Contemporary Big City Romances – A Little More Help, Please?

mexicocity The Special Title Lists are one of the more popular features at AAR. They’re also one of the more interactive. Nearly a year ago, as a result of reader requests, we once again began updating the Special Title lists. Since we started the process we’ve updated 19 lists and have begun several new lists.

Earlier this month I wrote here about wanting to start a new Special Title List for Big City Romances. You gave me a lot of great suggestions for some of your favorite romances set in big cities. And after reading some of your comments and reviewing some of my own concerns, we’ve decided to limit the list to contemporary romances set in big cities. As the description of the list will note,

“But what about historical romances set in big cities, you ask? Check out the Special Settings List here at AAR, and make suggestions the next time it’s open for submissions. In the future we may give alternate reality/ paranormal/ steampunk/ futuristic/and time travel romances their own list, but for now, we’re sticking with contemporaries.”

Our plans are to open the Contemporary Big City Romances list up for submissions sometime in July for the first time. It will be organized by city, and that’s where I could use some help. While I have plenty of romances set in Chicago, New York, Seattle, and London, there are some other big cities that could use a few suggestions.

To get a feel for what might constitute a “big city” in the U.S., I checked out the U.S. Census site and discovered some surprises among the current Top 25 list of “largest U.S. cities” based on population. I’ve marked “None” next to the top 25 cities for which I have no current, “great” contemporary romances. Do you know of any? If so, please add them to the comments below.

(1) New York, New York

(2) Los Angeles, California

(3) Chicago, Illinois

(4) Houston, Texas

(5) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

(6) Phoenix, Arizona –None

(7) San Antonio, Texas –None

(8) San Diego, California

(9) Dallas, Texas – None

(10) San Jose, California – None

(11) Indianapolis, Indiana – None

(12) Jacksonville, Florida – None

(13) San Francisco, California

(14) Austin, Texas – None

(15) Columbus, Ohio – None

(16) Fort Worth, Texas– None

(17) Louisville/Jefferson County, Kentucky – None

(18) Charlotte, North Carolina– None

(19) Detroit, Michigan– None

(20) El Paso, Texas– None

(21) Memphis, Tennessee– None

(22) Nashville-Davidson, Tennessee – None

(23) Baltimore, Maryland– None

(24) Boston, Massachusetts

(25) Seattle, Washington

And as before, we’re not interested in a couple who live in the suburbs of a major city and makes one brief trip in to the big city in the evening; we’re interested in city dwellers, or temporary residents who spend their time working, eating, and living in the city itself. The primary action should be taking place in the city.

And then we come to the largest cities in the world, and things are wide open. We have a few romances set in London, Paris, and Rome, but they don’t even make the list for the 20 largest world-wide cities by population. If you have any ideas now, please list them in the comments section below. And if not, look for the list to open up officially in July. (And since I’m still working on the dreaded HTML the list won’t go “public” until it opens in July.) I’d love to know of any great contemporary romances you’ve read set in the 20 largest cities listed below. I’d also love to have some other major cities represented on the list when it first opens including Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto, Dublin, Edinburgh, Madrid, Athens, well, you get the idea.

1. Tokyo, Japan

2. Jakarta, Indonesia

3. Seoul, South Korea

4. Delhi, India

5. Shanghai, China

6. Manila, Philippines

7. Karachi, Pakistan

8. New York, USA

9. Sao Paulo, Brazil

10. Mexico City, Mexico

11. Cairo, Egypt

12. Beijing, China

13. Osaka, Japan

14. Mumbai (Bombay), India

15. Guangzhou, China

16. Moscow, Russia

17. Los Angeles, USA

18. Calcutta, India

19. Dhaka, Bangladesh

20. Buenos Aires, Argentina

If you have any ideas now, please list them in the comments section below. And if not, look for the list to open up officially in July. (And since I’m still working on the dreaded coding the list won’t go “public” until it opens in July.)


– LinnieGayl Kimmel

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51 Responses to Contemporary Big City Romances – A Little More Help, Please?

  1. Yulie says:

    Columbus: Faking It by Jennifer Crusie (I think; it’s been a while since I read it).

    Louisville: Katie McGarry’s YA Romance, Pushing the Limits.

    IIRC, some of Cindy Gerard’s RS titles are set in Buenos Aires.

    • Yulie says:

      I just want to clarify – I’m pretty sure PtL takes place in Louisville, though I’m not sure it’s ever stated outright.

