The Internet is afire with talk of a Netflix revival of the beloved dramedy Gilmore Girls. With Carole King crooning “Where you lead, I will follow” through the autumnal-tinted opening credits, the witty and eccentric characters of Gilmore Girls earned a place in our hearts and made even the most jaded city slicker long for small-town life.
If you are hankering for a little of that Stars Hollow magic, check out these 13 small-town romances with love stories to rival Luke and Lorelai’s smoldering relationship.
Welcome to Last Chance by Hope Ramsay
Yes, our town is way off the beaten path, but strange, wonderful miracles happen a lot around here.
I’ve owned the Cut ‘n’ Curl beauty shop for years, and I’ve seen folks come for a visit, then stay for a lifetime. Take Jane — that pretty firecracker of a girl who just arrived in town. I would swear she’s running from something. She came with only five dollars in her pocket but she’s worked real hard to make a fresh start. She’s turned my son Clay’s life upside down without even realizing it.
And thank goodness for that! Ever since Clay left his country western band, he’s played everything too safe. He needs to take a chance on Jane. Besides, the more he tries to keep his distance, the more he’ll realize that he and Jane are singing the same tune.
But I should quit ramblin’ and go check on Millie’s permanent wave. Next time you’re in Last Chance, be sure to swing by. We’ve got hot rollers, free coffee, and the best gossip in town.
See you real soon,
Why we love Last Chance, South Carolina: Dripping in southern charm and authentic characters, Last Chance is a small-town sanctuary for woman-on-the run Jane. And Clay is the upstanding guy who is going to be her fiddle-playing knight in shining armor — if she’ll let him.
Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis
In one fell swoop, Maddie loses her boyfriend (her decision) and her job (so not her decision). But rather than drowning her sorrows in bags of potato chips, Maddie leaves L.A. to claim the inheritance left by her free-spirited mother — a ramshackle inn nestled in the little coastal town of Lucky Harbor, Washington.
Starting over won’t be easy. Yet Maddie sees the potential for a new home and a new career — if only she can convince her two half-sisters to join her in the adventure. But convincing Tara and Chloe will be difficult because the inn needs a big makeover too.
The contractor Maddie hires is a tall, dark-haired hottie whose eyes — and mouth — are making it hard for her to remember that she’s sworn off men. Even harder will be Maddie’s struggles to overcome the past, though she’s about to discover that there’s no better place to call home than Lucky Harbor.
Why we love Lucky Harbor, Washington: This quaint coastal town is a good place for Maddie to start a new life as an inn keeper. With a sexy contractor to keep her on her toes and sisterly antics to manage, Maddie finds small-town life to her liking.
Virgin River by Robyn Carr
Wanted: Midwife/nurse practitioner in Virgin River, population 600. Make a difference against a backdrop of towering California redwoods and crystal-clear rivers. Rent-free cabin included.
When the recently widowed Melinda Monroe sees this ad, she quickly decides that the remote mountain town of Virgin River might be the perfect place to escape her heartache and to reenergize the nursing career she loves. But her high hopes are dashed within an hour of arriving: The cabin is a dump, the roads are treacherous, and the local doctor wants nothing to do with her. Realizing she’s made a huge mistake, Mel decides to leave town the following morning.
But a tiny baby, abandoned on a front porch, changes her plans… and former marine Jack Sheridan cements them into place.
Why we love Virgin River, California: Virgin River is the place Melinda runs to when she has no place else to go. It’s not the small town she was expecting, but ultimately she falls in love with both the town and the people. And so do we. It’s the feel-good comfort equivalent of Gilmore Girls, with a hunky, thoughtful hero to melt our hearts.
One Reckless Summer by Toni Blake
It’s tough to play it cool on a sultry summer night…
The perfect daughter. The perfect prom queen. The perfect wife. Jenny Tolliver’s been the good girl all her life, and it’s gotten her nowhere. Now that her marriage has been busted up by her cheating ex, she’s decided it’s time to regroup and rediscover herself. This summer she’s headed back to her hometown of Destiny, Ohio, to the very lakeshore cottage where she grew up, to figure out what life holds in store for her next.
She never dreamed the answer would be Mick Brody, Destiny’s #1 hellraiser. He comes from the wrong side of the tracks (or in his case, the lake), and he’s landed in hot water more times than he can count. He’s exactly the kind of guy Jenny’s always kept her distance from… but soon the good girl and the bad boy are caught in a raw heat that’s out of control. Too bad Mick’s got a secret that threatens to tear them apart and ruin Jenny’s perfectly, passionately reckless summer…
Why we love Destiny, Ohio: Lakeside cottage life is beautiful, quiet, and passionate, as long as you’re from the right side of the tracks. Good girl Jenny and bad boy Mick deserve to find the happiness that has eluded them both for so long, and we’re there to cheer them on every step of the way.
