Nicola Cornick rejoins the Riskies today, with tales of traveling from the Scotland of her newest release from Harlequin Historicals, Kidnapped: His Innocent Mistress, to the American West! Nicola, welcome back, and tell us about Kidnapped and your latest US holiday…
It’s so lovely to be back here at Risky Regencies and to be talking about books, travel, and inspiration! What better combination could there be?
So to Scotland first and I think I must be one of the luckiest people in the world because I go there every year to visit family. Under the circumstances it’s surprising that I’ve never set a book there before because it is one of my favorite places and I love reading historical romances set in Scotland. Kidnapped: His Innocent Mistress is inspired by all the places I love to visit in Wester Ross in the Highlands. The village of Applecross, which is Catriona Balfour’s home at the start of the book, is a very special place, accessed by only two roads, one of which is a high mountain pass with views across the sea to the Outer Hebrides. The Gaelic name for the Applecross Peninsula is “a Chomraich,” which means “The Sanctuary.” The site of the old abbey at Applecross, built in AD 673 by Irish saint Maelrubha still has one of the most peaceful and inspiring atmospheres that I have ever experienced.
Further along the coast is Sheildaig, a village that was originally to raise and train sailors to fight in the Napoleonic Wars. Grants were given for boats, and 2700 pounds was spent building the three main streets, which these days are neat and whitewashed and very pretty. From there the road turns inland between the high mountains of Torridon and this is the route that Catriona takes in my story as she travels to her new home in Glen Clair. The old house at Glen Clair is another place inspired by a real location–the Coulin Estate. In a spectacularly beautiful setting in the mountains, Coulin is somewhere we return to year after year. It was in the ownership of the MacKenzie family of Gairloch from the 16th century and in the Regency period the tenants suffered eviction in order to make way for sheep farming. This was of course the fate of many Highland families during the 18th and 19th centuries. These “Highland Clearances” forced many families to the coast, the Scottish Lowlands, and abroad to countries including Australia and Canada.
At Glen Clair my heroine Catriona becomes embroiled in the illegal whisky distilling business! There were many illegal stills hidden in the mountains, in caves that were away from the prying eyes of the excise men and in remote glens. The euphemistically-named “teahouse” at Coulin really did provide illegal refreshment for drovers crossing the mountains and it is still there though these days it is used as a mountain bothy rather than a place offering alcoholic beverages! Just as smuggling was condoned or even encouraged by many of the gentry in England, so many of the Scots would turn a blind eye to what was going on. Ministers of the church were even known to hide the whisky in coffins to deceive the excise men!
From Scotland to the US, and when Kidnapped arrived in the US bookstores at the beginning of March, I was thrilled to be there to see it! It’s no secret I love visiting the US and this time our holiday started in San Diego with a trip to the historic waterfront, taking in the 1863 ship the Star of India and the HMS Surprise, a replica of an 18th century Royal Navy frigate that was used in the filming of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. That was my treat, and afterwards we visited the USS Midway as a treat for my dh!
Our ten-day whale-watching holiday down the coast of the Baja Peninsula and into the Sea of Cortes might not seem to have the most obvious of historical connections (though it was spectacular in itself) but I had read up on Baja history and legends and devoured the stories of pirates and buccaneers, coming back with what I hope will be a wonderful plot for my next HQN book! From Mexico we flew back to Phoenix and travelled to Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon, finally driving back to Los Angeles via the historic Route 66. On the way we stopped off in Oatman. What a place!
Oatman began over 100 years ago as mining tent camp and quickly became a flourishing gold-mining center when in 1915, two miners struck a $10 million gold find. The mining boom was short-lived. In 1921, a fire burned down many of the smaller shacks in town, and 3 years later the main mining company, United Eastern Mines, shut down operations for good. Oatman survived by catering to travellers on Route 66. But in the 1960s, when the route became I-40, Oatman almost died.
Oatman was such a fun place to visit. I’d never been to an old Western town, and I loved the tame burros roaming the streets begging for carrots and the gunfight staged by the ghostrider gunfighters! My dh loved all the photo opportunities presented by the old buildings including the Oatman Hotel, where Clark Gable and Carol Lombard honeymooned and Gable allegedly played poker with the local miners!
We came home with some amazing memories and some equally spectacular photographs, and for me some inspiring story ideas. It doesn’t seem to matter where I travel–seeing new sights, talking to people and reading up on the history always seems to inspire me with ideas for my writing.
