Small Town Perfection: Cape Cod

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Lisa Marie Perry’s Meant to Be Mine is a story of returning home, and facing the preconceptions people have of you.

When Sofia Mercer’s aunt dies, she has no choice but to return to Cape Cod – the town that turned against her when she was a teenager.  She may have been ill then, but she’s more than strong enough to face them now.  Only the old memories she’d pushed aside, and the gossip that she faces on her return, impress upon her how quickly she needs to just pay her respects and then leave once more.

But her aunt has left her a quirky little boutique, and she bumps into Burke Wolf, an old friend, and sparks fly!  The two of them were best friends and a shoulder to cry on for each other back then, and all of a sudden she’s strangely drawn towards staying…

I think what really resonated with me, was the fact that Sofia’s heart condition has really impacted on the way she lives her life now – and the way in which it colours her memories of the past.  It can’t possibly be easy to have issues like this when growing up, but

 

Small Town Perfection: Ballymuir

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Dorien Kelly‘s Ballymuir series is set in an idyllic Irish village where everyone knows everyone else’s business, and where scandal and secrets are a part of everyday life!

Kylie O’Shea teaches at the Gaelic school in Ballymuir.  She’s almost saintly in her reputation and her approach to life, even if she does reject every local suitor, to the point where the villagers keep on warning her about fulfilling The Last Bride in Ballymuir legend!  But when stranger Michael Kilbride comes to the village, Kylie can’t quite help but be captivated by his passions, even if it means that secrets will be exposed…

In The Boldest Man in Ballymuir, American chef Jenna Fahey is the only one who’s not taken in by businessman Devlin Gilvane’s charm.  He’s sniffing around Muir House, the place she’s currently leasing and has worked hard to turn into a renowned restaurant.  Dev needs the building in order to make that big promotion, but it’s the one thing that’s kept Jenna from thinking about her past…  But when the two of them clash, will the sparks be just from fury…?

The Brightest Flame in Ballymuir sees artist Vi Kilbride prepare to sell her late grandmother’s cottage, surrounded by the memories of the summers she spent foreign up there.  And more than a few of those memories involve Liam Rafferty, the boy who broke her heart.  She’s shocked to discover that he’s back in town, and looking for the legendary Rafferty’s Gold – allegedly hidden by one of Vi’s ancestors after her heart was broken by a Rafferty- especially when her grandmother’s journals hold a key to its whereabouts…

I love the fact that this series is both sweet and passionate, and that the inward-looking community of Ballymuir is so protective of its own people.

Small Town Perfection: Rescue Bay

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Shirley Jump‘s Sweetheart Sisters series focuses on a trio of well-meaning grannies (the Sweetheart Sisters of the series’ title), who can’t help meddling in the love lives of those who live in Rescue Bay…

In The Sweetheart Bargain, Olivia comes to Rescue Bay to save and run the dog shelter that she’s inherited.  But she leaves behind her a bad marriage and a terrible job, and it’ll take her a long time to recover.   Or will it?  Because the Sisters have their hearts set on fixing her up with wounded helicopter pilot Luke, and Olivia’s found herself inextricably drawn to him…

Mike doesn’t really know what he’s doing with kids.  But when his ex dumps their two children on his doorstep in The Sweetheart Rules, he’s going to have to learn – and quick!  He remembers Rescue Bay as the perfect place for children to grow up and so returns with the kids in tow.  But once in town, he keeps on bumping into the one one-night stand that he can’t forget – Diana…

The Sweetheart Secret sees Daisy back in town – to Cole’s surprise.  They were married but he hasn’t seen her in years, so when he discovers that they’re technically still married – and that she wants a divorce – he wants to know if there’s anything he can do to change her mind!

I think what I love about this series – the romance narratives aside – are the three Sweetheart Sisters.  There’s nothing quite like meddling elderly ladies to make me laugh; especially when their hearts are in the right place.

Small Town Perfection: Rome

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Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit, by Jaye Robin Brown, is set in Rome, Georgia, a small conservative town, and follows Joanna Gordon.

Jo’s been out and proud for years, but when her radio evangelist father remarries and they move from Atlanta to Rome, he asks her to do one thing:  to lie low for the rest of her senior year.  Hiding who she really is, is the last thing that Jo wants to do, but she agrees.

The rest of the novel follows her as she starts a new school and continues with life…only a complication arises when she meets Mary Carlson.  Mary’s stunning and tempting and seems to be interested in Jo too…

What I really loved about this book, is the way in which it approaches the difficulties of navigating your sexuality, when your own faith can be used against you.  It’s not preachy at all – which is important for me – but instead posits Jo as a modern, rebellious and gay woman, who just happens to be religious.

