As you might have guessed, we’re huge fans of BBC’s Poldark at Mills & Boon. (And not just for certain very talented actors. Ahem). Sometimes a setting can be just as important to a story as its characters. We’ve asked the authors behind The Cornwall Collection why Cornwall is the perfect setting for romance.
To me, Cornwall is a place touched by mystery, magic and romance. There is something courageous about the way this far-flung county reaches out into the ocean. Its steep cliffs, rocky coves, with splashes of bright sand far below, cannot fail to tease and enchant.
Cornwall has figured large in literature, from Arthurian legends of Tintagel Castle, Guinevere and Lancelot and tragedies like Tristan and Isolde. They also include the classic Regency romances, such as Jamaica Inn (which I visited, having won the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in the Regency romance category in 2010) and, of course, Poldark and his beloved Demelza. And then there is the darker side of smuggling and the shipwrecking. Like other authors I could not resist setting stories, Bane Beresford (originally published as Haunted by the Earl’s Touch), and Gabriel D’Arcy (originally published as Captured Countess), in this wild romantic setting.
Indeed, some of my happiest memories growing up were of family holidays in Cornwall. Not only did we spend time on the beaches, but we visited castles, churches and stately homes, setting out in the car through a countryside where the soil was often red and some of the rivers were white from the clay used to make porcelain. The Cornish scenery is spectacular no matter where you go, and the narrow roads are exciting or harrowing depending on who is driving.
My very first holiday with my own beloved husband was in St Ives when we were in our teens. Over the years we have returned again and again drawn back by those happy memories to make new ones, such as the visit down the tin mine that figured in Bane Beresford.
If you would like to see more of my travels around Regency Britain you will find them on my blog, Regency Rambles http://www.regencyramble.blogspot.com.
I’ve always been a little bit in love with Cornwall. Perhaps it’s because the scenery of rugged moorland, clifftops, ruined castles and turquoise green seas remind me of Scotland. Or because of the food – cream teas with big fresh-baked scones, clotted cream and jam, and Cornish pasties the size of a loaf, hot from the bakery oven and with a taste to die for. But there’s another reason too. There is something special about Cornwall, a quality that defies definition. Magical goes somewhere near explaining it! It is a place that inspires creativity and romance. It inspired Ross Poldark and also my own story’s hero – Lucien Tregellas.
Tregellas is tall, dark and handsome, and a whole lot more too. A man as brooding and mysterious as his Cornish homeland. A man with a sinister reputation and shadowed past. While I was writing, the character seemed to grow out of Cornwall itself. I spent time there researching the book – walking Bodmin Moor with its prehistoric stones, exploring the ruins of Tintagel Castle, driving the old coaching roads and walking through villages and churchyards. And I loved every minute! For me, Cornwall has the perfect combination of history and romance!
I’ve loved the fantasy and mystery of Cornwall ever since I read Daphne du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek. I think what gives Cornwall its mystique is its isolation and connection to nature. The botanical and ecological systems are so diverse. As a result, there are fabulous gardens in Cornwall with tropical plants from all over the world. Pendennis Point in Falmouth is the warmest spot on mainland Great Britain. Does that name sound familiar? It’s the hero’s friend’s title in my Cornwall-set romance, Valerian Inglemoore. (This was originally released as The Viscount Claims his Bride in 2009 and went on to be a top four finalist that year at Rom Con in the short historical category). When you read Valerian’s story, pay attention to the garden he visits—it was a real project at that time, and the man he meets is a real historical figure. Also, enjoy the fair he attends with Philippa—another real-life Cornish tradition in his neck of the woods.