YAY! Summer is here – and for me, that means lying on a sun lounger, cocktail in one hand, book in the other.
Obviously, as a writer, I’m going to say the book you should read this summer is mine.
One Last Secret is about a high-end escort who is trying to turn her back on the dangerous world she operates in but is locked into her life by old secrets.
This is a novel about power, sex, money and revenge, and I hope you are going to be gripped.
However, there are loads of books I’d recommend this summer. Whether you plan to soak up the sun on a beach or in the garden, here are my top picks.
- One Last Secret (HarperCollins, £14.99) is published on Thursday
1. Lifesaving For Beginners, Josie Lloyd (HQ, £8.99)
The uplifting new novel about female friendship shows that together, mates turn tides.
It’s a story about four gutsy women who call themselves Sea-Gals and go swimming off the Brighton coast daily, while sorting out each other’s problems.
This life-affirming novel is full of humour and compassion.
I laughed out loud in parts.
2. Girl Forgotten, Karin Slaughter (HarperCollins, £20)
Andrea Oliver, newly qualified as a US Marshal, receives her first assignment – to protect a judge receiving death threats.
But Andrea focuses on an unsolved murder that happened 40 years ago. Are the two things linked?
This thriller delivers. It’s twisty, touching and intense. I find it totally absorbing.
3. Other People’s Husbands, Elizabeth Noble (Penguin, £14.99)
A group of close friends forged bonds at the nursery gates two decades ago.
Since then they’ve celebrated life’s highs and lows together.
But an affair within the group threatens the happy lives of many.
This is a frank and believable account of friendship and a marriage under stress. I was moved.
4. Finding Me, Viola Davis (Coronet, £20) (BEST MEMOIR)
This was an instant bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic, finding support from Oprah Winfrey, who described it as “breathtaking”.
An honest, powerful read about Viola’s rise from poverty to success.
Courageous, honest and motivating, this memoir from the actress will perhaps inspire us.
5. The Good Left Undone, Adriana Trigiani (Michael Joseph, £14.99) (BEST FOR ROMANCE)
This is a sweeping story of the complexities of love and family.
In France on the brink of World War Two, Domenicai has a grand affair with a mysterious captain.
A beautiful historical romance, this book manages to be epic and intimate at the same time.
6. Just Got Real, Jane Fallon (Michael Joseph, £14.99)
A smart and funny look at the pitfalls of online dating.
It provides laugh-out-loud moments despite the catfishing and cheating that goes on.
There are sympathetic characters we recognise in our friends – and maybe even ourselves – as the heroine seeks revenge on a love-rat Romeo.
I’ve read all Jane Fallon’s books!
7. The Murder Book, Mark Billingham (Little Brown, £20) (BEST CRIME FICTION)
Tom Thorne is back, and hunting down the woman responsible for a series of grisly murders.
But before long his past threatens to catch up with him as a secret is about to be revealed.
Another tense, taut and brilliantly plotted story.
Crime fans know Billingham is a fantastic storyteller.
8. The Girl On The 88 Bus, Freya Sampson (Zaffre, £14.99)
Libby arrives in London, broken-hearted. Then, randomly, she meets pensioner Frank.
He tells her the story of his missed opportunity at love.
In need of something to focus on, Libby and Frank search for that lost love.
A wonderfully uplifting novel about how a shared common experience among strangers can transform lives.
9. Wrong Place, Wrong Time, Gillian McAllister (Michael Joseph, £14.99)
One night Jen watches her teenage son stab a man.
By the time she falls asleep, he is in custody, his future lost.
But then she wakes up, the day before the crime.
She then moves backwards in time, each day waking up further from the incident but closer to understanding why it happened.
10. A Lady’s Guide To Fortune-Hunting, Sophie Irwin (HarperCollins, £14.99)
Kitty Talbot has three months to snare a wealthy husband before she and her sisters are turned out of their home.
A glorious dash through the ballrooms and drawing rooms of Regency London, with a plucky heroine and a cold villain.
Bridgerton fans will love this one.
11. One Of The Girls, Lucy Clarke (HarperCollins, £14.99)
Six friends arrive on a sun-baked Greek island for time together, away from families and commitments.
But happy chatter quickly turns to whispered secrets and the holiday becomes unforgettable for all the wrong reasons – a body is discovered on the rocks below the cliffs.
Fans of crime author C.L. Taylor will want to read this.
12. The Good Servant by Fern Britton (Harper Collins, £14.99)
It’s 1936 and Marion Crawford is working as the governess to princesses Elizabeth and Margaret.
As the course of history changes, she finds herself companion to the future Queen – then she meets George.
Marion has an impossible choice: Duty or love?
Fern Britton nails the sense of a glorious time gone by.
13. Beach House Summer, Sarah Morgan (HQ, £8.99) (BEST HAPPY READ)
Joanna Whitman’s ex dies, leaving behind a pregnant woman.
Jo suggests they hide away together in a beach house in her home town.
This unlikely friendship is put to the test when an old flame reappears.
Sarah Morgan is my go-to for a happy read.
14. The Curfew, T M Logan (Zaffre, £14.99)
Connor has completed his exams and goes out with friends to celebrate, but misses his midnight curfew.
As a father, is it so unreasonable to tell a lie when Conner comes home roughed up?
Telling the truth becomes impossible, as five teenagers went out that night and only four came home.
A gripping, unexpected thriller.
15. Run Rose Run, Dolly Parton and James Patterson (Century, £20) (BEST CELEB READ)
Oh, to have been a fly on the wall when this was being written.
Can you imagine the meeting of these two greats?
This is the story of a young singer-songwriter on the rise – and on the run.
A glittering novel oozing danger and desire. I read it while listening to the accompanying tracks.
16. Would I Lie To You, Aliya Ali-Afzal (Head of Zeus, £8.99)
This warm-hearted, funny debut is an indulgent page-turner and I think we will see it at poolsides and on picnic blankets throughout the summer.
Faiza, a banker’s wife, has three beautiful kids and a gorgeous house. So far, so good.
But she also has a spending addiction.
Written with sympathy and fun.
17. Woman Of A Certain Rage, Georgie Hall (Head of Zeus, £8.99) (BEST FOR HUMOUR)
A smart, funny novel. It will appeal to women who are a certain age and sometimes feel angry and hot, and other times believe they are Wonder Women.
You know, that age.
Eliza swears a lot and needs the loo all the time, so not quite the woman she was.
But what a glorious woman she is. It’s laugh out loud.
18. How to Kill Your Family, Bella Mackie (The Borough Press, £8.99)
In this dark, twisted book you meet Grace Bernard, jailed for a murder she says she didn’t commit, though she has killed her family!
She wants to put the record straight so she starts writing a “confession” which reveals her motivations.
Absolutely hilarious and skilfully plotted, be sure to read it.
19. The Summer Trip, Isabelle Broom (Hodder Paperbacks, £7.99)
Ava is single, estranged from her family, and waving her daughter off to uni.
Her life seems a million miles away from the one she dreamed about as a teen . . . the one now being lived by her sister.
Old resentments fester and buried secrets lurk in the island of Corfu.
Broom always sweeps me away.
20. We All Have Our Secrets, Jane Corry (Penguin, £8.99)
After midwife Amy made a mistake, her career is in tatters, so she runs to her dad’s Devon home.
His dementia has been worsening so she is surprised to find beautiful stranger Francoise there.
She’s her dad’s new carer and seems like trouble.
I always enjoy Corry’s domestic thrillers.