As book lovers, we are often drawn to stories that transport us to different worlds and allow us to escape the monotony of our everyday lives. And what better way to do so than through a good novel? And what better setting for a story than small-town Australia?
While there are countless options out there, there is something particularly charming about delving into small town romances set in Australia. The picturesque landscapes, the close-knit communities, and the passionate love stories that unfold make these books irresistible. Whether contemporary or historical these stories are always perfect for a cosy afternoon read.
As we look ahead into 2024, it’s time to start thinking about our reading list for this year, and here are some Aussie romance novels that should definitely be on your TBR.
The Lawson Legacy by Janet Gover
Beloved key characters from The Lawson Sisters return in a standalone rural romance about motherhood, family traditions and having the courage to chart a new future. A new novel from award-winning romance author Janet Gover.
Kayla Lawson believes nothing is good unless it’s perfect. This search for perfection has made her a successful high-end wedding planner. But all that comes crashing down when Kayla discovers she’s pregnant. She retreats to the sanctuary of Willowbrook Stud to consider this imperfect future as a single mother.
Connor Knight has never known perfection. A kid from the wrong side of the tracks and a motorcycle gang member, he’s no stranger to trouble with the law. But he’s trying to leave that past behind. By giving a run-down pub in Scone a new lease on life, he’s hoping to rebuild his own.
At Willowbrook, Kayla is reunited with her childhood best friend. Jen and her two kids have come to stay while her husband is awaiting trial for a crime he didn’t commit. While struggling to decide her future, Kayla is suddenly exposed to what motherhood really looks like.
When she meets Connor there’s instant chemistry between them that can’t be denied. But with her plans in tatters around her, is there any way to make the pieces fit? Or are the obstacles in front of them insurmountable?
Heart of the River by Cheryl Adnams
As floodwaters rise, can their love bring a fractured community together?
Mildura, Northern Victoria – 1956
Isabel Hayward has ambitions of being a great chef. But cooking for the locals at the country pub she and her mother run doesn’t really allow for experimenting with haute cuisine.
When she meets local Italian farmer Matteo Sorrenti, their connection is instant and intense – much to the displeasure of Ross Burrows, one of the region’s wealthiest sons, who has been keen on Isabel since they were kids.
Isabel and Matteo’s blossoming relationship has challenges to overcome: their cultural differences, prejudice, Ross’s jealousy, and the worst flood in Australia’s history.
As the Murray River rises to its peak, threatening the Sorrentis’ farm and the Haywards’ pub, secrets are revealed that show Matteo, Isabel and Ross are inextricably linked by their fathers’ wartime experiences. Will the secrets their fathers kept threaten Isabel and Matteo’s relationship? Or can their love break down the remnants of prejudice left behind by the war?
‘A love story set against the background of old secrets, deep resentments and the unstoppable forces of nature. A fabulous insight into the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity. An unputdownable read from Cheryl Adnams.’ – Alison Stuart, author of The Postmistress
Crossing the Bridge by Nancy Cunningham
Can two wounded hearts find peace in a time of war?
1944. Widow Poppy Guilford is fighting to save her farm, the one thing tethering her to her husband – and the legacy promised for their young son. But a devastating secret from her husband’s past threatens to derail her struggle to save the property and keep her son by her side.
Former soldier JB Beaton’s wartime injuries and personal losses have left him with scars, both inside and out. Believing he’s too damaged to be the father his son deserves, he leaves him with his sister and takes on a job as a farmhand, far away from the city and his failures.
Poppy, battling the elements and the heartache of her husband’s secret, finds the new farmhand is never far from her thoughts, and JB’s world is thrown into disarray by one of the most beautiful and capable women he has ever met. Neither can battle the surge of attraction they both feel.
In a small town where gossip reigns, will they surrender to duty or follow their hearts?
Snowy Mountains Dawn by Alissa Callen
A diehard country girl. A city-boy newcomer. Some rules were meant to be broken… Opposites attract in this delightful rural romance, set in charming small-town Bundilla, from bestselling Australian author Alissa Callen
Horsewoman Brenna Lancaster has no time for relationships. Unless a man looks good on a horse and lets her call the shots, she isn’t interested. She’d rather wear a dress and heels than give someone else power over her life.
