Small Towns by Tara Randel

Tara RandelWhat is it about small towns that appeal to readers? Is it the sense of community? Safety? Knowing all your neighbors and your neighbors knowing you?

Small towns can run the gamut. Picture a quaint town with historical buildings, on coastal beaches, or nestled in the mountains. Even a busy city block can be a small town. We certainly don’t have a shortage of beautiful places to set our books. 

When looking at popular series, you find the setting is an important part of the story. Think about your favorite books. You probably know as much about the town where the story is set as the characters who live there. 

I live on the west coast of Florida. The Gulf waters are warm and inviting. The sandy beaches can be commercial or very picturesque. Life is a little laid back as we enjoy the year round warm weather. Outdoor sporting, like boating and golfing, isn’t seasonal, but daily. How could I not set my book in such a beautiful place?

For my August release, Orange Blossom Brides, I created Cypress Pointe, an amalgamation of my favorite coastal towns located near my home. Each town has something special to offer, so instead of settling for one place, I drew a bit of inspiration from them all. In my case, Cypress Pointe has a tropical feel to it. I have a must-have central point, Main Street, where the action happens. A public beach, of course. Love those bonfires at sunset! A large majestic hotel that has seen better days, currently being remolded to draw tourists. There are plenty of stories waiting to happen here. 

Our Heartwarming books not only have special characters that touch our hearts, but the setting plays an important part of the story. 

Let me know some of your favorite small town stories and why you love books set there.


  1. I live in the third largest city in the U.S. I'm trying to remember if I've set a story here. Usually, I set them in surrounding towns, the one we go to on the weekends to explore. Yet, even this huge metropolis can have a small-town feel. I'm amazed by how often I run into people I know.
    I want to move to a small town. My husband is quite happy where we are.

  2. Hi Tara,

    I love small town settings. My new Brookhollow series is also set in a small town and as I write each book, living in a big city (Edmonton) I find myself wishing Brookhollow and the people really existed, so I just hope my readers will too:)
    I can't wait to read your release.

  3. Tara, happy to see you back. I love the idea of your warm, sunny beach town. I grew up in a small town of 1080. I know because small towns always post the # of residents on a sign leading into town it seems. My sister and I couldn't wait to leave there and move to a place with more people, more opportunity, and where everyone didn't know your business or think they knew it. That said, the older I get the more the small town atmosphere appeals. What I missed as a kid was that neighbors helped neighbors and knew when someone needed help. Everyone in town raised we kids. Now I think small towns are nice places to give my story people.

  4. I grew up in a small town in New England and have always loved the idea of everyone watching out for each other. So many great memories!

  5. Tara - Am looking forward to walking into Cypress Pointe and getting to know your people! I loved Stars Hollow from the Gilmore Girls TV series - not a book, I know, but I got that same cozy feeling as I got to know everyone. I think it is that caring for each other and people willing to extend themselves to help their friends and neighbors that's part of the appeal. Truly, I think people are people everywhere, and you can get that little neighborhood feeling in an apartment building in New York City as well as in small-town America. I also think that readers who go to an office building every day and see asphalt and traffic buy our books for your beaches, Tara, or my coastline, or Pam and Roz's exotic desert communities - something that takes them away from their daily grind.

  6. Tara, you are so right! Settings are so vital that they can become another character in the book! My story is set in Soho and you've inspired me to blog about that! It was fun to create that sense of neighborhood and community in such a big place. My family have homes on the west coast of FL and it is absolutely beautiful! I can't wait to read your books because that is my favorite place to visit. Your romances are a must read for me! Thanks for this great post :)

  7. I just came back from winter in the Panhandle (Gulf Breeze). It's a lovely place. I can't wait to read about Cypress Pointe.

  8. I love small towns and cities that have that small town feel. I think one of my favorite fictional small towns is Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove. I've longed to move there a time or two LOL. And right now I'm re-reading Harlequin's Tyler series that takes place in a Wisconsin town of the same name.

    I based my fictional small town Lake Mildred on my uncle's Northern Michigan town just outside Traverse City even though I live just outside of Detroit.


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