Where and what

DewflowerHi, Jo here, first sharing a photograph my husband took of dew on a crocosmia flower. Click on it to expand. It's really pretty.

We're finally having some consistently nice weather here in Devon, though it has the autumn chill in it, and some of the annuals which seemed to have decided their year was over have perked up again, which is lovely.

I'm not, however, blogging about flowers and gardens today, but on geography/nationhood and historical romance. I'm hoping to read your thought on why as readers we seem to have such a fixed idea about what stories suit what places, particularly in Britain.

In the past, Edinburgh and Dublin had societies to rival London, but have you read an historical romance set there? If you have, I'd truly like to know so I could extend my study of this phenomenen. It seems to me that we reserve the aristocratic delights for England, and mostly for London, and expect rougher adventures in Scotland.

Check out this great site about Georgian Edinburgh, with plenty of photographs.

I mentioned geography above, because some people might say the difference in stories is dictated by geography, but the land doesn't always follow national lines. Large parts of northern England are very similar to lowland Scotland, so could be suitable for wilder stories, but I haven't seen any set in Northumberland, Durham, or Cumbria/Cumberland. Know any?

(Yesterday I listened to an interesting radio programme about the Isle of Bute, off the west coast of Scotland, not far from Glasgow. I learned that it straddles the geographic/georlogical division of Scotland, so that even though it's only about 15 miles long the northern part is highland granite and the southern part lowland sandstone.)

Ireland is a special case because of it's troubled history. Perhaps assemblies and balls and characters concerned about fashion and frolics simply don't seem appropriate, but it was an elegant, fashionable place in the Georgian age. This photograph could as easily be of London at the time. What do you think? Is it Ireland's struggles that make fun romance sit poorly there?

(Photo credit. Henrietta Street, Dublin "The original Georgian
street, it dates from the 1720's. It featured recently in David
Dimbleby's "How We Built Britain" as an example of urban decay."   © Copyright JP and
licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.)

Thunder2Then we have Wales. I confess to not knowing enough about Wales so I don't know if Cardiff or any other town there had a gracious Georgian age. I do know that there are very few Welsh historical romances. Mary Jo set Thunder and Roses there, and Mary Balogh, a Welsh woman herself, set at least one novel there, but it simply doesn't seem to suit the romantic imagination of most readers.

I do think this is reader driven, but we writers are all readers, too, with many of the same pre-conceptions and emotional responses.

On to England. In the Georgian age, the north was far from the
administrative south and could be wilder and unruly. My Countess of
Arradale, with vast estates in Yorkshire, rules with a medieval touch
still, summoning her laborers and tenants like an army when required. Instead of the rapacious duke dragging a woman off to his highland lair, why not a chilly place in the wilder heartland of Yorkshire. It wouldn't spark the reader imagination in quite the same way, would it?

(The photo is of a farm near Hathersage, which is actually just over the border into Derbyshire, where the Peak District is wonderfully dramatic. I have the pic because my father-in-law's brother worked there, and my father-in-law frequently visited.)

So let's explore this subject, and there's a book prize for a random pick of responses.

First, what historical romances come to mind set in Ireland and Wales? Any favorites set there? You can include earlier books if you wish, but I'm mainly looking at 1700 on.

If you can't think of any, of if you've not liked any you've tried, what's wrong with Wales and Ireland as a setting?

If you think it's a great setting, are there types of romances you'd love to see set there?

What about Scotland? No shortage of Scottish romances, but is there a different type of story you'd love to see set there?

And England, would you like more stories set in the wilder parts? Do you have some great ones of that sort to share here?

The winner will get the choice of Dangerous Joy, a Rogues book set in Ireland, or Secrets of the Night, a Malloren novel set in wilder Yorkshire.

Have at it!