I had originally planned on breaking the reviews of these series out into separate posts, but I quickly came to the realization that it would be more beneficial for you guys if these were all in one place. I may do updated posts with a collection of more series I love and recommend, but what I realized was that much like you guys, after watching and loving Virgin River on Netflix, and then burning through the 20-book series and loving that even more (you can read all about the Virgin River book series in my in-depth review here on the blog), all of the series I’ve read since have kind of been in the name of finding book series that were similar to the Virgin River series. Which is the same journey that I know so many of you are on. Virgin River was my first foray in the literary genre of contemporary romance, and because of that I really had idea where to find book series and literary worlds similar to Virgin River. And though I found a few helpful resources that gave me a few great recommendations and got me going me in the right direction, those resources dried up pretty quickly and useful recommendations seemed pretty sparse after that. Hence why I wanted to collect these recommendations here so all of you can find another series to love once you’re done with Virgin River!
I wanted you guys to have a comprehensive resource in one place that might at least carry you through the summer. As I make my way through more series that I love that are similar to the Virgin River series, I’ll be sure to circle back and do a new roundup so you guys have more fun, romantic book series to dive into come fall!
I have to say, every time I think that there’s no way a series could be as good as the last, I find new characters to fall in love with, charming new small towns to get lost in, complicated new family dynamics to become invested in, dreamy new landscapes to construct in my imagination, and new relationships to root for. If I’m being honest, seven series in and I’m still a little bit surprised that I’ve loved this genre as much as I have and I still blush at the idea that I actually read “romance” novels and enjoy them to the extent that I do, but what can I say… I just love a good love story, small town dynamics and a happy ending so much! The heart wants what the heart wants.
The Love & Specs Book Series Heat Meter
Which brings me to another subject that I wanted to make sure I broached for you guys for the sake of transparency and knowing exactly what you’re getting into when diving into each series. As I’m learning is the case with most contemporary romance novels, just like the Virgin River books, all books in all series on this list include at least one sex scene, and some series are steamier, or rather spicier than others. Though I feel like it must be said that in all of the series listed, whether of the mild or spicy variety, I don’t consider the sex scenes to be anything more than a tool used to propel the plot, romantic and otherwise, forward in a realistic fashion. The steamy scenes themselves are always tailored to and representative of the characters involved, which for me, makes these romances and these stories in general feel so much more authentic. But because I know that everyone’s sensibilities are a little bit different when it comes to that sort of thing (all sensibilities are welcome here!), I’ve included a “heat meter” key below. In my descriptions of each series on this list you’ll see one, two or three chili peppers listed next to the the “Heat Meter” heading, so use the key below to give you an idea of what that translates to when reading that series so you aren’t blindsided!
Love & Specs Book Series Heat Meter Key:
🌶: Typically one sex scene, detailed but relatively tame
🌶🌶: One steamy, possibly two steamy, detailed sex scene
🌶🌶🌶: Multiple sex scenes, very steamy, detailed
Where Can I Buy All of These Books?
Another important thing to note is how to easily access all of the books in all of the series listed. I’ve found that the easiest way to find and read all of the books in any of these series is to either buy them on Amazon (in physical paperback form or on Kindle) or download them on your iPad, e-reader, computer, phone or whatever digital device you read on. Personally, I use iBooks on both my iPad and my iPhone to read books, which is awesome because iBooks syncs between my iPad and phone so I can pick up right where I left off on either device. Right now, you’ll mostly catch me reading on my iPhone in “dark mode” which has a black background with white text. Easier on the eyes! I also love that when I’m finished with one book, I can download the next one and start reading right away and don’t have to hunt it down in store or online and wait to find out what happens next. Which is exactly why diving into these series is so awesome right now – the laid-back summer fun is endless and it’s right at your fingertips!
List of the Best Book Series That are Like the Virgin River Series
The Thunder Point Series (by Robyn Carr)
Dialogue: Realistic, Funny, Casual, Sharp, Witty
Characters: Smart, Tough, Industrious, Accomplished, Complicated Histories, Wide Variety of Admirable Occupations
Heat Meter: 🌶
Setting: Oregon Coast
Vibe: Small Town Dynamics and Friendships, Compelling Conflict, Coastal Oregon Life
I gave an extensive breakdown and review of this awesome Thunder Point book series, which is a spinoff of the Virgin River series, in its own blog post last month, so click here to read all about it!
