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Life in Small Towns by Shelley Munro

It’s not every day a girl inherits a condom company, and to say accountant Alice Beasley is astonished and out of her depth is putting it mildly. For an almost virgin, she needs a quick education in all things condom because her inheritance is in danger. Someone is intent on sabotage and playing nasty, trying to destroy her new company.

Alice is suddenly getting down and dirty with charismatic James, the factory manager, all in the name of business, testing new condom designs. The sex is hot. Mind-blowing. It’s a dark thrill and an erotic journey. Yeah, it’s a hard job, but a girl’s got to do what a girl’s gotta do.

The testing turns personal. Alice wants James. She craves his talented touch and sultry kisses, she desires passion and physical pleasure on a permanent basis but first she must convince bad-boy James to give up his fancy-free ways…

Thanks so much for having me to visit again to tell you about Fancy Free.

Fancy Free takes place in a small fictional town called Sloan. In fact, those of you who have read any of the books in my Talking Dogs series might recognize the town. Although, rest assured, the world of Fancy Free is a contemporary one with not a single alien in sight.

I grew up in the country, a small community with close ties. To this day, I enjoy reading romances and watching movies etc that are set in small towns because it reminds me of my childhood–I can relate. The Gilmore Girls was recently on one of the channels down here in NZ. I never saw it the first time, but I enjoyed the quirky humor and the goings on in Stars Hollow very much.

In the book world I’m enjoying Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series about the life of a midwife and a pub owner and all their friends–the trials and tribulations and the special moments of love and laughter. Lauren Dane’s Chase Brothers series, set in a town called Petal is also a lot of fun and recently I’ve read Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl. This book chronicles the adventures of Molly Jennings and her relocation to Tumble Creek in Colorado. Kristan Higgins is also another favorite with her first person romances set in small towns.

Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to living in a small community, both of which can be used to great effect in romantic fiction or movies.


    People know each other and family histories.
    When times get tough, friends and neighbors step in and help.
    There’s generally less trouble in small towns and less need for tight personal security.
    Usually less graffiti and litter.
    Cheaper cost of living.
    Great place to bring up children.
    There are some great local traditions and celebrations.
    Plenty of parking spaces.


    People know each other and family histories.
    Some services are lacking, although the advent of the Internet counteracts this.
    Small town gossip – it’s hard to misbehave without everyone knowing.
    It’s hard to meet Mr. or Mrs. Right because the choices are limited.
    People never forget your mistakes or your parents’ mistakes.
    If you do something wrong or want to keep a secret, it will get back to the people you don’t want to hear. i.e. that sex toy you ordered via the Internet and the packaging broke – the postmistress will tell everyone!
    Sometimes it feels like living in a fishbowl because people are nosy!

In Fancy Free Alice, the heroine inherits a condom factory and in order to keep her inheritance she must move to the small town of Sloan where everyone has an opinion about her business. She finds small town life both trying and interesting. At first, Alice feels a bit like Alice in Wonderland because the town of Sloan is very strange and it feels like a strange and weird rabbit hole. But gradually things change and she starts to feel right at home.

What you think about living in a small community? If you live in a small town, do you like it? Do you have any advantages or disadvantages to add to my list? Is there a book or a movie set in a small town that you’d like to recommend?

Shelley Munro lives in New Zealand and writes contemporary and paranormal romance for Ellora’s Cave and Samhain Publishing. You can visit Shelley at www.shelleymunro.com or check out her daily blog post at www.shelleymunro.com/blog.

Excerpt from Fancy Free

They were in the wrong place.

Alice Beasley stared around the crowded town hall feeling a little like her namesake Alice in Wonderland–lost and confused in a strange, foreign world. This bedlam reminded her of a storybook rabbit hole, not a small New Zealand country town called Sloan. She gaped at a woman dressed in a bright orange turban and a long, voluminous, hunter green gown. Another woman in a smart black suit teetered her way to the front of the hall, a small grubby boy in tow. His red, tear-stained face confirmed coercion and he looked just as uncomfortable as Alice felt. The fish-out-of-water sensation persisted while she perused the many colorful characters assembled in the town hall. Oh no! This certainly couldn’t be the reading of her godmother Alicia’s will.

Alice leaned over to rifle through the black leather handbag at her feet and pulled out the sheet of paper on which she’d written the date, time and address the lawyer had rattled off at the termination of a hurried phone call the previous evening. She scanned the details. Frowning, she stuffed the paper back inside her bag and straightened, her hands tucked demurely in her lap.

