Nothing takes me away from the disorder of real life quite like a story about love and starting over in a small town. Something about close-knit communities where everyone knows everyone else’s business appeals to me. Maybe because I grew up in a small town. We even had a party telephone line, where my sister and I would listen in to our neighbor’s conversations (I know, terrible). Now I live in a big city, where most of the time I don’t even know my neighbor’s name. So when I want to return to the quirky characters of my youth or disappear into a gorgeous setting, where everyone looks out for one another and the magic of love is in every page this is where I go:
Virgin River by Robyn Carr: This was my gateway drug to small-town romance. After reading this book, the first in the Virgin River series, about a small community in Northern California and the relationship between a former Marine and a midwife who has recently relocated to Virgin River after tragedy has struck, I was hooked. I read every book in the series and went looking for other contemporary small-town romances. Carr is the quintessential storyteller and a great influence on my work.
Sugar’s Twice as Sweet by Marina Adair: This is a new series by Adair about Sugar, Georgia and a socialite who falls for the local bad-boy golf champion. The story is delicious and sexy and reminded me a little of the great Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Wynette Texas series with her eccentric, but truly credible characters. But Adair has her own distinct voice and Sugar is a place I will be visiting often.
Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis: This is the first book in Shalvis’s Lucky Harbor series and boy can this woman write. She’s fun, snappy and at times poignant and this small Washington town is a great escape. In Simply Irresistible a big city girl who has just been fired from her Hollywood job comes to Lucky Harbor to claim her inheritance, a ramshackle inn which she shares with the two sisters she hardly knows. They hire the hottest contractor in town to fix the place . . . Well, you get the picture.
The Best Manby Kristan Higgins: This is the first in her Blue Heron Series about a small town in New York’s Finger Lakes district where Faith Holland has decided to return to her family’s winery and deal with her past—a very public jilting by her former fiancé. Then she reunites with the best man and things get interesting. Higgins is a beautiful writer, who can make me laugh and cry at the same time. I’ll read anything she writes.