It’s hard to quantify the appeal of return to hometown romances. Even those who would camp out in the desert for the rest of their natural lives rather than move back to the place where they grew up aren’t immune to this appeal. But why is this trope so popular? Is it nostalgia for bygone times? A wish to go back to basics, even in fiction? A desire for simplicity and peace? After all, the hometown in question is scarcely ever not a small town. I don’t have a definite answer, much to my chagrin: as it happens with all art, the answer will vary according to the reader.
This trope isn’t only popular among books: Audrey Hepburn’s Sabrina, Reese Witherspoon’s Home Again, 70% of Hallmark Channel’s Christmas catalog every single year… There are countless movies in which one of the protagonists returns to their hometown, whether willingly or because they have no choice, and finds love along the way.
While there is certainly room for criticism (for a long time, the Venn diagram of Return to Hometown romances that were also Successful City Heroine Leaves It All Behind for a Small Town Man romances was a circle), there is a lot about this trope to love. You will love the eight novels below — whether you read them from your hometown or within comfortable distance of a pizza delivery place in the city.
So We Meet Again by Suzanne Park
Jessie Kim’s life plan didn’t include being laid off from her investment banking job due to sexism and racism. Also not included: moving back in with her parents, or having to rely on her childhood nemesis Daniel Choi to relaunch her YouTube cooking channel. It doesn’t go as badly as she expects… until a business opportunity puts them back at odds.
Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake
Delilah Green does not want to go back to her hometown. Ever. Under no circumstances. Except, apparently, she’s not above being guilt-tripped by her estranged stepsister Astrid into photographing her wedding. But then she meets Claire Sutherland, one of Astrid’s friends, and things start to look up.
Far Cry (Talbott’s Cove #3) by Kate Canterbary
Brooke Markham wants a man. Not to keep, mind you. She has too much to do as it is without adding a relationship to her schedule. This doesn’t change when she runs into surly barkeep JJ Harniczek. Right?
Mechanics of Love (Love on Madison Island #3) by Meka James
Dr. Irene Johnson-Moore is the self-proclaimed “town princess.” Remi Martin is the blunt town mechanic. Surely, these two former adversaries have nothing to say to each other. So why do they keep getting under each other’s skin?
The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston
Relationships are hard enough when all parties are alive. As romance ghostwriter Florence Day and her editor are about to find out, death tends to make things harder.
After Hours on Milagro Street by Angelina M. Lopez
Alejandra “Alex” Torres has big plans for her grandmother’s bar. Professor Jeremiah Post stands in the way — and as he doesn’t believe Alex has her family’s best interests at heart, he’s not about to step aside. But when a common enemy arises, and Alex and Jeremiah have to join forces, they might find out that they have more in common than mutual lust.
The Bodyguard by Katherine Center
Actor Jack Stapleton vanished from the public eye years ago. Now, having returned to his family’s ranch to take care of his sick mother, he doesn’t need the added stress of a stalker with a penchant for corgis. Enter Hannah Broooks, Executive Protection Agent. Oh, and did I mention that she has to pretend to be Jack’s girlfriend?
The Road to Rose Bend (Rose Bend #1) by Naima Simone
Sidney returns to her hometown after almost a decade away. As far as she’s concerned, it’s not anywhere near enough — but now that she’s divorced and pregnant, she decides that the best thing for her child is to grow up in the caring community she once knew. Falling in love with the mayor, widower Coltrane Dennison, though? Terrible, terrible idea. And Cole agrees.