It was the right place.

A prickle of awareness jerked her upright. Alice glanced up from her folded hands, peeking through lowered lashes. A man. She hunched forward again so she didn’t appear so obvious but continued to spy on him. A gorgeous man surrounded by flirtatious females of all ages. Tall. A rangy build. Dark shaggy hair and bright blue eyes that focused on her and bore distinct interest. Alice wondered what it would be like to have a man like that at her side, touching her like a lover, then guilt assailed her and she glanced away.

Definitely not her sort.

He appeared too dashing, and his wicked grin indicated a man too daring for her. No, despite this man’s obvious attractions–her fascinated gaze darted back to scan his broad chest, his overlong hair and his…

Awareness pulled at Alice, her skin suddenly overly warm and her mind uneasy with her wayward thoughts. She squirmed on her wooden chair and tugged furtively at her white cotton cardigan. A quick jerk of her wrist pulled it away from her breasts but did little to cool the swelter of her body. She barely resisted fanning her face, smoothing the wayward strands of her hair away from her forehead instead. Oh my goodness. She’d stared right at his…

Purchase link: http://www.jasminejade.com/pm-5289-127-fancy-free.aspx

***Leave a comment answering Shelley’s question to be entered for a chance to win a digital download from Shelley’s backlist at Ellora’s Cave or Cerridwen Press.


24 Responses

  1. I prefer living in a smaller community. I am lucky cause I only have a 20 min drive to big city if I need something there. I feel much safer here. A movie I could recommend is Public Enemies with Johnny Depp that was filmed in Columbus, WI & some other areas. It is only about 45 mins away from where I live. Your book sounds really good. Great excerpt.

  2. I grew up in a small community. It’s nice when you are broke down, they know you enough to pull over to lend a hand. Yeah, some of the disadvantages are that they know your family. My dad was a biker, and so people sort of expected me to be wild. I kept hearing “Oh you are so and so’s daughter.”

    I’ve visited Chicago and it was too Fast-paced for me. I was more accustomed to the slow-pace of the small communities.

  3. Sue – thanks. I’ll look for Public Enemies. I’m a Johnny Depp fan but haven’t heard of this one.

  4. Raonaid – LOL – I can see how that might become irritating if people expect you to break out and be wild. I love country life, but I’ve also lived in large cities like London. I managed that okay but I did live near Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens so I could get some fresh air and see green. I get cabin fever easily! 🙂

  5. I don’t think that I could live in a small community. My biggest fear is that the medical services would not be up to scratch. My sister lives in a small community and she took her husband in for some outpatient surgery that should have been fairly simple but there were alot of complications and the doctor wasn’t equiped for what happend. My brother in law is okay but ended up being out of work over it for a year and hasn’t really been released to return to work so I don’t think that I will ever move to a small town.

  6. I live in a small community and for the most part I love it. Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be anything to do around here though and we only have Wal-Mart to get books at and a lot of times they don’t have what I want so I have to drive about 45 minutes to the next town to go to the bookstore.

  7. I grew up in a big, diverse, major metropolis so I’m not sure how I would fare in small community living. The loss of anonymity might make me feel exposed I would guess.

    The Bridges of Madison County is set in a small town. It’s a movie starring Clint Eastwood & Meryl Streep.I loved it. Both the book & the film.

  8. I grew in a very small town and everyone new what everyone else was doing. I was dicussing this with my youngest the other day. The neighborhood I grew up in you always wanted your mom to be the one to catch you cause you’d only get one spanking that way. If someone else’s mom caught nine times out of ten they’d whup you and then call your mother and tell her and you’d get another one. Can you tell I grew up in a small southern town in the US.

  9. I grew up in a big city and love to read about small towns. I’m not sure whether I’d be well suited to live in one, but I do prefer the slower pace of life. I also like the idea of a strong sense of community, where you can count on your neighbors and where you’d willingly contribute to their wellbeing as well. As for small-town books, I’ve enjoyed a bunch of Debbie Macomber’s books; the Heart of Texas series and Dakota and several others are set in small towns. Some (like the Blossom Street series) are just about communities within larger towns. I like those, too!

  10. I live in a small town….well, at least I think it is small….population 3,300. We have 1 bar, 1 mini-mart and 1 gas station. It is also a very rural town so everyone has lots of space between them and their neighbors. People that stay to themselves are left alone and most of the gossip I hear is from the grand kids when they come home from school….and that is pretty limited to their peer group.

