[Note from Frolic: We’re so excited to welcome author Laura Griffin to the site today. She’s sharing some love stories absolutely perfect for your book club. Take it away, Laura!]
Even if your book club is meeting by Zoom these days, you can take an emotional, life-affirming journey overseas with these poignant love stories set in Scotland, France, Cuba, and England. These novels are not only entertaining, they will spark lively discussion and give you questions to chew on while your group snacks and sips—either online or in person.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
If your book club is looking for an addictive read that will pull at your heartstrings, try Outlander, the genre-bending novel by Diana Gabaldon.
Outlander begins in 1946 with Claire Randall, a British combat nurse, who is still feeling the shock of war when she goes on a second honeymoon with her husband to rekindle their relationship. While visiting an ancient stone circle, she steps through a standing stone and travels through time to 18th century Scotland, where she quickly meets Jamie Fraser, a Scottish warrior just injured in battle. After Claire nurses his wounds, she is adopted into his clan, where no one knows quite what to make of the Sassenach, or outlander.
As Claire and Jamie’s adventure in the Scottish Highlands unfolds, Claire finds herself torn between loyalty to a distant husband and the all-consuming passion she feels for Jamie. Traveling back and forth through the stones, she must confront her past (future?) and attempt to follow her heart.
Outlander is part historical fiction, part fantasy, part adventure. But most of all, it is a love story that grabs hold of you and won’t let go. Claire’s intelligence, wit, and resourcefulness, and her desperate love for Jamie, the brave and passionate Highlander, will stay with you long after you read the last page.
Gabaldon’s popular eight-book saga became the basis for the Outlander television series that is now in its sixth season.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Set during World War II, The Nightingale follows the lives of two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, who fall in love just as the world seems to be falling off a cliff. When Vianne’s young husband goes off to war, she is left to carve out an existence for herself and her daughter in the French countryside amid the horrors of Nazi occupation. Ever the rebel, Isabelle defies the Germans and joins the French resistance. While conducting heart-stoppingly dangerous missions, Isabelle falls in love with a resistance fighter and has a passionate romance that puts both of their lives at risk.
The novel, which begins in the point of view of an elderly woman living in America, showcases the actions of the fearless resistance fighter, dubbed “The Nightingale,” who rescues downed Allied pilots and leads them on the perilous journey to safety in Spain. Throughout the book, it is unclear which sister is telling the story and who survived the war, but the final, poignant revelation brings it all into focus.
The Nightingale is a story of love, sacrifice, and the impossible decisions presented by war. The two sisters, both on separate but intersecting journeys, must dig deep within themselves in order to survive and remain true to their cause. The novel, which is set to be made into a movie, offers book clubs an array of topics to discuss, including the brave and heartbreaking choices so many people made during World War II.
Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
Next Year in Havana is the story of a young Cuban woman whose forbidden romance throws her life into turmoil as her country is on the brink of war.
The daughter of a wealthy sugar baron, Elisa Perez is sheltered from the dark realities of Cuba’s political strife when she falls in love with a passionate revolutionary. The secret affair between Elisa and Pablo pits Elisa against her family as the political situation deteriorates and the country slides deeper into turmoil. When Elisa is forced to flee Cuba with her family, she leaves behind secrets that are later uncovered by her granddaughter, Marisol.
Using vivid sensory details, author Chanel Cleeton depicts the layered richness of Cuban culture, including the sights, aromas, and flavors of her ancestral homeland. Cleeton’s book club kit, which includes background info and family recipes for sangria and picadillo, make this a memorable book group read.
The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
If your book club wants more love and less war, Julia Quinn’s The Duke and I puts romance front and center. In the first book in the bestselling Bridgerton series, we meet Daphne Bridgerton, a young debutante who has tired of the London social scene after her marriage prospects are continually thwarted by her overprotective older brothers. She sets up a ruse with her brother’s best friend, Simon Basset, a dashing rake who has no interest in marriage: They will pretend to be courting to get a brigade of matchmaking mothers to leave them alone. But of course Daphne’s best-laid plans go awry when she starts falling in love with Simon, who will do anything—including dueling at sunrise—to avoid the altar.
As the story moves between the London ballrooms and country estates, Daphne and Simon find themselves unable to resist temptation. The Duke and I is a traditional romance in the sense that the book’s focus is on sorting through the inner conflicts that keep two lovers apart so that they can overcome obstacles and earn their happily-ever-after.
The Duke and I inspired season one of the wildly popular Netflix series, Bridgerton. Season two will feature the romantic escapades of Daphne’s older brother Anthony.
I hope this list helps sparks some ideas for your next book club read! All four of these beautifully told stories pack an emotional punch. Each of these novels is so different, but any one of them will sweep you away to another time and place and provide a much-needed change of scenery.
Happy reading and bon voyage!
About the Author:
Laura Griffin is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty-five books and novels. Her newest romantic thriller, Flight, is set on the white sand beaches near Padre Island National Seashore in Texas.
Flight by Laura Griffin, out now!
One tenacious local detective can only get the help he needs from a former forensic photographer with a serial killer on the loose in the new romantic thriller from New York Times bestselling author Laura Griffin.
When former forensic photographer Miranda Rhoads moves to the seaside town of Lost Beach, she’s decided to make her living as a wildlife photographer and put crime scenes behind her. But her plans are quickly upended when one morning, she comes across a couple sleeping in a canoe, entwined in an embrace. Looking closer, she realizes the man and woman aren’t asleep—they’ve been murdered.
Detective Joel Breda sets out to find answers–not only about the unidentified victims in the marshy death scene, but also about the aloof and beautiful photographer who seems to know more about his investigation than he does.
As they begin to unravel the motivation of a merciless serial killer, Miranda and Joel must race against the clock to make an arrest before the killer can find them first.