Summer beach reads simmer with romance, mystery

Books by Emily Giffin, Karin Slaughter, Mary Kay Andrews promise to keep pages turning.

Thrilling plot twists. Colorful characters. Evocative settings. Passion, mystery, murder. Plucky heroines and flawed heroes. Those are the elements of a good summer beach read — something that captures our attention from page one and keeps us up late at night, eager to find out what happens next. Here are seven that fit the bill.

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"The Homewreckers," by Mary Kay Andrews. (St. Martin’s Press/TNS)

Credit: TNS

"The Homewreckers," by Mary Kay Andrews. (St. Martin’s Press/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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"The Homewreckers," by Mary Kay Andrews. (St. Martin’s Press/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

“The Homewreckers”

Fans of Mary Kay Andrews probably know she has a deep love affair with thrifting and rehabbing old houses. While renovating a house on Tybee Island last year, the Atlanta author discovered old items tucked into the wall that inspired her new book “The Homewreckers.” Part cozy mystery, part romance, it centers on Hattie Kavanaugh, a young widow starring in a home renovation reality show. While doing some demolition on the house, evidence is discovered that could lead to answers concerning the disappearance of a young woman. In the process of trying to flip a house on TV and solve a mystery, sparks fly between Hattie and the show’s male lead. (Available now, St. Martin’s Press, $28.99)

“Meant to Be”

Inspired by the love story of JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette, New York Times bestselling author and Atlanta resident Emily Giffin delivers a captivating romance novel about the dashing heir apparent to a powerful and wealthy family and an insecure model who struggle to find equilibrium in a rocky relationship while navigating the blinding glare of media attention. Set in New York City in the 1990s, Giffin imagines what if. (May 31, Penguin Random House, $28)

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"Half-Blown Rose" by Leesa Cross-Smith Courtesy of Grand Central

Credit: Grand Central

"Half-Blown Rose" by Leesa Cross-Smith
Courtesy of Grand Central

Credit: Grand Central

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"Half-Blown Rose" by Leesa Cross-Smith Courtesy of Grand Central

Credit: Grand Central

Credit: Grand Central

“Half-Blown Rose”

In Leesa Cross-Smith’s new romance novel, Vincent is a 44-year-old expat living in Paris who’s embarked on a new relationship with a young man named Loup. But complications arise when she reconnects with her ex-husband, who’s written a bestselling tell-all book about his past and their marriage, and he tries to woo her back. What transpires is a story of love and betrayal set against the glittering backdrop of the City of Lights. (May 31, Grand Central, $28)

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"Shifty's Boys" by Chris Offutt Courtesy of Grove Press

Credit: Grove Press

"Shifty's Boys" by Chris Offutt
Courtesy of Grove Press

Credit: Grove Press

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"Shifty's Boys" by Chris Offutt Courtesy of Grove Press

Credit: Grove Press

Credit: Grove Press

“Shifty’s Boys”

Chris Offutt returns to Rocksalt in eastern Kentucky to tell another gritty story of crime and murder among the clannish mountain folk in this Appalachian community. Mick Hardin, a criminal investigator for the Army, is back in town recovering from an IED injury. Shifty Kissick, a pistol-packin’ Mama from Offutt’s previous novel, “The Killing Hills,” wants him to look into the death of her son, local heroin dealer Barney Kissick. Naturally, nothing is as it appears to be on the surface. (June 7, Grove Press, $27)

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"By Her Own Design" by Piper Huguley Courtesy of HarperCollins

Credit: HarperCollins

"By Her Own Design" by Piper Huguley
Courtesy of HarperCollins

Credit: HarperCollins

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"By Her Own Design" by Piper Huguley Courtesy of HarperCollins

Credit: HarperCollins

Credit: HarperCollins

“By Her Own Design”

Just days before Jacqueline Bouvier was scheduled to marry John F. Kennedy, a pipe burst in designer Ann Lowe’s studio and ruined the wedding gown and bridesmaids’ dresses. Working night and day, Lowe and her crew recreated the dresses in time for Jackie to march down the aisle as planned. That and other fascinating stories fill this historical novel by Atlanta author Piper Huguley, who chronicles the life and career of the granddaughter of slaves whose gowns are currently on display in an exhibition at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. (June 7, HarperCollins, $16.99)

“After the Hurricane”

A Ph.D. candidate at Georgia State University, Leah Franqui’s third novel follows the adventures of Elena, an NYC graduate student of Puerto Rican descent who’s only visited the island as a child. But when her mentally ill father, with whom she has a contentious relationship, returns to the island and goes missing after Hurricane Maria, she returns to crisscross the island in an effort to find him. In the process she connects with family members she never knew before and learns things about her father that give her a new understanding of who he really is. (July 30, HarperCollins, $27.99)

“Girl, Forgotten”

Fans of Karin Slaughter’s bestselling thriller “Pieces of Her” — or the Netflix limited series starring Toni Collette — will want to preorder this follow-up featuring Andrea Oliver as a freshly minted U.S. Marshal. Sent to Longbill Beach to protect a judge receiving death threats, Andrea has an ulterior motive: to find the killer in a 40-year-old murder of a high school girl who was a victim of a brutal attack on the night of her prom. (Aug. 23, HarperCollins, $28.99)