    I must say I prefer small town living to the city….I love being able to jump on my quad and ride to the mailbox or go swimming (with or without clothes) and not have to worry about the neighbors watching…or hearing…what is going on.

    But then, I’m not in the market for a man (been married 36+ years) ….And I’m only about 15 minutes from a larger city/mall so I get the small town ease with the city life at arms reach.

    If I were single???…..I’m not sure if I would stay in this small town??? Not enough new blood….and I wouldn’t want to be limited to someone’s cast off…..(If that makes sense???)

  11. Maria – yes, medical and schooling, too can be a problem in small towns. It would probably be a much bigger problem in the US since your country is so much larger. Our small towns are close together.

    Sherry – have you tried buying online from The Book Depository? They’re very efficent and don’t charge postage.

  12. Scorpio – I haven’t seen Bridges of Madison County before. I must check it out. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Pam K – LOL I think that would scare me into behaving!

  13. Fedora – you don’t usually get that sense of community in a town, do you? It’s nice…mostly.

    Mitzi – it must be a real problem for rural singles to meet a partner these days. I watch American Heartland (a rural show) and they had a couple of shows about the problems rural singles have finding love. It was actually very interesting.

  14. The small town I live in happens to be on the Washington coast. I live one mile(as the crow flies)from the beach. So that is one great advantage. And being a tourist destination we have some stuff here that some small towns may not have. Great job opportunities, at least during the summer. And if you’re a good worker you get kept on year round. Love that most of the year we don’t feel uncomfortable leaving cars and homes unlocked. One of our fun local traditions is coming up. The local Irish Pub hosts a St Patrick’s day parade that is always on that day no matter what day of the week it is. We don’t have a lot of the gossip and ‘know everyone’s business’ issues.
    There is the lack of romance possibilities, but I wasn’t worried about that when I moved here seven years ago as a widow with two teenagers still at home. But I like going to the local grocery store, or theater, or post office and seeing people I know and having a chat.
    The only thing my town lacks that I miss terribly is a decent book store. And Borders closed the store in the city nearest us a few years ago. Now it’s a 90 minute drive to the nearest bookstore.

  15. I loved the excerpt! I don’t live in a small town and I don’t think I could for the majority of my life. I like the advantages listed there but I could only live in small town for maybe the summer because then those advantages start to turn into bad things if I stay there too loong

  16. Personally I love living out in the country in a small town ESPECIALLY for the peace and quiet. I do not like that every where I go I know someone… guess that makes me a hermit. AND I have to disagree with your comment on crime. I can assure you ALL the big city vices are available in the small towns, just less obvious.

    As for a recommendation, I will go with the Desire, Oklahoma series… a very special small town to be sure!

  17. The community feel is a big advantage to me, Beth. Our neighbors change so often we never get to know them, apart from a wave or a hello when we’re in our driveways at the same time.

    Amanda – thank you. A small town definitely doesn’t work for everyone.

    Miranda – the peace and quiet is a big plus. I also love being able to see the stars at night without “light” pollution. Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll check it out.

  18. Hi Shelley! I remember this and the condom shop! Small towns are interesting. Much more friendly than big cities!

  19. I love living in a small town. Lots less traffic than a big city.

  20. I would love to live in a small community. Everyone looks out for each other and will help you in a heartbeat. You’re part of one big extended family.

    On the flip side, everyone knows your business…..

  21. I grew up in a small rural community and, on a whole, I enjoyed it. Everybody knows your business, which is annoying. But you had extra eyes and ears keeping watch over your kids. You knew exactly who they were hanging out with so you could make sure they weren’t running with a bad crowd. People would actually wave at you and smile. When you had car trouble they always stopped to help.
    With all the hustle and bustle of city life, I do miss the peace and quiet of small town living. I miss the security and sense of extended family too.

  22. Kaye – Hi! Yes, it’s true. Small towns are interesting, although they can be slightly scary to outsiders.

    Estella – I have some friends who lived in a reasonable sized town. They were most put out when the town had to instal a set of traffic lights. They weren’t the only residents who were upset either.

  23. Tracey – sometimes knowing each other’s business is a good thing. If you’re a private person maybe not so much! I guess each person has to weigh up the pros and cons and decide what works for them.

    Joder – as kids we used to roam all over the countryside, and to a certain extent, country kids still do this. If you live in a town though, security becomes extra important. It’s definitely something to consider.

  24. I like small communities where you know almost everyone. It’s just so much nicer than the anonimity of big cities.

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