I love traveling almost as much as I love romance. Which made researching for my latest release, SUGAR’S TWICE AS SWEET, so much fun. After being dumped, abandoned, and left homeless, my heroine Josephina Harrington leaves the big apple behind for the small town of Sugar, Georgia to turn her great aunt’s dilapidated boarding house into a boutique lifestyle retreat. In researching bed and breakfasts and boutique hotels, I came across some of the most romantic spots in the South that inspired Joie’s inn, Fairchild House.
Here are my personal Top 5 Most Romantic Inns of the South:
Coming in at #5 is the Blue Willow Inn. This inn combines two of my favorite things, southern hospitality and southern cuisine. This mansion turned eatery is known for their fried green tomatoes, country fried chicken, and the title of “Best Small Town Restaurant in the South.” Located in a charming yellow and white turn-of-the-century neoclassical mansion, this southern hot spot was at one time home to the Updike family, including Redd Updike, who was Margret Mitchell’s first husband and the inspiration for Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind. Food, history, and some of the best sweet tea around, it is a must see if you are ever in the Atlanta area.
4. Gorham’s Bluff is located in Alabama above the Tennessee River and offers a wonderful spin on boutique inns. Not only does the Inn boast a beautiful main lodge, it also has several cottages located through the property for those seeking a cozier, more intimate stay. The layout of this property gave me the inspiration for turning the slave quarters on Joie’s property into individualized cottages for her guests.
3. Hamilton-Turner Inn is a 17 room lavish boutique hotel in the heart of Savannah, Georgia’s historic district. It is surrounded by charming shops, romantic eateries, and incredible architecture. Downtown Savannah is one of the most beautiful cities in the South with its cobble stone streets, antebellum houses, and plantations, which is why it was the inspiration for the town of Sugar Georgia.
2. The Little Inn at Washington is the perfect blend of grandeur and whimsy, and it was exactly what I pictured for Fairchild House. The arched ceilings, detailed murals, and elegant country chic makes for a romantic and magical stay. Not to mention there is an award winning restaurant on the premises and a quaint shopping district right outside.
1. The Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. Located right off Beale Street and built in 1925, it is considered the “South’s Grand Hotel.” Between the rich history, grand ballroom, and Peabody Ducks, I don’t think one could help falling in love. The Peabody also offers up the best drink in the south, The Blue Suede Shoes.
Read an Excerpt from SUGAR’S TWICE AS SWEET
Three days later, Josephina shoved the last scrap of wallpaper into the trash bag and knew it was quitting time. Her arms were sore from scraping off glue, which was littering the wood floor, she had a big bruise on her forehead from running into Brett’s elbow—and sharing breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a man who made her motor hum only added to her aches.
True to his word, he had asked her out every day. And every day it became harder to say no.
Today had been the worst, she thought as she watched the play of Brett’s muscles while he supported a plank of rotted wood over his head. He was all rippled and gorgeous and flashing that orgasm-inducing smile. The one that curled up slightly at the corners, saying he’d caught her drooling. Again.
“A simple yes is all it would take,” he said in that southern-boy way that made her heart warm. Along with some other, more pertinent, parts.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” She stepped sideways, right into a bowl of nails, knocking them over. Then, blaming Brett for taking up too much damn space, she picked up the handsaw off the floor and reached into her back pocket for a pair of gloves—coming up empty.
“I’ve got an extra pair in my tool belt,” he said with humor in his voice as he jerked his chin toward his goodie bag, um, tool belt. “Right there in the center pocket. You see them?”
Oh, she saw them all right. She also saw how incredibly amused he was.
“Don’t move.” Eyeing him, she cautiously reached into the pocket, careful not to touch any of his tools. She grabbed the leather gloves and jerked her hand back.
Doing her best to ignore his laughing, she crawled up to the fifth rung of the ladder and sawed away the remaining few inches of beam. Between the sexy smiles and “accidental” brushing of bodies, Brett kept her in a constant state of unbalance.
“So to clarify, you’re saying you don’t want to go out with me,” he mused.
She sighed, sawing through the end of the beam and wondering why she kept repeating herself. “Dating wouldn’t be a good idea.”
“Why is that?” he asked, lowering the beam to the floor.
This time she was certain he was flexing his arms on purpose.
“Because we’d go out, have a good time, come home, and have sex. Only instead of just amazing no-strings sex it would be complicated by all this other stuff, which would make things weird. Eventually I’d be short one contractor, miss my opening date, and wonder what happened.”
Not wanting to look at him, she set the saw on the top of the ladder, ready to move to the next spot.
“First off, I’m in this for the long haul, I gave you my word on that.”
Josephina turned around to ask him if he was talking about the inn, but then she forgot how to speak. Brett blocked her descent, climbing up behind her to the second rung, which brought him eye level. He gripped her hips and backed her up against the ladder. “And, sugar, sex between us wouldn’t be amazing, it would be earth-shattering.”
That’s what I’m afraid of.
He sculpted his hands down her sides to her thighs, paying extra attention to her bottom on the trip back. She rested her hands on those biceps she’d been watching all week so she wouldn’t fall over as the air whooshed out of her lungs.
Hell, she’d suffered from severe oxygen deprivation since the minute she found him this morning, standing on the front porch, latte in one hand, a cheese Danish in the other, and the sun cresting behind him.
The man redefined “sexy contractor.” The faded college T-shirt clung to his impressive chest. And the hotter it got, the clingier the material became. Which was why four o’clock was Josephina’s new favorite time of day. It was when Brett shucked his shirt. And the tool belt he wore weighed down his jeans, giving her a prime view of chiseled abs and lean hips, and highlighting his yummy parts.
And that wasn’t even the most tempting part. Nope. The more she saw Brett as a normal hot guy, the more the never-going-to-date-him rule seemed to blur, and the harder he became to resist.
“I suck at relationships,” she rushed out, more for her than him. “I get so lost in the other person that Josephina goes MIA. I can’t do that again. Not now when people are counting on me. When I’m counting on me.”
“It’s just a date, Joie. I’m not down on one knee.” He sounded so sincere her heart pounded as if he were.
“Date implies the start of something, and you’re leaving.” And if I let you, you might take my heart with you when you go. “And I’m staying here, in Sugar.”
With a single nod, Brett let her slide past him on the ladder.
He wasn’t giving up, not by a long shot, she could see that in his eyes. But he was letting it go—for now.