The Magic of Small-Town Romance

My childhood was spent on a farm and trips to town were not a frequent occurrence. Perhaps that is why, when we did venture into the nearest town (population 1,200) it was such an exciting adventure.

When I was a little girl, my hometown was thriving. There was a department store, three grocery stores, a leather shop that I loved to visit, several restaurants, and more. Summer was my favorite time of year because there were baskets of blooming flowers, the smell of greasy burgers hanging in the air near the Dairy Queen (doesn’t every small town have one?), and everyone seemed so happy and friendly.

I think the small-town charm I experienced as child translated into a certain magical wonder for sparsely populated towns and all the possibilities they hold, at least to my writer’s mind.

It’s so much fun to build a world full of quirky characters set in an equally off-the-wall community.  

When I began thinking about a new series, set in what many would consider the middle of nowhere in the eastern Oregon desert region, I incorporated elements from my hometown into what would become Summer Creek, Oregon, population 497. Summer Creek also takes inspiration from a tiny little town near our current home. And I tossed in a liberal helping of my over-active imagination to round out the vision of how Summer Creek would look, feel, smell, and sound.

Summer Creek is an old town, one that used to be a great place to live,  but it’s fallen on hard times and is just on the verge of falling down around the ears of the hardy (or maybe it’s stubborn) residents who live there. There are old buildings nearing the need for demolition if they aren’t repaired soon. There’s a handsome sheriff’s deputy who lives there. Summer Creek also boasts a meandering goat named Ethel that can be found eating plastic bags at the grocery store or stealing lunches from the children at Summer Creek School. Of course, there’s also a gang of blue-haired senior women who ride around in a powder-blue Lincoln, thinking about matchmaking possibilities while dishing about the history of the town.

One of my favorite things about Summer Creek is the sense of community. The residents of Summer Creek are a supportive bunch, for the most part. They survive because of the support and encouragement they receive from their neighbors and friends, knowing whatever happens to the town, they are all in it together.

Summer Creek, if it really existed, is in ranch country, with cattle ranches and farms around it. It’s also an hour’s drive into the mountains. Which makes it the perfect setting for a sweet romance.

The moment I began thinking of ideas for this series, I knew there had to be outsiders coming in to Summer Creek and falling in love with the community as much as the hero or heroine.

That is exactly what happens in Catching the Cowboy, book one in the Summer Creek series.


Summer Creek is one of those small towns—the kind brimming with quirky inhabitants, pets with personalities (like a meandering goat named Ethel), meddling matchmakers, tumbling-down old buildings, and dreams. So many dreams. These sweet, uplifting romances explore the ties that bind a community together when they unite for a common purpose and open their hearts to unexpected possibilities. Heart, humor, and hope weave through each story, touching the lives of those who call Summer Creek home. Readers who love Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove series and RaeAnne Thayne’s Haven Point series will enjoy coming home to Summer Creek.

The first three books in the series release this summer.

Catching the Cowboy (read more below)

Rescuing the Rancher

Protecting the Princess


Catching the Cowboy

“When I feel the need for inspiration and comfort I reach for a book by Shanna Hatfield.”

Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author


She’s fresh out of jail . . .

He’s fresh out of luck.

Spoiled heiress Emery Brighton indulges in one mimosa too many, attempts to steal a horse, and winds up in jail. A sentence of community service leaves her at the mercy of strangers on a remote ranch near a small town in Oregon. Adjusting to country life is hard enough, but she has no idea how to handle her growing affection for a surly cowboy and his adorable daughter.

Steady and dependable as the day is long, rancher Hudson Cole just wants to raise his little girl and be left alone. When his grandmother invites a lawbreaker dressed in Louis Vuitton to Summer Creek Ranch, Hud is convinced Grammy has lost her ever-loving mind. Determined to detest Emery, he instead finds himself doing the one thing he vowed would never happen again: falling in love.

With one foot out the door, will love be enough to convince Emery to stay?

The book includes a Reader’s Guide, perfect for book club discussions.

For a limited time, the ebook is available at the discounted price of just $1.99.

Purchase today on

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Apple | Kobo

Add to Goodreads



When she bent closer to study the bruise, her hair brushed across his neck. A soft, floral fragrance ensnared his senses while the warmth of her breath fanning his skin made him teeter on the edge of combusting. He glanced heavenward, praying for divine intervention before he lost the tenuous hold he had on his self-control.

“I knew we should have taken you into the clinic. Is anything broken?” Emery asked, taking a step back and carefully placing the ice pack on his shoulder. At least it helped cool the fire created by her touch.

“Nah. It’s not even dislocated.” Hud made light of the injury, even if he knew he’d be stiff and sore for several days. “No big deal.”

“It looks like a big deal to me.” Although Emery backed away another step, her gaze melded to his.

The hypnotic, electric sizzle he’d done his best to ignore danced between them. Awed by the sheer strength of it, he wouldn’t have been surprised if whatever snapped between them illuminated the entire kitchen.

He wanted to take Emery in his arms, hold her close, and kiss her until he forgot about everything but loving a beautiful woman.

Instead, he gulped from the glass of milk in front of him.

“See you in the morning,” Emery said, then quietly left the room.

Hud released his breath and rubbed the throbbing pain that suddenly began pounding in his temples. The longer Emery stayed at Summer Creek Ranch, the harder it was to overlook the feelings, undeniable, deep feelings, he held for her.

And that was something he flat-out refused to allow.




One (1) winner will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card and a digital copy of Catching the Cowboy

For a chance to win, fill out this form.

