Friends & Family, Best Sellers & Hot Debuts: Pop Fiction, May 2021, Pt. 4 | Prepub Alert

May pop fiction opens the season for beach-set beach reads, but there are more heartwarmers here. 

Big-Name Authors

Andrews, Mary Kay. The Newcomer. St. Martin’s. May 2021. 448p. ISBN 9781250256966. $28.99. CD. WOMEN’S

The good news: Letty Carnahan has just made it to the Murmuring Surf on Florida’s Gulf cover of Hostin's Summer at the BluffsCoast with her four-year-old niece, Maya, and has managed to secure a room there and even a job. The bad news: She’s on the run, having found Maya’s mother murdered and suspecting Maya’s father of the deed. With a 300,000-copy first printing.

Korelitz, Jean Hanff. The Plot. Celadon: Macmillan. May 2021. 336p. ISBN 9781250790767. $28. CD. WOMEN’S

Author of You Should Have Known, basis of the new HBO show The Undoing, Korelitz returns with the story of washed-up novelist Jake Finch Bonner, now teaching in a minor MFA program. When full-of-himself student Evan Parker boasts that he’s devised an unbeatable plot, Jake has to agree—and later steals the plot after Evan’s untimely death. But can he get away with the theft? With a 200,000-copy first printing.

Quick, Amanda. The Lady Has a Past. Berkley. May 2021. 336p. ISBN 9781984806888. $27. ROMANCE/HISTORICAL

Apprentice investigator Lyra Brazier wants to move beyond her wealthy socialite background, but it’s not to be: her new assignment is to find her boss, who has vanished at a luxurious health retreat. Lyra is a bit miffed that her investigative partner is unassuming antiquarian book dealer Simon Cage, but he turns out to be a genius at ferreting out secrets, which helps as things get ugly. Next in the New York Times best-selling author’s “Burning Cove” series.

Roberts, Nora. Legacy. St. Martin’s. May 2021. 448p. ISBN 9781250272935. $28.99. CD. WOMEN’S

Very nearly murdered by her father when she first met him at age seven—fortunately, her mother, Lina, intervened—Adrian Rizzo was raised by her grandparents while Lina went on the road to promote her fitness brand. A decade later, Adrian has her own fitness and workout videos, but then threats start arriving and soon escalate to murder. With a million-copy first printing.

Ross, Ann B. Miss Julia Happily Ever After. Viking. Apr. 2021. 336p. ISBN 9780593296462. $27. WOMEN’S

Alas, Miss Julia fans, this is the final installment of the New York Times best-selling series, but it goes out in celebratory fashion. It’s wedding time in Abbotsville, with little for Miss Julia to do. Helen wants a secret wedding, Christy’s husband wants a destination wedding, and Lillian thinks she might skip the ceremony altogether. But there’s something Miss Julia can do: waylay the stranger who’s been vandalizing local gardens.

Thayer, Nancy. Family Reunion. Ballantine. May 2021. 304p. ISBN 9781524798789. $27. CD. WOMEN’S

It’s not the summer widowed Eleanor Sunderland had expected, with her greedy children pushing her to sell her beloved home in Nantucket, in the family for decades, and shuffle off to a retirement home. But 22-year-old granddaughter Ari proves to be an ally, moving in with her grandmother, hoping to change the direction of her life—and falling for a charming local named Cal. But will that save grandma’s house? Perfect beach reading.

Weiner, Jennifer. That Summer. Atria. May 2021. 416p. ISBN 9781501133541. $28. CD. WOMEN’S

No plot details yet, but in her latest the No. 1 New York Times best-selling author Weiner takes us to sunstruck Cape Cod, where intrigue flourishes and female friendships save the day. With a 350,000-copy first printing.

Big Debut Pop

Hostin, Sunny. Summer on the Bluffs. Morrow. May 2021. 400p. ISBN 9780062994172. $27.99. lrg. prnt. CD. WOMEN’S/AFRICAN AMERICAN

In this debut from Hostin, the Emmy Award–winning cohost of the ABC Daytime show The View, Afro-Latinx lawyer Esperenza “Perry” Soto is looking forward to summering at Oak Bluffs, the exclusive Black beach community on Martha’s Vineyard, where her godmother owns a house. But her godmother has invited all three of her goddaughters to stay and announces that she is giving one of them the house, as she is planning to move. With a 200,000-copy first printing.