Small Town Perfection: Elmhurst

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Fiona Harper writes beautiful books about love and loss and how to look at your life with new eyes.  The Summer We Danced is set in the sleepy Kent village of Elmhurst where Pippa has moved after a humiliating and messy divorce, and it follows her fight to save the village’s small dancing school where she learnt to dance as a child.

It’s a little amusing, in some ways, that Pippa moves to a small village in an attempt to disappear, for, as most people know, there’s nothing like being under the spotlight in a small village.  But there’s a real sense of community, especially as everyone pulls together to help save Miss Mimi’s dancing school.

And of course, no village would be complete without its resident hunk, and Elmhurst’s is none other than Pippa’s childhood love Tom, who’s older, wiser but no less sexy…

I think what I love best about this book, is the way in which Harper truly manages to capture the essence of Elmhurst and all its characters.  Utterly charming.

Small Town Perfection: Lake Endwell

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Jill Kemerer‘s Sheffield Siblings series is full of sweet, inspirational romances, that are nestled in the heart of Lake Endwell, a town full of heart and redemption.

When Reed’s in town for a family wedding in Small-Town Bachelor, he expects to be in and out fairly quickly.  But a tornado that decimates the town, postpones the wedding and injures Reed, means he can’t get back to the city as quickly as he’d like.  Maid of honour Claire Sheffield steps in and gives him a place to stay whilst he gets better, and in return he starts helping with the town rebuild.  Only will he be able to leave Claire behind when he returns home?

In Unexpected Family, Tom Sheffield’s world is sent spinning out of control when his ex-wife Stephanie turns up, complete with a four year old child that he’s never met before.  His daughter.  All he wants is for them to rebuild the bridges they burnt, but Stephanie’s keeping an awful lot of secrets…

Her Small-Town Romance sees Jade Emerson arrive in town, ready to set up shop, and possibly have a fresh start.  Her heart’s been frozen from the trauma she experienced for so long, that Bryan Sheffield keeps on coming up against a brick wall.  But Bryan’s been suffering too, and will helping him help thaw Jade’s heart?

Celeste has never had children of her own, but she finds herself raising her baby nephew after an accident in Yuletide Redemption.  She needs to make sure that Parker has a happy life, but that needs money, and so she takes a job caring for injured Sam Sheffield.  Sam’s been avoiding the world but can’t help but be drawn to Celeste; if only he could see that his injury doesn’t mean a thing to her…

Kemerer’s series is one that follows a close-knit family in a town that’s all about community.  The characters face real issues, and their happy ever afters are more than justly earned!

Small Town Perfection: Bonne Terre

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Molly O’Keefe‘s The Notorious O’Neills series is set in the uptight Louisiana small town of Bonne Terre, and follows the scandalous O’Neill family, known for being just every kind of wrong.  Its hard to have that kind of a reputation, especially in small towns where people aren’t always kind.

Life certainly hasn’t been kind for Savannah, as we discover in The Temptation of Savannah O’Neill.  abandoned by her mother, her brothers, and the married jerk who left her pregnant and with her reputation in tatters.  She doesn’t trust anyone, least of all sexy newcomer Matt Woods; but when she gives in to his charms, will she end up with more regrets?

In Tyler O’Neill’s Redemption, savannah’s brother Tyler steps into the limelight – or is that a searchlight when he reconnects with past girlfriend, police chief Juliette?  He broke her heart all those years ago, but now he’s back and his charm could break her heart all over again…

The Scandal and Carter O’Neill‘s sees the final O’Neill sibling fighting to distance himself from his family’s reputation.  But when Zoe Madison claims that he get her pregnant…in public…even though he’s never met her…he needs to do some serious damage control!  So he suggests faking a relationship until it all blows over, only soon he finds himself wishing that it wasn’t fake…

Small Town Perfection: Crossroads Pub

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So technically it’s not the small town in Cara McKenna‘s Her Best Laid Plans that I love, but rather the tiny Crossroads Pub in the middle of nowhere in Ireland.  It’s everything I want from a pub – complete with sexy bartender!

When American Jamie takes a plan, a bus, a taxi and a bicycle to stay in a friends house in the Irish countryside, outside of Cork, she’s expecting gruff farmers and grumpy locals nursing pints.  Instead, she meets Connor and the two of them instantly hit it off.

