Despite the Netflix series premiering recently and stealing the hearts of millions of viewers, the book series on which the show is based had long worked its way into readers’ hearts, years before.
The 22-book-series Virgin River, by Robyn Carr, is like a warm hug, reminiscent of Hallmark movies; it introduces readers to a cast of characters who call the small, quaint town in California home, where the setting itself is just as important as any character or storyline. Readers love the warm, cozy, and yes sometimes steamy vibes, and the books are familiar and compelling at the same time.
The first book in the series follows Mel as she decides to move to a small town in California to take a nursing job. As soon as she arrives there, she considers calling it quits and moving back, discouraged by her raggedy house and cool reception from her boss. But when she finds a baby that has been left on her porch, and meets gentle yet wild ex-Marine Jack, whom her heart yearns for, she decides to stay, and soon nestles into life in the town.
If you’ve just binge-watched the entire Netflix series in one sitting (it’s okay, we’ve been there too), or sighed as you shut the last page of the most recent addition to the series, we’ve got you covered. Below are 20 must-read romance books like Virgin River, to transport you to more small villages with quiet, cozy streets and love stories to get lost in.
Falling by Jane Green
Jane Green is a mastermind when it comes to crafting compelling novels which tug on your heartstrings and this stand-alone novel will leave you reeling with emotions. When Emma’s had enough of the fast-paced New York City finance life, she makes her way to Westport, Connecticut.
A quaint little beach town nestled on the shore, Emma rents an adorable cottage that’s managed by the town handyman named Dominic. When she realizes that he’s everything she needs in her life, a tragic accident upends her world, leaving her with the one person she’s truly meant to hold onto. For an emotional, feel-good novel full of romance, heart-ache, and a nontraditional happily ever after, pick up Falling.
Chasing Perfect by Susan Mallery
If you’re a fan of cozy romantic fiction series, Susan Mallery is most likely on your radar; if she’s not, prepare to fall in love with your next favorite author. Dive into the Fool’s Gold series by picking up the first title, Chasing Perfect.
Set in Fool’s Gold, California, where the Sierra Nevadas loom in the background and the air is as sweet as the residents in the town, the first novel focuses on city planner Charity Jones, who falls hard for famous resident and bicyclist Josh Golden.
Rich with character development, and reminiscent of Virgin River in that each installment focuses on a different resident, readers will revel in the familiarity and magic of the Fool’s Gold series.
Flying Solo by Linda Holmes
If a series as lengthy as Virgin River is too much of a commitment for you, and you’re just looking for a standalone, Linda Holmes might just catch your eye. Her books are known among romance readers as always being solid, perfectly crafted to capture your heart.
Flying Solo is no different, and focuses on a small lakeside town in Maine called Calcasset. When her great-aunt passes away, Laurie Sassalyn returns home to handle cleaning out the estate, a welcomed relief after her wedding gets canceled. As she discovers more about her aunt, she uncovers a secret lover her aunt indulged in, not only catching her eye, but encouraging her to pursue a sweet local who is interested in her.
Under Her Skin by Susan Mallery
After you are captivated by her Fool’s Gold series, quench your thirst for more of Susan Mallery’s writing by indulging in the Lone Star Sisters series. Set in Titanville, Texas, the series follows the Titan sisters, as they navigate their way through love, business, and the unexpected.
The first installment, Under Her Skin, features the type of fake fiance plot that will get your heart pumping. Lexi Titan and Cruz Rodriguez think they have everything figured out: pretending to be engaged will get her the future business she’s always longed for, and being engaged to Lexi will guarantee Cruz the connections he needs.
Follow along as their fool-proof plan spins out of control, and feelings get involved. Then, tear your way through the rest of the series.
The Homecoming by JoAnn Ross
For another west-coast small-town setting, pick up JoAnn Ross’s series Shelter Bay, which takes place in Oregon. With over a dozen titles, readers will return again and again to the characters.
In the first title, Sax Douchett returns from a tour with the Navy Seals to his hometown and reconnects with Sheriff Kara Conway, who stole his heart years ago and never quite gave it back. When a suspenseful secret looms over them, their chance at happily ever after becomes shrouded in uncertainty.
Summer at Mustang Ridge by Jesse Hayworth
There’s something to be said about Western Romances, with tender romance stories set against the backdrop of a rugged mountain range; if that’s the setting that sets your heart racing and your imagination spinning, Jesse Hayworth just might be your go-to-gal.
