Elin Hilderbrand is an American romance and murder mystery author from Pennsylvania.
She moved to Nantucket after the death of her father and took a job at a local paper. She also began writing at this time and is now a New York Times bestselling author.
Elin Hilderbrand uses her surroundings in Nantucket as inspiration for a lot of her stories, as well as her fond memories of summers spent on Cape Cod. Many of her books are set in Summer, but she also has a winter series.
One of Elin Hilderbrand’s novels, 28 Summers, is being adapted into a movie. There are plans to turn The Perfect Couple into a movie as well.
As well as being a successful author, Elin Hilderbrand is a mother, a university graduate, a keen peloton rider, and a breast cancer survivor. She draws on her personal experiences and hobbies to create interesting and genuine characters.
About Elin Hilderbrand Books
Elin Hilderbrand’s books fall under the romance genre. Each story tends to have romantic love as one of the main themes, but this is explored in different ways.
She writes about first love, marriage, divorce and separation, betrayal, fading love, lost love, and much more. She also explores other forms of love – the love between friends, the love between a mother and her children, the fierce bond shared by sisters, etc.
A lot of Elin’s novels are set on the Island of Nantucket or in the surrounding area. This is a place that is very familiar to the author, and very dear to her heart.
This gives the reader an authentic experience of Nantucket and creates a genuine setting for the stories. Each character written by Elin Hilderbrand is unique and well-developed.
Their stories are touching and often carry important messages of loyalty, forgiveness, and acceptance.
Elin Hilderbrand Books In Order
This is the recommended reading order for the Elin Hilderbrand books.
This is the summer collection which includes the majority of Elin Hilderbrand’s novels. The novels in this series are all individual stories so you can read them in any order. They are listed here in publication order, as this is the easiest way to read them all.
Mack is a manager at the Beach Club hotel. He is under a lot of pressure from his boss, he is struggling with a hostile employee, and his girlfriend is pressuring him to pop the question.
How will the arrival of a new employee, Love O’Donnell, shake things up at the hotel? Meanwhile, Jem is about to move to LA but his feelings for Maribel are getting in the way of his plans. It’s going to be an eventful summer at the Beach Club.
- There is a great range of characters in this book
- Some of the plot points seemed to come out of nowhere and did not fit with the story
Kayla, Antoinette, and Val have been friends for 20 years. Every summer they strip off and swim in the ocean together after an evening of swapping stories over champagne. Only this time, one of the women doesn’t make it back to shore.
As two friends try to deal with their grief, they realize that their loss has wider implications than they could have imagined, and there were many secrets they did not share with each other on that beach.
- This book has a strong theme of friendship which is very moving
- The grief and loss are very upsetting
When Beth’s husband dies, she feels like her life is falling apart. The only thing she can hold onto is their family tradition of spending the summer at their house in Nantucket. She takes her teenage twins to the island, but she also invites a guest.
Beth’s husband was a New York attorney, and Marcus is the son of his final and most difficult client. Emotions run high and secrets are uncovered as Beth and her family learn some hard lessons about love and loss.
- This is a great story that will keep you hooked until the end
- The characters are not particularly likable
Adrienne is used to moving around from place to place and has spent the last 6 years working at hotels in various resort towns.
This summer she is getting over a failed relationship and is looking for work in Nantucket, but the only place hiring is a restaurant.
She jumps in head first with no experience, and immediately feels a spark between her and the restaurant manager. Will Adrienne open her heart to love again, or will she cut and run?
- The ‘will they, won’t they’ plotline keeps you guessing and intrigued
- The ending leaves you with unanswered questions which could frustrate some readers
A lot can change in 24 hours, as Marguerite finds out when she gets a phone call from her estranged God-daughter.
Renata hasn’t seen her Godmother for 14 years, but she is going against her father’s wishes and visiting her on Nantucket island while she is there with her fiance. But the reunion doesn’t quite go to plan.
- Marguerite is a great character who is immediately relatable
- Renata’s storyline isn’t as gripping
Three women arrive in Nantucket hoping to escape the reality of their lives for a summer. One of them is terminally ill, one of them has just lost their job, and the other finally got pregnant but then found out her husband was having an affair.
They are seeking the calming, healing energy of the sea and the sun. But when a handsome young man crosses their path, they end up finding something quite different.
- The characters are interesting and well-developed
- The ending was not as well-rounded as some of the others
Birdie is in the midst of planning her daughter’s wedding when she gets a phone call saying that the wedding is off. The end of Chess’s engagement is the least of her worries, as the family is hit with devastating news.
Birdie must put her new romance on hold to manage the crisis for her family, and whisks them away to a remote island for some R&R. But a peaceful summer is not what is in store.
- This book deals with deep emotions in a realistic way
- People looking for a light beach read might be shocked at the intensity of the story
When two best friends find themselves facing troubles in their lives, they retreat to Nantucket island. But you can’t run away from your problems – they will always catch up with you eventually. Is their friendship strong enough to withstand the heat?