Thunder Point Series Books in Chronological Order
Sullivan’s Crossing (by Robyn Carr)
Dialogue: Realistic, Funny, Casual, Sharp, Witty
Characters: Tough, Kind, Intelligent, Altruistic, Outdoorsy, Funny, Complex
Heat Meter: 🌶
Setting: Rocky Mountains, Colorado
Vibe: Successful Big City Folks Find Solitude & Love in The Mountains, Heartfelt Small Town Friendships, Altruistic Neighbors, Complicated, Complex, Close Family Dynamics, Thrilling Conflict
I’m rounding out my deep dive into the wonderful world of Robyn Carr by talking all about another deliciously romantic, super fun, heartfelt book series by her that naturally, I loved. It’s the Sullivan’s Crossing series, which follows but is not a spinoff of the Thunder Point and Virgin River series, and delivers just as much of that Robyn Carr small town romance goodness I’ve come to know and love, with some really fun differences, twists and turns that I thoroughly enjoyed. Unlike Virgin River and Thunder Point, the Sullivan’s Crossing world doesn’t take place in a town called Sullivan’s Crossing. Sullivan’s Crossing is actually point of interest in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado where the Colorado and Continental Divide trails intersect and where hikers, campers, climbers and soul-searching drifters of all kinds can get a good night’s rest in one of the cabins, cozy up by the fire and camp out by the lake, stock up on provisions and be on their way or hang out for an indefinite amount of time to take in all of the natural beauty, outdoor activity and general solitude that surrounds them in the Colorado Mountains. Sullivan’s Crossing gets its name from the Sullivan family who’ve owned and operated the general store and the campgrounds/cabins there for generations and the series kicks off by introducing us to Maggie Sullivan, a successful young surgeon who’s on a collision course to some seriously destructive burnout (both professionally and romantically) when she heads back to Sullivan’s Crossing to be with her dad, resident patriarch Frank “Sully” Sullivan. Sully now runs the operation at Sullivan’s Crossing and is a wise old codger with a heart of gold that’s sort of the backbone of the world of Sullivan’s Crossing and the reason for almost everything that happens throughout this series, in some way or another. This series includes all of the things I love about Deborah Carr’s writing and more – realistic dialogue, sharp as a tack observations, strong, successful female characters, relatable, endearing female friendships, a small town setting that thrives on altruism, neighbors being good neighbors, dreamy descriptions of the surrounding landscape, more seriously gripping conflict and gut wrenching adversity, practicality in all things, and most importantly, love stories that snap, crackle and pop long after each book’s end. Much like the Virgin River series, I fell in love with the characters and character dynamics in this series, and was pleasantly surprised that they differ slightly from Carr’s typical character profiles in both the Virgin River and Thunder Point series. In Sullivan’s Crossing, all of our central characters have a really interesting backstory with a lot of seriously impressive and always useful skill sets to their names (doctors, accomplished attorneys, etc.) and within that Carr tackles some really complex and very real issues like mental health and domestic abuse, which I appreciated because it gave the characters and the relationships between them, romantic or otherwise, so much more depth and relatability. There are two families that become intertwined and subsequently the focus of this series. The Sullivan family and the the Jones family, the latter of which has some pretty complicated history to unpack throughout the series, and neither of which have traditional family dynamics or structure by any means, which kept it exciting!
