Thursday, February 18, 2010


by Sarah Wendell
Smart Women, Trashy Books

Editor’s Note: We are pleased to welcome our first Guest Blogger, Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books fame. Comment, comment on her post here and please visit her at her site.

When it snows like confetti or it's sunny and the sky is that inimitable blue over Central Park, I love being in New York City. Even more specifically, I love being in New York City reading romances set here. I wasn't born here, so part of me is a perpetual 13-year old girl gawking up at the tops of the buildings (though not standing in the middle of the sidewalk - I know better!). I never cease to be impressed with New York.

So much of romance removes the heroine from the 'artificial' structure and ambitious competition of urban environments like NYC, but I adore romances about the real people who live here. I once read a description of the people in New York comparing them to those clear layered science diagrams of the human body, with the circulatory system layered over the nervous system to create the complete picture, but with no one element touching another. Each person in NYC was like that, according to that author -- each on their own path, not really interacting with anyone else even as a few million went about their own routes each day. That's part of the magic of romances set in NYC: that connection, the moment when the routes change and detours happen and maybe there's a service delay or the bus is held up, but it's worth the alteration.

New York is a character whenever it appears in a romance, I think. Books like Louisa Edwards' New York foodie romances and Maya Banks' THE TYCOON’S REBEL BRIDE use New York as a breathing element to the story, as if it couldn't have happened anywhere else but here.

What are your favorite NYC romances, real or fictional? And what do you think is the City’s most romantic spot?♥

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books is a website that "reviews romance novels from a couple of smart bitches who will always give it to you straight." Visit them at


  1. Great post--you totally encapsulated one of my favorite things about New York, the magic inherent in those moments of connection between people. It doesn't feel like any other city in the world! And I miss it like crazy, which is why I set my books there. : )

    Most romantic spot in the city? I'd have to say the corner of 79th and Amsterdam where my husband went down on one knee in a rainstorm and proposed to me!

  2. Beatriz Chantrill WilliamsFebruary 18, 2010 at 3:08 PM

    Welcome Sarah! You really got me thinking about New York romances, and what strikes me most is how so many of them have such a lovely bittersweet quality. The endless possibilities for connection are balanced by infinite possibilities for heartbreak - missed connections, lives pulled in separate directions, the creativity and volatility so characteristic of the New York personality.

    I don't read a lot of contemporary romance, so my favorite New York love stories come mostly from the movies. "Family Man" comes to mind -- that wonderful Nicolas Cage film about an investment banker given a glimpse of what his life might have been like if he'd stayed in New York with his college sweetheart instead of taking an internship in London. Talk about bittersweet!

    As for the most romantic spot in NYC, I'd have to agree with Louisa: the place where my husband proposed to me, at the great fountain in front of the Metropolitan Opera House!

  3. Hi Sarah! What a great post!

    I don't read a lot of contemporaries, either, so like Beatriz, my favorite love stories come from the movies. My absolute favorite? You've Got Mail. I had just moved to the city while they were filming it - they even filmed right outside my building! But I think Ephron did such a great job of capturing the magic of each season in this city. Each one is unique and beautiful in its own right...though I could use a little less winter :)

    As for the most romantic spots in the city...I love Lincoln Center and Rockefeller Center around Christmas, and Columbus Circle anytime. The West Village is a favorite spot in the summer - we love to eat at our favorite little Italian place and then walk to Magnolia for cupcakes. I feel so lucky to live in such a romantic city :)

    Oh, and thanks for not standing in the middle of the sidewalk!! LOL! Boy, that drives me nuts!!

  4. Welcome Sarah! The most romantic spot in NYC? The backyard at Franny's in Brooklyn. My husband and I have had some great dates there. It might be my favorite place in all of NYC. And the pizza is great!

  5. Hi Sarah! Great to see you here!

    I LOVE New York and I'm not being paid here to sing that, lol. There is an energy that I daresay does not come off the page or the street like it does in New York.

    It's one of the reasons I joined this chapter. Fabulous people and fabulous location. Sure I could have driven to two or three meetings near me in upstate New York but to spend an hour or so on the train going into the city (yes, I even love that part of it) into Grand Central where I meet up with Stacey at Posman Books and onto the meeting. It invigorates me and gives my writing (which I do on the train) an energy boost.

    Let's see romances that take place in NYC. How about the movie You've Got Mail? New York to the core. I'd kill for any one of the apartments Meg Ryan lived in. And her shop. Her shop reminded me of the children's book store - Books of Wonder on 19th Street in Chelsea.

