How Important Are Story Settings to Readers?

How do you choose which stories to read?

Many people look at covers, read back cover copy, or check out reviews.

Sometimes the setting is what catches my eye.

I spun a book rack in a gas station food mart on my way home from an out-of-town trip a few years ago. The cover and spine let me know the story was a historical romance from a Christian publisher.

I picked up Letter Perfect by Cathy Marie Hake and read the back cover blurb. Two words jumped out at me: Folsom, California. That’s all it took. I raced to the register and plunked down the cash.

Folsom is half an hour away from where I live. I passed by it on my way home that day and felt a thrill, knowing I’d be reading a story set there. It was good, but I enjoyed it even more because it took place in Folsom, a town I visit often.

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I’ve bought numerous other books based on the setting.

I got excited when I learned that Candace Calvert’s first medical romance, Critical Care, is set in my town of Placerville, California. It took me no time to order a copy for that reason alone.

While I was drawn to the setting and enjoyed reading scenes set in places near my home, I ended up discovering an incredibly talented author. Candy’s story is so good it kept me up all night. It’s a real page-turner.

I bought Candy’s first book because of the setting. Her excellent writing led me to buy her subsequent titles.

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As I pondered the importance of a story’s setting to readers, I thought about Barbour’s Destination Romances line. I saw some promotion for the February title, A Wedding to Remember in Charleston South Carolina, on the Creative Madness Mama blog last week.

At the bottom of the post, the blogger, Margaret Chind, posted the following information about the six titles coming out in the first half of 2012.

Six Brand-New Destination Romances
Historic and Contemporary Romances from Popular Authors

Contemporary and historical romance fans rejoice with the release of six brand-new destination romances from Barbour Publishing. Scheduled for release January 2012 through June 2012, each novel is a destination read that provides a relaxing escape.

The setting is an important part of the stories, so much so that the location of each book is included in its title as they are in the popular Love Finds You line from Summerside Press.

As the author of the July title in Barbour’s Destinations Romance line, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, I wonder how much of an effect the setting will have on readers. My local friends hear the title and are interested because they know exactly where this Gold Rush-era town is. But will those who live in other states be as intrigued?

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I’m eager to find out what you think about settings.

Does a story’s setting matter all that much to you as a reader?

Do you have favorite settings? Small towns, perhaps? Certain parts of the country?

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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28 Responses to How Important Are Story Settings to Readers?

  1. I’m really looking forward to your novel. Even the name El Dorado is intriguing, though I don’t know the town.

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