Sullivan’s Crossing Series Books in Chronological Order
The Mustang Ridge Series (by Jesse Hayworth)
Dialogue: Realistic, Fun, Funny
Characters: Brawny Cowboys, Successful, Complex Women, Funny, Tough Cowgirls, Lovable, Wise Matriarchs/Patriarchs
Heat Meter: 🌶
Vibe: Ranching, Family, Small Town Friendships/Entanglements, Horses, Dogs, Cowboys/Cowgirls
This has been one of my very favorite book series since diving into the hunt for book series that are similar to the Virgin River, Thunder Point and Sullivan’s Crossing series and that’s mostly thanks to the fun, funny, realistic dialogue throughout and the dreamy, compelling cowboy/cowgirl romances between each book’s central characters. I also really enjoyed the setting in this one, taking place on a dreamy, picturesque dude ranch in Wyoming where hard work and simple living are art the heart of everything they do. Other things I loved about the Mustang Ridge series? First, there are dogs. So. Many. Dogs. Almost every central character has or ends up with and loves a dog in this series, and the power of animal companionship in general is certainly a theme in this series, which as an animal lover, I absolutely loved. The relationships between humans and their animals added so much depth to every character profile and even every romantic relationship, and that element of this series just hit me right in the feels. I also found that I was kind of swept away by the detail in all of the ranch speak in this series. I don’t know much about Jesse Hayworth, the writer behind this series, but after reading this series I have to imagine that she has intimate experience with horses, working ranches and/or dude ranches. It’s clear she knows what she’s talking about, and the level of detail with which Hayworth writes about the duty and dedication in caring for both the ranch and the horses that reside there adds a really distinctive layer of depth to these stories and relationships. If you don’t have some level of reverence for these majestic beasts and the unique, beautiful lens through which one can see the world atop a horse by the end of this series, I’d be shocked! And just when I thought the first book’s central characters and the romance between them couldn’t be topped (wowza it was so, so good), I couldn’t put books two and three down. And then the rest followed suit. I love the supporting characters, i.e. the entire extended Skye family and the family friends around which this series centers, just as much as the central characters in every book. I want them to adopt me! Specifically, I want Skye family matriarch Gran to adopt me. Her hilarious relationship to her “200-year-old” sourdough starter, which she lovingly calls “Herman”, and all of the detail around her kitchen exploits was such a fun, funny, lovable storyline woven into this series that added so much heart to the picture I painted in my mind of the dynamic at Mustang Ridge. By the end I missed the adorable, openhearted, endlessly patient, wise Gran as much as I missed the rest of the characters and couples. Then there’s the setting. The breathtaking picture of the lush, varied, sweeping Wyoming landscape Hayworth painted made me feel like I could see it, smell it, taste it. If her goal is to make you feel the magic of Mustang Ridge and the Wyoming landscape in general, mission accomplished. It’s altogether so enchanting and instantly makes you want to throw on a pair of chaps, mount a horse and ride out under the moonlight to find one of the several waterfalls referenced in the series. And then there’s the women. Not only are all of the women we meet at Mustang Ridge formidable in their own, unique way, but their relationship to each other became one of my favorite storylines throughout the series as a whole and again, makes me want to be pulled into their world and become one of the girls. It totally left me saying, “Can I sit with you?!” For me, the warmth and camaraderie that dripped from the page when the girls got together filled my heart with so much happiness and gave this series so much more to relate to and love. Just another reason I wish Mustang Ridge was a real dude ranch that I could visit!
Mustang Ridge Series Books in Chronological Order
The Copper Ridge Series (by Maisey Yates)
Dialogue: Casual, Realistic, Fun, Funny, Relatable
Characters: Brawny, Complicated Cowboys, Driven, Self-Sufficient, Relatable Women, Fiery Cowgirls, Complicated Matriarchs/Patriarchs
Heat Meter: 🌶🌶🌶
Location: Oregon Coast
Vibe: Cowboys/Cowgirls, Ranching, the Rodeo, Complicated Family Dynamics
