The fall book season is traditionally bigger and more prestigious than the summer season, but generally a heck of a lot less fun.
One literary treat for the summer that you won't find in fall releases is a wealth of page-turning beach reads, mostly written by female authors for female readers.
You know the template: fast-paced but not frantic, light but not frothy, compelling but not taxing, fun but not dumbed-down. An amuse-bouche to entertain while relaxing by the ocean or the lake, in a rented beach house or cozied up in a mountain cabin.
This sampling will get you started:
"The Heist" by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg (Bantam, $28, 320 pages; on sale June 18): The mega-best-selling romantic-thriller novelist teams with TV writer Goldberg in a romp involving FBI agent Kate O'Hare and suave con artist Nicolas Fox. Ironically, the FBI busts the crook and then hires him to work closely with Kate on a bizarre case that takes them to Indonesia and beyond. Sparks fly and their relationship heats up in more ways than one.
Evanovich is scheduled to appear for the Bee Book Club in November for her 20th Stephanie Plum thriller, "Takedown Twenty."
"Big Girl Panties" by Stephanie Evanovich (William Morrow, $26.99, 336 pages; July 9): The writing gene must run in the Evanovich family, as shown by this debut novel by Janet Evanovich's niece. A young widow finds solace from her grief by eating way too much and now wants to remake her heavy-duty body. She meets a personal trainer who promises to get her into shape. As the pounds drop off, so do their inhibitions.
"The Last Original Wife" by Dorothea Benton Frank (William Morrow, $26.99, 368 pages; Tuesday): Leslie Carter is of an age where her social life and friends are in the past, and she's fed up with her selfish husband. So she returns to the Carolina Lowcountry of her youth, in search of simpler times. Frank, who grew up in the Lowcountry and specializes in family-centric novels set there, appeared for the Bee Book Club in 2011.
"The Late, Lamented Molly Marx" by Sally Koslow (Ballantine, $25, 320 pages): Molly is 35 and dead, but she's keeping an eye on the living her daughter, twin sister, best friend and philandering plastic surgeon husband. As she watches the investigation of her death unfold murder, accident or suicide? she revisits the best and worst moments of her life.
"Sisterland" by Curtis Sittenfeld (Random House, $27, 416 pages; June 25): As children, identical twins Kate and Violet possessed startling psychic powers. As adults, they reunite in their native city one as a practicing psychic, the other as a suburban mom who wants to forget the past. But their precognition of a devastating earthquake closes the rift between them.
"A Hundred Summers" by Beatriz Williams (Putnam, $26.95, 368 pages): It's 1938, and New York socialite Lily Dane is expecting another summer of social swirl when she and her family return to a seaside town in Rhode Island. But a surprise is waiting: Seems her former fiancé has married her ex-best friend, and they're going to be neighbors.
"Grandad, There's a Head on the Beach" by Colin Cotterill (Minotaur, $24.99, 324 pages; June 19): Jimm Juree was forced to abandon her budding career as a big-city crime reporter to move with her family to a village on the Thai coast. When a head is found washed ashore, she could be back in the crime-reporting business.
Call The Bee's Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128.