Betwixt and Between: Romance Novels that live in the Space Between the City and the Small Town By Stacey Agdern

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[Note from Frolic: We’re so excited to have author Stacey Agdern guest posting on the site today. She’s talking small towns and big cities. Take it away, Stacy!]

There’s a mostly unwritten rule in contemporary small town romance that says the relationship between the city and small towns is a zero sum game.  But there are also people who live their lives betwixt and between the small town and the big city. Who go back and forth as if leaving is as easy as going, and as if their existence cannot solely be contained in one or the other. 

The first question is distance. So very often authors deliberately separate the small town at the center of the story from the surrounding cities by not mentioning the distance. But in Then Came You, Jeannie Moon points out how close the small town of compass cove is to Queens and the Major League ballpark the High School baseball team goes to for a fun night out. 

The ride to the ballpark should have taken an hour, but with the traffic it was over an hour and a half 

The short distance that separates the small Long Island town of Compass Cove from the  five boroughs of New York City should not be lost on readers. And a night out is a great thing. It allows Mia and Adam, Moon’s two central characters, to enjoy a night out together 

In fact, sometimes a trip to a city helps to show a different side of a character. In Too Sweet to be Good by KM  Jackson a trip from Sugar Lake to Manhattan makes the heroine, Alexandrea, see the hero, Kellen, in a different light. 

‘If this man had shown up at the bakeshop’s door early that morning, instead of walking forward to open the door, she might have run over and put the double lock in before pulling down the shades in order to guard her fast-beating heart.’

Even as she debates where her future will be, as she sees Kellen comfortable in her hometown, more sparks flow between them. It’s as if once she sees this man who she’s been fighting feelings for comfortable in the place she spent the formative years of her life, she starts to see who he really is. 

Sometimes the simple choice to keep one foot in the small town and one in the big city is a huge one. As Samson Lima, the hero of Alisha Rai’s The Right Swipe, prepares to leave one LA apartment for another says:

‘The Cayucos home could wait.’

The home he’s talking about is his childhood home, where he lived with his uncle and his parents. That’s the house that could wait. Because it can still be his even though he has an apartment in LA. He doesn’t have to say goodbye to that house in order to live in Los Angeles. 

These are only a few of the titles that do this, and it’s something I pay attention to. Why?  I’ve spent my life in between big cities and small towns, which means this particular feeling is important to me. It’s also something I’ve tried to capture in my debut, Miracles and Menorahs. The relationship between the small town of Hollowville and both Manhattan and Brooklyn exist the way I see them from my Westchester suburb. Like Sarah, Isaac, their friends and family members, I go back and forth, finding the beauty in both city and small town suburban life.

I hope that you find the space you enjoy, whether it’s the small town, the big city or the space in between them both.

Happy reading,

Stacey  

About the Author:

Stacey Agdern is an award-winning former bookseller who has reviewed romance novels in multiple formats and given talks about various aspects of the romance genre. She’s a proud romance writer, who incorporates Jewish characters and traditions into her stories so that people who grew up like she did can see themselves take center stage on the page. She lives in New York, not far from her favorite hockey team’s practice facility.

Miracles and Menorahs by Stacey Agdern, out October 13!
Sarah Goldman loves Hanukkah, and she’s thrilled to be appointed as vice chair of the Hollowville Hanukkah Festival. So when the festival is threatened with cancellation, she comes up with an idea: a new slogan and advertising campaign topped off with a metal menorah large enough to fill the center of town. But even though her heart and dreams are large, the committee’s budget constraints threaten to stop her grand plans right in their tracks.

Famous metal sculptor Isaac Lieberman also loves Hanukkah. But his vision of a perfect Hanukkah isn’t a commercial community event—it’s spending time with family, following age-old traditions. He’s not interested in the festival, no matter how many times his grandmother, his bubbe, asks him to contribute one of his sculptures.

Then Sarah comes tumbling into his life…can she change his mind about more than just the holidays?

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