By Jessica W.
Every year, January comes around and we make resolutions. Find love, learn a new language, go to the gym, we try to give ourselves a new start, a fresh page with the beginning of a new year. Some of us go farther than others when we want a new start—we don’t just start a new habit, we try to start a new life. In these romances, that new life comes with a new love. One of the things I also love about the starting over trope is that the hero or heroine also has to forge platonic relationships, giving the novels a big cast of characters to get to know in addition to the hero and heroine.
Jill Shalvis has been writing novels set in the fictional Washington coast town of Lucky Harbor for years, and she’s up to twelve so far. In book ten, It’s In His Kiss, Becca Thorpe escapes her family and her demons (some of whom are one and the same) and settles in the small town of Lucky Harbor. The first day she arrives, she runs into Sam Brody, who she privately calls “Sexy Grumpy Surfer.” As Becca tries to find who she is without her family’s expectations shaping her every move, she finds that a certain surly watersports fan may be the missing piece in her new life.
Debbie Macomber is a staple of contemporary gentle romances, and The Inn at Rose Harbor is proof. When Jo Marie Rose opens a bed and breakfast in the fictional Puget Sound town of Cedar Cove (based on Port Orchard, Macomber’s hometown), she is looking for a quiet fresh start for herself after the death of her spouse. But her B&B becomes a place for those returning home after years to find their own peace, whether with love or family.
Victoria Dahl writes funny, romantic small-town contemporary romances, and Talk Me Down is the cream of the crop. Molly Jenkins escaped her small hometown and moved to the big city. She’d made it big as an erotica writer, but it’s hard to think sexy when your ex is being creepy. Molly regretfully returns to Tumble Creek, Colorado, hoping to find her muse again, while keeping her day job a secret from the neighbors. As she starts her life over where it once began, she finds inspiration where she least expects it: in the chief of police. As Molly’s pen and her love life heat up, she has to try to be true to herself as well as her new life.
No list of contemporary romances would be complete without the monster of the genre, Nicholas Sparks. In Safe Haven, Katie is a stranger in a small South Carolina town, but the town slowly draws her into relationships with its residents. She must come to terms with the dark secrets of her past, or let them ruin her future in Southport.
For those looking for romantic suspense, Nora Roberts’ The Witness will scratch the “starting over” itch perfectly. Abigail Lowery is a loner living on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks, a mystery that police chief Brooks Gleason can’t help but try to solve. In the process, Abigail must learn to trust others for the first time in years, and try to bring closure to her past.