Contemporary Reads for July, Part One!

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July is a great month to pick up a contemporary romance read! Here are just a few of our favorites so far. 

One to Watch by Kate Stayman- London 

Bea Schumacher is a devastatingly stylish plus-size fashion blogger who has amazing friends, a devoted family, legions of Insta followers—and a massively broken heart. Like the rest of America, Bea indulges in her weekly obsession: the hit reality show Main Squeeze. The fantasy dates! The kiss-off rejections! The surprising amount of guys named Chad! But Bea is sick and tired of the lack of body diversity on the show. Since when is being a size zero a prerequisite for getting engaged on television?

Just when Bea has sworn off dating altogether, she gets an intriguing call: Main Squeeze wants her to be its next star, surrounded by men vying for her affections. Bea agrees, on one condition—under no circumstances will she actually fall in love. She’s in this to supercharge her career, subvert harmful beauty standards, inspire women across America, and get a free hot air balloon ride. That’s it.

But when the cameras start rolling, Bea realizes things are more complicated than she anticipated. She’s in a whirlwind of sumptuous couture, Internet culture wars, sexy suitors, and an opportunity (or two, or five) to find messy, real-life love in the midst of a made-for-TV fairy tale. In this joyful, wickedly observant debut, Bea has to decide whether it might just be worth trusting these men—and herself—for a chance to live happily ever after.

My two favorites, reality tv and romance, are brought together in this novel. I love that the main character is relatable and filled with body positivity, and infinite amounts of wit. This novel goes where The Bachelor hasn’t, filled with a diverse cast of characters and a fresh take on a show that will capture your attention. Bea keeps the pace by finding out this show may just be more than free clothes and hot air balloon rides.

Not Like The Movies by Kerry Winfrey 

Chloe Sanderson is an optimist, and not because her life is easy. As the sole caregiver for her father, who has early-onset Alzheimer’s, she’s pretty much responsible for everything. She has no time—or interest—in getting swept up in some dazzling romance. Not like her best friend, Annie, who literally wrote a rom-com that’s about to premiere in theaters across America . . . and happens to be inspired by Chloe and her cute but no-nonsense boss, Nick Velez.

As the buzz for the movie grows, Chloe reads one too many listicles about why Nick is the perfect man, and now she can’t see him as anything but Reason #4: The scruffy-bearded hunk who’s always there when you need him. But unlike the romance Annie has written for them, Chloe isn’t so sure her own story will end in a happily-ever-after

 

This is the second in the Waiting for Tom Hanks series, it takes a serious subject you don’t often see in a romance, being a caregiver, and explores the ins and outs of family and love. Chloe is in an interesting position, as the caregiver to her father, life often hands her hard decisions to make. Nick is the steadfast presence in her life that supports her despite being her boss. When the movie buzz interrupts their status quo, Chloe is forced to discover that maybe being independent doesn’t necessarily mean being alone. 

Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

On her very first morning on the jewel-like island of Capri, Lucie Churchill sets eyes on George Zao and she instantly can’t stand him. She can’t stand it when he gallantly offers to trade hotel rooms with her so that she can have a view of the Tyrrhenian Sea, she can’t stand that he knows more about Casa Malaparte than she does, and she really can’t stand it when he kisses her in the darkness of the ancient ruins of a Roman villa and they are caught by her snobbish, disapproving cousin Charlotte. “Your mother is Chinese so it’s no surprise you’d be attracted to someone like him,” Charlotte teases. The daughter of an American-born Chinese mother and a blue-blooded New York father, Lucie has always sublimated the Asian side of herself in favor of the white side, and she adamantly denies having feelings for George. But several years later, when George unexpectedly appears in East Hampton, where Lucie is weekending with her new fiancé, Lucie finds herself drawn to George again. Soon, Lucie is spinning a web of deceit that involves her family, her fiancé, the co-op board of her Fifth Avenue apartment building, and ultimately herself as she tries mightily to deny George entry into her world–and her heart. Moving between summer playgrounds of privilege, peppered with decadent food and extravagant fashion, Sex and Vanity is a truly modern love story, a daring homage to A Room with a View, and a brilliantly funny comedy of manners set between two cultures.

I loved the Crazy Rich Asians series and this zany comedic style of writing shines in Sex and Vanity. Just as the title states, we travel between different coasts and explore how the ultimate rich and famous live. It’s a deep dive into embracing family heritage and culture while also grappling with modern ideals. 

Hands Down by Mariana Zapata

Before he was “Big Texas,” he was “Zac the Snack Pack.”

Bianca Brannen knows time—mostly—heals all wounds. Including those your once loved ones might have unintentionally given you. (Those just take longer.)

She thinks she’s ready when a call has her walking back into her old friend’s life. Or at least as prepared as possible to see the starting quarterback in the National Football Organization. Before the lights, the fans, and the millions, he’d been a skinny kid with a heart of gold.

Waltzing out of Zac Travis’s life should be easy. Just as easy as he walked out of hers.

The Queen of the slow burn is back! I love Mariana Zapata’s stories for the slow build of the romance and her amazing heroines. As a Mexican-American, Mariana also intersperses cultural references that I really enjoy as I don’t often read about a fellow hispanic american. Hands Down is a sports romance with two characters that have a long past. Zac was Bianca’s childhood crush and as they’ve both moved on to big things in their lives, when they come together their pasts will collide. 

Halfway through the year! What are you starting this month off with?

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