Romance Roundup: July 2023

A look at what’s steaming up the shelves this month.

Romance Roundup: July 2023

Whew, it’s hot in Virginia, even for July. Between the wildfire smoke drifting down from Canada (poor Canada) and temps in the 90s, I haven’t been keen on spending much time outside. (Even my dogs agree, though they’re not happy about the rabbits and squirrels taking over the yard.) While my two pampered doodles have been enjoying naps on the cool bathroom tile, I’ve been spending my free time researching the best beaches on the East Coast and devouring all the summer romances piling up in my TBR stack. Since I’m not heading out of town until August, it’s been fun to “travel” with these terrific books this month.


Carley Fortune is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors, and Meet Me at the Lake (Berkley) is one of my favorite books so far this year.

After her mother’s death, Fern Brookbanks returns to Brookbanks Resort, the family’s lakeside getaway where she grew up. The place meant so much to her mother, but the peaceful resort holds more than a few bad memories for Fern, who couldn’t wait to leave and never expected to return. It has been struggling financially, and Fern has to decide whether to make some much-needed changes or sell it and use the cash to open her own dream business, a coffeeshop in Toronto.

Then, swoon-worthy Will Baxter shows up (10 years after Fern spent one perfect day with him) and offers to help her create a new business plan for the resort. The problem is, Will was supposed to meet Fern at the lake one year after they first met in Toronto, but he never showed. She knows she should’ve forgotten about him a long time ago, but now that he’s standing in front of her, she can’t help but wonder what might have been. Is it too late to find out?

The lakeside-resort setting will charm “Dirty Dancing” fans as Fern rediscovers her childhood home and makes peace with her past. Told in two timelines — that one-day encounter a decade ago and the present — Fern and Will’s meet-cute evolves into a bittersweet story of second chances and found family. Author Fortune never shies away from the messiness of real life; laugh-out-loud humor and steamy love scenes are deftly balanced with discussions of regret, failure, grief, and mental illness, making Meet Me at the Lake the ideal summer romance.


Kate Bromley’s Ciao for Now (Graydon House) whisks readers off to Italy, where a fashion-design student finds love when she least expects it.

Violet Luciano may be a little older than her peers in design school, but that just means she’s even more motivated to succeed. After sidelining her own career aspirations for a relationship that didn’t last, she’s determined to get her life back on track. She’s landed one of three coveted month-long summer internships at a small fashion house in Rome, which will give her an opportunity to work on her own collection for a competition that could lead to a job in New York. All she has to do is keep her head down and stay focused on the work.

The trouble starts almost the minute she arrives in Rome, when she accidentally crashes into a man at a café, spilling his coffee and destroying his laptop. His name is Matt, and he has no interest in Violet replacing his computer (which is a good thing, since she can’t really afford to), but he turns out to be the visiting son of the professor hosting the interns. That means he and Violet must share a house with his mom and the others without letting their animosity (or is it attraction?) get in the way. Easier said than done.

Violet never felt like her dreams were supported by her family or her former boyfriend, but she learns to take responsibility for her own mistakes. Matt, for his part, is the successful screenwriter of a popular sci-fi TV series, but there’s more to his grumpy exterior than meets the eye. With romantic Italy as the backdrop, it’s only a matter of time before passion blossoms between the two, but Violet is determined not to put her dreams on hold again in a story that continues the author’s streak of writing fun, frothy romances made for the beach.

Kristina Wright lives in Virginia with her husband, their two sons, two Goldendoodles, a ginger cat, and a green parrot. She’s a regular contributor at BookBub and a lifelong fan of romance fiction. Find her on Twitter at @kristinawright or on Bookshop, where she features her book recommendations.

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