It's been a rough and cold winter for many people, and more than a few of us are very tired of being inside day after day. While actual travel is always an option, it takes time, preparation and a bit of lucre to move a person from once place to the other. But taking a journey within a book is a hassle-free and instant method of travel. No checked baggage fees and no security lines? Sign me up. And given that there's one last storm coming to the East Coast this week (WHAT NO REALLY STOP WITH THE SNOW) a brief trip via a healthy reading imagination might help keep us all sane through this last batch of cold temperatures little while.
First stop: France. In Laura Florand's Amour et Chocolat series, you're in Paris, or on an island in the Seine in The Chocolate Kiss, surrounded by some of the finest chocolates in the world. There are more books in the series, set all over France, all featuring chocolate. And romance, but also chocolate.
In Just This Once by Rosalind James, a young American woman meets a Kiwi when she takes a much-needed vacation to New Zealand, and learns how special this man and his homeland really are. I had a strange experience reading it: The conflict between the main characters was so minimal (will she stay? Will she go? She's gonna stay—it's a romance novel) that they didn't grab my interest, but the setting was practically a lead character in the story, and I loved that part. Want to visit New Zealand? Reading this book was as close as I've gotten without a 26-hour plane journey. I'm not alone, either: So many readers have said the details of New Zealand were so vivid in this book that they can't wait to visit for themselves.
If you've got a desire to cross the pond, Jill Mansell's books are waiting to escort you all over England. I really liked Millie's Fling, the story of a young woman whose good intentions and honesty lead her into a better life bit by bit. All of Mansell's books are terrific for armchair travel, especially when learning saucy bits of English slang. And if you'd like a little more spice with your journey, Samantha James' On Dublin Street follows a young American woman to Scotland, where there's emotional and sexual tension in bucket loads, plus a lot of humor.
It takes incredible skill to transport a reader. Some writers are able to create a place for their characters that is so vivid, the reader can picture herself there, too. Books that offer every reader a one-click journey to faraway and fascinating places are a perfect antidote to cabin fever. Ready to take a trip? Meet you on the couch!
Sarah Wendell is the co-creator, editor and mastermind of the popular romance blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. She loves talking with romance readers, and hopes you'll share your new favorite romance reading recommendations. You can find her on Twitter or on her couch, most likely with her eyeglasses turned toward a book.