- The story is interesting and well thought out
- This book was a little too long given the content and could be trimmed down
On a warm June evening, the students of Nantucket High gather on the beach for their yearly bonfire. The night ends in disaster when a fatal car crash leaves one student dead and another seriously injured.
Over the summer, secrets will reveal themselves and the true events of that dreadful night will finally come to light.
- This is an interesting take on how a small community deals with a tragedy
- The ending was not very believable
This is a short story about one woman’s desperate attempt to re-ignite the spark in her marriage. But when she does, will her husband still feel the same way about her? Or will the arrival of his ex-girlfriend give him a change of heart?
- This is an interesting and well-written story
- This is very short, even for a short story
Two families come together on Nantucket to celebrate a wedding that is supposed to unite them. In reality, everyone but the happy couple is at breaking point.
Will they be able to pull off the perfect wedding, as designed by the late mother of the bride? Or will secrets and scandal get in the way of a beautiful day?
- The characters are varied and interesting
- The ‘touching’ storyline of the late mother is actually emotional manipulation from beyond the grave
This is a short story that explores the difficulties of a long-distance relationship. Clen and Danby were inseparable until Clen went to college at Harvard.
Danby is struggling to travel to New Haven to visit but is determined to make it there for the big Harvard vs Yale game.
When Danby arrives she notices sparks flying between Clen and one of his new friends – will their love be strong enough to go the distance? Or is it time to let go of the only love she has ever known?
- This is a nice way to set up the characters and their backstory
- The pace was strange for this book as it is a short story to lead onto the next one in the series
This novel takes place decades after the events of The Tailgate. Danby is 48 and married to John, with a grown-up daughter.
She is known as the local matchmaker, and whether people call it skill or interference there are 42 happy couples still together because of Danby. Perhaps the only match she didn’t get right was her own.
When her first love, Clen, returns to Nantucket after nearly 30 years, she begins to question the choices she made, and the secrets she kept.
- This leads nicely on from the ‘tailgate’
- The storyline is quite predictable
Madeline and Grace are best friends with seemingly perfect lives – happy marriages, happy children, and a great friendship. But this summer, a rumor threatens to turn their worlds upside down.
Will they be able to set the record straight? Can they ever repair the damage caused by rumor?
- This was a light read that was quick to get through
- Some of the plot points seemed a little unimaginative
When three women gather at a ramshackle beach house on Nantucket island they only have one thing in common. They are all there to say goodbye to the man they loved.
The man is Deacon Thorpe, and throughout his life, he was married to each of the women. Now that Deacon is gone, they are left to pick up the pieces of his life together.
But this isn’t easy when they have spent years avoiding each other, and it’s only so long until the secrets start spilling out.
- The characters are diverse and interesting
- There isn’t much of a sense of location so it could have taken place anywhere
Harper and Tabitha are estranged identical twins living on different islands – Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. After 10 years apart, they must work together to save what is left of their splintered family by switching lives, and islands.
Will they be able to repair the damage done, or will their rivalry get in the way?
- This book is exciting and interesting to read
- Whilst the characters were well developed, they weren’t very likable
13 year old Jesse feels more alone than ever when she has to spend the summer isolated on Nantucket island with her grandmother. It is the first year that she isn’t being joined by her older siblings.
Summers in Nantucket were their tradition, but a string of unrelated events has kept them all apart this year. As tensions rise across the country, Jesse has her own eventful summer which will change her forever.
- There is a strong sense of family and how it feels to grow up
- The pace of this book is quite slow
When Vivian is killed in a car accident, it isn’t quite the end. She is allowed to watch her loved ones from ‘The Beyond’ for one last summer and is granted three ‘nudges’ to change the outcome of the events taking place.
But how will she decide how to use them? Each of her three children needs her help, but Vivian left Earth with some important unfinished business of her own.
- The concept of this book is refreshing and intriguing
- This book is surprisingly moving and sad, especially for anyone dealing with grief
When Liz and her long-time boyfriend split up, she finds herself in need of a distraction. Her new job as manager of the Hotel Nantucket is just that.
The once run-down building has been restored to its former glory with some much-needed improvements and is now an impressive paradise. But behind closed doors, the cracks begin to show.
There are tensions between the staff and the guests, problems with funding, and a ghost of an old customer with some unfinished business.
- The characters are fun and interesting
- Some of the plot points felt a little forced and weren’t introduced smoothly
28 Summers Series
This is a 2 part series about Mallory and Jake. The first book in the series is currently being adapted into a movie.
When Mallory learns that she is dying, she has a strange deathbed request for her son. She wants him to call her old friend, Jake. Jake is now the husband of politician Ursula DeGournsey, the frontrunner in the presidential campaign.
How do Mallory and Jake know each other? And how will Mallory’s death affect them all?
- This has an interesting plot with twists and turns
- The ending is a little unsatisfying and leaves you with a lot of unanswered questions
Jack returns to Nantucket for Labor Day weekend – his first one without Mallory. Old memories resurface, but he also finds himself thinking about the future.
