There’s nothing like a beach read. You can read them all year long but, in reality, you save them up until you get the chance to lounge in the sun and allow yourself to be transported to another place.

One of our favorites this year is The Summer’s End by Mary Alice Monroe. Everything about Mary Alice’s Lowcountry Summer series makes you want to pack your bags and indulge in the charm and sultry beauty of Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina. Read on for an excerpt, and enter for a chance to win a bundle of our favorite beach reads for this summer!

Making good her escape, Harper flew out the front door, aware that the sun waited for no man or woman. She was met with cool and sweet-tasting morning air. The wind that had roiled the ocean all night had chased away the humidity and heat, leaving the morning air unusually refreshing for August. In the quiet, all sounds were amplified. Above her, the leaves of the great oak tree rustled in the breeze and the palm fronds rattled. Beneath her feet the gravel crunched loudly as she hurried across the driveway to the garage. The rusty, trusty old bicycle leaned against the wall. She pulled it out from the garage, swung her leg over the seat, and took off.

Despite her twenty-eight years, Harper felt no older than thirteen as she pedaled furiously along the streets. The neighboring houses appeared blanketed in the shadows, their occupants still asleep in the hush over the island. Only a few feral cats darted soundlessly across the roads. She hadn’t seen as many of them clustering on the island this summer as she remembered from her girlhood summers spent at Sea Breeze. People said it was the coyotes. She kept her eyes peeled as she pushed on along the muted street. Past Stella Maris Catholic Church, with its hallowed steeple. Past the ominous, giant molelike burrows of Fort Moultrie. Past the tight cluster of restaurants, shuttered now and deserted. Only a few joggers and an occasional automobile shared the road with her.

At last she reached the northern tip of the island, where Carson had told her the surfers gathered. She turned off Middle Street toward the sea. Several cars, all with roof racks for surfboards, crowded the narrow side streets. Harper pushed the wheels of her bike through the soft sand of the path past the tall barrier of shrubs. The surf was unusually loud this morning. When at last the path opened up to the beach, she stopped to catch her breath.

The dusky blue sky and gray sea came together to form one infinite horizon line. The sun did not rush to her glory. She rose at her own pace, imperious, radiant, bursting in her display of achingly beautiful pastels that were reflected on the water. Harper felt small in the presence of a view so profound. Yet at the same time, she felt connected to it. Empowered to be part of this godlike perpetuity. In that dazzling moment she felt the glistening light enter her soul to fill her with hope. Harper understood at last why Carson so loved this moment, had risen early to catch it day after day. It truly was spiritual.

Harper clutched the handlebars of her beach cruiser tight. The new day was spread out before her like a blank page, ready for her to fill with her words, thoughts, feelings. She’d given herself this one summer to discover—at long last—what she wanted to do with her life. No longer would she continue meekly following what her mother had planned.

She didn’t know what her future would bring. Yet standing in the glow of the rising sun, Harper was filled with a tingling sensation that her future was only just beginning.

What’s your most memorable beach read? Tell us in a comment below and enter for your chance to win this fabulous bunch of books with the XOXOAD beach read stamp of approval!

  • That Chesapeake Summer by Mariah Stewart
  • The Summer’s End by Mary Alice Monroe
  • Searching for Beautiful by Jennifer Probst
  • Beautiful Secret by Christina Lauren
  • Manwhore by Katy Evans
  • Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates by Mike and Dave Stangle
  • Blush by Cherry Adair
  • Overruled by Emma Chase
  • Escaping Reality by Lisa Renee Jones
  • The Canterbury Sisters by Kim Wright
  • If The Viscount Falls by Sabrina Jeffries

Sweepstakes begins at 9:00 a.m. Monday, May 11th and ends at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 28th. Sorry, contest open to U.S. residents only. Please click here for complete contest rules.