Highlighting the facts behind setting in historical romance with Kerryn Reid and her novel Anna’s Refuge
It’s natural for a writer to set her stories in places she loves. She’ll be spending a lot of time there as she writes, even if only in her imagination, so it helps if she enjoys it! But even if she’s lived there all her life, if her story takes place 200 years ago, she’ll likely need to do research.
Now, I’ve spent some time in the British Isles—two years when I was a child plus shorter trips across the years. Plenty of time to fall in love with the countryside and villages, the lanes with their hedges, the castles and monasteries (the more ruined the better!), the quaint cottages, the old inns with their uneven floors… so historical and so romantic.
But none of that was very useful as I planned my small-town series based in the Yorkshire Dales during the Regency. I’d hardly been to Yorkshire and chose it mostly because it’s the right distance from London. And because of James Herriott (who’s excellent at setting).
I found a ton of information online about Regency-era Leeds, where the midsection of Anna’s Refuge takes place. They have a fabulous photo archive and a very active historical society. Easy to choose a major coaching inn on a main street where Lewis could stay while he searched for Anna. And when I discovered The Leeds Library, the oldest surviving example of the subscription library in England, the critical reunion scene came together.
Still, there’s nothing like being there, and I was thrilled to have an opportunity to walk the same streets Anna and Lewis walked. The Rose and Crown inn is long gone, but Briggate is still a main street (now a wide, clean pedestrian mall, with no shambles running down the middle and no warrens of weary mill-workers crammed into the alleys). And I got a personal tour of that library, including an enlarged copy of the 1815 map I couldn’t read online!
More crucial for in-person research was my fictional town of Wrackwater Bridge. Small towns generally have less in the way of readily-accessible historical records, especially online, but based mostly on geography I selected a real town in the sort of setting I wanted, and stayed there for a few days. Ilkley’s heyday came later as a fairly famous Victorian hot-spring spa town, and most of its older buildings date from that era. Still, I saw the relationship of the town to its river, and the nature of the surrounding country.
And gazing down from the lower reaches of Ilkley Moor, it’s easy to imagine a Regency town might look very much like that.
About the Book
From the glitter of Regency London…
Knowing little of love, Anna Spain arrives for her one and only Season yearning for love. It’s surely fate when she falls for charming, handsome Gideon Aubrey—but when he spurns her in public, after seducing her with lies, she must find a way to support herself and her baby, or abandon the innocent child to the horrors of the workhouse.
To the grit of industrial Leeds…
For Lewis Aubrey, who has grown up under Gideon’s malignant shadow, there’s never been anyone but Anna Spain. Infuriated by his brother’s treatment of the woman he adores, Lewis steps in to shield her. He thinks he might even court her himself—until one day, without a word, she’s gone.
In a winter of impossible choices…
Can a heartbroken young mother learn to love again? Can her would-be hero endure raising the child of a brother he hates? Can one fragile infant bring these two splintered souls a second chance at love in rural Wrackwater Bridge?
ANNA’S REFUGE is JUST $1.99 thru Nov. 25!
~Gold Medal for Romance, Royal Palm Awards (Florida Writers Assoc.)
~Silver Medal for Romance, President’s Book Awards (Florida Authors & Publishers Assoc.)
About the Author
Raised in a New England college town, Kerryn inherited her mother’s passion for the British Isles. At seventeen, she roamed the Rock of Cashel after dark with her first love, a local Irish lad. So illicit, so romantic… and so unsustainable. Instead she married her college sweetheart and wound up in Florida, where they’ve lived long enough to feel like natives, with a rotating selection of dogs and cats, and not enough trips to visit their kids—not to mention the cutest, sweetest, smartest little boy any grandma ever had.
But a piece of Kerryn’s heart still lives “across the pond” where so many adventures took place—as well as the Regency romances she loves. And when the itch to write needs scratching, that’s where her imagination takes her. Enjoy the journey to a new happy-ever-after!
More from Kerryn Reid!
Kerryn has just released a new edition of her first novel, Learning to Waltz, in ebook and paperback. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08NFKY94D/.
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