Oct 18 2013 12:30pm

Pick Your Favorite Flavor: Sweet and Spicy Small-Town Romance

Christmas in Snowflake Canyon by RaeAnne ThayneToday H&H welcomes authors RaeAnne Thayne and Molly O'Keefe; RaeAnne's upcoming release, Christmas in Snowflake Canyon is another book in her Hope's Crossing series, while Molly O'Keefe's Wild Child is the first book in the Boys of Bishop series. Both RaeAnne and Molly write romances set in small towns, and they're joining us today to recommend their favorite small-town romances, both sweet (from RaeAnne) and spicy (from Molly). Thanks for joining us, ladies!

Rae Anne Thayne:

I don’t suppose it’s a surprise to any of my readers that I love to write books set in small towns. I’ve written forty-five books and I can think of only four or five that were set in a large city. I find something so appealing in the quiet pace of a small town, about entwined lives and communities where people care for each other—probably because I grew up on a farm in Indiana and live in a small Utah town very much like my series set in Hope’s Crossing, Colorado.

Life in small towns, both fictional and real, isn’t perfect. People struggle and grieve. They go through divorces, they lose spouses, they endure cancer, they have children who make serious mistakes, just like anyone. I love writing (and reading!) books that show the importance of community during those hard times, of neighbors lifting and strengthening each other.

A few of my favorites:

1) Emily March’s Eternity Springs series. Beautifully written, with interesting characters and a lovely Colorado setting, each Eternity Springs book will leave you wanting more.

2) Brenda Novak’s Whiskey Creek titles. A departure from her taut romantic suspense novels, the Whiskey Creek series set in California gold country overflows with emotion and heart.

3) Hope Ramsay’s Last Chance series. Filled with quirky characters and a charming community, Last Chance is simply delightful.

4) Jodi Thomas’s Harmony, Texas books. Sweetly romantic and filled with fascinating secondary characters, the Harmony, Texas books will definitely tug at your heartstrings.

5) Anything by Kristan Higgins. She deftly creates communities filled with real people anyone would love to have as neighbors and friends.

What about you? Which small-town books lift your heart?

Wild Child by Molly O'KeefeFrom Molly O'Keefe:

It seems like small town romances are everywhere you look these days, and the fans of this sub-genre are legion. But there are some readers who like their romances a little spicier, a little...darker, and they have passed by the water-color, seascape covers thinking—t's just not for me.
But the elements that make small town romance work are the elements that make any great romance work -especially the dark ones.

1. A huge cast of characters that aren't all related to each other. Because interconnected books are awesome!

2. Characters, running from demons and mistakes always seem to run to a small town and the demons and mistakes always catch up with them. And who doesn't love a good redemption story?

3. You can't bullshit the people that love you. And one of the main-stays of small town romance is that there is a lot of support. A lot of community—even for the heroines with a past, or the dark broody loner alpha heroes. And this is either a huge source of comfort or a giant source of conflict.

So, for those of you looking to for those elements in a spicy small town romance I offer the following:

1. Anne Calhoun's Unforgiven and its follow up out in Feb, 2014, Jaded. These books take place in Walker's Ford, South Dakota. The books are moody and atmospheric. The conflicts are realistic and heartbreaking. The sex is smoking hot and the happily ever afters are hard won.

2. J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood books. Seems crazy, doesn't it? I'm not sure how big Caldwell, New York is supposed to be, but those brother's run in pretty tight circles. The clinic, the clubs, the compound. In fact, I think at this point the compound alone would constitute a small town. For me the first five BDB books were hugely-satisfying, super sexy romances, set in a small town.

3. Tessa Dare's Spindle Cove series. Spindle Cove, is a town by the sea set in Regency-era England, filled with women who for some reason or another don't quite fit into society. Dare's style is warm and the characters and plots are often very funny, but there is always a point in every book when I am turned inside out with delicious, angsty emotion.

4. Orange Is The New Black. So I binge watched this Netflix original show over the last few weeks about a woman going to jail for a bad decision she made ten years ago. The setting of the show, Litchfield Women's Prison, is a small town, complete with restaurant (cafeteria), hairdresser, laundromat and repair shop. There is a love triangle, revenge, sex, faith, fear, redemption, friendship. It's both a romance and a coming of age story. It's dark. Very dark. And it's set in a small town.

So, how about you? Any darker, spicier small town romances you can recommend?

Learn more or pre-order a copy of Wild Child by Molly O'Keefe, available October 29, 2013:

Buy at AmazonBuy at Barnes & NobleBuy at Indiebound



Learn more or order a copy of Christmas in Snowflake Canyon by RaeAnne Thayne, available October 29, 2013:

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RaeAnne Thayne has published more than 40 books. Her latest book, Christmas in Snowflake Canyon, is out October 29.

Molly O'Keefe is a RITA-Award winning author with 24 novels in publication. Her new series The Boys of Bishop will begin in October with Wild Child. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her family and the largest heap of dirty laundry in North America.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Heather Waters
1. HeatherWaters
Love the idea to make recommendation lists for both sweet and spicy small-town books. I'm a fan of both, but sometimes you're in the mood for one or the other. Thanks!
Jennifer Proffitt
2. JenniferProffitt
Wow! I never would have included Orange is the New Black in here but you're totally right! Love these picks.
3. tammye
Hello!!! Virgin River Series by Robyn Carr and the new Thunder Point Series. Do those go without saying???
Carmen Pinzon
4. bungluna
Jill Shalvis had two: Lucky Harbor and Animal Magnetism series.
5. Janga
Does the fact that I 've read and enjoyed all the series on RaeAnne's list and only the Spindle Cove series on Molly's say I prefer sweetness to spice? Since I've also raved about both these authors' books, I don't think so.

I would definitely include Toni Blake's Destiny series and Marie Force's Gansett Island series on the spicy list. Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove series surely is among the earliest and most successful sweet series. Others on my list of favorites, some of which I think combine sugar and spice, include Susan Mallery's Fool's Gold, Lisa Kleypas's Friday Harbor, Terri Osburn's Anchor Island, Virginia Kantra's Dare Island, Meg Benjamin's Konigsburg, Texas . . . I could probably list a top twenty-five, but I'll stop--but not before adding Julie Anne Long's Pennyroyal Green series.
6. Molly O'Keefe
Janga is the Queen list maker - I'm amazed. And all of those authors would have been on the list. RaeAnne and I tried to think of some suprises..I need to read that Terri Osburn series.
Rose Mary
7. rosemary16
If you want to feel real romance, then you can get lots of free romance books at just join the newsletter
8. wsl0612
Katie Lane's Bramble, TX series is sweet and funny. I don't read as much contemporary as other genres, but she's on my must buy list.
9. Shark with Lasers
Jennifer Crusie's Welcome To Temptation remains my fave for this type of romance. Who can resist an accidentally phallic water tower? I also have a soft spot for Kasey Michaels's Can't Take My Eyes Off You. It's like Roman Holiday meets The Andy Griffith Show.
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