This, along with its follow-up series listed below, Gold Valley, was another one of my very favorite series that I’ve read during my quest to find book series I love that are similar to Virgin River, and I can say with certainty that that’s due to Maisey Yate’s realistic, funny, deliciously clever dialogue and banter between these ultra lovable characters. Set in the small, rural, coastal Oregon town of Copper Ridge, this is another cowboy/rodeo/ranch-focused series, though Yates focuses more on the characters, their backstories and their general ranching/rodeo occupations or obligations rather than providing tons of detail about the inner workings of ranch life. The setting, the family dynamics and the steamier than steamy romantic relationship in Book 1 of the Copper Ridge series grabbed me right away, and it only got better and more fun in the books that followed. I didn’t stumble upon this series until after I’d read most of the other series on this list, and after reading the first Copper Ridge book, it completely renewed my excitement for this little project of mine. Not only was the dialogue between the characters so fun, funny, casual and realistic, but the female characters are beyond lovable and just generally awesome. This series includes regular, full-length books that are connected by families, characters and storylines like the rest of the series on this list, but it also includes shorter novellas that are set in Copper Ridge but only very loosely tied to the storylines in the full-length books, and it also includes other shorter books categorized as “Harlequin Desire” books. I was really into the connecting storyline and characters in the full-length Copper Ridge books, so I decided to skip most of those novellas and all of the Harlequin Desire books for the most part, with the exception of novellas < em>A Copper Ridge Christmas and Hometown Heartbreaker. The full-length books’ storylines all connect to each other chronologically without interruption, so skipping the Harlequin Desire books and the novellas won’t leave you with any missing detail if you solely stick to the full-length books. That said, the full-length books are broken up into the stories of three different Copper Ridge ranching families – the Garretts, the Wests and the Donnellys. The first three books focus on the Garretts, the next 3 focus on the Wests and then the next 4 focus on the Donnellys. Upon reflection and serious consideration, I still can’t decide which family of the three is my favorite between the Garretts, the Wests and the Donnellys. The Garrett children were such a tight knit, complex crew and the love stories in that group were super steamy, with a lot of heart. They were our introduction to the town of Copper Ridge and their connections to the community and the heartfelt storylines pulled me in right from the jump. But then the Wests came along with their complicated family dynamics, their outlaw antics, and equal amounts of fire and rebellion between the West men and the West women, and the love stories were just as exciting and passionate as the Garetts with a fun flair for surprises. And then came the crazy, hilarious, complicated Donnelly brothers. If I absolutely had to decide, this brood may be my favorite of the three, simply because the Donnelly brothers and the ladies they fall in love with seem like a group I’d have a lot of tipping one back with. They’re just an all around fun, funny and delightfully dynamic group with a wide range of personalities between them, and it made me completely fall in love with the happenings at Laughing Irish Ranch, the ranch bequeathed to the brothers by their grandfather and the reason for the brothers reuniting. I also loved the female friendships forged in this one. Their friendships felt very genuine to female friendships – complicated, complex, not altogether perfect, but kind of hilariously realistic in their imperfections and so darn genuine. My heart felt right at home with these ladies.
Copper Ridge Series Books in Chronological Order
The Gold Valley Series (by Maisey Yates)
Heat Meter: 🌶🌶🌶
Dialogue: Casual, Realistic, Fun, Funny, Relatable
Characters: Brawny, Complicated Cowboys, Driven, Self-Sufficient, Relatable Women, Fiery Cowgirls, Complicated Matriarchs/Patriarchs & Family Dynamics
Heat Meter: 🌶🌶🌶
Setting: Rural Oregon
Vibe: Cowboys/Cowgirls, Ranching, the Rodeo, Complicated Family Dynamics
This is the series I’m currently reading, and though I have yet to get through all of the full-length books already published (it looks like there have been 8 full-length books published in this series so far and 3 coming very soon – so excited for those!) , I have gotten a pretty good sense of it now that I’m almost finished with book 6. The Gold Valley series is a spinoff or really a continuation of the Copper Ridge series, and has been everything I loved about that series and more. The Copper Ridge and Gold Valley worlds intersect as the two towns are set in the same county in Oregon, so the characters intertwine in small ways throughout the series though that isn’t the focus. This series has been just as much fun to read as the Copper Ridge series, with romances that steam up the page and make me love Maisey Yates’ realistic, funny, heartfelt dialogue and cowboy/cowgirl characters even more. The female characters in this series are also just as much fun to get to know as the female characters in the Copper Ridge series, which is one of the things I love about Yates’ writing so much. She writes women so honestly, so accurately and so sharply. It’s like all of the women in the Gold Valley series, with all of their varying personalities, backgrounds and emotional complexity, speak to the complexity within all