Small Town Life
These are novels set in small towns, usually with a contemporary setting, many featuring a woman coming home again to start over, often with strong female friendships, and a bit of romance. Character driven, these books are usually heartwarming or cheerful in tone. All of these titles are available at the library and at Media on Demand.
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
The Happy Camper by Melody Carlson
Country Guesthouse by Robyn Carr
The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
The Wedding Shop by Rachel Hauck
Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins
At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon
Alaskan Holiday by Debbie Macomber
Sisters by Choice by Susan Mallery
Herons Landing by JoAnn Ross
Almost Just Friends by Jill Shalvis
Sea Glass Cottage by RaeAnne Thayne
This novel set in Yellowstone National Park in 1933 has a wonderful sense of time and place. Nate Webber has dyslexia and can barely read, but loves to learn. Elsie Brooks, daughter of a park ranger, is saving money for college as a hotel maid in the park when she gets the chance to teach Nate’s Civilian Conservation Corps crew part-time. Elsie’s friends Mary and Rose welcome the chance of a summer romance, while a young park ranger is interested in Elsie, who’s hiding a secret of her own. The city boys of the CCC, many from New York City, find the hard work in the park challenging, but settle in quickly. A couple of small fires had me suspecting a character of arson, but this mildly inspirational story isn’t as predictable as I thought. Warm-hearted, relaxing, and thoroughly enjoyable, this trip back in time has me looking forward to reading Barnett’s other novels set in Yosemite and Mount Rainier National Parks.
This is a fun, frothy contemporary romance, a very appealing read. Social worker Vivian Forest accompanies her daughter Maddie to England for a December vacation after Maddie gets a chance to be stylist to a young duchess for the Christmas season. Vivian meets Malcolm, the Queen’s private secretary, and he gives her a tour of the Sandringham estate, takes her riding, and the pair exchange notes delivered by footmen. Vivian is very down-to-earth, funny and considerate. Malcolm is a bit more formal and private, but is clearly smitten by Vivian. It’s so refreshing to have the main characters in a contemporary romance be in their fifties. The Sandringham and London settings make an amazing frame for the slightly predictable story so that the reader can enjoy armchair travel along with a joyful but not steamy romance. What Anglophile wouldn’t enjoy a private museum tour, or getting to park inside the gates at Buckingham Palace? What will happen when Vivian goes back to California with the possibility of a job promotion? Sadly, no scone recipe is included, but all the other ingredients for a perfect holiday read are there, from helping pick out a dress for the duchess to fireworks over the Thames River. Enjoy!
In Christmas from the Heart by Sheila Roberts, Livi Berg is stunned when her charity’s biggest sponsor sends a frosty email with the news that they’re not sending a donation to Christmas from the Heart. Guy Hightower, running a family business with his brothers, regrets the email, but not his lavish lifestyle. When his sports car breaks down outside Pine River, Washington, Livi gives him a ride to her friend’s auto repair shop. Guy gives a fake name and is absorbed into village life while his car is repaired, even helping to judge a fruitcake contest. Predictably, Guy falls for Livi and Pine River, but hesitates to reveal his true identity in this cozy, heartwarming romance.
In Christmas Cow Bells, the first in a new cozy mystery series by Mollie Cox Bryan, Brynn MacAlister is settling into Shenandoah Springs, Virginia, along with her three cows. Brynn is a cheesemaker, getting ready for the farm market shop set to open soon in an old church. When her neighbor Nancy is critically injured in a fire at the old church, Brynn is as uneasy as her cow Petunia, and starts investigating, with help from Nancy’s teen grandsons and other local farmers. This is an appealing, very gentle mystery just right for holiday reading, especially as another cow, Buttercup, is rehearsing for a holiday pageant.
For more holiday reads, see my December book display of heartwarming holiday stories. Up next in my to be read pile is Owl Be Home for Christmas by Donna Andrews, in which blacksmith Meg and her extended family get snowed in at a Virginia inn hosting an ornithology conference.
Happy holiday reading!
Princess Beatrice, 21, will one day rule the United States. Her brother Jefferson and sister Samantha, both 19, have far less pressure and have time for romance and travel, recently evading their security detail in Thailand. Their family is descended from George Washington, America’s first king, in this alternate history. Beatrice is encouraged to meet future suitors at a ball, as duty comes before love, or must it? A sequel is planned for this novel by the author of the Thousandth Floor trilogy, set 100 years in the future. While the plot is somewhat predictable, the characters are well-crafted and relatable. With plenty of drama, intrigue, and romance, this is an entertaining read, perfect for royal watchers.
In Emily Ford’s eyes, Lila Vasquez is Princess Lila, after they meet when Lila’s wearing a pink ball gown at a banquet. Six-year-old Emily, who has cochlear implants, gets to pick out a service puppy with Lila’s help, then spend several weeks learning to work with Jeeves, a cockapoo. Emily’s father Ford, an illustrator, is quickly smitten by Lila, who is used to the role of serious older sister, yet is willing to dress like a princess for Emily during puppy training. In a mostly lighthearted humorous romance, Ford’s neighbors and young Emily are the holiday matchmakers, especially during a memorable pirate-themed party. Humor, relatable characters, and puppies make for a quick, appealing read.
Best known for her Virgin River series, Carr’s recent books are set in small town Colorado. Leigh is a doctor who meets Rob when she stitches his son Sean’s hand. Rob’s older son Finn is attracted to Maia, who’s facing a health crisis. Leigh’s Aunt Helen, a mystery writer and retired teacher, sells her Naperville house and comes to Sullivan’s Crossing for a long visit with Leigh, only to find a good friend in Sully. A multi-generational romance with considerable small-town charm and gorgeous Colorado scenery, this fourth book set in Sullivan’s Crossing is a quick, emotional, and very enjoyable read. The first book is What We Find, but it doesn’t need to be read first to enjoy The Best of Us. Readalike authors include Debbie Macomber and Kristan Higgins.