Do you remember that ‘last day of school’ feeling before the summer holidays? Other than Christmas Eve, I think it was the most wonderful time in my childhood. While I enjoyed school, I enjoyed far more the freedom of those long, lazy days: freedom to paddle in the ocean, build sand castles, take picnics in meadows, fill sketch books with drawings – and read, of course to read. For me, the summer holidays were especially precious because they meant so much time in which to devour books. My ‘to read’ pile would be teetering on Day One of the holidays, and I loved that.
Even now, all these years on, I associate the summer with reading, though of course my books of choice are a little different now. I love going to the bookstore to build that teetering ‘to read’ pile that will define my summer. When I browse the romance novels, I am always looking for those that tick my four ‘summer holiday read’ boxes:
1. An exotic, vivid setting: I don’t want to read a novel set in a dreary, rain-soaked town; I want to visit, in my imagination, someplace really special and exciting, someplace on my wish list for travelling. It needn’t necessarily be hot, but I’m likely to prefer a book set in sunny climbs over a wintry novel. Most of all, I need takes-you-there writing; I need to be transported to the setting.
2. Sublimely romantic romance: It has to be so, so romantic. Breathtakingly passionate and evocative. I want summer love – to fall in love with the hero, to be a part of the love story.
3. Compelling drama: I want to be gripped, to struggle to put the book down. I want to be sitting on a beach, heart thumping. I want a lot of story to entertain and challenge me. I want the book to be memorable, so that when I look back on this summer, I remember my reading.
4. A beautiful book: The book itself must be inspiring, beautiful. A vivid, colourful cover. A good-quality paper, when in paperback. And thick: for me, the thicker the better. There is something so reassuring to me about a big book, which holds the promise of so many hours of reading ahead.
Readers of my romance fiction will know that not only do I love books like this to read, but I write them too. My novels all feature exotic settings, epic romance and gripping drama, and thanks to my wonderful publisher London Wall and talented cover artist, they are objects of beauty, in paperback especially. They are, I hope, perfect holiday reads, guaranteed to make you sigh dreamily.
What do you look for in a holiday read? Do you read different books in the summer to the rest of the year? Do you have any favourite holiday reads? How many books do you line up ready for holiday reading (and do you, like me, feel somewhat anxious about running out!). I would love to hear your thoughts.