Finance guru Wyatt Killian is a self-made man who has left the train wreck of his childhood behind. There is zero room in his workaholic world for downtime and distractions, let alone emotions or country girls.
When Wyatt’s corporate horse-riding retreat is led by a woman determined to unplug him from his urban life, it isn’t just his laser focus that becomes compromised. Being in a saddle unlocks a part of himself that he’d long ago discarded. In a rare moment of nostalgia, he prolongs his stay in the high country.
After Brenna becomes mired in a family secret that involves a historic feud and bushrangers, she has no choice but to involve Wyatt in the search for answers. But as Wyatt’s past collides with his future, and the only home Brenna has known comes under threat, both must decide what they need to let go of and what is worth fighting for.
On Sale: 31/01/2024
A Chance to Believe by Fiona Marsden
Can a fling turn into a family?
After a chance meeting in Brisbane, Shayne Smith and Cassie Long had a perfect fortnight together. But when Shayne returned to his historic sheep property, they both assumed there was no future in a relationship between a city girl and a grazier.
Six months later, Cassie arrives at Maiden’s Landing to let Shayne know they made more than memories in their brief idyll. She has no expectations, only a duty to let him know.
Shayne’s life is already complicated with a property to run and a sixteen-year-old daughter growing up fast. He never expected the woman he can’t forget to turn up on his doorstep bringing news that is all too familiar.
Fiercely independent Cassie isn’t asking anything of him, but he persuades her to stay at his homestead until the babies are born. Cassie’s difficult pregnancy means that any possibility of romance must be put on hold – despite the intense attraction they feel for each other. How long can they resist? And will each of them overcome their own baggage so they can build a future together?
Red Dirt Home by Renae Black
To move forward, she’ll have to face the past.
Paige Bennett is fulfilling her childhood dream of working and living on the land as a station hand on Whitetail Ridge. Getting her hands dirty, riding horses, working with cattle and kicking up red dust. Life can’t get much better. Or so she thinks, until a devastating act of violent betrayal leaves her unemployed, homeless and broken.
A fight with his father drove Jackson Brady off Karilga, his family’s cattle station in the Queensland outback. Now he’s made a life for himself away from the land, joining a band and settling into the city. When the girl he’s always had his eye on shows up with news from back home, he’s faced with a difficult choice: go home where he’s needed or stay where he’s wanted.
Winding up on Karilga Station, Paige is a shadow of the person she once was. Desperate to forget what happened to her, she considers leaving her beloved channel country. But things aren’t so easily forgotten in the outback. When fate gives her no option but to trust again, will she find love as well? Or at least a safe place to land?
Jackson knows he’s never been more to Paige than a country larrikin who only takes the beer at the end of the day seriously – a sentiment closely echoed by his father. Can Jackson prove himself to his father and become the man Paige needs him to be? Or will it all crumble in the red dirt of the outback?
A heartfelt, deeply emotional story about finding home, facing the past and falling in love, from a captivating new voice in rural romance.
On Sale: 06/03/2024
The Grazier’s Son by Cathryn Hein
When taking up an unexpected inheritance with an unhappy past, newcomer Stirling is daunted to find a town set against him. Except, perhaps, for one sassy, big-hearted woman, who is willing to give him a chance to prove he belongs. Pitch-perfect rural romance from popular Australian author Cathryn Hein.
When helicopter pilot Stirling Hawley travels to Grassmoor in Victoria’s lush Western District to claim an inheritance, he doesn’t expect to face a town that hates him.
Nor does he anticipate being saved from near-death by glamorous vintage clothing designer Darcy Sloane. Or that she’ll take a personal interest in his recovery. But Grassmoor and Westwind, the historic mansion Stirling inherited from the father he never knew, prove full of surprises.
The more Stirling digs into his father’s life, the more uneasy he becomes. Behind Dougal Kildare’s respectable stock agent and farmer veneer was a man of secrets. While the fraud that devastated the community and led to Dougal’s tragic death is one, there are others. And such things never stay buried forever…
As Stirling’s suspicions about Dougal’s death grow, danger creeps ever closer. Until it’s not only Stirling’s life in peril but the woman he’s come to love.
