Are you ready to fall in love? Last summer, I put together the romance booklist Summer is for Lovers, full of sun, sand, and moonlit make-out sessions. This summer, in honor of the Summer Reading theme, “One World, Many Stories,” I am taking the romance overseas. I have created a list of globe-trotting books filled with hot foreign boys, romantic strolls along the Seine in Paris, seductive swims in the Mediterranean Sea, and rooftop make-out sessions in the English countryside. So put away that suntan lotion and get out your passport, because it’s time for some foreign encounters.
Falling in Love with English Boys by Melissa Jensen (Speak, 2011)
Cat is dragged to London for the summer by her historian mother (poor thing!). Cat is a smart and snarky heroine who, through her mother’s research of an obscure female author, meets 18 year old Will Percival. At the beginning of the trip, Cat is given the diary of the author’s daughter, Katherine, which was written in 1815, and from that point on the novel goes back and forth between’s Cat’s adventures in modern day London and Katherine’s in Regency Era London. Will Percival is almost way too perfect to be real: smart, funny, handsome, heir to a title, and, bonus(!), he’s a good kisser (or snogger) too. In addition to meeting the perfect boy, Cat makes glamorous new friends and discovers the joys of British chocolate bars (soooo much better than you get in the States!). What’s not to love about a summer in London?
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (Dutton, 2010)
Anna is forced by her father to spend her senior year of high school at a boarding school in Paris (oh, poor baby!). He says that it is to broaden her education, but to Anna it feels like a punishment. However, she makes friends right away, most notably with the school’s resident hottie Etienne St. Claire (pronounced Sinclair). St. Claire is British but has an American mother and a father who lives in Paris. He is charming, kind, smart, and everything that Anna could want in a boy, except for one thing — he has a very serious girlfriend. Anna has a boy back in the States that she likes too, but the connection and attraction between her and St. Claire is so strong that sooner or later something will have to give. Perkins has written a love story between two people who just can’t seem to get together and the tension is palpable. The novel transports you to Paris and has you wishing for your own Parisian love story.
Die For Me by Amy Plum (HarperTeen, 2011)
In this dream-like and imaginative new novel, Kate, 16, is living with her grandparents in Paris after the tragic death of her parents. Unable to find joy in anything, Kate buries herself in books, lingers in cafes drinking espresso, and wanders the city alone. It is only after meeting Vincent, the gorgeous and mysterious young Frenchman, that Kate begins to live again. Yes, this a paranormal romance, the first in a new series, but no, Vincent is not a vampire, angel, ghost, werewolf or demon — he is something entirely new. The author has put together an enticing new original mythology that pulls you in and leaves you wanting more.
13 Little Blue Envelopes (HarperCollins, 2005 )
The Last Little Blue Envelope (HarperTeen, 2011)
by Maureen Johnson
Seventeen year old Ginny goes on a summer-long, globe-trotting scavenger hunt when she inherits a backpack of 13 letters from her recently deceased Aunt. She is told that she must go wherever the letters lead her and she can’t get any help from guidebooks, nor can she bring any electronic crutches with her, i.e. a cell phone or laptop. Luckily for Ginny, the letters send her to London, Scotland, Paris, Amsterdam, Denmark, and finally to that mecca of European vacations, Corfu, Greece (see photo), where the last unopened letter is stolen along with her backpack. Along the way, she makes new friends, including the very cute British theater student Keith, and she begins to see that the world is full of infinite possibilities. In the sequel,The Last Little Blue Envelope, it is six months later and Ginny has just received a mysterious e-mail from a boy named Oliver who claims that he has her missing backpack and the last envelope. So off Ginny goes to London to meet Oliver, meet back up with Keith, and go wherever the last envelope tells her to go. This series has it all: adventure, romance, exotic locations, and a little self-actualization.
Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson (HarperTeen, 2008)
Clio’s plans for a perfect summer are ruined when her flaky father forces her to spend the summer with him on a yacht sailing around Italy (seriously, what is with all reluctant travelling?). Of course, on the boat with them is her father’s girlfriend Julia, Julia’s teenaged daughter Elsa, Julia’s assistant Aiden, and her father’s friend Martin, so it is a little crowded. They are also not just sailing around, they are sailing around... looking for something… but what? No one will tell her and she has no access to the Internet or a phone. So while Clio is seemingly stranded on a boat to nowhere, she fortunately has the hot, arrogant, graduate student Aiden to keep her company. Unfortunately, they spend most of the trip trading insults and arguing, but that just adds to their (mutual) attraction. With all its mystery, romance, Italian beaches, and snarky comebacks, this is a perfect book for the summer.
S.A.S.S. (Students Across the Seven Seas) series (by various authors)
Up Over Down Under by Micol Ostow and Noah Harlan (Speak, 2010)
When Irish Guys are Smiling by Suzanne Supplee (Speak, 2008)
In this breezy, fun series, characters are sent overseas to study abroad, but of course it’s all just an excuse to meet cute foreign boys. In Up Over Down Under, Eliza heads to Melbourne, Australia. She goes to participate in an environmental program, but really just wants to meet a cute Australian boy, which, let's face it, isn't really that hard to do in a country full of cute boys with the best accents EVER! In When Irish Eyes are Smiling, Delk goes to County Galway, Ireland (see photo) to escape living with her insufferable new stepmother. Once in the country, she revels in all things Irish, including a very handsome young Irishman. Other available romantic adventures in the S.A.S.S. series include Getting the Boot, The Sound of Munich, Pardon My French, Heart and Salsa and The Great Call of China.
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (and subsequent volumes) by Ann Brashares
In this classic teen novel, four best friends are spending their first summer apart, so they use a pair of seemingly ordinary jeans to keep them connected. Of the four friends, Carmen, Tibby, Bridget, and Lena, Lena is the one that travels the farthest when she goes to visit her grandparents on the gorgeous Greek island of Santorini. Quiet, shy, and beautiful, Lena mainly keeps to herself, passing the time with painting and drawing, when she meets the handsome and older Kostos, who begins to pull her out of her shell. Their epic love story continues through the Sisterhood series, including the latest book (number five in the series), Sisterhood Everlasting, which takes place 10 years after the fourth book — Forever in Blue — ends, and the main characters are 28 years old.
A Field Guide for Heartbreakers by Kristen Tracy (Hyperion, 2010)
BFFs Dessy and Veronica get to spend a month of their summer vacation in Prague, Czech Republic attending a creative writing workshop led by Veronica's mother, a college professor. While in Prague, Dessy wants to heal her newly broken heart by focusing on her writing and exploring the city, but Veronica has other plans, mainly for them to meet as many hot guys as possible and maybe break a few hearts themselves. At first, they can’t believe their luck — hot guys seem be everywhere for the taking, but it’s not long before mixed signals and a few secrets and lies between friends begin to ruin their trip and their friendship. Here’s a travel tip: if you need to get over a brutal break-up, a month in Prague will probably do the trick. While the book focuses on the relationship between Dessy and Veronica, there’s still plenty of boy drama to make this a must on this list.
And Still More…
The Indigo Notebook (Ecuador) and The Ruby Notebook (Aix en Provence, France)
by Laura Resau
Kitty, Kitty by Michele Jaffe (Venice, Italy)
Heist Society by Ally Carter (Europe)
The Beautiful Americans series by Lucy Silag (Paris, France)
Sea by Heidi R. Kling (Indonesia)