Talk of the Town by Karen Hawkins
Do Blondes Have More Fun?
Newly divorced Roxie Treymayne is dying to find out. After years of being the perfect Southern lady, all she ended up with was a cheating husband. So she goes bombshell blond, gets a provocatively placed tattoo, and prepares to live it up as a Bad Girl. But then her mother falls ill… and Roxie is forced to return to Glory, North Carolina.
He’d Love to Know.
Once the town bad boy, Nick Sheppard is now Glory’s highly respected sheriff. When the hot blonde he stops for speeding turns out to be formerly prim Homecoming Queen Roxanne Treymayne, Nick doesn’t quite know where to look — though he’d like a much closer one at the tattoo peeking from her shorts.
But It Takes Two to Tango.
Roxie and Nick had a steamy fling in high school, but a love affair between a Southern princess and a boy from the wrong side of the tracks was doomed from the start. Now they have a second chance. Can they get it right? Or will they just end up… the talk of the town?
Why we love Glory, North Carolina: Glory is a charming southern town, and the book features plenty of laugh-out-loud scenes. We root for Roxie, the good girl gone (sort of) bad as she returns to her hometown to discover the high school bad boy is now the sheriff, and the fling they had in the past has left some embers burning.
Just One of the Guys by Kristan Higgins
Being one of the guys isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…
So when journalist Chastity O’Neill returns to her hometown, she decides it’s time to start working on some of those feminine wiles. Two tiny problems: #1 — she’s 5’11” inches of rock-solid girl power, and #2 — she’s cursed with four alpha-male older brothers.
While doing a story on local heroes, she meets a hunky doctor and things start to look up. Now there’s only one problem: Trevor Meade, her first love and the one man she’s never quite gotten over — although he seems to have gotten over her just fine.
Yet the more time she spends with Dr. Perfect, the better Trevor looks. But even with the in-your-face competition, the irresistible Trevor just can’t seem to see Chastity as anything more than just one of the guys…
Why we love Eaton Falls, New York: This little town in upstate New York is the kind of hometown we all wish we were from. Journalist Chastity returns to Eaton Falls to work for the town newspaper and settle down in the small town that has been home to her family for six generations. The humor is off-the-wall hilarious, and there’s a great romantic rivalry to keep the pages turning.
Baby, Drive South by Stephanie Bond
Southern town seeks single women. Lots of them!
The hardheaded Armstrong brothers are determined to rebuild their tornado-ravaged hometown in the Georgia mountains. They’ve got the means, they’ve got the manpower… what they need are women! So they place an ad in a northern newspaper and wait for the ladies to answer their call…
Porter, the youngest Armstrong, is all for importing women. Still, he’s so blown away by the sheer numbers, he falls off the water tower. Luckily there’s a doctor among the newcomers — sweet and sexy Dr. Nikki Salinger.
And Porter has every intention of checking out her bedside manner…
Why we love Sweetness, Georgia: Hunky southern men are in abundance in this Georgia mountain town, and the wall-to-wall muscles are more than enough to attract a whole bunch of northern women. But there’s not much sweet in the tornado-ravaged, basically abandoned town of Sweetness. The sheer determination of the Armstrong brothers to rebuild and repopulate their hometown makes for a funny, uplifting tale fit for a Carole King theme song.
Crazy for You by Jennifer Crusie
On Wednesday, Quinn McKenzie changes her life. On Thursday, she tries to get somebody to notice. On Thursday night, somebody does.
Quinn McKenzie is dating the world’s nicest guy, she has a good job as a high school art teacher, she’s surrounded by family and friends who rely on her, and she’s bored to the point of insanity. But when Quinn decides to change her life by adopting a stray dog over everyone’s objections, everything begins to spiral out of control. Now she’s coping with dognapping, breaking and entering, seduction, sabotage, stalking, more secrets than she really wants to know, and two men who are suddenly crazy… for her.
Why we love Tibet, Ohio: Quirky doesn’t begin to describe the characters in this Jennifer Crusie classic, and the town of Tibet has its own eccentricities, mysteries, and outright silliness. When life turns upside down for Quinn McKenzie, she finds an unlikely protector in mechanic Nick Ziegler. He turns out to be just what Quinn needs, and we love him for it.
All Shook Up by Susan Andersen
A Man With a Past
When an unexpected inheritance sends J.D. Carver to the Star Lake Lodge to claim his half, he’s expecting trouble. Being greeted with open arms by the whole Lawrence gang — feisty Aunt Sophie and calm Uncle Ben, clearly off-limits Dru and her young son, Tate — just convinces him they’re working an angle, and he’s determined to uncover it. But a tiny part of him longs for the home-and-hearth life they have.
