I’ve written here before about my fondness for the Special Settings list at AAR and posted here once about my love of romances set in Greece. I’ve scoured the Special Settings list numerous times for other unusual settings and have discovered some great reads. But there’s another type of setting that I’m particularly fond of and that currently doesn’t have its own list: big cities.
Romance readers often complain about the excessive number of small town/rural romances, particularly in category romances. While I don’t hate small town romances, I can only handle so many romances featuring small town sheriffs, or visitors from the big city who discover the wonders of small towns. As a long-time Chicago resident, I often find myself longing for big city romances (and I’m not talking about European Historicals set in London). Several years ago Rike wrote here about reading romances set in places where we live. Many of us chimed in with complaints – or praise – for books set in the towns we live in. About the time Jean wrote about the joys of city reading, and asked what romances set in big cities gave a feel for the city.
I recently had the unusual experience of reading for review three romances set in Chicago. One – Jennifer Lohmann’s The First Move – was a DIK for me. Among my many favorite aspects of The First Move is the author’s depiction of a seldom-featured section of Chicago. The other two romances (not yet reviewed here at AAR) feature other parts of the City. In each of them, the city came to life for me. When I finished the third I found myself longing for other vibrant romances that in addition to featuring a wonderful love story with a great hero and heroine, also bring a city to life.
A prerogatives of being one of the current editors (along with Rike and Cindy) of the Special Titles Lists, is that in addition to revising existing lists, we get to add new lists. We recently added the Met as Children list and are working on a few others. I’d like to give a Big City Romances List a try.
The Big City Romances list would include romances from any time period (despite my preference for contemporary and category romances). But a key element will be that the city has to be vivid in the romance. It’s not enough to feature a hero and heroine who live in New York or Seattle or Los Angeles, they have to actually be out and about in the city. A romance in which the hero and heroine live in New York but spend the entire romance in the hero’s bedroom doesn’t really fit the category. I’m also not interested in a romance in which the hero and heroine live in the suburbs of a big city, and make one brief trip into the city. I want romances featuring big city residents in which the city shines.
If you’d be interested in a Big City Romances list, please let us know in the comments below. And better yet, do you have any suggestions for the list? Ideally I’d like to put up a “starter” list in a couple months and open it up for submissions at that time. To get us started, I’d add the following romances to the list:
* Jennifer Lohmann’s The first Move (Chicago, contemporary romance)
* Susan Elizabeth Phillip’s Match Me If You Can (Chicago, contemporary romance)
– LinnieGayl Kimmel