Small-town contemporaries have been a niche subgenre going on for decades now, but I have never been gladder that they turned up the heat than when I picked up my first Victoria Dahl. Talk Me Down was a reading revelation. Here was a sexually confident, erotic author, who had set her cap at the small-town chief of police of Tumble Creek, Colorado. The book was full of kisses behind closed doors (and in the cab of the cruiser), a little bit of suspense, and a sense of illicitness that only an affair in a small town could create. It’s a book that I have passed down from friend to friend when I want to get them hooked on romance—and it works without fail.
But it wasn’t until recently I realized that while I may have moved to the big city, my heart (or at least my reading preferences) stayed in a small town. I would gladly stay in Tumble Creek for all of my days, but of course all good things come to an end, and eventually I had to move on to another small town, so to Ruthie Knox’s Camelot I went.
Unlike the Camelot of legend, Knox’s Camelot gave us the opportunity to see some of the economic struggle involved in living in a small town. It made her stories real and grounded them in reality just enough to make them relatable without taking away any of the fantasy. In How to Misbehave, the novella that introduced the series, Amber is the program director for the Camelot Community Center when a storm forces her and contractor Tony Mazzara to seek shelter together. What commences is a beautiful, perfectly paced, romp that had me wanting more of Camelot.
If you’re looking for an even hotter small-town, might I suggest you move to Petal, Georgia? This series by Lauren Dane focuses around the Murphy family and begins in Once and Again as Lily Travis returns to her small hometown of Petal, Georgia to help raise her brother. When she goes to talk to her brother’s teacher, it’s none other than high school hunk, Nate Murphy. What’s not to love? And with Dane at the helm, you can expect that it will definitely be getting even hotter in Georgia.
A more recent obsession of mine has been the small-town of Bluebonnet, Texas. Any small town worth its salt has plenty of town stories. Unfortunately for Miranda Hill, the heroine of The Girl’s Guide to (Man) Hunting by Jessica Clare, she is the subject of one of those stories—and there are pictures to back it up. When former NHL player Dane Croft comes back to town, it’s time for some revenge of the best kind (hint: it involves hanky-panky in the woods).
One author who became famous for her athlete heroes is Jaci Burton, whose newest series focuses not on larger than life athletes, but on Hope. Hope, Oklahoma that is. Give us one part small-town vet and one part bitter police officer and you have the makings for some seriously sexy times for the hero and heroine.
Perhaps it is some of the themes in small-town contemporaries that make them so addictive to me. There's a strong sense of community, and much of the story is spent trying to grasp a sense of self and self-awareness under the watchful eye of everyone you've ever known. Whatever it is, I am hooked.
What are some of your favorite hot small-town contemporary series? What do you think draws you to small-towns?
Jennifer Proffitt is a Midwest transplant to New York City. She spends most of her time reading and writing about romance, but you can follow her other adventures on Twitter @JennProffitt. She works for Heroes and Heartbreakers.