When Shelby’s life is interrupted by a divorce, she accepts a job at a family dude-ranch, expecting the fresh start will be good for her and her daughter. What she’s not expecting? The gentle cowboy that nestles his way into her heart and threatens to change the rest of her life. For a shorter but oh-so-sweet series, get lost in the Mustang Ridge Series.
The Sweet Magnolias by Sherryl Woods
If you’re craving another series that’s been adapted to the silver screen, check out this series.. The Sweet Magnolias is now a Netflix series featuring a cast of characters navigating their way through life and love in a small town.
Maddie’s life is shattered when her husband leaves her and her three children for a younger woman, and to get through, she leans heavily on her best friends. As she navigates finding a job, she also has to balance the needs of her children, and unexpectedly begins to fall for her son’s baseball coach.
For a feel-good romance series that can launch you into another binge-worthy series upon completion, pick up these books by Sherryl Woods.
Lucky Harbor by Jill Shalvis
When Maddie’s life is upended and she’s left single and jobless, she makes the gutsy decision to pack up and move to an inn left to her by her recently deceased mother. As she arrives in Lucky Harbor, Washington, she tries to convince her half-sisters to join her, setting about fixing up the inn. Hiring a contractor to help seems like the perfect idea, and pretty soon, he’s all she can think about.
Get swept away with small-town romance, with themes reminiscent of Virgin River and enough Hallmark-esque style to leave you feeling content and happy.
Blackberry Summer by RaeAnne Thayne
RaeAnne Thayne’s series Hope’s Crossing should be added to your list. When Claire is involved in a car accident, she’s forced to do something she doesn’t enjoy doing: asking others for help and slowing down. The busy mom and business owner doesn’t have time for that. But when her best friend’s younger brother reappears, she learns to lean on him, and begins to wonder if slowing down is exactly what she needs.
As each book focuses on a different character in the town of Hope Crossing in Colorado, the series itself is an ode to the beauty that lies in the strength of community, and how the Angel of Hope can help those in need.
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Who said Young Adult series were just for teenagers? If you haven’t heard of Han’s series and the Amazon Prime series that’s been created from it, well, where have you been? These feel-good books are full of romance, a love triangle, and some hyped-up angst that’s a bit edgier than Virgin River.
Fans of Virgin River will love the small, beachy community with its diverse cast of characters and themes of love, heartache, and second chances. When Belly returns to the beach house she’s been going to her whole life, this year is different. Caught between two brothers Conrad and Jeremiah, Belly wrestles with her feelings, as other characters grapple with a life-changing diagnosis, a recent divorce, and the confusion and thrill of love.
The Inn at Eagle Point by Sherryl Woods
It’s no surprise that the incredible Sherryl Woods is appearing on this list twice; just ask any of her fans who consistently swoon over her books.
When Abby is called upon by her sister to return to her childhood home, her arrival is swift and full of sad memories. As she arrives with her children and her heart aching from her marriage difficulties, she begins to set to work renovating the Inn at Eagle Point. What she hadn’t planned on was Trace Riley, a man from her past who just might work his way into her future. Woods’s Chesapeake Shores novel will carry you away.
Book Lovers by Emily Henry
For a steamy take on small-town romance, Emily Henry serves up a compulsively readable romp, featuring two book editors from Manhattan who end up in a small southern town named Sunshine Falls.
When Nora’s sister proposes a sister’s getaway, she follows her sister to small-town Sunshine Falls, the setting of one of her favorite books. As soon as she arrives, she bumps into her city rival, Charlie Lastra, an uptight, sarcastic, and moody editor that she’s had trouble with in the past. As the two spend more time together in the small town, Nora realizes not to judge a person by their cover, because the stories inside might surprise you.
Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey
The first in the Kowalski Family series from Shannon Stacey, Exclusively Yours is another great choice for fans of Virgin River who are looking for a bookish love story.
Keri is a journalist with connections to the hottest author around, Joe Kowalski and has just been tasked with getting an interview with him. Little does her editor know that Keri and Joe have a past, one that Joe has never forgotten. Private in nature, Joe is less than thrilled about sharing details of his life for an interview, but strikes a deal with Keri that means in order to deliver her interview, she’ll need to go on a camping trip with his family.
For a love story that burns hotter than a campfire, pick up Exclusively Yours.
The Best Man by Kristan Higgins
When Faith returns to Blue Heron Winery in New York, her family’s home and the place where painful memories of her past dwell, she thinks she’s ready to move on from the event that disrupted her life.
