Pawleys Island Summer Reading List

By Marissa Polascak ˙ June 5, 2019

Packing up for your Pawleys Island vacation and can’t decide what book to bring with you to read while you’re relaxing on the beach? While we have a list of hundreds of books we could personally recommend, we’ve decided to narrow it down to ten of our favorite reads about the Pawleys Island area. This list features a mixture of interesting non-fiction historical texts as well fictional stories about the romance of the lowcountry.

Dorothea Benton Frank is known for penning fictional novels that take place in South Carolina. Her book Pawleys Island, which is part of her Lowcountry Tales series, does not disappoint those who are fans of our quaint town. This refreshing tale follows the story of artist Rebecca Simms who ventures to Pawleys Island for a break from her normal life. Little does she know that she will actually meet three people who will change her life forever – an 80 year old, a gallery owner, and a retired attorney from Columbia. This book is a humorous novel featuring the tropes of friendship, family, and finding oneself.

Our second recommendation isn’t necessarily just one book, but rather the Pawleys Island Paradise Series by Laurie Larsen. This series features six novels featuring stories about life, loss, and romance in Pawleys Island. The first book of the series, Roadtrip to Redemption, follows the story of a woman named Jasmine Malone whose marriage is over, her daughter is living overseas, and she doesn’t know what to do with herself on her summer break from teaching at school. So what does she do? She takes a road trip to Pawleys Island. Here, she meets a man named Hank Harrison and falls in love. Roadtrip to Redemption is a classic story of Christian romance in a beachside setting. Once you read this, you’ll be hooked on the rest of the series!

Karen White’s The Color of Light is less of a romance novel and more of a lowcountry murder mystery. Readers will find themselves immersed in a story about 32 year-old Jillian Parrish, whose best friend Lauren Mills disappeared in Pawleys Island when they were young. Lauren’s boyfriend was a suspect in the disappearance, but years have passed and the mystery of Lauren’s disappearance has become an old memory. That is until the old boyfriend returns to Pawleys Island to renovate the old Mills house and ghosts of the past begin to rear their heads.

Drama/mystery fans may want to consider The Wildes of Murrells Inlet by Gloria Spivey-Flecker. This novel, which is a sequel to North of Channing Street, is about a family named the Wildes who move from New Jersey to South Carolina for the warm weather and new memories to be made. However, things don’t go quite as planned when they find themselves connected to the death of a man named Clarence Washington. Was what they saw reality, or was it just a dream?

Pieces of Me by Shiloh Walker is the next read on our Pawleys Island summer reading list. This is the fictional story of Shadow Harper, a young woman who met an older man while she was in college, married him, and then her life took a turn for the worst. Three years after she left her nightmare marriage, Shadow escapes to Pawleys Island, South Carolina and finds joy in the beach. But her past haunts her as she anxiously checks the locks on her doors, and small things set her into panic mode. Follow Shadow’s story as she meets a new man named Dillian Jenkins – the complete opposite of her ex-husband – and how her ex tries to shake down her new relationship.

Murrells Inlet by Ronn Thompson offers a different perspective. Protagonist Gale Thornton is a medically retired cop who is recently divorced and spends his quiet days with his cat in his home next to the marsh in Murells Inlet. However, things get shook up when Gale meets an investigative reporter named Elise Donavan who is looking into a death on a cruise ship, and now finds herself in danger. Read along as the story unfolds and Gale’s life is given meaning again as he works to help his new friend.

Maryann McFadden is famous for her romantic novels, and perhaps her most popular novel is The Richest Season, which takes place in Pawleys Island. The story revolves around Joanna Harrison, a woman whose children have grown up and left the nest, and whose husband is always working. She grows tired of the life she has been living for the past 25 years and runs away to Pawleys Island. Here, she finds a job caring for a widow. The story unfolds as Joanna searches for her independence while, back at home, her husband loses his job and moves out west to find himself. But all he wants is his wife back. Will they get back together, or will Joanna and Paul find new lives apart?

History buffs will enjoy reading Pawleys Island by Steve Roberts and Lee Brockington. This nonfiction work touched on the history of Pawleys Island, including information about local rice plantations and the beginning of Pawleys Island as a summer getaway for plantation owners. The book also touches on the history of the famous Pawleys Island rope hammock, the rise of the golf industry in the lowcountry, and more. If you’re a fan of Pawleys Island, this book is a fantastic way to learn more about the place you love.

Another wonderful nonfiction read is Baroness of Hobcaw: The Life of Belle W. Baruch by Mary E. Miller. This book will be of interest to those who have visited or read about Hobcaw Barony in Georgetown. The Baroness of Hobcaw is Belle W. Baruch, the daughter of Bernard Baruch – the famed American financier, stock investor, political consultant, and more. Belle wasn’t a typical young woman in the early 1900’s, but instead she was known for outriding, outshooting, outhunting, and outsailing the majority of young men in her elite social circle. Baroness of Hobcaw touches on the unique aspects of Belle’s life as a nonconformist growing up among the rich and famous.

Those who an interested in ghost lore will get a kick out of Crab Boy’s Ghost: Gullah Folktales from Murrells Inlet’s Brookgreen Gardens in the South Carolina Lowcountry by Lynn Michelson. This publication is a short read packed with interesting tales and lore from the lowcountry, including Gullah folktales of Brother Frog, Brother Rabbit, Brother Gator, Brother Guineafowl, and the story behind the ghost of Crab Boy in the marshes of Murrells Inlet.