The Familiar or the Faraway with Barbara Lohr

BLohr Headshot[3]


Hello everyone and many thanks to Romance Bandits and Donna MacMeans for having me visit. Love sharing ideas about books and reading habits. Since early fall is often a good time to travel, I’ve been thinking how books help us enjoy the cozy spots that carry warm memories…or the foreign country that speeds the pulse. As I write this I’m headed to Michigan. The state and Lake Michigan hold a lot of great memories. Beach reads have become so popular and Summer Riptide, my latest novella, is set in a town along Lake Michigan. The Lithuanian bakery, the street dances, the art fairs high on the dunes—it can all come back in a book. Do you have a favorite beach or a small town setting that reminds where you’ve been or where you’d like to be?

From Anne of Green Gables to Misty of Chincoteague, a lot of us grew up yearning for “that place” – beach, small town or foreign shore. Sometimes we just need to get away.BarbaraLohr_HerFavoriteHoneymoon800 (2) The plot might be magical, as in the Harry Potter series. A suspenseful psychological thriller, Regency romance or a time travel offer similar release valves from reality. According to the data, romances are wildly popular because they give women a much needed escape.

By their very nature, foreign countries can tee up adventure and romance. My Windy City series is set in Chicago but the characters often end up at a beach house…or traipsing off to a foreign locale because, well, girls just want to have fun. Writers like Elizabeth Adler made it clear that romance is better on a foreign shore…or more thrilling on a cruise ship as in Mary Higgins Clark’s You Belong to Me.

gondolasSetting a novel along the road is such fun. In Her Favorite Honeymoon, 2nd in the series, Amy cancels her wedding, but boy, she cannot give up that honeymoon in Tuscany. She goes online to find a companion but doesn’t realize that in the South, Mallory can be a man. Let the games begin.

Le Cinque Terre is perhaps the loveliest coastal string of towns in Italy. Or is it Rapallo? No matter, Amy and Mallory find fun and romance along the way. He is a true southern gentleman who’s been hoodwinked by his last wife, so he’s delighted when her family shows up unexpectedly. Le Cinque rialto 2Terre, Florence, Venice—the romantic romp takes them to some of the best known sites in Italy. Could this actually happen? Probably not. Do we want it to? Absolutely.

VernazzaHow about you? Care to share your favorite memory or setting? Small town or foreign shore? Or perhaps even another century? From those who chime in today, I’ll pull one name for a signed copy of Her Favorite Honeymoon. Can’t wait to hear what you think.

For a sneek peek at Barbara’s work, check out the excerpts at

Posted in , , , , ,



  • Amy Conley says:

    I guess he’s staying. 🙂

  • Amy Conley says:

    There is a small beach off the Outer Banks were very few people go and I LOVE it there. My sisteer says, “It’s 2 hours away from here (here being Chesapeake, Va), like that’s soooo far away. Pooey I say to her. It is a beautiful drive, the beach is lovely and usually quiet, even at the top of the season.

    • Amy –

      That sounds beautiful. I’d LOVE to live two hours from the ocean. I’d be able to get my ocean fix whenever I needed it. 🙂 Sounds like the perfect setting for a book. Cool that you found a spot that’s open even during the season.

    • Barbara Lohr says:

      Hi Amy, That coast has many beautiful beaches–all gorgeous settings for books, as seen in Anne RIver SIddons’ work. I’m partial to Tybee Island (which was mentioned in “FIfty Shades.” From the details I think the author was familiar with the area, even the restaurant that smells of cleaning products!). We live near there in the winter and although I love Michigan, there’s nothing like those long, flat ocean beaches!


  • Jane says:

    Welcome Barbara,
    My cousin lives in Michigan and every time I go visit I head over to Dearborn and pick up some baklava. Some of my favorite settings include San Francisco and Chicago because they do remind me of my hometown.

    • Jane –
      Isn’t Dearborn Michigan where they have that village of historical homes and a really cool museum connected to Henry Ford? I didn’t know they were known for baklava. Love visiting San Francisco and Chicago. Those two cities definitely have definite personalities.

    • Barbara Lohr says:

      Jane, Michigan is a favorite of mine. In fact, we just got back from Michigan, where there are many ethnic communities. In my short story “Summer Riptide,” I mention a Lithuanian bakery that produces wonderful kolaches. Unfortunately we found the bakery closed due to family illness. Thanks for sharing your favorite haunt!


  • flchen1 says:

    How fabulous, Barbara! This sounds like such a fun premise for a story!

