The Maid of Ballymacool by Jennifer Deibel1935 Ireland: Abandoned as an infant at Ballymacool House and Boarding School, Brianna Kelly lives there still, working as a maid under the watchful eye of bitter Mistress Magee.
What happens: Ordered by his father to help his troublesome teen cousin settle in at the school, well-to-do Michael arrives for a two-week stay and meets Brianna, who seems strangely familiar.
Why you might like it: The Maid of Ballymacool presents a Cinderella-esque romance against the backdrop of an evocative Irish setting.
The Metropolitan Affair by Jocelyn Green1925 New York City: Dr. Lauren Westlake, a Metropolitan Museum of Art assistant curator, reconnects with an old friend, police detective Joe Caravello, who was once in love with her.
What happens: Lauren's estranged Egyptologist father tries to recruit her for an expedition, but she doubts his intentions. Meanwhile, she helps Joe search for an art forger, drawing the two of them close once again.
Read this next: For another character-driven novel that combines romance, intrigue, and history, try Laura Frantz's The Rose and the Thistle, which takes place in 1715 Scotland.
Double the Lies by Patricia Raybon1924 Denver, Colorado: When theologian and detective Annalee Spain finds herself framed for murder by the KKK-infiltrated police, she must solve the case to clear her name.
Series alert: This 2nd Annalee Spain mystery (after the Christy Award-winning All That Is Secret) can be read on its own.
Why you might like it: Double the Lies combines a well-drawn setting with history, mystery, and social issues; "Throughout, Annalee draws strength from her abiding faith" (Publishers Weekly).
A Match in the Making by Jen TuranoSummer, 1888: Though she's from a well-off Boston family, independent-minded Gwendolyn Brinley accepts a paid companion position for the Newport season, and she's quickly recruited to be an assistant matchmaker by her boss.
The problem: Widower and single dad Walter Townsend is the season's prime catch, and Gwen begins to fall for him herself.
Series alert: This delightfully humorous 1st in The Matchmakers series will be followed by To Spark a Match in November.
The Happy Camper by Melody CarlsonThe setup: Dillon Michaels has had it with her selfish boyfriend and her unfulfilling yet time-consuming job. So she leaves both, heading home to her ill grandfather's Oregon farm.
The problem: Her mother, who's having her own problems, has moved in too. To get off the uncomfy couch, Dillion restores an old camper with tips from a handsome hardware store owner...and then her ex shows up.
For fans of: the recent TV movie of the same name; lighthearted romances starring female leads with strong faith.
The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery by Amanda CoxWhat it's about: In 1960s Tennessee, 19-year-old Glory Ann's fiancé has died in Vietnam, and she's pregnant. In the present day, Glory Ann's granddaughter, newly widowed Sarah, comes home to the Old Depot Grocery to find her mother trying to sell the store her grandmother loves.
Awards buzz: This multi-perspective, dual-timeline tale won two 2022 Christy Awards, for General Fiction and Book of the Year.
Read this next: Robin W. Pearson's A Long Time Comin', which is also set in the South and covers loss and family issues.
Long Way Gone by Charles MartinStarring: musician Cooper O’Connor, who wants all the world has to offer and leaves home at 18, taking the guitar he's stolen from his tent-preacher father.
What happens: Making it big in Nashville, Cooper falls in love with a talented singer, but events leave him injured, both spiritually and physically, sending him home to heal.
What sets it apart: This Christy Award winner lyrically tells a music-centric version of the prodigal son story.
Of Literature and Lattes by Katherine ReayStarring: Alyssa Harrison, who comes home to Winsome, Illinois, after the Silicon Valley medical startup she worked at shuts down; and Jeremy Mitchell, who moves there to be near his young daughter.
What happens: Alyssa works on her relationship with her mom, reconnects with her best friend, and helps Jeremy when he opens the coffee shop of his dreams and things don't go to plan.
Read it for: the charming setting and entertaining locals; catching up with characters from The Printed Letter Bookshop, which is set in the same small town.
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