What is you favorite setting for historical romances?? And which places particularly inspire you?
Info on Nicola’s latest release can be found at her website! And there are still a few days left to enter Nicola and Amanda’s contest while you’re there…
Nicola will give away two copies of Kidnapped to lucky commenters on today’s post!
Hello and thank you so much for welcoming me back. It’s great to be here and I’m looking forward to talking about writing, travelling and inspiration. It’s morning in the UK and it’s also Mothering Sunday so I’m popping out to see my Mum and I’ll be back later!
Hello Nicola! Your post was really interesting. 🙂 After your post, I really want to read a historical romance settled in Scotland. 🙂
I truly love reading about Scotland and the U.S.’s old west in historical fiction; have no idea why. There’s something about the imagery of both (the high- and lowlands, the cooler weather of Scotland, the dusty, rough conditions of the untested west) that I find terribly comforting. I would love to read more about ancient China, or any historical period in Russia, Italy, France, and eastern Europe–these areas are so neglected!
Hi Milka, I’m so glad that you enjoyed the post – and delighted that you are inspired to read a historical romance set in Scotland! Might I recommend Kidnapped, LOL! There are some wonderful Scottish-set Regencies that I have enjoyed including Anna Campbell’s fabulous debut Claiming the Courtesan and many others.
Catie, I agree that there are some settings and historical periods that it would be great to see more of. I loved all Dinah Dean’s Russian set books, for example. Although I’d like to return to Scotland for another book, my current wip is set in the Arctic and the one after that in Mexico. Hopefully the different settings will appeal to people.
Hi, Nicola! It is so wonderful to have you back with the Riskies. I’m definitely sold on a trip to Scotland. Or Baja…
What wonderful holidays you have had! Now I have a terrible yearning to visit Scotland. Did a singing tour there thirty years ago when I was a mere girl of twenty, but we stayed in the Edinburgh area with trips to Aberdeen and Loch Ness. Gorgeous countryside and such a sense of timelessness it takes your breath away.
Anyone who hasn’t read Nicola’s Kidnapped get thee to a bookstore posthaste! It is a wonderful, funny, exciting and romantic adventure. You’ll love it!
I tend to alternate between the busy, elegant London of the Regency and singular out of the way places in England as settings for my books. My second book starts on the coast of Suffolk in Dunwich, a town that gradually dropped off into the sea. It is a beautifully desolate place surrounded with all sorts of mystery. (H.P. Lovecraft, anyone?)My first book starts in Yorkshire on the moors.
I love to read books where the location is a character as much as the people. Books that allow me to travel to places I have never been, especially little obscure places packed with history, are my favorites!
I’ve always wanted to visit Scotland, love all the books, Regencies or Medievals and I would love to see all the places there…
England and Scotland are my favorite places, but I do like books like Dinah Dean’s Russian series, I’d like to read more books set in Russia in the early 19th century.
waving to Nicola who is an autobuy.
What are my favourite historical settings? It is hard. I like so many places. But what is great is the possibilities are widening out again after being narrow for awhile. Regency men and women were great travellers and there is no reason why the settings should not travel as well.
India could be good…
Oh, I had forgotten about those Dinah Dean books–I loved those! Imperial Russia is really full of possibilities for drama and romance. (and one thing I love about Harlequin is their variety…)
Travel is such a great inspiration, even vicarious voyages, so thanks so much for sharing yours with us, Nicola! Last time I was in Hawaii I thought of a sort of island “Jane Eyre,” story, hope I get to tackle it someday!
Nicola, what wonderfulf trips. Thanks for sharing them with us. If I have to chose a favorite place for a historical, I guess England, though I like the Old American West as well.
Anna Kathryn Lanier
Hi Diane! Yes, Scotland and Baja are both inspirational, IMO! It’s interesting how many people have a yearning to visit Scotland. There’s something about the ay it grabs the imagination.
Thank you so much for your kind words about Kidnapped, Louisa. I’m really pleased that you enjoyed it. I love the sound of your book set in Suffolk. Dunwich has always fascinated me – the thought that it was once a bustling town and than gradually it disappeared into the sea. There’s something very mysterious and atmospheric about that.
Eva, I’m glad to find another Dinah Dean fan, and Amanda too! Amanda, I love the idea of a “Hawaiian Jane Eyre” story! I’d be first in the queue for that one.
