[Note from Frolic: We’re so excited to have author Vanessa North guest posting on the site today! She’s talking all things sweet small-town romance. Take it away, Vanessa!]
Having grown up and lived most of my life in small towns, I consider myself a bit of an expert on—or maybe connoisseur of—the subject. In a small town romance, I’m always looking for a sense of place, a sense of community, and of course, a romance that flourishes in that environment. I’m not looking for the Hallmark Movie stereotype of a small town, but something that feels real and authentic to me. Being a foodie, I also give bonus points for evocative descriptions of food—what can I say, I know what I like! Here are five of my favorites, in no particular order.
How Sweet It Is by Melissa Brayden
Not only is this delicious romance feature a main street small towns in Applewood, Illinois, but the main character, Molly, owns a bakeshop for all the loveable regulars to visit. Come for the sweets, but stay for the tropey bittersweet “falling for her lost love’s sister” romance.
Tikka Chance on Me by Suleikha Snyder
Suleikha Snyder is an absolute master of combining sly banter, simmering heat, and swoony, heart-clutching romance for days, and she does all of that and more in this Midwestern bad boy meets good girl romance set around the heroine’s family restaurant. Tikka Chance on Me packs so much humor and heat into less than a hundred pages, your kindle might spontaneously combust.
The Chase Brothers series by Lauren Dane
Okay, I’m totally cheating and listing four books here, but Petal, GA feels completely real to me, and I couldn’t pick just one. This series was one of the first from Lauren Dane I ever read, and it’s recently been re-released in a shiny second edition from Carina Press (disclosure: I’m also published by Carina Press). Fall in love with the Chase Brothers and their dynamic heroines alongside Petal’s quirky downtown and the Chase family matriarch, Polly.
Heart by Garrett Leigh
Content Warning: Human Trafficking
While I love Garrett Leigh’s London-set novels, I also have a huge soft spot for those set in the countryside, like Heart, which features Cornish pastry chef Seb, and the troubled Dex, a trafficking victim who takes refuge and solace in Seb’s fudge shop before disappearing. While this book tackles serious subjects, it does so with a delicate hand and Garrett Leigh’s boundless empathy for her characters shines through.
My Cowboy Promises by Z.A. Maxfield
Look, you can’t have a small town romance list without cowboys, it’s like, a science rule or natural law or something. What I love about this series from ZA Maxfield, and this book in particular, is that it doesn’t shy away from the complicated ways the pressure cooker of small town society forces some relationships to look like something they aren’t. Marriages of convenience are a favorite trope, but My Cowboy Promises looks at what happens when those marriages are no longer convenient.
About The Author:
Vanessa North is a romance novelist, a short fiction geek, and a knitter of strange and wonderful things. Her works have been shortlisted for both the Lambda Literary Award and the RITA© Award, and have garnered praise from The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Publisher’s Weekly. She lives in Northwest Georgia with her family: a Viking, twin boy-children, and two large dogs.
Connect with Vanessa:
Hard Chrome by Vanessa North, out now!
He’s tough. But she’s tougher.
Tanner Ellis left American Heavy Metal in her rearview mirror. She didn’t see the beauty behind the grease stains and the polished chrome until it was too late. Now she’s back, determined to save her father’s legacy – and bring the South’s premier classic-car shop into the new century. Nothing is going to stop her – especially not the sexy tech who refuses to follow her lead.
American Heavy Metal is the only home Duke Wilson’s ever known, and no high-heeled, sharp-tongued princess is going to take it away. He tolerates Tanner’s advice, and it’s fun to push her buttons, but she doesn’t belong in the shop – never has, never will. The sooner she realizes that, the sooner he can find his new normal.
When Tanner falters, revealing the pain beneath her bravado, Duke comforts her the only way he knows how. And when violence from his past threatens their future, she’ll be there for him, offering him the one thing he’s always wanted – a shot at a real family. He just has to convince himself to take it.