As many of us in the northern tier of the United States hunker down for the coldest and dreariest part of winter (I’m looking at you, February), I’m grateful to be living in modern times: electric lights, central heating, and . . . audiobooks. When it’s cold outside, I like to do some armchair traveling, and this week I’m thinking about escaping to warmer climes.

Who says beach reading is only for the summer? I think it’s the perfect way to warm up any winter night. Here are five recommended audiobooks that will take you to the seaside and introduce you to some new friends. You’ll even get a little romance on the side.

Pour that coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or hot toddy, curl up on the couch in your favorite comfy clothes, and dream of summer skies.

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Travel to a small coastal town in Southern California in Sisters Like Us (Harlequin Audio) by Susan Mallery, which follows two very different women who seem to have little in common besides dealing with their in-your-face mother.

Narrator Tanya Eby highlights the characters’ personalities, emphasizing Stacey’s insecurities about becoming a mother, Harper’s struggles at her new job, and their mother’s control issues. Harper is a single mom, but a new client may also bring a new love. Although it’s part of Mallery’s Mischief Bay series, this audiobook can be enjoyed as a standalone.

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Visit the South Carolina Lowcountry in Karen White’s Dreams of Falling, (Penguin Audio) which is read by a wonderful cast. Narrators Shannon McManus, Cassandra Campbell, and Susan Larkin team up to perform this story about mothers and daughters, family secrets, and the power of friendships.

The plot includes a mystery and long-ago promises, self-discovery and forgiveness. The beauty and warmth of the South are woven throughout this satisfying contemporary story.

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Hop across the ocean to the rocky coast of the Isle of Muir and get ready to be hungry! In Jenny Colgan’s The Café by the Sea, (HarperAudio) a London paralegal is asked to return to her Scottish island home to help her boss with a project.

Upon arrival, Flora discovers her brothers and father need help with everyday tasks, so she takes them under her wing while also assisting her client. Narrator Sarah Barron’s range of accents enhances the setting and rounds out the characters, and Flora’s cooking plus some romance heat up this delicious audiobook.

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Head on down to Georgia and prepare yourself for family drama in  The High  Tide  Club (Macmillan Audio) by Mary Kay Andrews. This dual time-period story involves an elderly woman, a young female lawyer, and a decades-old unsolved murder.

Narrator Kathleen McInerney’s distinct characterizations and good pacing keep us invested in this story of friendships and reconciling with the past and help us connect with the contemporary issues faced by the single-mother lawyer, who’s trying to do her best for her client and for her young son.

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Relax on the beaches of Nantucket in Nancy Thayer’s Secrets in Summer, (Brilliance Audio) which focuses on the complications of modern families and the strengths of summer friendships.

The main characters in this beach read span the generations and remind us that young and old and everyone in between can find common ground and help each other over life’s hurdles. Narrator Amy McFadden portrays the women’s personalities and deep emotions as they learn to create nurturing relationships and, for some, find a new romance.

Whatever the weather in your part of the world, I encourage you to engage in some virtual travel, meet new friends, and soak up the sun . . . via a good “beach listen.”

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