women, which I really love. You can see parts of yourself in or relate to every woman she writes as the series goes on. As a female reader, that makes this series so much fun to dive into and very satisfying. My favorite women in the mix so far? The formidable, industrious Lindy and the quirky, animal-loving Beatrix. Those two dug right into my soul. Other things I loved about this series so far? The first 6 books focus their attention on one ranching family, the Dodge family, and the family is full of brawny cowboys dedicated to all aspects of running the family dude ranch and one spicy cowgirl whose book I’m currently reading and loving so far. From brothers Bennett, Wyatt, Grant and a friend/ranch hand who’s like a brother, Luke, to their sister Jamie, they’re just another family Yates has written whose dynamic and familial relationships you completely fall in love with. This family is also about as steamy and complicated as it gets, and they only get more complicated as we dive deeper into their world. I’ve also particularly enjoyed the romantic relationships and pairings in this series so far, and when I think about why that is I think it’s because not only are all of the characters so darn dynamic and lovable on their own, but the romances between each book’s central characters are believable and totally steam up the page because of that believability. The chemistry in this series so far is out of this world! At its core, this is another book about ranchers and rodeo kings/queens. So getting up with the sun to attend to one’s duties, horses, the wild world of rodeo and their loyalty to their shared ranching responsibilities and in turn, to each other as both family and business partner
s, is one of the thematic threads that Yates weaves throughout both the Copper Ridge and Gold Valley series and one of the reasons I love her stories so much. Even though the romances and the adversity her characters face can be tangled and sometimes thoroughly heartbreaking, their way of life, their general altruism and their basic understanding of what’s important in life is so simple. And that’s darned charming. The dialogue in this series is also realistic, sharp and funny, and the tone varies from book to book to match the central character’s profiles, which is just another thing I love so much about Yates’ writing. It makes these characters so much more relatable and realistic. Right now in book 6 I think Yates is starting to transition us, as readers, to a new family that she’ll be focusing on in the next few Gold Valley books, the Dalton family, and I can already tell that this wild family dynamic is going to be just as interesting as the Dodge family’s!
Gold Valley Series Books in Chronological Order
Book 9: The Bad Boy of Redemption Ranch (coming soon)
Book 10: The Hero of Hope Springs (coming soon)
Book 11: The Last Christmas Cowboy (coming soon)
The Silver Creek Series (by Laura Moore)
Heat Meter: 🌶🌶
Dialogue: Slightly more formal
Characters: Complex, Accomplished, Intelligent, Formidable, Sexy, Slightly Sophisticated Cowboys & Cowgirls
Setting: Northern California
Vibe: Ranching (with a luxury tilt), Horses, Cowboys/Cowgirls, Dogs, Close & Lovable Family Dynamics
Set on a successful, sprawling luxury dude ranch in Northern California, Silver Creek Ranch, this series is centered around the Knowles family and more specifically, the three Knowles heirs, Ward, Reid and Quinn. Each book focuses on one of the deliciously compelling Knowles siblings and their efforts to not only find their respective place in running the opulent guest ranch, but also, of course, their romantic endeavors, which are slightly steamier than what you’ll find in any of Deborah Carr’s series. Heck, the book covers alone are the steamiest of any series on this list! One thing I should note about this series is that I was a little bit distracted by the formality of the dialogue in the first book as it was my first experience with Laura Moore’s writing style (formal in the sense that some of the dialogue seemed slightly unnatural for the age and profile of the characters speaking), but by the time I reached Book 2 I was totally used to it and it didn’t hinder my enjoyment of this series at all. It’s also possible that it was just me, so take that with a grain of salt. That said, for so many reasons I absolutely loved this series and most of all, loved the family, the character dynamics and of course, the steamy romances which despite the more formal nature of the dialogue, are in no way uptight or unrealistic. These romances just… burn up the page! Love scenes aside, these romantic relationships are just plain spicy in nature and I loved every single one of the romantic pairings throughout the series. Other things I absolutely loved about this series? One of the most memorable and impactful aspects of this series was the Knowles as a family unit. Their relationships with each other and the unique duality between no frills ranch hands and polished, dedicated business owners gave their characters so much more depth than the cowboys and cowgirls in some of the other series mentioned on this list. All of the