Hi Anna Kathryn! The Old American West has a real mythology about it, doesn’t it. It was the first time I’d ever been there and it was so intriguing. One of the problems with trips is that I usually end up wanting to revisit the places I’ve enjoyed as well as seeing new places, so my list of destinations gets longer and longer!
Michelle, I’d really enjoy an India-set book by you! In my wip set in the Arctic the heroine is a lady traveller and she encounters some very disapproving comments in Regency society from people who thought that you couldn’t travel and be a lady as well!
Nicola thanks so much for taking us on tour with you. It sounds wonderful. What exciting research. I love romances set in England and Scotland. I’d love to visit Scotland one day. Every time I see a commercial I nudge my husband and say one day…
Hello, Ms Cornick!
I’m so glad you enjoyed your sojourn to Mexico–and not one of the most common tourist retreats, either.
Best of luck!
Hi Nicola! Thank you so much for taking us along on your travel tour! It sounds fantastic! You’ve got me yearning to go to Scotland and the American West! I absolutely love the Harlequin Historical line! They take you to so many fascinating times and places. I love historical romances that are set in Scotland, England, and the American West. Your trip to Baja sounds like it would make another excellent setting for your next Harlequin Historical! Kidnapped: His Innocent Mistress sounds like a fabulous book! It seems as if Catriona will be having some very exciting adventures! I can’t wait to read how she becomes embroiled in the illegal whiskey distilling business! I’ll definitely be looking for your book the next time I’m at the bookstore. Thank you very much for blogging here today at Risky Regencies! I really enjoyed your post!
Nicola–I am so jealous! My husband and I are hoping to travel to Scotland next summer, and I need to make a list of places I want to visit. How gorgeous!
I’m new to your work. I will checking out your booklist. Happy Mothering Day!
I loved this book! I just sent it off yesterday to my very discriminating critique partner, who gets only the best of my reads.I’m sure you’ll be added to her auto-buy list as you’ve been to mine. Loved the first- person POV, which is somewhat unusual in historicals (well, there is Jane Eyre and Janet Mullany’s fab Rules of Gentility, of course). What made you decide to write it that way?
I’m setting my next book in Scotland. I’ve only been there three times and long to go again for “research.”
I love stories set in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Corfe Castle in England, and around the twon of Kilarney, Ireland have inspired me. I love to travel! DECEIVED was the first story I read of yours, and remains my favorite. Loved it! Thank you, and keep those stories coming.
Hi Kwana, I’m glad you enjoyed the tale of my travels and I hope you get your wish of visiting Scotland one day!
Azteclady (very appropriate!) seeing something of Mexico was wonderful and finding the book of Baja history and legends just exactly the sort of thing to fire some story ideas.
Michelle, have fun planning your trip!
Hi Margie! I’m glad that you enjoy the Harlequin Historical line. I totally agree with Amanda that they offer so much variety of background, setting and period. It’s one of their great strengths. I do hope you enjoy Kidnapped. And Gerri, thank you for your lovely comments about Deceived. I’m thrilled you liked it. That one had an English seaside setting, which is always fun to write.
Hi Jcp – thank you for checking out my booklist. I hope that something on there tempts you! And thank you for the Mothering Sunday wishes. We’ve had a lovely day with our family!
Maggie, I’m so pleased you liked Kidnapped! The first person POV was something that came about by chance really. I started writing the book in the third person but it didn’t work. When I changed to first person it came together straight away and the character of Catriona just fell into place. I got totally into in – I almost felt as though I was channeling a young girl in nineteenth century Scotland! I love reading first person stories, although I know they aren’t everybody’s cup of tea, and I loved the Rules of Gentility too. I’d really like to see more first person historical romances.
I have not read any Historical romances but the Old West intriques me. From all accounts I should try one set in Scotland. Thanks for telling us about Kidnapped.
This sounds like a real change of pace for you! I’ll be looking forward to it.
(But honestly… don’t you hate the way Harlequin Historical titles have been Present-itized?) — willaful
I’m currently attempting to write my first Regency era book. It is so much tougher to write it than I thought! Ugh! I’m such a fan of this genre as a reader but writing it is a whole nother basket of eggs. 🙂
Thanks for the great post today. I enjoyed reading about Scotland very much.
