Hometowns and first loves play a significant role in two recently published romances.
In the novella Friendly Persuasion by Jo Huddleston, it’s the 1950s, and Joyce is an airline stewardess (that’s what they called them back then). It’s her dream job, and she works for Pan Am on its international routes. When she was in high school in a small town in eastern Tennessee, she wanted nothing more than to leave. After graduating from the University of Tennessee, she headed off for the wild blue yonder.
Wayne Mahan was the boy next door and Joyce’s best friend. They’ve stayed in touch; Wayne studied drafting at the commu8nity college and is now working in Nashville. While he maintained the best friend façade, Wayne has always been in love with Joyce.
Then the high school organizes a 10-year reunion, and Joyce and Wayne are reunited. Things, as things do, go awry. Wayne thinks he’s alienated Joyce, while Joyce is slowly coming to realize that Wayne is more than a best friend.
It’s a sweet story with a well-researched 1950s feel to it.
Huddleston has written numerous romance novels and novellas set in the 1950s in the American South, many of which of which are related in ongoing series: the California Bound series, the West Virginia Mountains series, and the Caney Creek series. She’s written numerous articles and devotionals, a book on writing, a book on Christmas traditions, and other works. She holds a B.A. degree with honors from Lincoln Memorial University (TN) and is a member of their Literary Hall of Fame. She earned an M.Ed. degree from Mississippi State University.
Hometown Promise by Merillee Whren is set in current-day Kellersburg, Ohio. Lukas Frye has come to Kellersberg to be with and care for his grandfather. He was the perennial bad boy, with a bad reputation that bordered on the reckless. But he’s become a Christian and has turned his life around.
Julianne Keller’s family is the “Keller” part of Kellersburg. She works in the family department store, and about the last person she expects to find at church choir practice is Lukas Frye. She has only bad memories of Lukas, fueled by an incident six years before when she was asked to drive a drunken Lukas to his apartment, and he made a move on her. Now she has to work with him on a choir Christmas program. She remembers what happened, even if Lukas seems oblivious.
As she gets to know Lukas better, Julianne starts wrestling with the question of whether he’s really changed or not. And her future may depend upon the answer.
Whren has written numerous inspirational romances, including six in the Front Porch Promises series, three in the Village of Hope series, three in the Dalton Brothers series, three in the Kellersburg, Ohio series, and several other books. She’s received the Golden Heart Award for best inspirational romance manuscript from the Romance Writers of America, the RT Reviewers' Choice Award, and the Maggie Award for Excellence. She lives in Arizona.
Top photograph by Monica Borgeau via Unsplash. Used with permission.