The “Love Finds You” series of inspirational romance novels celebrates a country full of towns and cities with great names, neat personalities, and colorful histories. Rel Mollet talks with some of the authors behind these books.

Summerside Press was a small publisher with a big dream when it unveiled the first books in its regional romance line: Love Finds You in Miracle, Kentucky by Andrea Boeshaar and Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas by Sandra D. Bricker. Combining travel, romance and faith, the Love Finds You™ series draws on the fascinating history or the unique character of a town in the United States, often with a quirky name. With published or contracted novels set in 33 American states, Summerside Press is well on its way to its goal of publishing at least one novel in each of the 50 US states.

Summerside’s Fiction Editorial Director, Rachel Meisel, explains the unique qualities of the Love Finds You series. “Unlike traditional regional romance, The Love Finds You series features inspirational romance novels set in actual towns and cities across North America; they combine the best of what readers love—romance and travel—in one package. Each novel draws on the compelling history or unique character of a real place, giving readers a taste of local life across this wonderfully diverse country. The stories are in fact quite educational; many libraries and schools are picking them up because they provide a fun way for readers to explore the nooks and crannies of North America.”

Two new Love Finds You books release every other month and are a mixture of contemporary and historical stories set in towns such as Romeo, Colorado; Hershey, Pennsylvania; and Groom, Texas. The series is intended to be both spiritually uplifting and intellectually engaging, and as Rachel Meisel shares, “The appeal of Love Finds You is that, for the price of a paperback, readers can be transported to exotic locales they’d love to visit in person—or different centuries they never will. It’s an appealing promise at a time when many of us are having to downsize our vacation budgets.”

Readers will recognise well known authors in the LFY lineup including Andrea Boeshaar, Tricia Goyer, Bodie Thoene and Janice Hanna (aka Janice Thompson) alongside newer names in Cerella D. Sechrist and Gwen Ford Faulkenberry. Embracing the idea of writing a romance set in their hometown or a place dear to their hearts, a number of the LFY authors share their experiences writing regional romances for Summerside Press:

Miralee Ferrell’s Love Finds You in Last Chance, California was the fifth LFY book to release in early 2009 and the first of three she has now written. Says Miralee, “It was a brand new concept when I started. I loved the idea that we could do contemporary, historical, suspense, chic lit, etc., as long as it had a strong romantic thread. What fun to choose the style that best fit my voice, while setting it in a place that actually existed.” Visiting the locations and discovering actual events has been a bonus for Miralee. Regarding her latest story, Love Finds You In Tombstone, Arizona, Miralee shares, “I unearthed a story about a woman shot in the arm during a stage robbery who promised one of the robbers not to reveal his identity if he took off his mask and bound up her arm— the mask kept slipping around and he couldn’t see well enough to tend to her arm. She kept his secret the rest of her life, even when badgered by a Wells Fargo agent to turn the man in. My heroine, Christy, was also shot on her way into Tombstone when the Wells Fargo payroll was stolen, and she too agreed not to reveal the outlaw’s identity.”

With a story already percolating in her mind, Melanie Dobson was thrilled to discover the LFY line. “I was so excited because I’d been wanting to write a historical novel about a Quaker woman who ran a station on the Underground Railroad and thought it might be a good fit for this new line. When I first connected with Rachel Meisel, she was enthusiastic about this idea as well and suggested I research a town like Liberty, Indiana. Liberty turned out to be the perfect setting since it was a main stop on the Underground Railroad.” Since Love Finds you In Liberty, Indiana, Melanie has added Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa and her June release, Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa, loving every minute of the research required. “When I researched for the Liberty book, I was invited into people’s homes to explore the secret spaces that had once hidden runaway slaves. When I wrote the books for Homestead and Amana, I felt like I stepped back in time as I explored the Colonies by foot and bicycle and then tasted the wonderful food and pastries baked in the open hearth—it’s hard work doing all this research! I love meeting the people, reading the old newspapers, and discovering the legacy of each town.”

“I wanted to write for this line from the first time I heard about it,” shares multi-published author, Susan Page Davis. “The Love Finds You books are so appealing. The covers are beautiful, the settings are intriguing, and the authors they’ve chosen do a great job of capturing a story that fits the location.” When Summerside decided to expand the series to include all of North America, Susan was thrilled to write the first LFY book set outside the United States, Love Finds You in Prince Edward Island, Canada. “Rachel had talked to me a couple of times about possibly writing a LFY novel set in Maine, my home state. But when the fiction committee decided th ey would cross the border and do some stories set in Canada, she asked me if I’d consider doing one set in Prince Edward Island. Would I? Of course I jumped at the chance.” Set in 1860, with the British royal family visiting Prince Edward Island, a romance between a royal servant and a poor Canadian girl is bound to set hearts aflutter.

Much-loved author Melody Carlson was delighted to have the opportunity to write about her hometown of Sisters, Oregon. “When they [Summerside] invited me to write about the town where I live, I couldn’t resist. We live in a sweet little town with some fun events and surrounded by some gorgeous scenery, so it seemed natural to write about it.” In Melody’s just-released, Love Finds You in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, artist Waverly Brennan contemplates her art and future in beautiful Martha’s Vineyard, charmed by the hope of a fresh start and local man Blake Erickson. As with each LFY story, alongside the location, the romance is key to the story and an element Melody delights in writing. “I’ve always liked creating stories about characters who’ve endured difficulties or faced hard life challenges. But it’s even more fulfilling when I can “reward” a long-suffering character with a delightful and unexpected love story. Something about taking a heroine through some dark days then delivering the love of her life is so much fun. Kind of like playing Fairy Godmother—who can resist?”

Other recent titles in the series include Love Finds You in Groom, Texas and Love Finds You in Camelot, Tennessee by Janice Hanna, Love Finds You in Hope, Kansas by Pamela Griffin and Love Finds You in Sun Valley, Idaho by Angela Ruth.

What are your favorite love stories?

Miralee Ferrell:Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. She masterfully depicts God’s redemptive love for His children while weaving an unforgettable romantic tale set in my favorite era—the Old West. I’ve read it three times now, and gain something new each time. It’s definitely at the top of my recommendation list!”

Melanie Dobson: “It’s hard to narrow it down but one of the stories that has stayed with me for a few years is Marlo Schalesky’s Beyond the Night. This story is about an enduring love that lasted for decades until it was time for the main character to go home. I still get teary-eyed thinking about it.”

Susan Page Davis: “Deanne Gist’s Maid to Match. When I read it, I was doing some research on domestic servants, and her characters were spot on historically, as well as well rounded and believable. Of course, the love story was terrific, too.”

Melody Carlson: “George MacDonald’s love stories (Fisherman’s Lady, Marquis’ Secret, etc.). MacDonald seemed to capture the honest sacrificial spirit of true love—the kind of love that went against all odds and was willing to face the hardest challenges in the name of love. He was a master storyteller.”

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