Where Everybody Knows Your Name: Hangouts from Romance Novels We Wish Were Real

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Back when the TV show Cheers was in its first run, the fictional bar had its own set of fans. So much so, that the bar the series was based on (The Bull & Finch Pub) was renamed to capitalize on the craze.

As a New Englander, I was never keen to visit Cheers, but I can say I’ve read about several fictional places I wish really existed. In many series, these places often almost become another character in the narrative, helping to tie the books together. I needed my memory boosted when I was compiling the list of fictional hangouts, so there are some shout-outs to my Twitter friends who reminded me of the existence of some of these (sadly fictional) places.

Alexa Martin – HERS in Intercepted

HERS is described as “the most badass twist on an old gentleman’s club.” Shoe shines are replaced by manicure touch-ups. Housewives plays on the televisions instead of sports. Beer? Nope. Wine. A photo booth for girl-bonding. And anyone who gets in the face of owner Brynn’s friends is going to get chucked right out on their ear. The sound of HERS was so amazing, I actually asked Martin if it was based on a real place. I got all dreamy just thinking about it and my face turned into that gif of Liz Lemon saying, “I want to go to there.” (Sadly, it only exists in her imagination and our hearts).

Kate Clayborn — One-Eyed Betty’s in the Chance of a Lifetime series

One-Eyed Betty’s Bar and Restaurant appears in the prologue of Beginner’s Luck almost as a magical place where the three friends at the center of the books decide to purchase the lottery ticket that will change their lives.  For Kit, Zoe, and Greer, this restaurant is their North Star, the place they go to every week to rejuvenate, to gather and catch up. It’s also the place that vets their eventual partners. When the guys are finally comfortable at Betty’s, you as the reader know the relationship is going to be all right. In the last book (Best of Luck) one of the couples from a prior book even gets married there.

Ruby Lang – Ian’s restaurants in Acute Reactions

Ian Zamora, the hero of the first book in Ruby Lang’s Practice Perfect series is a restauranteur, which means lots of delicious food and wine happens in these fantastic books. His two restaurants, Field and Stream (one character quips his next one should be called Scientific American) are, of course, a part of his story, but they continue to be places where the couples in the next two books come as their relationships progress. First dates and group hangouts (and yes, another wedding) occur here, marking some of the milestones as relationships progress.

Kit Rocha – The Broken Circle in the Beyond series

Oh, The Broken Circle. Part bar, part kinky sex club, part cabaret, all love. This is definitely one of those post-apocalyptic series where the hand-hewn, rough-and-tumble lands outside the “elite” city of Eden sounds like much more fun. While it might seem like anarchy inside The Broken Circle, the place is very much ruled over by Dallas and Lex, the King and Queen of Sector Four. And they are not going to be having any non-consensual nonsense in their joint. I binged the entire series in about a week, a bit off my head on pain meds and muscle relaxants from a raging bout of sciatica. It was the perfect thing to distract me from the pain. Shout-out to @anacoqui who suggested this, making me smack my forehead and yell, “Of course!”

Alyssa Cole – Girls with Glasses in Can’t Escape Love

@anoutlawlife somewhat tentatively suggested a non-physical location, Reggie’s Girls with Glasses website in the Reluctant Royals series. Yes! Sign me up for the chat rooms and the blog posts and the content that is everything from Scottish sword-crafting to manga to posts (as Cole puts it) “ranging from every-nerd material to the esoteric.” While the website is almost a character in every one of the books, it is most heavily featured in Reggie’s own novella.

Tessa Dare – The Bull and Blossom in the Spindle Cove series

Part of the world-building in this series comes with the battlefield that is the tea shop/bar in the town of Spindle Cove.  It changes names as it goes from one incarnation to the other. The men take over and it’s The Rutting Bull, a pub. Then the women take over. Enter the tea shop, The Blushing Pansy. The Bull and Blossom is the final sign (literally) of détente as more and more confirmed bachelors and settled spinsters happily pair up. It’s finally welcoming to all and, as @AinsleyWynter noted, “apparently teeming with hotties.”

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