If you’re like me and love Elin Hilderbrand, you’d probably love to find other authors with similar vibes. And although I aspire be like her as an author, I’m not there yet (although my debut is out in 2024!). So, I rounded up some of the other authors I love who I think are similar to Elin Hilderbrand.
Although there are pieces of Hilderbrand’s body of work you could find in many other author’s work, I decided to stick to authors who often write books set at the beach. As a beach read author and reader myself, this is what initially drew me to Hilderbrand’s books, so I’ve decided to focus this list on other authors with beachy locales for their books.
Another auto-buy for me like Elin Hilderbrand is Wendy Wax. I’ve read all of her books, and her Ten Beach Road series is my favorite book series of all time.
Which Wendy Wax book to read first
I’m going to cheat and give you a whole series to read first. Ten Beach Road is my all-time favorite book series, and it begins with its namesake, Ten Beach Road.
Set in Pass-a-Grille (which is a town at the southern tip of St. Pete Beach), this is another one where I’d visited the place before I read the book. Wax is from this area, so her descriptions are very accurate of the area even if some of the specific houses and places are fictional.
Like Hilderbrand’s Silver Girl, when the first book in the series came out in 2011 it featured a storyline we’d all seen in the news: trusted financial advisor has robbed his clients thanks via a Ponzi scheme and left them with nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. Three of his clients, who are strangers, have been left with an old dilapidated beach house. This isn’t some two-room shack, however, it’s a historic mansion that had once been a jewel on the coastline. Can the women reinvent themselves as the renovate the house?
It’s a story of perseverance. It’s a story of redemption. But most of all it’s a story of friendship and how the people in our lives make it worth living.
Why Wendy Wax reminds me of Elin Hilderbrand
In addition to the beachy settings in many of Wax’s books, they both write about some incredible female friendships. The characters are flawed and real, and you’ll find yourself wanting to sit on the beach with them and toast to something good as the sun goes down (you’ll understand that last reference once you read the Ten Beach Road series).
Dorothea Benton Frank
DBF was my favorite beach read author growing up, and it was her writing that eventually led me to find Elin Hilderbrand. Unfortunately, DBF passed in 2019, but she left behind many wonderful books set in the Lowcountry for you to enjoy.
Which Dorothea Benton Frank book to read first
The book that introduced me to the beach read and will always hold a special place in my heart is Plantation. Although it was Frank’s second book, I read it first and it features my all-time favorite book character, Miss Lavinia, the Queen of Tall Pines Plantation.
If you’ve ever seen The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, I’ve always pictured that Ellen Burstyn would play Miss Lavinia in much the same manner she depicted Vivi in that movie. Saying that Miss Lavinia (or Vivi, for that matter) has a flair for the dramatic is a understatement. Her daughter, Caroline Wimbley Levine, might be the heroine in this one, but Miss Lavinia steals the show.
Plantation explores the unique relationship between mothers and daughters along the banks of the Edisto River in the ACE Basin in South Carolina. This book is so southern you can’t help but read it in a drawl, and every southern woman I know will tell you at least one character in this book reminds them of someone in their own family. I believe all of her books are must-reads, but this one remains forever my favorite. RIP, Dot Frank.
Why Dorothea Benton Frank reminds me of Elin Hilderbrand
Frank writes messy, complicated, compelling families every bit as good as Hilderbrand. They both nail how a place can be part of that family, from hiding its secrets to healing the hearts of those who return to it for solace. Frank is to the Lowcountry what Hilderbrand is to Nantucket.
Which Karen White book to read first
I’m cheating again by giving you another series to read. The only thing better than finding one book you love is getting to stay in that universe for multiple books!
Like Frank, Karen White sets many of her books in the Charleston area. My favorite is her Tradd Street series, starting with The House on Tradd Street.
If you liked the ghostly element in Hilderbrand’s The Hotel Nantucket, then you’re going to love this series.
The Tradd Street series follows a Charleston real estate agent Melanie who loves historic homes—but not always the ghosts that live inside them. The ghosts in these books can sometimes be a little more vengeful than Grace in The Hotel Nantucket.
These books are full of intriguing mysteries for Melanie to solve alongside handsome writer Jack.
A mystery and a love story? Sign me up!
The books begin focusing on Melanie’s family’s secrets but branch out to all sorts of truths buried all around Charleston historic homes.
Why Karen White’s books remind me of Elin Hilderbrand
I picked up the Tradd Street series initially because it was based in Charleston, and I love beach reads set in real places you can visit. Very much the reason I first picked up Hilderbrand’s books too. It’s more than that though that reminds me of Hilderbrand.
As I mentioned above, White has a lot of fun with ghosts in her Tradd Street series. Throughout the series, she expertly crafts mysteries that are intricately tied to Charleston and the people who live there, much the same way Hilderbrand does with Nantucket families in so many of her novels.
Mary Kay Andrews
From the beachy locales to the cozy mysteries, Mary Kay Andrews’s books have so many of the things I enjoy in Elin Hilderbrand books. Being from the South myself, I also love that hers are set in coastal towns (real and fictional) all over the Southeast.
There are so many books you could start with, but I think my favorite Mary Kay Andrews of all time is probably The High Tide Club.
I love a story with an older character trying to make things right before they’re gone, and this is a great one. Ninety-nine-year-old heiress Josephine Bettendorf Warrick lives on a remote barrier island and has summoned attorney Brooke to come discuss a legal matter.
Of course, it’s not just a simple legal matter. There’s an unsolved murder. I also love that Josephine was trying to protect her island after her passing.
I love the story of Josephine’s friend group that unravels, even though her friends are long gone. Even more fun when you find out they call themselves “The High Tide Club” because of their skinny dipping escapades!
A cozy mystery full of gorgeous scenery, juicy secrets and a beautiful love story, this one has it all.
Why Mary Kay Andrews’s books remind me of Elin Hilderbrand
Family secrets, compelling mysteries, female friendships, love worth fighting for . . . so many themes in Andrews’s books are the same ones that I love in Hilderbrand’s books.
She has more books I would qualify as cozy mysteries than Hilderbrand, and they’re not all set at the beach. I would also say her books are generally more humorous, and obviously the Southern flair adds a little something. Nonetheless, I think I love her books for many of the same reasons I love Hilderbrand’s.
Can’t get enough of Nantucket? Good news! If you haven’t already discovered Nancy Thayer, she’s a Nantucket-based author like Hilderbrand. And if you’re just now finding her, you’re going to have a huge backlist to read through!
Which Nancy Thayer book to read first
There are SO many good ones to choose from, I wasn’t sure where to get you started. I’m going to go with Island Girls though.
Rory Randall has finally found a way to bring his daughters together: he dies. In his will, he requires his daughters—all from different marriages—to spend the summer together on Nantucket if they want to inherit his house there.
As if that isn’t drama enough for one book, their mothers all show up too!
This novel explores complicated family dynamics and the things that bring people together and tear them apart. And, of course, you get to enjoy the scenery and places that make Nantucket such a compelling setting.
Why Nancy Thayer’s books remind me of Elin Hilderbrand
Okay, so the Nantucket locale is the obvious reason Thayer reminds me of Hilderbrand (and vice versa). It’s so much more than though. Female friendships, mother-daughter relationships, family mysteries . . . Thayer’s books have so many of the themes and dynamics I love in Hilderbrand’s books too.
Who else have you read that reminds you of what you love in Hilderbrand’s books?