      • LinnieGayl says:

        Thanks, Yulie! Those are great suggestions. I’ll definitely check them out to make certain they take place in the cities you mentioned.

        • Yulie says:

          I also listed a few titles in a comment following the original post.

          I’ll add a couple more that I haven’t mentioned yet – Tammara Webber’s Between the Lines (characters spend almost the entire book shooting a film in Austin), and What the Librarian Did by Karina Bliss (Auckland).

  2. leslie says:

    Nora Roberts has some books that take place in Baltimore. Jennifer Cruise has written a few books that take place in Columbus. I’ve read tons of books that take place in big cities in Texas. Lori Wilde, Lisa Kleypas, Kat Martin to name a few. JAK has some books centered in Phoenix. Elizabeth Lowell’s Donovan series does a lot of traveling……Darwin-Hong Kong-Russia-Vancouver-Seattle.
    Jeffrey Archer’s False Impressions is terrific. The heroine (an art historian) goes from NY to Budapest to London to Tokyo….it all takes place around 9/11.

  3. Jane AAR says:

    I’ve always looked for a good book set in DC that doesn’t involve the federal government. Can’t think of one, now.

    Another for Louisville– Ready and Willing by Elizabeth Bevarly. The heroine is a fancy hat designer.

  4. Louisa says:

    Julie James’s fabulous books all take place in Chicago!

  5. Sandlynn says:

    I didn’t read it, but apparently Nora Roberts’ Blue Smoke is set in Baltimore.

  6. Christine says:

    Stand In Groom by Suzanne Brockmann is set in Boston (not the suburbs). It’s one of her early category romances and a nice little read.

  7. Kim says:

    Houston, Texas:
    Remember When by Judith McNaught
    Double Exposure by Judith McNaught (from anthology A Gift of Love)
    Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas + all sequels

    Detroit, MI
    Double Standards by Judith McNaught

    Dallas, TX:
    Black Ties and Lullibies by Jane Graves
    Sarah’s Child by Linda Howard

    Phoenix, AZ:
    The Color of Death by Elizabeth Lowell

    Baltimore, MD
    The Burning Point by Mary Jo Putney (re-named Stirring the Embers)
    Twist of Fate by Mary Jo Putney (re-named An Imperfect Process)

  8. Sarah J says:

    Karen Rose’s books all take place in cities (Chicago, Twin Cities, Philadelphia, and Baltimore).

    Thigh High by Christina Dodd, a Lisa Jackson series, Heather Graham’s books, and Be My Baby by Susan Andersen, are set in New Orleans.

    Kathleen O’Reilly’s books are set in New York. I haven’t read them, but I think I remember the reviews saying that they have a strong sense of place.

    Once A Thief and Always a Thief by Kay Hooper are set in San Francisco.

    Taylor’s Temptation by Suzanne Brockmann is set in Boston.

  9. LinnieGayl says:

    Thanks for all the great suggestions! You’ve definitely given me some books I’d either never heard of or completely forgot about.

  10. LinnieGayl says:

    Can anyone think of any contemporary romances that they liked that take place in Dublin or Edinburgh? I swear I read some books set in Dublin when I was in Dublin, but can’t for the life of me remember what they were.

    • cleo says:

      Both Marian Keyes and Maeve Binchy write books set in Dublin – they might count more as women’s fiction than romance though.

    • Yulie says:

      On Dublin Street and Down London Road by Samantha Young (not reviewed by ARR, but both got B+ at DA, I think). I really disliked ODS, and haven’t read DLR, so I didn’t mention them earlier, but quite a few other readers have enjoyed these.

      I’ve read several Marian Keyes books set in Dublin (e.g. Sushi for Beginners) but I agree with Cleo, they’re more women’s fiction/chick lit than romance.

  11. bungluna says:

    Molly O’Keefe’s “Crazy Thing Called Love” takes place in Dallas.

    I’ve been reading a lot of book by Down Under writers lately. “Over the Edge” by Suzanne Carroll is set in Sidney, Australia.

    “Smooth Talking Stranger” by Lisa Kleypas is set in Austin and Houston, Texas.

  12. I love Louisa Edwards’ chef romances set in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.

    And thank you for doing this list! I grew up in the country but have happily spent my adult life in Philadelphia and Seattle, and I’d probably read a lot more contemporary romance if more of it was set in cities

    • LinnieGayl says:

      I hadn’t noticed Louisa Edwards’ books before. They do sound good and definitely fit this list. Each one I’ve looked at, though, seems to take place in New York. Do you remember which ones take place in Chicago and San Francisco?

