June 21, 2013

Sizzle & Swoon: Our Favorite Settings

Today for Sizzle & Swoon, we're going to be talking about a crucial element for any good story, romance or otherwise - the setting. Seriously, the setting is definitely an important part of the stories I read! It helps create extra atmosphere, as the reader feels a sense of displacement at being introduced to a different place or time. Plus, it helps provide context to any romance that occurs in the novel (especially in terms of what's proper or improper, possible or impossible, etc).

Without further ado, here are some of our favorite settings. As with the previous lists, if there's a +A/+R/+S, it means that more than one person endorses that choice.


Castles - Julie Garwood
London/Regency England - This is probably my all-time favorite setting in romance novels. SERIOUSLY. I love the way the houses look, the idea of balls and house parties, the shops, the parks, just everything. It seems so wonderfully quaint, like something out of a fairytale. (Example: It's in His Kiss by Julia Quinn, Castles by Julie Garwood)

Country house/mansion - I love when the characters in novels retreat to or live in the country. It's always wonderful to witness them completely surrounded by nature, in the form of beautiful gardens or immense woods or lovely lakes. Plus, there's a sense of isolation, which often leads to swoony moments. (Example: Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas, Yours Until Dawn by Teresa Medeiros)

Gambling dens - Based on reading quite a few novels, fun things happen in gambling dens or similar places. Sure, they're not exactly the best or safest location for the characters. But there's something very appealing about it being forbidden, especially to ladies, that makes romantic scenes very, very hot. (Example: Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas, A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean)


Graffiti Moon - Cath Crowley
Books that take place over 24 hours - So, this is not exactly a setting, but oh well! I just love the excitement that those type of books have. It definitely doesn't have to be insta-love, but meeting someone new to crush on or a day with a crush can be a day that is a life changer for a character. I love reading about that brief time! (Recommendation: Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley)

Road trip! (Totally different than Sharon's road trip!) -  Who doesn't love road trip books? They're usually super funny and obviously great. The open road, one car, and two people is a great equation for romance! (Recommendation: Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt) (+A)

Houston - Because who doesn't like relating to the setting? I love reading about where I live! (Recommendation: the Travis series including Sugar Daddy, Blue-Eyed Devil and Smooth-Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas) [See, I'm not only closer to Hardy at heart, but also setting :D *laughs evilly, because Sharon & Alexa don't have the Houston bond with Hardy. If this was The Bachelor, I would so win* Except he's fictional. And I never watched The Bachelor]


Simply Irresistible - Jill Shalvis
Small town, preferably in the South, New England, or the Pacific Northwest (in contemporaries) - I adore stories set in small towns, whether they're books or movies. There's just something magical about the setting. I love the idea of it. (Recommendation: the Lucky Harbor series by Jill Shalvis, starting with Simply Irresistible) (+A)

Dystopian/fantasy - Yes, I realize that these are not the same thing. But one thing that they have in common is that the possibilities for the setting are endless! You never know what to expect, and there is so much potential for creativity. (Recommendation: Defiance by C.J. Redwine)

Regency road trips! - No place like an enclosed mail coach, carriage or hackney for a romance to develop. There's no escape! (Recommendation: Lord Perfect by Loretta Chase) (+A)

There you have it, folks! These are the settings that we adore encountering in books, and I bet it would be pretty cool to visit them in real life too. (In my case, they'd probably need to invite a time travel machine...).

YOUR TURN - What are your favorite book settings + books that feature them?

For more Sizzle & Swoon, visit The Book Barbies!


  1. Ooh yeah a good setting can make a book so especially memorable. Graffiti Moon is the only read of these I read and I agree! I loved that book. The most recent one with a great setting was Born of Illusion - 1920s NYC and it was so good!

  2. I also love Regency-era and Small Towns. I've also started getting more into books that take place outside of the U.S

  3. A good setting is so important to me! I agree with most of these, especially the road trip choices. I've read very few road trip books, but I do love the thought of the setting changing along the way as the characters grow and develop. My ideal setting is simply one that reads almost like a character in itself. Maggie Stiefvater's Thisby is a great example of this. :)

  4. Gambling dens?? Alexa, that's AWESOME! That one is completely new to me and I'll definitely check out your recs!

    I can totally relate to Racquel's Houston pick, although mine would be Pittsburgh. Knowing the streets/buildings/shops a character mentions makes a book a bit more special & I feel a deeper connection to it.

    Sharon's small town pick is new to me (just recently started reading authors like Higgins, Hilderbrand, etc), but I'm LOVING it!

    & seriously, you cannot go wrong with road trips or country settings. :) All three of you had FANTASTIC picks!

  5. Love all these settings! I grew up with the Regency settings - Julie Garwood and I go way back - so that's definitely my favorite! And small towns in the South or Northeast are so idyllic! Great picks!


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