What she doesn’t expect is to be captivated by Levi Cooper, her ex-fiance’s best friend, who is now the police chief of the town. Little does she know that Levi’s keeping a secret, which has a lot to do with why her wedding was canceled.
But will it matter? As Faith tumbles headfirst into her future, she may need to rethink what that looked like for her. For a getaway to the small town of Manningsport, New York, where wine and love are in surplus, be sure to pick up the rest of the five book series.
28 Summers by Elin Hildenbrand
Elin Hildenbrand is one of the most well-known authors and is revered for crafting beachy summer reads set on Nantucket Island. Although 28 Summers is a standalone novel, once you fall in love with it, you’ll need to add Elin’s books to your TBR as soon as possible.
28 Summers features the love story of Mallory and Jake, who meet every summer for the same weekend to revel in their love for each other. Theirs is a love that transcends decades, and one that life is breathed into when Mallory passes down a death wish for her son Link to connect with Jake’s son.
Readers of Virgin River will be drawn to Nantucket references, the love story, and the strong character development.
Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
You could plan to read one Nicholas Sparks novel each week and safely have enough reading material for over three years; the man’s work is prolific and it’s no surprise that his books showcase the steady hand of an author who is talented in crafting an absorbing love story.
Fans of Virgin River will be particularly drawn to Safe Haven, in which main character Katie is on the run from her abusive husband. Taking refuge in a seaside town in North Carolina, she meets and falls in love with the residents, who rally together to create her safe haven.
A love story featuring a small town and a beautiful connection between the main characters, this novel also deals with tough themes like abuse.
The Gamble by Kristen Ashley
Cozy up with a mug of tea, a plush throw, and Kristen Ashley’s Colorado Mountain series for maximum Virgin River vibes.
When Nina flees her life in England for some time apart from her fiance, she only expects some peace and quiet to reconsider her impending nuptials. When she meets the owner of her rental, her heart calls to him, growing stronger as the two spend time together when Nina falls ill.
Beside the towering mountains and under the vast sky of Colorado, love blooms in the towns of Gnaw Bone and Carnal, where the first book and the rest of the series are set.
Sand Castle Bay by Sherryl Woods
Meet Emily, Gabriella, and Samantha Castle, three sisters who are loving and navigating their lives in a coastal town in North Carolina. In the first installment of the Ocean Bay romance series, readers follow as Emily returns from her career in the city to her home that has just been ravaged by storms.
When she returns, she reconnects with her first love, Boone Dorsett, whom she left behind and who has since become a widower. As the two reconnect, Boone becomes locked in a custody case over his children that might make or break his future with Emily.
For a sweet romance that trades tension for steam, be sure to pack this series on your next vacation to the shore.
Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon
The first in a nine-book series bearing the name of the first installment, Hope Harbor features Tracy Campbell and her return to the hometown that she left behind.
Fans who love Christian novels adore this series, and sure enough, each novel focuses on a different character’s chance at a better future.
When Tracy arrives after a tragedy and hiding a shattering secret, she dives into her farmwork, meeting a stranger from Chicago who arrives with his own secrets. The two realize they might just be what each other needs to heal and to hope once again.
Riverbend Gap by Denise Hunter
For a classic twist on a love story, pick up Riverbend Gap, the first in the Riverbend Series. When Katie’s car goes off the road, she is rescued by the local sheriff’s deputy, Cooper.
The two fall for each other, only to realize that Katie is dating Cooper’s brother, a twist they never saw coming. As they spend more time together, they can’t deny their growing feelings for each other, and soon must make a decision.
Each title in the series focuses on a different character in the town, and each will capture your heart in a big way.
How many books are in the Virgin River series?
Currently, there are 22 books in the Virgin River series by Robyn Carr.
Does the Netflix series follow the Virgin River books?
The Netflix series has adapted the stories from the book series, but does not follow the exact storyline of the books. The books are also a bit spicier than the Netflix show.
What genre are the Virgin River books?
The Virgin River books are considered to be a contemporary romance series.
There are several authors who share the same style as Susan Carr, including Sherryl Woods, Susan Mallery, and Jill Shalvis.
Should I read the books before watching the Netflix series?
Before binge-watching the Netflix series, you may want to read the books, although it’s not necessary. Reading the books first can help you get to know all of the characters beforehand, but will also reveal any spoilers.