Pinterest Hidden ImagePinterest Hidden Image

Explore the best small town romance books to warm your heart and transport you to the most charming settings for love.

books and hearts

I’m not a big romance reader overall, but one trope I adore is small town romances. They are generally light and less steamy, like a Hallmark movie or an episode of Gilmore Girls. When it comes to romance, this is totally my jam.

So, I compiled a list of my personal favorite small town romance books for you to dive into as well for all the cozy feels they offer.

Top 3 Best Small Town Romance Books

Best for fans of Gilmore Girls

Best for fans of popular contemporary romance novels

Best for fans of romantic comedies

All the Best Small Town Romance Books

Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan

  • A Goodreads “Top Romance Novel of All Time”
  • New York TimesUSA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller

I picked up Archer’s Voice (and thereafter added it to this list) upon the recommendation of readers after I initially wrote on this topic. It definitely delivered on small town romance, plus it has a lot of steam if that’s your thing. One thing I would note is the circumstances aren’t as light and fluffy as many small town romances — these characters have been through a lot of trauma.

After Bree’s father tragically dies, she heads to a small town in Maine to forget her past. There, she meets Archer, an isolated man to whom she feels deeply connected, in part because of his similarities to her father.

Bree’s about as sweet and kind as a protagonist can get, but this small town is filled with secrets and betrayals, and Archer, as well as his extremely painful past, is at the center of it. It’s only through him, and their love, that healing can occur.

Book Lovers by Emily Henry

  • Instant #1 New York Times bestseller
  • Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2022 by Oprah Daily, Today, ParadeMarie Claire, Bustle, PopSugar Katie Couric Media, Book Bub, SheReads, Medium, The Washington Post, and more!

Book Lovers was an instant success in which Emily Henry, again, utilized her skills of tapping into storylines and titles modern bookworms crave.

Nora is a cutthroat literary agent. But, when her beloved little sister, Libby, asks her to take a sister’s trip to the small town of Sunshine Falls, North Carolina, she agrees.

There, she keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, the book editor from back in the city who she loves to hate.

With a lot of personal life and family life baggage for each of them to unpack, they begin to unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.

As a fan of both books and small town romance tropes, Book Lovers was my personal favorite Emily Henry book.

The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller

One of the bestselling novels of all time

The Bridges of Madison County is one of the most widely read modern classic romance books about small town romance. Francesca is a repressed wife and mother in a rural town, whose family is away one week, when a travel photographer visits to shoot local bridges.

They engage in a passionate love fair during this time, the reverberations of which are felt for decades to come.

It’s a popular pick in my book club for readers of the Gilmore Girls book list, and it always seems to elicit strong reactions.

Related Post: The Bridges of Madison County Controversy

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller

I first heard of The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living when a blogger I follow described it as one of the best books to read if you like Gilmore Girls. I snagged it immediately!

In this Fall-themed book, protagonist Livvy leaves behind a fancy pastry chef job in Boston and visits her friend in a quaint Vermont town.

She takes a job at a local inn and starts befriending the townsfolk and falling for a local who comes home to care for his ailing father. There is a Harvest dinner, an apple pie contest, and everything you would expect from a lovely, light novel.

Every Summer After by Carley Fortune

  • New York Times bestseller
  • Named One of the Hottest Reads of Summer by Today, Parade, PopSugar, USA Today, SheReads, BuzzFeed, BookBub, Bustle, and more!

Every Summer After taps into the nostalgia of first love and second chance romance with characters you want to root for.

Over the course of six Summers in the small lake town, Barry’s Bay, teenagers Persephone and Sam fall in love. Then, one Thanksgiving tears them apart. Years later, Persephone returns to Barry’s Bay for the funeral of Sam’s mother, and she must face how she feels about him after all this time.

This romance novel balances a lot of things just right: friendship, love, angst, conflict, family, and more. And I think you will love it as much as everyone else does!

Related Post: Carley Fortune’s Books | Full Summary of Every Summer After

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

Evvie Drake Starts Over is about a woman whose husband, whom she is about to leave, dies suddenly, and a former disgraced major league baseball player who becomes her roommate in small-town Maine to try to escape New York and figure out how to fix his career.  If you have watched any rom-com, you can figure out where this goes…

As a big baseball fan myself, I loved the baseball references and the New England set story was charming. 

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

As seen on E!Online, PopSugar, CNN, EliteDaily, Vulture, Buzzfeed, Bustle, the Nerd Daily, PARADE, LA Magazine, Country Living, USA Today, and more

In the BookTok sensation, It Happened One Summer, Piper is a Hollywood “wild girl” cut off by her family and forced to move to small-town Washington with her sister to run her late father’s dive bar.