I’ve been to Ireland but not Scotland. Although, I recently learned via ancestry.com that I’m related to a ton of Scots. Apparently, I descend from the MacGregors from way back when. So, now I have to visit Scotland.
As far as settings for books, I love anything in Ireland, Scotland, England for historicals.
For contemporaries, I’d have to go with New Orleans. I just think it oozes sexy.
Hi Willaful! I hope you enjoy Kidnapped – it certainly was a different direction for me but it was such a “book of my heart” that I had to write it. LOL, I know what you mean about some of the historical titles. According to the editors, though, titles like that appeal to readers!
Hi Robynl, I hope you enjoy a Scottish set book if you do pick one up.
Hey, Kerri, to be related to the Macgregors is awesome! What a lot of exciting history you have to explore there. And very best of luck writing your own Regency too.
Hi Nicola, I enjoyed reading about your fantastic vacation. You must be totally exhausting. My inspiration would probably be Devon and Cornwall. The vibrant colors and mist hold some kind of mystery over me. I had an opportunity to travel around Scotland years ago and my favorite place was in the Western Isles, on the Isle of Mull, where they filmed “I Know Where I’m Going” – my favorite movie. Looking forward to reading “Kidnapped.”
Hi Nicola! Very interesting post! I love historicals set in Scotland, England and Ireland. It would be wonderful to see more stories set in Italy, Mexico and eastern Europe.
I truly loved your Blue Stocking Brides trilogy. Each book was an awesome read! I’m really looking forward to Kidnapped! Thanks for sharing your exciting travels with us!
Hi Kit! We’re going to Mull this year and I can’t wait. Haven’t been for over 20 years and it is such a wonderful place, isn’t it. I like Cornwall as a setting for historicals too. Maybe it’s because it’s a Celtic background, like Wales, Ireland and Scotland, but I think Cornwall also has that mystical thing going on too.
Hi Deborah, I like the idea of Eastern Europe as a setting. I know that some of my Harlequin colleagues have written some wonderful books set in Italy as well.
I’m so pleased you enjoyed the Bluestocking Brides and I hope you like my new Brides of Fortune trilogy as well!
Your travels sound like so much fun! I love historical romances set in Scotland, England,and the old American West. I am going to London for the first time in May, and I am looking forward to seeing the sights that I have read about in the Regency romances. I hope to make it to Scotland one day, too!
Hi Nicola. Great post. My favorite settings for historical romances are England, Scotland and American Old West.
Hello Nicola! Happy Mothering Sunday! It’s so wonderful to see you here today. I am very excited about reading Kidnapped. Scotland is one of my favorite settings. I am also increasingly interested in books that take place in India – whether for some of the book or all of it.
A very recent favorite place is are Westerns set in Colorado. Ireland is another favorite though we have more set in Medeval times than any other. I am glad to see that changing a bit.
I hope you have a great day. I look forward to reading all your wonderful books yet to be written.
Hi Cheri2628, and I hope you have a great trip to London! It’s such a fun thing to visit all the places that feature in Regency romances!
Hi Crystal, I have to say that the American West has got quite a few votes on this list and having been there now I can see why. I love the frontier feel and the idea of surviving in a tough land. The land itself is so vivid it feels like a character in its own right.
Hi Santa and thank you for sharing your favourite settings for books. Another vote for India! I’d love to read a book set there too. Can anyone recommend any?
I’m a fan of the Highlands for historical romance (possibly because my sweetheart looks fab in a kilt!) and am still kicking myself for not going when I had the chance many years ago. Who knows? Maybe tomorrow . . .
I love reading historicals set in the highlands of scotland.I also read historicals in london and all the great balls.
Hi Gwynlyn – a man who looks good in a kilt, eh! How fantastic! Not everyone can carry that off!
Peggy, there’s something very appealing about all the glamor of a London Regency, with all the balls and glittering society events, isn’t there. I’m sure that’s part of the perennial appeal of Regencies. I look at the gowns on the book covers and wish they were in my wardrobe, and that I had an opportunity to wear them! I sound like Cinderella 🙂
A big thank you to Risky Regencies for hosting my visit and to Amanda for inviting me and to everyone who posted and visited for making this such fun! Thank you!
Hi Nicola. I loved hearing all about Scotland. I’d love to go there someday. I’d also like to go to England, since I write Regencies and it’d be nice to see the country where my stories take place! I’m looking forward to reading Kidnapped. I love your books.