As a military spouse of over two decades, changing residences (also called a PCS, or a permanent change of station) is both an exciting and a daunting process. The logistics of it all, the myriad of moving pieces that must somehow come together, and saying farewell to places and people (though in my case, I don’t say goodbye but “see you later” to friends and family) is a bear. And, eventually, there is that inevitable fish-out-of-water moment whenever I arrive in my new community. 

In my upcoming romance, It Takes Heart, the first in the Heart Resort series, I explore this trope. Brandon Puso reunites with his family after a self-imposed hiatus in order to renovate the family business, Heart Resort, after a hurricane destroyed it. He’s a fish out of water, fledging as he attempts to reconnect with his family, as well as with an old flame. But I, too, find comfort in reading books with protagonists who have to navigate these exhilarating and nerve-wracking moments. Here are several titles that feature fish-out-of-water protagonists.

The Tiger Mom’s Tale
by Lyn Liao Butler 

When Lexa Thomas’s estranged father dies unexpectedly and leaves her an inheritance, she must travel to Taiwan to face family she hasn’t seen since she was a child. There, she unravels family secrets and discovers her identity and her own place in the family.

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A Lowcountry Bride
by Preslaysa Williams 

A love story between wedding dress designer Maya Jackson and Navy veteran and bridal shop owner Derek Sullivan, this slow-burn romance features a couple who, individually, are trying to find their way. She, in realigning her career ambitions, health and family. He, as a widowed father attempting to revive a family-owned bridal shop on the brink of bankruptcy. But as they come together in their career aspirations, love soon follows.

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Who Rescued Who
by Victoria Schade

After being fired from her tech job after a social media snafu, Elizabeth Barnes makes the easy decision to head to the English countryside to settle her father’s estate. But what she finds is a welcoming community, a quirky set of extended family, an irresistible love interest, and a stray dog that captures her heart. The question she must now answer is, where should home be?

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The Fifth of July
by Kelly Simmons

Despite the idyllic island atmosphere of Nantucket, a tragedy befalls the Warner family. Suspicions swirl within the crumbling walls of the Werner home, including Maggie O’Farrell, the house’s caretaker and housecleaner, among the wealthy who she works for. (Read BookTrib’s review here.)

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The Cowboy’s Claim
by Nina Crespo

In this first book in the Tillbridge Stables series, actress Chloe Daniels faces her fear of horses by learning ranch life for the role of a lifetime. But ranch owner Tristan Tillbridge wasn’t given notice of her arrival, and that he would be partially responsible to show her the ropes. But with a little forced proximity, the two find that they have well more in common than they had expected.

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Unbuttoning the CEO
by Mia Sosa

In the first book of the Suits Undone series, CEO Ethan Hill is sentenced to community service after a reckless driving charge, where he meets Graciela Ramirez, the ambitious director of the nonprofit where he will be serving his time. Ethan, however, doesn’t reveal who he is, taking on the identity of a computer programmer to protect his company from the press. When sparks fly as Ethan and Gracie spend more time together, his identity is revealed. The two have to decide if they’re willing to see if business and pleasure can, in fact, mix.

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Once Upon a Royal Summer
by Teri Wilson

Henry, Crown Prince of Bella-Moritz is in disguise at a fairy tale theme park to fulfill his young daughter's birthday wish, and being there feels like a ridiculous parody of his real life. But his daughter is a believer, and as Henry gets to know Lacey, the make-believe princess in the cotton candy ballgown, the more he starts to prefer this upside-down royal world to life in his castle back home. 

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After Perfect
by Maan Gabriel

Gabriella Stevens’s perfect life is turned upside down following a divorce after sixteen years of marriage that leaves her single for the first time since she was a teenager. At the threshold of this new chapter and living in New York City, she decides to go back to school and gets her first real job. When a new romance sweeps her off her feet, she must decide what will heal her.

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