When Stars Rain Down by Angela Jackson-Brown1936 Parsons, Georgia: During a sweltering summer, 17-year-old Opal Pruitt lives with her Granny in Colored Town and helps her keep house for elderly Miss Peggy. She also spends time with friends and family, goes to church, and thinks about who she'll marry one day.
What happens: When the Ku Klux Klan terrorizes the town, Opal deals with violence and ponders difficult questions about her future.
Is it for you? This atmospheric Southern historical novel offers a large cast of characters, a moving portrait of a young woman, and a realistic look at racism, which means racial slurs are used.
Facing the Dawn by Cynthia RuchtiStarring: Mara Jacobs, an overworked mom of three kids, each struggling in their own way, whose humanitarian husband has been away working in Africa for three years.
What happens: Tragedy strikes, and Mara negotiates grief and change as she tries to hold things together with help from her faith and her friends.
Is it for you? This heart-wrenching, thought-provoking novel has touches of humor but deals with difficult topics like death and suicide.
Let It Be Me by Becky WadeStarring: Leah Montgomery, a high school math teacher whose surprising DNA results indicate she isn't biologically related to her family; Dr. Sebastian Grant, whom Leah assisted after he was in a car accident.
What happens: Leah asks for Sebastian's help deciphering her genetic test -- and to help her learn if there could have been a mix up at the hospital where she was born.
Series alert: This lighthearted, sweet romance is the 2nd entry in the Misty River series after last year's Stay With Me.
The Proposal at Siesta Key by Shelley Shepard GrayStarring: Penny Troyer, a young Amish woman who's finally standing up to her over-protective parents; Michael Knoxx, an amputee and famous Mennonite singer who travels the country sharing his testimony.
What happens: Romance blooms when Michael, who's staying at a local Pinecraft, Florida, bed and breakfast, meets Penny, who's taken a job there despite her parents' disapproval.
Series alert: This 2nd in the Amish Brides of Pinecraft offers a sun-kissed setting and a moving tale of friendship, self-discovery, and love.
Starfish Pier by Irene HannonWhat it's about: New to Hope Harbor, Oregon, young teacher Holly Miller, who has spina bifida, meets Steven, a take-charge former Army Delta Force operator working as a charter boat captain. Soon, he's challenging both her perspectives and her heart.
Why you might like it: This appealing novel deftly mixes romance, faith, and serious topics (like alcoholism and assisted suicide).
Series alert: This 6th in the Hope Harbor series is fine for newcomers, though fans will be pleased to see familiar friends like town sage Charley Lopez. Blackberry Beach, the 7th in the series, came out in April.
Summer by the Tides by Denise HunterStarring: Restaurant manager Maddy Monroe, recently betrayed by her boyfriend and jobless; Connor Sullivan, a handsome marina owner and a neighbor of Maddy's grandmother on the North Carolina coast.
What happens: Connor leaves an urgent message saying Maddy's grandmother is missing, so Maddy immediately heads to Gram's beach house, where her two sisters (who've barely spoken in years) also show up... a reunion that has Gram's fingerprints all over it.
Read this next: If you enjoy lighthearted women's fiction featuring charming beach locations, appealing characters, and sweet romances, pick up the author's latest novel, Bookshop by the Sea.
A Castaway in Cornwall by Julie KlassenWhat it's about: In 1813 Cornwall, against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, orphaned 23-year-old Laura Callaway lives with her uncle by marriage, his disapproving second wife, and their daughter, but still feels like an outsider after eight years.
What happens: After a ship wrecks during a storm along the dangerous coast, Laura and an elderly neighbor nurse a survivor with an odd accent, an event that changes the course of Laura's life.
For fans of: Sarah E. Ladd's Cornwall novels; well-researched Regency romances; atmospheric historical stories set in coastal England.