There seems to be a recent trend of setting romance novels in the Pacific Northwest — or maybe it's not so recent and I'm only noticing it now because of my increased consumption of contemporary romances. Specifically, setting books in the myriad islands of the Puget Sound area. Some authors are using islands readily found on a map of the area and some have created their own islands to better suit their narrative needs. After reading so many small-town contemporaries set back East or in the Midwest, this trend is one I welcome. I enjoy cracking a book and being able to fairly easily visualize the geography being described, even if it's completely invented.
The first of these novels that I read was Nora Roberts's The Search, which is about a woman who lives on Orcas Island and does canine search-and-rescue. It's definitely Romantic Suspense and the suspense bit is okay. But, like in almost all of Ms. Roberts's books, the romance sparks and sizzles. Plus, there are dogs. And endearing lost moppets. Overall, it's a pretty good way to spend an afternoon or two.
Just released is Jill Shalvis's Simply Irresistible, the first in a trilogy about three very different sisters who inherit a ramshackle inn located in the fictional Lucky Harbor, WA. I started this novel thinking I would read a few chapters before bed and ended up devouring the whole thing in one sitting. Those of you who have read my previous posts know I don't hide the fact that I'm a Jill Shalvis fangirl, but even without my fangirlish tendencies, I would have to say that this is one of the wittiest, most charming romance novels I have read in a while. Maddie, the heroine, was smart and funny and insecure and completely relatable. Jax, the hero, was sexy and charming and patient and the kind of guy who could as easily be the best friend as the boyfriend (and, if you're damn lucky, he's both). I don't often re-read books (who has the time?), but this is one I'll go back to any time I'm feeling in need of a little pick-me-up.
Coming at the end of October is a new novella from Lisa Kleypas, Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor. I usually don't care for novellas, feeling them too short to do justice to the romance, but this one really worked for me. In spite of its short length, nothing here seemed rushed. It's a lovely, charming holiday read and bodes well for future titles in the series.
Washington is obviously quite well represented. But, where are the "big" romances set in Oregon? C'mon, ladies, I'm waiting.