    Favorite setting? San Diego! So lovely, so many great places to walk and eat, and we have great memories of being with friends there!

    • Hi Fichen –
      I love San Diego, the beaches, the perfect weather, Coronado Island, the zoo… It would make a wonderful setting for a novel.

    • Barbara Lohr says:

      You know, I have never been to San DIego although I visited San Francisco many times and will have to work it into one of my novels. The wharves and the great sea food are especially fun and I love, love Sausalito.


  • Helen says:

    Hi Barbar

    I do love the sound of this story I love to travel although I mostly do it through the books I read 🙂 I have been on a couple of cruies around the South Pacific and we are doing another cruise to New Zealand in November and I am sure that I am going to find some great places on that one the last cruise took us to Fiji and one of the ports we visited was Port Denarue and it was so lovely and the people so friendly, my daughter is in The States at the moment on a holiday she has been to LA and is now in San Francisco having a great time

    Have Fun

    • Helen –

      I’m jealous! I would love to cruise around the South Pacific. Now I’ll have that song “Some Enchanted Evening” stuck in my head 🙂 Oh well – there are worse things 🙂

    • Barbara Lohr says:

      Hi Helen, you have visited some very intriguing places. Fiji — how exotic! I’m hearing more about cruises to New Zealand and would love to go there. I believe “The Piano” was filmed in that country. “Favorite Honeymoon” is on sale this week for only .99, although you may win one for commenting! Since I’m a foodie as well as an art museum enthusiast, there’s a lot of that in the book…and it’s a romantic comedy. Kinda fun. Barbara

  • Deanna says:

    About 17 years ago, my beloved and I, in our early days went away for a romantic weekend to a small town about 3 hours outside of the city we were living in. Back then, it was a romantic getaway with a few quaint B&Bs, a lavendar farm, a somewhat questionable day spa and a main street that was all of 6 shops. We returned recently and drove through, stopping for a few hours. Today, the town has grown into a very long main street with lots and lots of shops, many trendy cafes, a few side streets that branched off into other shopping areas, and even a few shopping malls. So very different. We were quite shocked at the change, though why we are surprised is another surprise. After all, it has been 17 years and things changes. Obviously, this town has grown quite a lot and has become quite a tourist attraction. I chatted with a few of the locals, one of whom had lived in the town for about 20 years and he remembered the town way back when, as I remembered it. We had a good time reminiscing. Hubs and I thought it would be a walk down memory lane but that was not the case for this small town.

    • Barbara Lohr says:

      Hi Deanna, sounds as if you were disappointed in the change. That can happen. In “Summer RIptide,” some of the details are memories. Town that grow and thrive are lucky. So many small towns here are having trouble in the states…lack of jobs. My husband and I just returned from a trip through B n’ B’s — very fun. But we noticed that two of the small towns have thrived but one had too many for sale signs. Talking to the people in the shops made me feel bad. But things can cycle back. I keep huge photo albums so I have pictures of the way things were and I mine them for story details. And I create story boards with a town setup that often guides my work. Thanks for stopping by! Barbara

  • Mary Preston says:

    For me it’s the Sunshine Coast, QLD. I have been holidaying there most of my life. The memories are ALL good & wrapped up around family and special times.

    My parents retired to there & I have other family there as well.

    • Barbara Lohr says:

      Mary, is the Sunshine Coast in Australia? I am not familiar with it but I think our childhood haunts hold a special place in our hearts. For one thing, we go with family so there’s a lot tied up in that and those early years often take on idyllic perspective. Many writers pen vivid novels from those memories. Pat Conroy’s South Carolina work can be rather painful but wonderfully rich as well. The woods of upper Wisconsin have that charm for me. My uncle’s cabin was heated by a pot bellied stove.One whiff of wood fire and I’m back there. I’m trying to pull together a memoir for my family but my writing schedule is very busy. Thanks for stopping by! Barbara

  • Hi Barbara! Lovely to see you here. Donna, thanks for inviting Barbara today.

    Congratulations on the new releases. Love the mistaken identity plot of My Favorite Honeymoon. They’re always fun.

    It’s funny – Cinque Terre seems to be the destination a la mode for my Australian friends at the moment. A whole stack of them have been – and came back raving about how fabulous it was. A friend’s daughter was recently married there in a villa right on the top of a cliff with the sea behind it. The photos were just so beautiful! A perfect romantic setting.

    • Barbara Lohr says:

      Oh my word, Anna. How romantic would that be to be married in Cinque Terre? It is so romantic and remote. You have to travel through the towns by train that cuts through the cliffs or by boat. The towns have retained their old world charm. Lots of fishermen. Australians are frequent visitors to Europe, or so I’m told by friends who have children living there.

