In June, Make Your Escape With These 3 Hot Reads Summer's getting hotter, so here are three romances guaranteed to raise your temperature and take you on an adventure, from London's West End to Barcelona to a Harvard University classroom.


Book Reviews

In June, Make Your Escape With These 3 Hot Reads

It's officially summer reading season! Here are three sweet, sexy and totally swoon-worthy romances to read for a wonderful escape — whether it's to a tropical beach or just your couch for an afternoon.

If a wickedly good enemies-to-lovers story is your drug of choice, then you will not want to miss Making Up by Lucy Parker. Set in the vibrant theater world of London's West End, it follows actress Beatrice "Trix" Lane and makeup artist Leo Magasiva — who of course have a long history of mutual loathing. He also has a knack for showing up at the worst moments in Trix's life — like now, when her confidence is at rock bottom due to a majorly bad ex-boyfriend and she's up for the role of a lifetime that will stretch her to her limits.

Leo himself has joined the show in disgrace after a disaster involving a major celebrity and some almost deadly cosmetics. He needs the job and he has something prove. What he does not need: The distraction that is Trix. Their every interaction has sparks flying, leading to (spoiler alert) moments of empathy and decency and yes, hot sexy times. But it's nothing serious, or so they tell themselves! Trix and Leo rely on each other to deal with wild and wayward siblings, scandals, building each other up with the confidence they need to pursue their dreams. Eventually they realize this might be way more than just a fling.

The premise for Vanessa Riley's Advertisements for Love series is oh-so Regency Romance: Young ladies in search of husbands place advertisements in the newspaper, hoping to find the right match. In the latest installment, The Bashful Bride, heiress Ester Croome is thrilled to discover that the man responding to the ad is none other than Arthur Bex, the famous London actor she's been infatuated with for two years. Their meeting — and subsequent elopement — couldn't come soon enough, since her parents have arranged her marriage to a known philanderer.

This road trip romance comes with certain complications — as an interracial couple in Regency England, they have trouble securing a room (which means we must forsake that classic scene of a couple awkwardly sharing a bed while full of desire but determined to be chaste), and Ester often finds herself acting out stereotypes of Blackamoor women (the book's term) in order to save the two of them from highwaymen and other dangers. The real dangers to their happy-ever-after, though, are their complicated relationships with family and their tragic past connections to slavery. While this is a historical romance that doesn't shy away from grappling with issues of race, it always keeps the focus on the love and passion blossoming between Ester and Arthur.

Breathless, by bestselling romance novelists Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan has two love stories alternating between past and present, for a completely absorbing read. Badass Harvard art professor Dr. Brenna Anderson is on a quest to uncover the real identity of the painter and subject in the Siren Series, a stunning collection of erotically charged paintings by a man known only as the Artiste, depicting his breathtakingly beautiful muse. Brenna's nemesis, art hunter Fitch Wilder, is intent on tracking down the remaining paintings in the series for a wealthy benefactor, and these enemies reluctantly team up to uncover the truth about the artist, his model and the remaining portraits. Research has never been so sexy as the two travel from London to Barcelona and on to the Spanish countryside in pursuit of the paintings.

We the lucky readers are privy to the real story of the Artiste and his muse, the Swan. She was a renowned London courtesan, ruined in society, and kidnapped by pirates. The Artiste finds her washed up on the beach, nurtures her back to health and begins to paint her. They fall in love — madly, happily in love. Her story is heartbreaking and beautiful and (SPOILER ALERT) tragic. And yet, the two intertwined romances in this book shows that in some ways, love and passion do last forever.

Maya Rodale is a best-selling romance author.