Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

10 Steamy Beach Reads to Spice Up Your Summer

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Isabelle Popp

Senior Contributor

Isabelle Popp has written all sorts of things, ranging from astrophysics research articles and math tests to crossword puzzles and poetry. These days she's writing romance. When she's not reading or writing, she's probably knitting or scouring used book stores for vintage gothic romance paperbacks. Originally from New York, she's as surprised as anyone that she lives in Bloomington, Indiana.

What steamy beach reads are you throwing into your tote bag this summer? I’ve got some suggestions for the best steamy beach reads 2024 has to offer. Despite living in the Midwest, far from anything more than a man-made reservoir, I’m a true beach bum and a devotee to beach reads. I’ve written before about preparing for a beach reading day, and all the advice still holds. But now, let’s talk books.

When it comes to the best beach reads, romance is the way to go. And I specified steamy, so all of these books have on-page sex scenes. Apart from the steaminess, these books embody the best of beach reading to me. Whether there’s a summery setting, a dramatic plot, or a deep commitment to fun, these are the books that will keep you turning the pages. You may lose track of time but don’t forget to reapply sunscreen. 

I’ve focused on the steamy beach reads 2024 has to offer, so you can have your finger on the pulse of what is hot this summer. But I also chose a couple of older books that are the first entries in a series. You can spend your summer catching up in preparation for the newest installments out this year. That’s, like, twenty bonus recommendations, no joke. I’m committed to your (and my!) steamy beach reads!

The Best Steamy Beach Reads: 2024

cover of The Prospects by KT Hoffman

The Prospects by KT Hoffman

Baseball players are known as the “boys of summer.” Therefore, baseball romances belong at the beach. That’s simple math. Gene is the first openly trans baseball player in professional baseball, and he’s living the dream on his minor league team…until his rival, Luis, gets traded to his team. That line between hate and love is so thin, isn’t it? If you love joyful romances about dreaming big, this is the book for you.

Cover of Out Of Office

Out of Office by A.H. Cunningham

(Full disclosure: My forthcoming romance is also a Harlequin Afterglow novel.) If you want steamy beach reads, you need books set on the beach! Here, overachiever Genevieve is giving herself a beach vacation after opening a new hotel location in Panama. Adrián is her driver, and their chemistry is immediate. His attitude toward life has Gen rethinking everything, but is a relationship with this guy even possible? Are you into a sexy romance with a man who will go to the ends of the earth for the person he loves? You’ll adore Gen and Adrián’s story.

cover of lady derring takes a lover

Lady Derring Takes a Lover by Julie Anne Long 

If you want to be ready for Julie Anne Long’s My Season of Scandal — and you do! — start with the first in the series. This book details the establishment of the Grand Palace on the Thames, the boarding house that is the backdrop for the Palace of Rogues series. Delilah and her dead husband’s mistress establish the Grand Palace. Captain Tristan Hardy meets Delilah there while tracking a smuggler. He intends to seduce her to catch his man. Naturally, he catches feelings. Julie Anne Long lives up to her name: if you like steamy beach reads full of LONGING, start this series.

Rafe by Rebekah Weatherspoon Book Cover

Rafe: A Buff Male Nanny by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Need a romance that does what it says on the tin? Start here, and then move on to Xeni and Meegan, which just came out this year. Rebekah Weatherspoon is so great at world-building and character development within contemporary romance. You can sink into her books and enjoy spending time with all of the people you meet there. Take them to the beach! Start with Dr. Sloan Copeland, who needs a nanny. She finds Rafe. While the power dynamics of a parent/nanny romance are often icky, this book is a refreshing take on an old trope.

cover of just for the cameras

Just for the Cameras by Viano Oniomoh

You wanted steamy beach reads? You will absolutely need to periodically cool off in the water while reading this book. Kian and Jordanne are sex workers who both have a crush on their flatmate and best friend Luka. Luka agrees to be in one video, but one video is not enough for any of them. This romance is fairly low-angst and very high heat, with sincere emotional moments and healthy communication.

cover of Cover Story

Cover Story by Rachel Lacey 

Celebrity romances are the most reliable beach reading for me. Hollywood leading lady Natalie is still reeling from her experiences with a stalker. A bodyguard would be ideal, but she doesn’t want to draw further scrutiny. But if Taylor, a woman bodyguard recovering from an injury, could pose as her girlfriend, that would solve the problem, right? Fans of bodyguard romances will enjoy this heartfelt sapphic story.

cover of consort of fire

Consort of Fire by Kit Rocha 

Here’s the romantasy entry among the steamy beach reads. Consort of Fire is the first book in this series, and its sequel, Queen of Dreams, is set for August 2024 release. Sachi is essentially a human sacrifice, bound to be the consort to the dragon god Ash. She brings her handmaid and lover, Zanya, with her to her new life. But Zanya’s a secret assassin who aims to kill Ash. Naturally, things aren’t going to go to plan. Romantasy isn’t always my jam, but I adored the characters and world-building in this book. And if you want steamy beach reads, this series is piping hot!

cover of curvy girl summer

Curvy Girl Summer by Danielle Allen

This title kind of says it all, right? Aaliyah is on a mission to find herself a man by her thirtieth birthday, and that means getting back on the apps. Yikes. But bartender Ahmad has promised to keep an eye on her if she brings her dates to his bar. You absolutely know where this is going, and you’re going to enjoy the ride. This set-up is so perfect that it has me clapping my hands and chanting RO-MANCE, RO-MANCE. This book has humor, heat, and feelings for daaaays.

cover of an english bride in scotland

An English Bride in Scotland by Lynsay Sands

Here’s another book that’s the first in a series, and the twelfth (you read that right) will be out in September. You’re welcome! This book follows Annabel, who was about to take the veil as a nun when, instead, she becomes the wife of a Scottish laird. This book is an absolute hoot. You expect a laird in a Scottish historical to be a brooding alpha, but Ross is more of a cinnamon roll. There’s intrigue, and there are also boobs all over the place. I dare you to read this and tell me it wasn’t a good time.

cover of How to End a Love Story by Yulin Kuang

How to End a Love Story by Yulin Kuang

This book is a bit of a tearjerker. It’s also hot! If you are sensitive to stories with raw grief, this may not be the book for you at this moment. That said, if you want capital D Drama, this book delivers. I was glued to these pages. Helen is an author whose book series is being made for television. In the writing room, she encounters Grant. Grant was driving the car that struck and killed Helen’s 13 years ago, when they were both teenagers. These two are bound by horrific trauma, and yet they fall in love. If you like a romance that makes you ask “how the hell is the author going to pull this off?,” pick this one up.

I truly hope you’re spending enough time at the beach/pool this summer that you need more books than these. We’ve got the best romances of 2023, and some popular romantasy from TikTok. But if you are looking for something specific, consider consulting the talented bibliologists at Tailored Book Recommendations. They’ll help you find the romance that will tick every single one of your boxes.

a gif showing people reading and the text Tailored Book Recommendations: Real book nerds making tailored recommendations that are really, really good.