by Jane Ashford
To me, some environments just seem to evoke romance. Human beings are affected by their surroundings, and walking through a field of flowers, for example, can open a person to beauty that leads to other tender feelings. A wild seacoast with crashing waves and swooping wind might rouse excitement. A hidden place can stimulate secret desires.
I once set a steamy love scene in a sea cave. The couple took shelter from a storm during a riding expedition. The shift from physical exertion and pelting rain to shelter and a warm fire led almost inevitably to embraces. And, of course, they had to shed some of those clothes to get them dry.
A lush interior can be equally romantic. It promises safety, comfort, a haven for intimacy. Individual touches in a room can remind a lover of the essence of the person they adore.
My latest book, Once Again a Bride, is set mostly in interiors in Regency London. Scenes include the glittering reception rooms of ton parties and cozy bedchambers hung with chintz. But at first, the heroine, Charlotte, has no place to call her own. She’s spent months in the narrow, rigid house of her aging husband Henry. For her, the place is the antithesis of home. She hasn’t been allowed to put her own stamp on the place, even in the smallest things. On the contrary, she’s been reviled and neglected. Henry has encouraged the servants to disdain her. She’s as surrounded by contempt as the physical rooms are dominated by cold relics of the Roman Empire. In so many ways, it is the most unromantic place you could imagine.
After her husband’s death, Charlotte stays for a while at the hero’s fashionable townhouse and remembers the luxury and ease a well-run household can provide. It reminds her of her happy childhood surroundings. She begins to recover a little. But suspicions involving her husband’s murder send her back to the cold dwelling where she was so unhappy. Charlotte has to struggle in that hated place to make a new start. Only when she’s able to make her house her actual home can she come together with Alec. Her determination is an important part of what makes love possible for her.
In my next book, I return to the cliffs and Neolithic stone remains of Cornwall as a setting for love. What romantic settings most enrapture you?
Jane Ashford discovered Georgette Heyer in junior high school and was captivated by the glittering world and witty language of Regency England. That delight led her to study English literature and travel widely in Britain and Europe. Her historical and contemporary romances have been published in Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia and Spain, as well as the U.S. Her Regencies are poignant, deep, fast-paced and deeply romantic. She has twice been nominated by RT for their Lifetime Achievement Award.
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