      Thanks for having me today. Barbara

  • Debbie Oxier says:

    This isn’t small town or foreign shore but of the favorite places I’ve visited, it has to be Washington D. C. It’s hard to put into words how I felt when I was there. The place of power, the place where world-changing decisions were made, the place where famous people once walked as our government was formed. In spite of all of our problems, I still think we are the greatest country on earth and we were truly blessed by God. I think about George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln walking and talking there and it sends chills down my spine. For just a short time I got to be there, imagining the meetings that took place, the conversations, the steps taken, right or wrong, that would decide our future and I loved it. Would love to go again someday.

    • Barbara Lohr says:

      Hi Debbie, I love DC for all the reasons you mentioned. The Vietnam Wall and Lincoln Memorial are awe inspiring, aren’t they? Have you visited the Newseum? It’s the newest museum in DC and presents journalism from all countries. Loved it. But the art museums hold a special charm for me. And they’re all free so you can dash back to see your favorites. Thanks for stopping by! Barbara

  • Shannon says:

    I grew up in a small town. I love the urban setting for so much to do, so much to see. My favorite beach is Myrtle Beach–lots of high rises with fabulous amenities. My favorite hotel/condo has 32 water features. There’s nothing like sitting in a hot tub in November looking at the shore.

    • Barbara Lohr says:

      Hi Shannon, small towns have such charm and usually, or so I hear, the people are close-knit. Kids complain that they can never mess up because everyone knows them! I have never been to Myrtle Beach but 32 water features…wow!


  • Margaret Crowley says:

    Second Honeymoon sounds like a fun romp of a read. And Tuscany? Swoon. What’ s not to love about Italy — good food, gorgeous people, beautiful golden sunlight, art and architecture to die for? And now a fun story set there. I’m sold.

    • Barbara Lohr says:

      You are so right, Margaret. Didn’t meet a cup of pistachio gelato I didn’t love. And I had ten pounds to prove it! But in “Favorite Honeymoon,” Amy is concerned with more fun than frittatas! Thanks for stopping by.


  • Sally Schmidt says:

    Of course it wasn’t reality, but growing up I thought it would be wonderful to have the family vacation from the 50’s and 60’s movies where the family stays in their beautiful beach house for the 3 summer months and father leaves his suit and briefcase at home in the city every weekend and joins them. Looked ideal. In my own real life, we have had several special getaways that bring back memories: Disneyland trips for 15th & 40th anniversaries, Morro Beach, B&B in Sacramento. We are just finishing the remodel of our back yard complete with pond and patio – so maybe I will get my version of the summer at the beach after all.

    • Barbara Lohr says:

      Hi Sally, I have to apologize. For some reason I didn’t see your post this morning! Your comments about the 50s and 60s remind me of Cary Grant in “Mr. Blanding Builds His Dream House.” The weekend dad was common for some families. The Michigan beach community I refer to in “Summer Riptide” is 50% Chicago families! Sounds like you’ve taken your family on some memorable family trips…and your pool and patio can become a family gathering place. With my own kids, I always refer to “making memories.” That’s the important thing–more than where you go. Thanks for your comments!


  • Laurie G says:

    Ephraim in Door County , Wisconsin is a beautiful, picturesque spot overlooking a harbor on Green Bay.

    I grew up in a city Two Rivers, surrounded by Lake Michigan on three sides, so it will always share a piece of my heart: long walks/runs, friendly gatherings, kite festivals, freezing swims, pretty sunrises…lots of wonderful memories!

    My oldest son and his wife visited the Amalfi Coast, hiked the trails around the Five Finger area and took a train to the Dolomite Mountains. Gorgeous pictures!

    My daughter honeymooned on the Greek Islands of Santorini and Mykonos . Their pictures also looked gorgeous!.

    • Barbara Lohr says:

      Laurie, What beautiful places you’ve mentioned. I love Door County. We talked about taking the ferry from Ludington to Manitowoc (think that’s right).

      This is very weird about Two RIvers because one of my grandparents was from there. The Macintyres. My uncle used to drive back for the great liver sausage that Mom fried and spread on french bread.

      So glad your daughter liked the Amalfi Coast. Rapallo (in the book) was on that coast, north of Portofino. And that honeymoon? Unforgettably beautiful. Trips like that become novels 🙂

      Thanks for visiting and, if you have time, let me know if you know my relatives!