Sea captain Brendan thinks she’ll never last, but Piper’s determined to prove herself. They couldn’t be more different, but the more time she spends in Westport the more she likes it… and Brendan.

Their Summer love affair is a spicy one for fans of modern opened-door romance novels, like that of Lucy Score, and it leaves Piper to decide between the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles or the nautical charm of coastal life in Washington.

The Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson

  • Good Morning America Buzz Pick
  • A Library Reads Pick

The Last Chance Library is for those who love cozy British love stories. June is a single librarian in a small English village who steps out of her comfort zone in an effort to save her local library from closure in honor of her late mother.

There, she reconnects with an old school friend whose interest in her is obvious to everyone except her. It’s a chance for her to save both herself and the library.

Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan

  • Named one of the Best Beach Reads of Summer 2022 by The Washington Post, USA Today, Cosmopolitan, Southern Living, Country Living, Business Insider, Buzzfeed, Book Riot, and The Augusta Chronicle

Not only does Nora Goes Off Script feel like a Hallmark movie, but it’s also actually about a Hallmark movie writer.

After Nora’s unemployed husband leaves her and their two children, she writes a sensational script that’s picked up and set to film at her historic home in small-town New York, starring the hottest actor out there.

After filming wraps, he stays the week… and things get hot and heavy between them. He promises to return, but when he doesn’t, she’s left thinking about what was and what could have been. Time moves on, but can Nora’s heart?

This novel was quick, light, and escapist, and I totally felt like I knew the characters — an easy, breezy read I definitely recommend.

Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez

Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez is a loveable romantic comedy, reminiscent of all your favorite late 90s/early 00s movies.

The storyline is a simple and familiar one: when a wealthy woman from a well-to-do family with high expectations of her meets a small-town, dutiful family business owner, sparks fly, but she fears truly allowing him to be “part of her world” as she applies for a job position that will uphold the family name and longstanding traditions.

What’s unique about it is the small-town charm and the humor and grace with which the story is told, leaving readers’ hearts warmed.

Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover

Reminders of Him is a gripping novel by the bestselling author Colleen Hoover about a 26-year-old woman who is released from prison for involuntary manslaughter relating to the death of her boyfriend.

She seeks to reunite with her daughter and find forgiveness for his death, but she is shut out by everyone in her small town for her misdeeds, except a local bar owner with a connection to all of them. He just may be the only one who can help.

This particular one of these books about small town romance tackles much more heavier topics than most, but it’s a powerful read about steamy love amidst one woman’s fight to redeem herself and cope with grief.

Related Posts: Reminders of Him Full Summary | Reminders of Him Book Review

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

In Safe Haven, which was adapted to a popular movie, Katie arrives in a small North Carolina town and raises questions when she tries to avoid making personal connections there. She ends up befriending Alex, a widowed store owner with two children, and Jo, a single neighbor.

As she starts becoming attached and falling in love, she remains haunted by her past and the secrets she holds. Ultimately, she must decide what risks are worth taking in her quest for safety.

The Santa Suit by Mary Kay Andrews

In The Santa Suit, Ivy buys an old farmhouse to work on and cultivate change in her life. In one closet, she finds an old Santa suit with a note from a young girl wishing for her father to come home from the war.

Ivy sets out to find out who wrote the note and what happened afterward, and in the process of her search for Christmas miracles, she finds a welcoming small-town neighborhood and a second chance at love.

Check this one out if you love Hallmark movies, Gilmore Girls and/or classic holiday magic.

A Season for Second Chances by Jenny Bayliss

In A Season for Second Chances, Annie’s kids are grown and her marriage has ended. So, she leaves the city life for a Winter guardian position in a historic seaside home. She adores both the home, the small town’s rich seasonal traditions, and her welcoming neighbors—except the homeowner’s nephew, who had different plans for the home.

As Christmas nears, tensions rise and her future seems uncertain unless there’s a little holiday magic and a new lease on love. It’s light, quirky and seasonal without being too Christmas-y at the same time.

The Secret of Snow by Viola Shipman

Instant bestseller

The Secret of Snow is a beautifully written story about coping with grief that you won’t be able to put down (I certainly wasn’t!). Sonny Dunes is a single, middle-aged California meteorologist whose job is replaced by a virtual meteorologist. When this causes her to have a breakdown, the only station that’s willing to hire her is in the tiny Michigan hometown she’s been avoiding.

She’s preferred her “sunny” lifestyle for one glaring reason that’s haunted her — snowy Michigan reminds her of her younger sister, who loved the snow…and died because of it.