Montgomery, Erika. A Summer To Remember. St. Martin’s. May 2021. 320p. ISBN 9781250274083. $27.99. CD. WOMEN’S

Thirty-year-old Frankie Simon loves the movie memorabilia shop on Hollywood Boulevard she opened with her late mother; now it’s her only connection to family. But she has just received a picture of her mother with a famed movie star at a long-ago film festival on the East Coast, which sends her straight to Cape Cod. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

Wynne, Phoebe. Madam. St. Martin’s. May 2021. 352p. ISBN 9781250272041. $27.99. WOMEN’S

At an exclusive girls school high on the Scottish cliffs, the new head of the classics department, 26-year-old Rose Christie, quickly discovers an uncomfortable disjunction between her progressive beliefs and mission to educate her students for the future and the darkly, starkly traditional culture that prevails. Then she starts wondering why her predecessor left so suddenly. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

More Key Pop

Cleeton, Chanel. The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba. Berkley. May 2021. 384p. ISBN 9780593098875. $27. Downloadable. HISTORICAL

Henry, Emily. People We Meet on Vacation. Berkley. May 2021. 384p. ISBN 9781984806758. pap. $16. Downloadable. ROMANTIC COMEDY

McFarlane, Mhairi. Just Last Night. Morrow Paperbacks. May 2021. 416p. ISBN 9780063036857. pap. $15.99. WOMEN’S

Maynard, Joyce. Count the Ways. Morrow. May 2021. 464p. ISBN 9780062398277. $28.99. lrg. prnt. WOMEN’S

Noble, Shelley. Imagine Summer. Morrow Paperbacks. May 2021. 416p. ISBN 9780062953605. pap. $16.99. WOMEN’S

Oakley, Colleen. The Invisible Husband of Frick Island. Berkley. May 2021. ISBN 9781984806482. pap. $17. Downloadable. WOMEN’S

Phillips, Gin. Family Law. Viking. May 2021. 304p. ISBN 9781984880628. $26. Downloadable. WOMEN’S

Shipman, Viola. The Clover Girls. Graydon House: Harlequin. May 2021. 352p. ISBN 9781525811524. $28.99; pap. ISBN 9781525896002. $16.99. FAMILY LIFE

In a late 1800s–set work from the New York Times best-selling Cleeton, 18-year-old Evangelina Cisneros is dubbed The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by William Randolph Heart’s papers, as Heart reporter Grace Harrington helps to facilitate her release from imprisonment for resisting Spanish rule. In the New York Times best-selling Henry’s People We Meet on Vacation, vivacious travel writer Poppy once vacationed yearly with straight-arrow best friend Alex, but their last vacation left their relationship in shreds, and Poppy must talk him into one last trip with her so that they can right the balance. In Just Last Night, the latest from the internationally best-selling McFarlane (If I Never Met You), Eve is still crushing on Ed, among their group of four forever best friends since adolescence, but her questions about what might have been are interrupted by a catastrophe upending all their lives (50,000-copy first printing). Best-selling novelist/memoirist Maynard returns with Count the Ways, tracking a family of five over the years after an accident that permanently injures the youngest child leads to a marital breakup (50,000-copy first printing). Noble’s Imagine Summer features Skylar Mackenzie, owner of a toy- and bookstore and creativity center combo for all ages in a Rhode Island beach town, whose summertime plans to launch a series of family retreats are upended when her estranged half-sister turns up with the man who broke Skylar’s heart (50,000-copy first printing). Oakley follows up You Were There Too, a LibraryReads pick whose film rights have been sold, with The Invisible Husband of Frick Island, about an ambitious young journalist disgruntled at coverin a fundraiser on Chesapeake Bay’s Frick Island—until he discovers the townsfolk pretending to hear and see a man who’s not there for the sake of widowed Piper Parrish. Inspired by a real-life individual, Phillips’s The Family Law features a crusading young family lawyer in early 1980s Alabama whose efforts to help women escape abusive marriages brings death threats that eventually endanger a teenager she has befriended. In Shipman’s latest, terminally ill Emily wants the lifelong friends she made at summer camp in 1985 to scatter her ashes at the camp, and The Clover Girls find another life-affirming request from her when they oblige (100,000-copy paperback and 10,000-copy hardcover first printing).

Author Image
Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; winner of ALA's Louis Shores Award for reviewing; and past president, awards chair, and treasurer of the National Book Critics Circle, which awarded her its inaugural Service Award in 2023.

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