  13. cleo says:

    Nora Robert’s In the Garden Trilogy (Blue Dahlia, Black Rose and Red Lily) takes place in Memphis, Tn

    I’m pretty sure that Bet Me and Fast Women by Jennifer Crusie are set in Columbus.

    Back to the Bedroom by Janet Evanovich is set in DC without involving the gov’t (I think – it’s been awhile, but the heroine is a concert musician)

    • LinnieGayl says:

      Hi Cleo, I’ve looked everywhere and just can’t find info that Bet Me takes place in Columbus. I did a search within the book and don’t get Columbus, but do get “Southern Ohio.”

      Does anyone have a copy of it handy? If so, could you check?

      Also, I remember the heroines and heroes in The Garden Trilogy (which I loved) going into Memphis to various locations. But what I don’t remember is if the actual garden shop and home they live in is outside of Memphis. However, because they seem to visit Memphis a lot, it would seem to fit even if they live outside the City. What do you think?

  14. Gumbybird says:

    Don’t the Fifty Shades books take place in Seattle?

  15. LinnieGayl says:

    Okay, here’s another question for all of you. The way I’m setting up the list is by city. So, all of the cities will be at the top with a jump to the listing below by city.

    Right now I have just the city names (such as Auckland, Boston, Paris, etc.). Do you think I should add after the name, perhaps in parentheses, either the state (if it’s a U.S. city) or the country (if it’s not in the U.S.)?

    • Yulie says:

      I’d actually organize it by country/continent and then by city within each category. It’ll be easier to browse that way, and you’d only have have to clarify for specific cities if there are two with similar/identical names in the same country.

      • LinnieGayl says:

        That’s not a bad idea, Yulie. I’ll look over what I have and think about how it might work. Right now it’s pretty much just the U.S. and Europe, but I’m hopeful of more once it goes open for submissions in July.

        • LinnieGayl says:

          Whew! Thank goodness for Google. Found a site that helped me figure out how to create a list within a list. Unless something goes wildly wrong, when this opens up in July it will be sorted by country/continent and then by city. Yikes!

  16. Lori Johnson says:

    Rachel Gibson’s Chinook Hockey team books are set in Seattle

  17. Ros says:

    Kelly Hunter’s Wife for a Week is set in Hong Kong, and her Untameable Rogue and Her Singapore Fling are both in Singapore. All awesome books.

  18. Pamela says:

    Jill Sorenson’s Edge of Night and Caught in the act take place in San Diego.
    Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampire Chronicles take place in Chicago.

  19. Pamela says:

    Also, Louisa Edward’s Recipe for love series takes place in Manhattan.
    Jami Davenport’s Lumberjack series takes place in Seattle.
    I believe Jaci Burton’s play by play series takes place in large part in St. Louis.

  20. Georgie says:

    Bella Andre’s Sullivans series takes place in San Francisco.

  21. CarolineAAR says:

    I have the mythical Indianapolis book: Possibles by Lass Small. A vintage contemporary with definitely dated gender stuff in a boss/secretary romance, and the setting is focused on the business rather than the city, but it is still Indianapolis. I vaguely remember another involving an artist and will keep looking.

    • LinnieGayl says:

      Thanks for looking, Caroline. We want to avoid adding dated books to the list. Hopefully the one with the artist will work. We do add books published even a decade or more ago, but if it sounds dated, and doesn’t stand the “test of time,” then no.

  22. pwnn says:

    I just found a Robin Kaye book from a the series Boys Of Red Hook, Brooklyn.

    But the description has me scratching my head:

    >>Logan Blaise expected to be taking a quick break from his successful vineyard in Napa to visit his hometown of Brooklyn. …

    But as she notices his small-town roots and strong family ties, the Brooklyn bad boy and his restaurant start to feel exactly like where she really belongs….<<

    Hometown of Brooklyn? Small town roots? Really?

    Brooklyn is 1) part of NYC 2) has a population over over 2 1/2 million people – a little less than Chicago and about 3 times that of Boston. Yes Redhook only has about 8,000 people but its a neighborhood, not a town and it's less than a square mile. There is nothing small town about being from Brooklyn.

  23. LisaC says:

    Haven’t read this, but it sounds good and is set in San Antonio, Red’s Hot Honky-Tonk Bar by Pamela Morsi.

  24. LisaC says:

    And another on the TBR that might work for Louisville is My Man Pendleton by Elizabeth Bevarly.

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