As her genuinely charming mother welcomes her back and helps her navigate her new life, Sonny is also forced to face her grief and her fear and disdain for the snow head-on.

Covering the small town’s Winter events, she starts to form newer, better memories of the snow, and has a second chance at life and love. Filled with snow-related metaphors, this is one book fans of small town romance novels will not want to miss.

The Simple Wild by K. A. Tucker

A Bookstagram favorite and a “Bookstagram made me do it” book

The Simple Wild is a book that everyone over on Bookstagram is loving and talking about. I was completely influenced to give it a shot.

Calla is a 26-year-old Toronto city girl reconnecting with her estranged, and very ill father in the remote Alaskan land on which she was born, in this beloved modern romance series.

While braving the wilderness in order to connect with her father, she meets Jonah, a quiet and brooding Alaskan pilot who operates her father’s charter plane company.

Jonah doesn’t think Calla can “handle” Alaska, but Calla becomes determined to prove him wrong. And as time passes, they form a bond. But Calla’s heart is in Toronto and Jonah’s heart is in small-town Alaska, and Calla knows her parents failed in these exact circumstances years ago.

The wild is not so simple after all. This one will leave you wanting more from this small-town romance series!

So, This is Christmas by Tracy Andreen

So, This is Christmas is a YA holiday book about the small town of Christmas, Oklahoma, where boarding school student Finley has returned to chaos. Her best friend is dating her ex, her parents are separating, and her enemy is working at her grandmother’s inn.

So, when the boy she promised that her hometown was perfect shows up, she must find a way to make “Christmas” great again with him by her side.

Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score

New York Times bestseller

Things We Never Got Over is about a woman named Naomi who ran away from her wedding and to her estranged twin in small-town Virginia, a place that’s rough and tough in an old-fashioned way. This isn’t your cute and charming small town — it’s called Knockemout, after all.

Unfortunately, there, she’s left alone without anything but a niece to take care of. The local barber, Knox, prefers solitude but decides to help her out, and things get both steamy and complicated.

This book is a TikTok favorite, which is why it makes this list. If you want something that’s really spicy and raw versus cute and sweet, this one may be for you.

Related Posts: Guide to the Things We Got Over Series (Knockemout) | Things We Never Got Over Review | Things We Left Behind Review | Things We Hide From the Light Review

The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler

Amazon Editors’ Pick for Best Romance

The Tourist Attraction is a small-town book series that reads like a funny romantic comedy and is reminiscent of Gilmore Girls, with a quirky diner called The Tourist Trap and loveable characters — including a rogue moose.

Zoey is on her dream two-week vacation in Alaska when she visits Graham’s diner. He’s a grumpy local who’s unenthused about slinging grub for resort visitors.

But Zoey is just so sunny and kind as she humorously interacts with the locals that she just may change his heart.

It’s a lighthearted story that’s not too steamy and keeps you entertained with a unique Alaskan setting along the way. I loved it!

Virgin River by Robyn Carr

A Netflix Original Series

Virgin River is the first in an expansive series of small town romance books. In this first novel, Melinda head to the miniscule California mountain town to become a midwife/nurse practitioner, where she leaves her heartache behind and dives into her career.

But, it’s not what she expected and she intends to leave fast, until an abandoned baby appears on her front porch and she meets a handsome former marine.

When in Rome by Sarah Adams

Named one of the best books of the year by NPR

When in Rome is inspired by the Audrey Hepburn movie, Roman Holiday. Amelia “Rae” Rose is tired of being a pop princess, so she escapes to Rome, Kentucky (not Italy, as Audrey’s character did).

There, she meets Noah, who runs his grandmother’s pie shop while dealing with pesky locals and doesn’t have time for her problems.

She’s into him, but against his own better judgment, he lets her stay in his guest room until she goes back on tour. As they are both coping with family issues, his friendship brings out her more vulnerable side while she also discovers the charm of small-town life.

It’s a sweet, yet satisfying, closed-door romance without much steam for those who love the celebrity and non-celebrity dating trope. What’s extra special about this one is that the celebrity is the female!

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

Well Met is one of the best small town romance books because it has all those cozy Fall romance vibes.

When a young and single Emily’s sister becomes injured in an accident, she moves to her small town to help her recover. She ends up volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenage niece and meeting and falling for the leader who has a complex history with the fair.

It’s sweet, yet also unique!

Those are all the best small town romance books.

Related Romance Book Posts

If you loved these small-town romance novels, check out these posts:

Save This Post Form

Save This Post!

Email yourself a link to this post so you can come back to it later.

By saving, you agree to receive email updates. Unsubscribe at any time.

Leave a Comment or Question

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *