and she’ll have her chance. And then there’s the matter of Jaiman, a lifelong friend — practically a family member — who acts as her conscience and hides his own feelings very well. (If you hear the words “Emma” and “Clueless” whispering around in the back of your head, you’re not alone!)

cover of The Wedding Crush

The Wedding Crush by Mia Heintzelman

When Stefano and Avery are tapped to be Maid of Honor and Best Man at the wedding of her best friend and his younger sibling, things couldn’t look worse. The pair already don’t get along, and working together to make sure the wedding is a success for their loved ones isn’t promising. But there is a thin line between antagonism and attraction, and these two are toeing it very closely.

cover of Romancing Miss Stone

Romancing Miss Stone by M.C. Vaughan

This book almost didn’t make it on my list because I had the wrong date, but once I realized my mistake, I couldn’t leave it out!

Bo’s ex breaks up with him via text. While she’s in Belize. So what better way to get her back than to hire a guide through the jungle to find her and revive their relationship? He’s not sure what he’s expecting with Alex, but they’re…very different people. And that’s almost…fun?

Cover of A Love Like the Sun

A Love Like the Sun by Riss M. Neilson

Laniah and Isaac have been friends since childhood. Their lives have since taken decidedly different paths, but when he tells a little white lie (aka a big freaking lie) and his massive fanbase thinks they’re dating, her struggling small business turns around immediately. The summer sees them continuing the ruse and having to address some of the underlying tension that has always simmered beneath the surface of their friendship.

Cover of A Shore Thing

A Shore Thing by Joanna Lowell

In the late Victorian period, Muriel Pendrake has come to Cornwall seeking the painter Kit Griffith. She seeks to commission him to paint some plants for her upcoming botanical presentation in New York, and he seeks a quiet life with his bicycles, far away from the painting he can’t bring himself to do. But she is persistent, and they find themselves making a pact: she will help him with this long-distance cycling challenge that some burly Penny Farthing riders have challenged him to, and he will paint her plants. They just have to get through the ride.

Cover of Curvy Girl Summer

Curvy Girl Summer by Danielle Allen

Half of me just wants to say, “Look at that cover and tell me you don’t want to read it,” but I will be a good Rioter and tell you what it’s about.

Aaliyah is approaching 30 and would like to celebrate her birthday with a boyfriend. But the efforts she’s been making have turned out…less than successful. When a new bartender friend recommends a dating app, she figures there’s nothing much to lose, but her growing friendship with said bartender might change everything.

Cover of The Stars Too Fondly

The Stars Too Fondly by Emily Hamilton

What we all need right now is a queer space opera rom-com, don’t you think?

Cleo and her friends, determined to…determine…the truth behind a missing crew, not-so-legally make their way onto the starship Providence. But doing so accidentally turns it on? And sets it on course for who knows where. And somehow, the ship’s original captain, Billie, has uploaded a hologram version of herself, who is no less bossy in ones and zeroes. Cleo and the Billiegram are frequently at odds as they figure out where the ship is going and how to get back, but their combative relationship slowly turns into something that…really can’t happen, right?

cover of One and Done

One and Done by Frederick Smith

Taylor and Dustin are both work-focused, goal-oriented professionals who rarely let themselves let go. Taylor aims to become a rare thing: an openly queer, Black university president. And the work he’s doing to get his university through accreditation is destined to bring him one step closer to that goal. And then there’s Dustin, who is back in the Bay Area for a consulting job but would rather be anywhere but in the place where the worst parts of his past converge.

Cover of The Art of Catching Feelings

The Art of Catching Feelings by Alicia Thompson

Isn’t this just the perfect title for a baseball book? “Catching” feelings? Yeah? Yeah?

This story, reminiscent of You’ve Got Mail, starts with a baseball player who has a lot of feelings to process being heckled by a game spectator, which doesn’t end well. And when Daphne reaches out to him on social media to apologize, they build an online rapport. Except, she hasn’t actually revealed that she was the person doing the heckling, and she isn’t sure how to reveal it now — or what will happen if she does.

cover of Director's Cut

Director’s Cut by Carlyn Greenwald

What do you do when you’ve already won an Oscar at 29? You take a guest professor job at a prominent California university, of course. And when your co-instructor blatantly doesn’t like you, you roll with the punches. And somehow, you get to be on each other’s good side. But when Val (the Oscar winner) starts to get good press for her directorial debut, she finds herself torn between her professorial work (and Maeve) and her Hollywood career.

cover of A Novel Love Story

A Novel Love Story by Ashley Poston

A Goodreads review (by a friend!) referred to this book as “like Schmigadoon for romance fans,” and that is honestly all you need to know! Eileen loves romance novels because they’re basically nothing like real life. When her car breaks down near a very familiar small town — aka the one right out of her favorite romance series — she finds herself pulled into a story that needs to find its happy ending. But there’s a grumpy bookstore owner who is making it difficult to pull together all the loose ends, and Eileen doesn’t like where this is heading, okay?

Looking for more? Make sure you saw last month’s new releases! And, there’s always plenty to fall in love with on the romance page.