    Best real life romance - a friend's wedding at St. Patrick's Cathedral. The groom was in a drum and bagpipe bank and so came down the eisle dressed in a kilt, his drumsticks tucked in his socks, accompanied by his bandmates who were playing the pipes. Talk about incredible energy. He joined his bride and her daughter at the alter and gave the little girl a heart necklace symbolizing her plae in his heart. Not a dry eye, folks. Not a one.

    He was so stoked by the whole experience that he later commented that it could not have been a more Irish New York experience - apparently even the seats at the alter had shamrocks on them.

    After the wedding Mass, they stepped into the sunshine of 5th Avenue where his bandmates were playing Amazing Grace on the bagpipes, stopping traffic where they stood.

    That's the magic of New York City. That despite everyone's rush to get to their next destination. Make that meeting. Meet that client. Hit that inventory shoe sale. They stopped and took in the site of a couple in love, smiled and went on their way to the strains of the pipes.

  6. Sarah you've pinpointed so many reasons why NYC makes a great place for a romance. Me? As a native New Yawker, I love the dichotomy between the various walks of life that people inhabit. Waitresses rubbing elbows with billionaires, aspiring actresses crossing paths with superstars. Anything can happen in NYC! I particularly like Kathleen O'Reilly's NYC Blaze romances as they really capture the feel of the neighborhoods. Personally, I think NYC makes a great setting for romance because it has something for everyone - from gritty to grand, dark to dreamy. One of my favorite NYC movies is a great, romantic one with Steve McQueen and Natalie Wood, "Love With the Proper Stranger". And an HEA to boot!

  7. Hi Sarah:

    Thanks for being our guest today, and I totally agree that when a novel is set in New York City, the city is never just backdrop. It--she--is a character through and through.

    Most romantic spots for me: the view from pretty much any bridge partic the Brooklyn, pretty much any small, bistro style restaurant in The West Village, pretty much any part of Central Park...As you can see, I'm easy to please as well as very much smitten.

    My personal fav, one of them anyway, is the Ghandi statue in Union Square. Admirers festoon the bronze of the Indian peace leader with flowers year-round and barring the deep winter months, there's always some planting blooming in the backdrop.

    I set a scene from one of my Harlequin Blazes there. The hero and heroine are supposed to meet up by the Lincoln statue. You know the scenario: "if you love me, meet me by 4:00 PM at such-and-such, otherwise I'll be taking that plane back to..." Only the hero screws up and waits by the Ghandi statue instead. The heroine (she's running frantically, of course, and yes, I do believe there's a strong breeze pulling at her clothes and hair)almost misses him--almost. It is a romance novel, after all. ;)

  8. Most romantic spot in NYC? Full Moon Eatery in Little Italy, Bronx. Its where my first date was with /hubby and where he proposed to me. Place has under gone complete renovation since then and the new owners have changed the meny and not for the better. Sigh.
    Best romance set in New York? Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton! Ends sadly but so evocative...


  9. Hey Sarah,

    I live in Staten Island and we sure have romantic places out here. One of my favorites is the observation deck at Van Bresen Park. To get to the top you have to walk through a path, surrounded by hundred year old trees. Once at the top there are benches which over look the Verrazano Bridge, the Brooklyn Skyline as well as the Manhattan skyline. It's romantic and houses a scene from one of my books that I'm in the process of revising.

    I also spend many hours there in the summer writing or just taking a breather to recharge my muse.

  10. I don't think I talked about what my most romantic spot in NYC is... I think it's probably Washington Square Park, and Washington Square in general. My husband went to law school at NYU, and we ended up having dinner around there a LOT. We even have a favorite restaurant - isn't that an essential New York thing, too, right? The place you eat all the time that's "your place?" One more thing to love about NYC.

    Thank you for the warm welcome - I love reading about all of your special locations in the city. Next time I go exploring - you know, deviating from my own personal route! OH SHOCK! - I'll keep my eye out for yours.

    Thank you for the comments and the connection!

  11. Central Park and Liberty Island are the most romantic for me.

    Central Park because you can stroll along the ponds holding hands or lay down on the grass and stare into each other's eyes.

    Liberty Island because she's majestic and you can sit at her feet and gaze at the NYC skyline. During the day, the skyline looks like your little kingdom; at night, the skyline looks like a fairytale world. -- Maria Ferrer

  12. Thanks for this wonderful post, Sarah!

    Central Park is definately, in my opinion, the most romantic part of this city. It was built to be beautiful and has always remained so.

    Thanks for coming to be a guest with us!