A Woman With a Reputation
Dru’s finally beaten her bad-girl reputation, and though the Lodge may not be exciting, she’s fiercely protective of her quiet home. Hard-eyed J.D.’s ability to push all her buttons just proves how wrong he is for her. So why does her son hero-worship the guy? And why does her heart clench when he gets that “nose pressed against the candy shop window” look on his face?
Why we love Star Lake, Washington: Set in a lodge rather than an inn, All Shook Up features a wary single mom we adore; a sexy, brooding outsider we can’t help but fall for; and an amusing but supportive cast of characters.
Truly Madly Yours by Rachel Gibson
Where there’s a will…
When pretty hairdresser Delaney Shaw returned home to Truly, Idaho, for the reading of her stepfather’s will, she planned on paying her respects and getting out of town. But it seems the will has some unexpected stipulations-like the one that says if Delaney wants her inheritance she needs to stay put and have nothing to so with sexy Nick Allegrezza… for an entire year!
There’s no way
Ten years ago, Nick had swept Delaney off her feet and onto his Harley, and that’s when she really let her down her hair! Back then, he was a love-’em-and-leave-’em man, and Delaney learned the hard way that she was just a fling. But Nick is as irresistible as ever. And when the ladies at Tuesday night Bingo see Nick and Delaney making after-hours whoopee through the window of a local beauty parlor, Delaney knows it’s time to decide if Nick is truly, madly the man of her heart.
Why we love Truly, Idaho: Still waters run deep in this small town and the petty grievances and gossip are just too much to handle for a girl who left town and never intended to look back. Much like Rory and Dean after they broke up, Delaney and Nick have many reasons for avoiding each other and only one reason they can’t — an attraction they just can’t resist.
Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl
Find out what happens when the girl next door isn’t so innocent in this fan-favorite tale from USA Today bestselling author Victoria Dahl…
Molly Jenkins has one naughty little secret: Her job as a bestselling erotic fiction author. Until her inspiration runs dry — thanks to a creepy ex — and it’s time to skip town and move back to tiny Tumble Creek, Colorado.
One look at former high school hunk chief of police Ben Lawson, and Molly is back in business. The town gossip is buzzing at her door and, worse still, a stalker seems to be watching her every move. Thankfully, her very own lawman has taken to coming over, often. The only problem now is that Molly may have to let the cat out of the bag about her chosen profession, and straitlaced Ben will definitely not approve…
Why we love Tumble Creek, Colorado: With its fill of oddball characters, Tumble Creek is a safe haven for erotica author Molly. Ben, her old crush, is the concerned, protective (and straitlaced) man on the scene.
Chasing Perfect by Susan Mallery
Welcome to Fool’s Gold, California, a charming community in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. There’s lots to do and plenty of people to meet, especially women. Because there’s just one tiny problem in Fool’s Gold: the men don’t seem to stick around. Maybe it’s the lure of big-city life, or maybe it’s plain old bad luck, but regardless of the reason, the problem has to be fixed, fast. And Charity Jones may be just the city planner to do it.
Charity’s nomadic childhood has left her itching to settle down, and she immediately falls in love with all the storybook town has to offer — everything, that is, except its sexiest and most famous resident, former world-class cyclist Josh Golden. With her long list of romantic disasters, she’s not about to take a chance on another bad boy, even if everyone else thinks he’s perfect just the way he is. But maybe that’s just what he needs — someone who knows the value of his flaws. Someone who knows that he’s just chasing perfect.
Why we love Fool’s Gold, California: A storybook small town set in the foothills of Sierra Nevada, Fool’s Gold has a lack of men, but no shortage of strong female characters and friendships. Charity is the city planner tasked with bringing more men to the town, and along the way she falls for Josh, a charming, successful hometown hero.
The Inn at Rose Harbor by Debbie Macomber
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber comes the first book in a new series set in the beloved Pacific Northwest town of Cedar Cove.
Jo Marie Rose first arrives in Cedar Cove seeking a fresh start. A young widow coping with the death of her husband, she purchases a local bed-and-breakfast — the newly christened Rose Harbor Inn — ready to begin her life anew. Her first guest is Joshua Weaver, who has come home to care for his ailing stepfather. The two have never seen eye to eye, and Joshua has little hope that they can reconcile their differences. Jo Marie’s other guest is Abby Kincaid, who has returned to Cedar Cove to attend her brother’s wedding. Back for the first time in twenty years, she almost wishes she hadn’t come, the picturesque town harboring painful memories. And as Abby and Joshua try to heal from their pasts, and Jo Marie dreams of the possibilities before her, they all realize that life moves in only one direction — forward.
Why we love Cedar Cove, Washington: Few authors are as good at bringing a small town to life as Debbie Macomber. From the lifelong friendships to the sense of stability and belonging, Cedar Cove is the town innkeeper Jo Marie holds in her heart and calls home.
Which small-town romances would you add? Tell us in the comments!
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