The innate charm of small-town America makes it the perfect backdrop for falling in love. We’ve chosen three novels that will take you to quaint towns filled with friendly faces and budding relationships.
RISKING IT ALL
North Carolina author Rachel Lacey delivers the first novel in her new Risking It All series with Run to You. Adrenaline junkie Ethan Hunter once won gold at the Beijing Olympics, but he was happy to return to his small hometown, Haven, in North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains. Video game coder Gabby Winters fled her life in Charlotte to seek peace and healing in bucolic Haven after ending an abusive relationship. When the two meet, sparks fly, and soon they’re conspiring to convince Ethan’s ill grandmother that they’re a happy couple. Inevitably, their pretend relationship moves far outside the parameters of their bargain, because neither can ignore the heat between them that grows hotter with each meeting.
Gabby finds the home she’s always wanted with Ethan in Haven, but both have shadows from the past that follow them. While Ethan encourages Gabby to move past her fears, he can’t envision healing his own scarred heart. Despite the powerful love that binds them, will these two wounded, wary people find a way to claim a happy future?
There’s much to like in this sweet romance, including the strong hero and heroine, the cast of supporting characters and the beautiful mountain setting. Readers will eagerly anticipate the next installment in the series, Crazy for You, due out next spring.
UNDER THE BOARDWALK
New York Times bestselling author Samantha Young launches a new series with The One Real Thing. Dr. Jessica Huntington is emotionally isolated and she likes it that way. However, one day at the women’s prison where she works, she finds old letters written by a now-deceased inmate to the man she loved. Moved by the emotion on the pages, Jessica decides to take her three weeks vacation and deliver the letters to the man who should have received them decades earlier.
The beautiful seacoast town of Hartwell, Delaware, is a lovely surprise, and soon, Jessica finds herself entangled in the lives of the friendly residents. Most importantly, she finds herself overwhelmingly attracted to Hart’s Boardwalk pub owner Cooper Lawson. Thirty-six-year-old Cooper has dated a lot of women since his divorce from his unfaithful ex, but none of them made him consider permanence. Then smart, beautiful Dr. Jess walks into his bar and rocks his world. Both Cooper and Jess are falling in love, but a dark secret haunts Jess, and unless she can find the courage to trust Cooper, their future together is in jeopardy.
Young opens her new series with smart, complex characters, layered plot and hot sexual tension reminiscent of her earlier On Dublin Street series. The well-drawn setting of a small coastal town and the cast of characters that reside in Hartwell will have fans eager to return for the next installment.
A HEALING PLACE
Acclaimed bestselling author Debbie Macomber’s latest novel, Sweet Tomorrows, is the fifth and final installment in her popular Rose Harbor series. Innkeeper Jo Marie Rose first befriended—then fell in love with—handyman and ex-soldier Mark Taylor. When he had to return to Iraq for one last dangerous mission, Mark told her not to wait for him. Now a year has passed, and Jo Marie knows she must accept that Mark didn’t survive and won’t be coming home. She’s determined to move on and mend her broken heart but struggles with coping. When Emily Gaffney, a new teacher in town, needs a temporary rental, Jo Marie offers her an extended stay at the Rose Harbor Inn, and the two women quickly bond.
Emily is struggling with her own heartache, having weathered two broken engagements and the bruised heart that followed. Now she’s firmly decided to build a life without romantic entanglements. Unfortunately, a charming German shepherd dog named Elvis and his brooding owner, Nick Schwartz, quickly derail any plans for noninvolvement.
Just when Jo Marie thinks she may have met someone who could become more than a casual date, an old friend calls her with startling news about Mark. Emily, too, has cause to reconsider whether to allow Nick and Elvis a place in her world. Life-changing decisions must be made, and each must face their deepest fears if there is to be any hope for a happy future.
Macomber brings her trademark humor and warm, endearing characters to this poignant tale of love, loss, healing and beginning anew. The plot is absorbing, and the Pacific Northwest setting so vividly drawn that readers will feel they can smell the scent of cedar, pine and saltwater as they turn the pages.
Lois Dyer writes from her home in Port Orchard, Washington.