On Sale: 03/04/2024
Secrets of Riverside by Mandy Magro
Can love conquer all? A moving story of overcoming the past and second chances from bestselling Australian romance author Mandy Magro.
Can their love heal the shadows of the past?
After losing her family in a tragic fire when she was a child, Amelia Price has battled to put the shattered pieces of her life back together. Even so, she’s never felt like she belongs anywhere, and she longs for stability and love. When a mysterious letter turns up at her apartment with hints that she’ll uncover the truth behind what happened all those years ago if she goes to the sleepy, picturesque town of Riverside, she sets off on a journey to tropical Far North Queensland.
Jarrah King owns and runs the Riverside Roadhouse. He loves the simpleness of country living, and the fact it gives him complete anonymity. Over the years he’s made a life for himself under a new name, however his past has never stopped haunting him.
When a sassy blonde takes up the new cook position, he can’t help but be drawn to her vivacious personality. But he can tell there’s also pain hiding underneath her bubbly facade and he longs to erase those shadows. However, lowering his defences to let her in may risk his new identity, as well as everything he holds dear.
Can Amelia show him that love is worth the risk? Or will the secrets of their entwined past tear them apart forever?
On Sale: 01/05/2024
Down the Track by Stella Quinn
Digging up the past isn’t easy ... Sweet, funny and feel-good, the unmissable rural romance from the bestselling author of A Home Among the Snow Gums and The Vet From Snowy River.
Dr Joanne Tan is an expert in a lot of things. Love isn’t one of them.
Being thirty-something, broke, divorced, and in a cold war with her twelve-year-old son is a lot, but Jo’s handling it. Just. At least, she is until her job at the Natural History Museum is in jeopardy. An invitation to dig up dinosaur bones on a remote Queensland sheep station arrives at just the right time.
It’s not her first trip to Yindi Creek, but it’s not as though anyone will remember her from fifteen years ago … And by anyone, of course, she means the pilot she had that fling with. The fling that taught her she’s far safer sticking to science …
Gavin “Hux” Huxtable, helicopter pilot and reluctant sheep-shearer, has turned his broken heart into a secret (and successful) writing career. But running into Jo again, all these years down the track, stirs up a lot more than outback country dust.
A missing person, a fossilised legbone, and a nosy country cop force Jo and Hux together and the sparks that start flying don’t go unnoticed by the locals …
Digging up the past isn’t easy. Digging up the truth can be even harder.
On Sale: 05/06/2024
Among the Grey Gums by Paula J. Beavan
A woman must track down a murderer to save her brother from the hangman’s noose … A rollicking and entertaining historical mystery, filled with adventure and romance from the Australian author of Daughter of the Hunter Valley.
1842, Hunter Valley: Lucy Stewart’s life turns chaotic when she finds herself caught up in a murder investigation in order to save her brother-in-law, Joe, from the hangman’s noose. Constable Sam Donovan believes the accusations levelled at Joe Stewart are suspicious at best and feels compelled to work with Lucy to find the real killer. Getting to know this fiercely independent woman in the process is a bonus.
Their pursuit brings them to the attention of the notorious Smokey Gang, and when Lucy is ambushed on a deserted bush track and threatened, they realise they must be getting close to finding out what is really going on in the Valley.
Life has taught Lucy the hard way not to rely on anyone, but Lucy needs Sam’s sleuthing skills. However, she has secrets in her past, the kind that once revealed change everything, and the only way she can find out if she can place her confidence in him, is to trust him. And that’s the hard part…
Bushrangers, corruption and cover-ups, it’s a perilous journey to the truth…
On Sale: 05/06/2024
Love small-town romance? Make sure you’re following our When Love Comes To Town events!
HQ Books in conjunction with Romance.com.au are proud to highlight our list of bestselling rural romance authors and can’t wait to celebrate their stories with you
Their books are grounded in community, friendship, love and romance while also recognising topical issues affecting rural communities and towns.
Here is how you can help us celebrate.
You are invited to join HQ Books, Romance.com.au, Better Reading and our top authors as we host a series of one night only events in select country towns.
Each event will be a night of fun, games and prizes galore at interesting locations. So grab your friends for a girls night out, come and meet your favourite authors.