The giveaway will run through June 25, 2020. The winner will be notified within two weeks of the giveaway ending and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Void where prohibited by law or logistics. The giveaway is subject to the policies found here.



Website | + posts

After spending her formative years on a farm in Eastern Oregon, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield turns her rural experiences into sweet historical and contemporary romances filled with sarcasm, humor, and hunky western heroes.
When this USA Today bestselling author isn’t writing or covertly hiding decadent chocolate from the other occupants of her home, Shanna hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.

30 thoughts on “The Magic of Small-Town Romance”

  1. Good morning Shanna- I truly truly loved Summer Creek and all the wonderful towns people who live there. Hud and Emery are the perfect “opposites attract couple“, but Cricket truly stole my heart.
    I felt as if I had known all these wonderful folks all my life.
    You’re a master at writing such sweet romances that stand the test of time. I can’t wait to see what you have in store for Jossy and Nathaniel.
    You have an exceptionally blessed day my sweet friend.

    • Oh, Tonya! Makes my heart so happy that you fell in love with Summer Creek and the characters. Thank you. I had such a grand time creating Cricket’s little character and picturing her in her diva poses. 🙂
      Thank you for your readership and your sweet friendship.
      Have a spectacular day! <3

  2. Shanna, this sounds like a good series. Small-town stories are great because the possibilities are endless…you get things resolved for one set of characters and another is waiting in the wings. They also work because the characters have to rub up against each other, where they are more able to lose themselves in a big town or city. They’re like a microcosm of life. And who doesn’t love a goat?

    • I love small-town stories because, as you say, there are so many possibilities and so many fun side characters.
      And you’re right – who doesn’t love a goat? 😉
      Thank you so, so much!
      Have a fabulous day!

  3. This is a wonderful start to this new series – and as always with Shanna’s descriptive writing you feel like you are right there with them!

  4. Hi Shanna! I look forward to reading these books about Summer Creek. I love small town life. Close friends, neighbor helping neighbor. Romance between couples who have known each other all their lives. So, it will be wonderful to sit down with this series.

  5. Small towns are my favorite. I grew up in a large town near a city. As much as I love going back to see my family, and I definitely miss a few conveniences, no place ever felt as much like home as the little town I live in now. Can’t wait for your next Summer Creek story!

    • That’s so awesome you love your small town life, Jess. It’s just so different from big city living (I lived in Tucson for a while, so I totally get it).
      So appreciate you stopping in today – as well as your readership and especially your friendship. Thank you!

  6. Since I live in Oregon (on the coastal side though!), I am familiar with this area, having traveled through there a few times! I love small towns, having grown up in one in Southern Calif.! They are great and I love reading stories set in them! This looks like a good one and I can’t wait to read it!

    • So fun that you’ve been through that area, Valri. Small town life is so neat, and such fun to write about! Hope you enjoy meeting the Summer Creek characters if you give the book a try.
      Have a fantastic summer and enjoy the gorgeous Oregon coast!

  7. Sounds like a fun read, Shanna. I grew up south of LA and always felt I was in the wrong place. I wanted to live in a small town, maybe on a farm. My ancestors were all farmers, including my dad. But Mom hated farming because she lived such a destitute life on a farm. I think I have farming in my blood. I finally left LA and got to live in a small town (3000 pop) but only for a year. I ended up back in a big town. Not as big as LA, but too big. This is probably why I’m drawn to western fiction. My dad always read Zane Gray and listened to country music. Growing up in the 50s, even in the LA suburbs, I can relate to a bit of what you described. It was a different life back then, a good life. Thanks for all the entertainment you supply through your books.

    • Oh, thank you, Charelene! And if your heart desires to return to a small town, I hope that happens for you some day. I know what you mean about feeling like you are in the wrong place. I lived in Tucson for a while and couldn’t wait to get back to country life. Thank you so much for stopping in today and sharing that with us!

  8. I grew up “in the country” and life was a lot like you describe it. We went to town for groceries (and the Dairy Queen) and then the big town, where they had parking garages! Not really a very big town but sure seemed like it then. I would love to visit Summer Creek and see what happens with Hud and Emery.

  9. A wonderful and thoughtful giveaway. I often regret not writing down the stories told by our grandparents’ and parents’ generations. Sadly they are all gone along with a wealth of information. With families scattered all over the country and the world, families are not passing things down in the oral tradition like they used to.
    Take good care of yourself. Stay safe and healthy.

  10. I grew up in a small city of 12,000. I remember feeling safe. I walked and biked everywhere, even alone at night, or biking alone in the country. We went camping in a state forest about 5 miles away. Everyone knew everybody. I had lots of friends. I hope to return for a big class reunion in 2022. We’ll see how that goes.

  11. Thank you so much for sharing about your awesome sounding book series, I love the covers! Thank you for sharing your book excerpt. I also grew up in a very small town, when my dad build us a home in NM, our house was like the second home there, slowly it grew and got bigger, we would go to the big city for grocery shopping once a week. One of my brothers still lives in the same town and same house where we grew up in, he did make a lot of changes to the house and the town is almost unrecognizable, it has grown into a pretty big town now, growing up we knew everyone that lived in the small town, now, I surely don’t know anyone there except for my brother and his family.

    • Oh, wow, Alicia! That is so neat your dad built a house and your brother still lives there. So neat! And isn’t it amazing how towns grow (or fail) over the years. Nothing stays the same.
      Thanks so much for dropping in and for your kind words. Have a beautiful day!

Comments are closed.