- This short story gives you a follow-up on the characters from 28 Summers
- It is too short to really go anywhere and make a difference to the ending
The Nantucket Series
These books are part of a trilogy. The stories are loosely linked, but they have their own plotlines and focus on different main characters.
Claire seems to have a perfect life – a loving husband, happy children, and her dream job. But whilst planning a charity gala she crosses paths with billionaire Lock Dixon, and unexpectedly finds herself attracted to him.
Her life quickly begins to spin out of control as the two of them get closer, but she doesn’t want it to stop.
- The steamy passion between the characters keeps you hooked
- The characters are not very likable
While celebrating their wedding anniversary, Greg and Tess die in a sailboat accident. They leave behind two small children, and a friendship group reeling from the loss.
But tensions rise as the pressure of grief reveals cracks in the foundations of their friendships. Everyone knew that Greg and Tess’s marriage was on the rocks – what really happened on that boat?
- This has all of the key features you would want from an Elin Hilderbrand novel
- It was quite hard to keep up with the different characters
When a body is discovered in Nantucket Harbor hours before a wedding ceremony, the guests become the prime suspects.
Chief of Police Ed Kapenash must work his way through the guest list, interviewing the bride and groom and their nearest and dearest, to find out who the killer is.
But how will he separate the relevant facts from the rest of the scandal and secrets that surround these two families?
- The mystery was intriguing and kept you hooked
- The book was quite long and could have easily been trimmed down
The Paradise Series
This is a 2-part series about Irene, a woman who discovers that her life is not what it seems after the death of her husband. These books contain more mystery and intrigue than the others and focus less on romantic storylines.
(Also called Troubles In Paradise). When Irene’s husband dies in a helicopter crash, she realizes that she did not know him as well as she thought. Her search for the truth takes her to a villa in the Caribbean where he had been living a double life.
When the FBI starts knocking on the door, she realizes that his death might not have been an accident.
- This is a different style for the author which is refreshing
- The book under-uses dialogue and relies too much on internal monologues to explain things
One year after her husband’s death, Irene is looking for answers about the woman he was leading a double life within the Caribbean.
Her journey of discovery will also tell her a lot of things about herself that she never knew and will change the shape of her future.
- This book follows on nicely from the previous story
- The story is quite predictable and the pace is slower than in the last book
The Winter Series
This is a mini-series set in Winter rather than Summer or tropical weather. It focuses on the Quinn family, and each book tells the events of a different Christmas that they spend together.
You can read this series at any time of year, but it would be very festive if you read it during the holiday season.
Kelley Quinn is a Nantucket Innkeeper and Father to 4 grown-up children.
Each of them is facing a different crisis in their personal lives, but Kelley is still looking forward to getting the family together for Christmas so they can enjoy some quality time together. But it’s not long before the celebrations turn into chaos.
- This is a quick read with interesting characters
- The premise is very simple and basic
Kelley Quinn is reflecting on the events of last Christmas, and thinking about how much has changed in a year. His children are happy, and they have plenty to celebrate including the baptism of his first grandchild.
But when Kelley’s estranged wife arrives on Nantucket, his hope of a peaceful Christmas is shattered.
- This is a very festive and heartwarming story
- Some of the characters are difficult to like in this book
After surviving a health scare, Kelley is still in recovery. Meanwhile, the rest of his family are facing problems of their own – from lost soldiers to drug addictions, there is never a dull moment for the Quinn family.
As if that wasn’t enough, they are also hosting a Christmas wedding at the inn. With a blizzard closing in, will they be able to overcome their issues to save Christmas, and the wedding?
- This was a quick and easy read
- Some of the plot points felt quite rushed
In the final installment of the Winter series, will the Quinn family finally get to spend a normal Christmas together? All of Kelley’s children finally seem to have their lives together and everyone is happy.
But it wouldn’t be a Quinn family Christmas without some last-minute drama and heartbreak. Will they get their happy ending?
- There are some new characters for the readers to enjoy
- The ending is not particularly happy or festive
The books in the Summer Collection are all individual, stand-alone stories. This means that you can read them in any order, but the easiest way to read them is in publication order.
Each series is separate from the rest, so it doesn’t matter which series you choose to read first. However, you must read the books in each series in chronological order, or you won’t understand the story.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about the Elin Hilderbrand books.
Do You Have To Read Elin Hilderbrand Books In Order?
You can read the Summer collection in any order as each novel is separate. The series are all separate from each other, but you need to read each series in the right order.
Which Elin Hilderbrand Book Is The Best?
Elin’s fans have different opinions about which book of hers is the best. Summer of ‘69 was the first one to debut at number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and the 28 Summers duology was very popular.
Are Elin Hilderbrand Novels Based On True Stories?
Elin Hilderbrand writes fiction novels that are not based on real events. However, she takes inspiration from her personal life and her surroundings on Nantucket to create her stories, giving them a very authentic feel.