From there their romance develops, but it’s the fact that she has to return home to Boston that really adds a bittersweet touch to the proceedings.  Never fear, Jamie gets a well-deserved happy ever after (especially after the jerk who dumps her before the novel begins), and I’m always left craving rural Ireland!

Small Town Perfection: Winslow

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Piper Huguley‘s Migrations of the Heart is a heartwrenching series set in during the First World War in a small town in Georgia, following African American heroes and heroines.

The eponymous Ruby in A Virtuous Ruby, is hardworking and outspoken – exactly what a woman shouldn’t be, especially one who’s just had an illegitimate child.  But she simply can’t stand injustice, and that’s what drives her through the prejudice.  All Adam Morson wants, is to take Ruby and her child out of the toxic atmosphere he finds her in, but will she choose to stay to save the heart of her hometown?

In A Most Precious Pearl, journalist Asa returns home from the war with an amputated leg, and only one purpose:  to get Mags Bledsoe out of trouble.  But soon he discovers that there’s more to Mags that meets the eye, especially when he begins to uncover the truth about lynchings in the South…

A Treasure of Gold sees Ruby and Mags’ youngest sister, Nettie, head away from the small town of Winslow, to Pittsburgh, to do work for a charity kitchen.  But the big city is very different from the small town that she’s used to – and that definitely includes reprobate Jay Evans.  Jay really doesn’t need any help from a do-gooder, but he needs help with his daughter until his wound heals, and Nettie may well be just what he’s looking for!

Huguley has a gorgeous writing style, and I love the way she weaves her romance naratives with larger societal issues of the time.  Definitely worth a read!

Small Town Perfection: Marietta

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Marietta is the setting for a number of Tule Publishing books, but my favourite series is The Great Wedding Giveaway.  Set in ranching land in Montana, the town seems to see a spate of romances burst up, set around a very interesting Wedding Giveaway!

The prequel to the series, Jane Porter‘s The Tycoon’s Kiss, follows Marietta’s librarian Taylor and its most eligible bachelor Troy, as they’re pushed into attending the Valentine Ball together, and sets the scene for the rest of the series!

Ella’s furious when her father puts an ad in the local saloon, trying to find a husband for her in, What the Bride Wants by Kelly Hunter, and so she retaliates with an ad of her own – for a lover!  only she didn’t expect newcomer Cam to take her ad quite so seriously…

Second Chance Bride by Trish Morey takes place across the Globe in Australia, where Scarlett – dumped by the boyfriend she flew across the world to be with – is trying desperately to get back to Marietta – but will Mitch Bannister be able to persuade her to stay?

Scarlet’s sensible sister Tara discovers that her fiancé’s been cheating on her in Sarah Mayberry‘s  Almost a Bride, and so she decides to go a bit wild!  And on her list is acting on her suppressed feelings for Reid.  But Reid is a wanderer by nature, and Tara’s a Marietta girl through and through…

Emma’s a British nanny that finds herself in the wilds of Montana in The Unexpected Bride by Joanne Walsh, looking for a job.  And Laurent definitely needs help as between his out of control kids and his crazy job, he’s being driven to the very edge!  Will Emma be able to settle so far from home, and with a man who’s scared of letting her in?

In Katherine Garbera‘s The Cowboy’s Reluctant Bride, Risa has escaped to Marietta and restarted her life – trying to leave trauma behind her.  Only she can’t forget Monty, the handsome and protective Marine that she left without an explanation, and when he appears in the small town, she doesn’t know how to explain herself!

Family weddings have always filled Emmy with dread, but in A Game of Brides by Megan Crane, she’s got no choice but to attend her sister’s.  So when she bumps into Griffin and the spark that was always between them flares, she decides to have a little no strings sex.  But is he really completely disentangled from his fiancee?  And is she really so detached herself?

Kathleen O’Brien‘s The Substitute Bride sees Marly return home to Marietta jilted and pregnant.  She’s stuck in tiny apartment with her disapproving mum, and then the bane of her teenage life, Drake appears on the scene…

Cole’s been all about responsibility for as longs he can remember.  So when he upped and got married in Las Vegas last year, it couldn’t have been more out of character,  Only in Last Year’s Bride by Anne McAllister, his wife Nell has appeared in Marietta, complete with romantic reality television program!

Andie can’t quite understand how the entry she made for Marietta’s Wedding Giveaway got entered in Make-Believe Wedding by Sarah Mayberry – it was only wishful thinking!  Only now she and Heath are having to pretend to be engaged to spare her humiliation…

Marietta’s absolutely charming, and I love the idea of the town having a little Wedding Giveaway competition – it’s the sort of thing that would only ever happen in a small town!