      • Laurie G says:

        Yes, the Badger ferry travels from Manitowoc to Ludington. I took a trip on it when I was in second grade. I don’t think I slept all night. We went to Mackinac Island and Niagra Falls.

        I’m not familiar with any MacIntyres. My mom’s maiden name was LaFond and my dad’s name was Weld. He was a MD/GP for over 35 years.

        TR has a large German, French and Polish population. Kolatches, cream puffs, smoked fish, smelt, bratwurst and beer.

        • Barbara Lohr says:

          You have never tasted a real cream puff until you’ve had a Wisconsin cream puff. We went to the fair in large part for those…well, and the brats and the fresh corn dipped in vats of butter.

          But I digress!


  • anne says:

    What a lovely post. Congratulations on this intriguing book. A charming beach which I loved when the kids were young was on Lake Huron, pristine, beautiful and special. Since then we haven’t returned but hope to one day soon.

    • Barbara Lohr says:

      Hi Anne, I’m sure your children will always remember your times at the beach with them. Mine sure do! Just something about water, where ever the shore may be. Thanks for stopping by today.


  • elaina says:

    My heart beat a mile a minute since Italy, Cinque Terre, Florence and Tuscany are all captivating locales. My favorite in that area would be Levanto. A quaint but beautiful village set by the sea with a gorgeous promenade.

  • Barbara Lohr says:

    Hi Elaina, Have to look up Levanto. Not familiar with it but given that name, I assume the town is high up on some cliff. Sounds lovely. Yes, I love Florence. Amy and Mallory find it quite romantic in “Her Favorite Honeymoon.” How could it not be, right?


  • pearl says:

    Enjoyed this beautiful post with photos and information. Congrats. A destination of rare scenic vistas is Moraine Lake and the Canadian Rockies. Superlative and unforgettable.

    • Barbara Lohr says:

      Hi Pearl, Just pulled up some images and the Canadian Rockies are going on my bucket list! There is a classic film set in the rockies…and a love song, or love call. But I cannot recall the name of it! Thanks for visiting and your kind words.


  • Yay! My internet is back! Didn’t mean to abandon you all but I had no way to connect. I’m much more sane now 🙂

    • Barbara Lohr says:

      Welcome back, Donna. Glad your Internet connection is up and running. Doesn’t it make you crazy when you can’t get on? We are settling into a new place and the Internet was about the first thing my husband did…we’re both that dependent on it!


  • Rita Wray says:

    I grew up in a small town in Australia so I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for small towns. I’m living in a small town in California right now and love it.

    • Barbara Lohr says:

      Hi Rita,

      I think many share your love of the smaller town. So many series now are based in a small town with a sweet name that conjures up warm memories..places where folks know each other and can depend on each other. Those are the books to read by a warm winter fire! And I don’t think it matters what country you’re in. Agatha Christie often chose small towns where people lived down the road from each other (and brewed bad deeds!) Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ most recent novel is set on an island and I wondered if she had Christie in mind (And Then There were None).

      Thanks for stopping by!


  • sandyg265 says:

    I would go with any small town out west.

    • Barbara Lohr says:

      Any particular town, Sandy? Are you thinking of Arizona or New Mexico? Neither Donna nor I write Westerns (I think :)) but my goodness, they sure are popular and I suppose most do take place in small towns since areas were still building in the 1800s. Thanks for stopping by!


  • Robin Gianna says:

    Congratulations on your releases, Barbara! Travel definitely is inspiring for settings, isn’t it? I have several favorite places from when I was young (Michigan being one) and newer ones from recent travels. I’ve been lucky enough to travel quite a bit the last few years, between getting my children off to internships and out-of-state colleges,and family vacations. I was in Greece this summer, and am setting my current book there while the memories are fresh! I thought I might get traveled out, but I’ve found that the more I travel, the more I want to! I guess I’m taking that escapism we all need to extremes 🙂

    • Barbara Lohr says:

      Hi Robin,

      Isn’t that the truth? The more we travel, the more we want to travel…and the more we picture novels in these fabulous settings! Thanks for stopping by.


  • teresa says:

    I’m in school right now so no time (or money) for traveling. This is why I travel to foreign shores via books. 🙂

    • Barbara Lohr says:

      Hi Teresa,

      I totally understand! You have the opportunity while in school to read and create a bucket list. And then there’s spring break. I do recall cramming into a car with three other girls and heading from Chicago to New Orleans. We kept our “bankroll” in a band aid box and ate oranges and sliders for a week! Appreciate your chiming in and good luck in your studies.