characters were a really nice mixture of brains and brawn, and I loved that balance and complexity. I also loved all of the Knowles’ as individual characters in their own right. One storyline and character that served as an endearing heartbeat throughout this entire series was Knowles family matriarch Adele Knowles, whose genius matchmaking skills serve as the catalyst that drives all of the romantic relationships in this story and refreshingly, her profile isn’t as a villainous mother figure, it’s as a subtly strong, supportive ally. I also felt such a kinship with the daughter in the Knowles siblings trio, Quinn, who’s an animal lover through and through and whose passel of goats/dogs/parrots were such a fun part of the ranch dynamic and Silver Creek story overall. When it came time for Quinn’s book and love story, I was thrilled to dive into a book that focused on her character because she was just so lovable. There’s also a new canine friend in every book, which you know I loved, and I loved the ranch setting in general in this one, which basically meant that I loved the animals and the horses as much as the hunky cowboys and capable, complex women. I also loved that Silver Creek is a luxury guest ranch – the cabins sound like an absolute dream and that upscale dude ranch vibe was something that was kind of new and different from the rest of the series and ranch settings on this list. Oh and Roo, the ranch’s quirky Australian chef’s pastry creations sound absolutely heavenly and had me drooling (and starving) after every description! And much like Jesse Hayworth (writer of the Mustang Ridge series), Laura Moore really seems to have intimate knowledge of and experience with horses (or she’s just incredibly well researched) and I found myself falling in love with her descriptions of each horse and their place on the ranch. The horses are characters in their own right in the Silver Creek series and add another interesting, romantic dimension to their human counterparts that completely swept me off my feet.
Silver Creek Series Books in Chronological Order
The Rosewood Trilogy (by Laura Moore)
Heat Meter: 🌶🌶
Dialogue: Slightly more formal
Characters: Complex, Accomplished, Intelligent, Formidable, Sexy, Slightly Sophisticated
Setting: Virginia Horse Farm
Vibe: Old Money, Sophisticated Southern Horse Farms, Cowboys, Southern Small Town Dynamics, Sisterly Bonds
If I absolutely had to choose, this Rosewood series was probably my least favorite of the series listed, but honestly that’s kind of irrelevant because I still thoroughly enjoyed reading it! I can’t help myself. This series focuses on three sisters’ bid to run the Virginia horse farm their late father left them, which thanks to their father’s poor financial choices isn’t exactly solvent, leaving the sisters to pick up the pieces and claw their way out of the mess. But it isn’t a regular old horse farm or dude ranch. This one is set in Virginia “Hunter Jumper” territory, and the family’s entire existence revolves around breeding, training and selling and impressive Hunter Jumper horses to high profile and high paying clients. As compared to the average cattle or dude ranch found in the rest of the series listed, that’s a slightly more sophisticated tilt on the whole ranching thing, which makes this series a lot less about cowboys and cowgirls than these three formidable sisters struggling to find their place in this high stakes world and the complicated, sometimes pretty surprising romances that find them along the way. Another unique element that sets this series apart from the rest is that the ladies completely lead the way and run the show in this series, making it an especially fun read for someone who, like me, grew up in a pack of sisters. And the character profiles between the three sisters couldn’t be more different, which added a layer of depth and relatability to this series for me as a female reader and again, as a sister. The series begins by focusing on sister Margo, who’s a successful supermodel and begrudgingly returns to run the farm after years away (which I immediately found a little bit more unrealistic than the character profiles in the other series). The 2nd book focuses on Margo’s much more domesticated, mild-mannered and recently divorced older sister Jordan, and the 3rd book focuses on their fiery, rebellious younger half sister Jade, whose love story couldn’t have been more surprising or steamy! I have to say that I particularly enjoyed Jodran’s book because it focused on her romance with a dreamy architect whose design firm restores old Southern homes to their former glory, and the book ended up being as much about the restoration of old homes as it was about the romance, which for obvious reasons was really fun for me! I also found book 2/Jordan’s book to be the most believable storyline in general, though the romance was still as steamy as the rest, so that was probably part of the reason I enjoyed that one so much. There was also some really juicy high society Southern drama that was mixed into the series that was really fun to read, and that added so much color to the world Moore created here!