Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Mini Reviews: Backlist Beach Reads


You guys know that backlist beach reads are some of my favorites, because packing a paperback novel to the beach or pool is ideal. Today I'm sharing my thoughts on a steamy romance and a beach read from the "beach read Queen" that ultimately let me down.

The Idea of You by Robinne Lee
Pages: 384
Genre: Romance
Pub. Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin's
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of an art gallery in Los Angeles, is reluctant to take her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band. But since her divorce, she’s more eager than ever to be close to Isabelle. The last thing Solène expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things.

What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate and genuine relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s worlds: from stadium tours to international art fairs to secluded hideaways in Paris and Miami. For Solène, it is a reclaiming of self, as well as a rediscovery of happiness and love. When Solène and Hayes’ romance becomes a viral sensation, and both she and her daughter become the target of rabid fans and an insatiable media, Solène must face how her romantic life has impacted the lives of those she cares about most."
Solene Marchand is a divorced 39-year-old mother who owns a small art gallery in Los Angeles. After her divorce, she longs to be close to her daughter, Isabelle, so she agrees to take her to meet her favorite boy band, August Moon. While at the concert and backstage, it's Solene who gets to meet and experience some one-on-one time with an August Moon band mate, Hayes Campbell. Initially, she thinks he will be vapid and immature, but he is quite the opposite. He's handsome, smart, witty, posh, and they instantly share a connection. There's one problem though: he's a world famous singer and he's twenty years old. Hayes is very into her despite Solene's hesitation and what they thought would be a brief affair, ends up being something more. Their relationship spans sold-out concert tours, various countries, and more. All is well until the internet finds out who he is dating, which then makes life difficult for not only Solene but her daughter, too. The Idea of You by Robinne Lee is pure escapism and romance readers shouldn't miss this one. 

I really liked Solene from the start of 
The Idea of You. I love how Lee flips the script on romance and focuses on women's issues, such as sexism and ageism. Even though this was a fluffy (and steamy!) romance overall, I do applaud Lee for highlighting aging and how that plays out in relationships like this as well as in everyday life. Most people might not bat an eye if a man dated a much younger woman, but in this case, it's scandalous. Lee also focuses on how the media, internet, tabloids, etc, play a role in celebrities' lives and their families. It's not all fun and games and that's definitely highlighted in  The Idea of You. I really loved being lost in Solene's world (who wouldn't?) and once I was done with the novel, I couldn't wait to watch the movie on Amazon staring Anne Hathaway.

The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand
Pages: 400
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: July 9, 2009
Publisher: Little, Brown & Co
Source: Personal Copy
Other Books By Author: The Rumor (Nantucket #1)
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


Goodreads says, "Greg and Tess MacAvoy are one of four prominent Nantucket couples who count each other as best friends. As pillars of their close-knit community, the MacAvoys, Kapenashes, Drakes, and Wheelers are important to their friends and neighbors, and especially to each other. But just before the beginning of another idyllic summer, Greg and Tess are killed when their boat capsizes during an anniversary sail. As the warm weather approaches and the island mourns their loss, nothing can prepare the MacAvoy's closest friends for what will be revealed.

Once again, Hilderbrand masterfully weaves an intense tale of love and loyalty set against the backdrop of endless summer island life."


Greg and Tess MacAvoy are part of a group of couples known as the Castaways on the idyllic island of  Nantucket. While celebrating their anniversary on a sailing trip, something goes wrong, and the couple dies. This sends the island, and particularly their friend group, on a tailspin as after their death so many secrets are uncovered. Starting with why was Addison Wheeler calling Tess's phone so much? What was in Tess's bloodstream during the  accident? Was the couple still reeling from Greg's sexual misconduct allegations? Was their death really just an accident? Elin Hilderbrand's The Castaways, a beach read that is part salacious drama part murder mystery, is summertime fluff, but misses the mark.

Hilderbrand told her legion of fans to read 
The Rumor and The Castaways, both part of her Nantucket series, before diving into Swan Song this summer. Those are two of her novels that I actually haven't read, so I got to work right away. The Rumor was decent, but The Castaways was almost a DNF for me. It felt like another one of  Hilderbrand's novels that I just couldn't get into, definitely not like her last few beach read hits. It included way too many extramarital affairs, ridiculous circumstances, and characters that I truly didn't  care about. By the time the secrets surrounding the deaths were revealed, I actually didn't care, because the characters were despicable. There was so much drama in The Castaways and not enough moments to actually make me care. I ended up giving it three stars due to the beautiful setting of Nantucket and some of the recurring characters I have come to enjoy in Hilderbrand's novels, but other than that, I'd skip this one and focus on her latest bestselling beach reads.

Have you read either of these backlist titles? Are you a fan of Elin Hilderbrand? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.



  1. The Idea of You sounds so good - I've been seeing the ads for the new movie, and I like that the age gap is switched from the typical dynamic!

    1. Yes, a total switch which I definitely enjoyed! I think the book is better than the movie, but it was still fun to read it then watch the adaptation. Thanks for visiting, Angela!


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