Why This Book: or how come a contemporary, erotic romance author would write a nonfiction travel guide?
That’s the question Victoria Vane posed when inviting me to talk about my new Romance Readers Guide to Historic London. It’s everything you want to know about the places from your favorite historical romance novels set in London.
So what inspired me to write this book? I remember it like it was yesterday—although it was really the summer of 2012. I love to travel and have been to many European countries but never to London. So, for a big, BIG, birthday—I won’t say which one—my dear husband promised me a trip to this great city. I’d already started my erotic romance-writing career and was busy editing several manuscripts when one evening I went into the office to order a book for planning my birthday excursion. I searched and searched and… I emerged an hour later with stars in my eyes and a whole new project.
My husband was a bit flummoxed by my about face. “You want to write what? …a travel guide?” But it’s much more than that. Fully half the book is a “Then and Now” chapter of all the places from historical novels, telling readers what they really were, if they’re still around, and whether one can go see them. It’s the book that I wanted but never found. I later counted London travel guides on Amazon and there were more than 100 different versions covering everything from Dickens or Jack the Ripper to the Beatles to budget or luxury travel. There was even a small guide to medical museums in London. Medical museums?
But there was absolutely nothing for 30 million historic romance fans. And in the end, my DH jumped on board, and I can credit him with the book’s lovely cover and typesetting (so helpful to have a graphic designer in the house).
As a result, everything about my birthday present changed, becoming a research trip instead of a vacation, and the experience was amazing! Getting my foot in the first door was a challenge, but thank you to the Ritz Hotel, because after that a little hotel-name-dropping and many more doors opened to me. I researched and planned and finally found myself in London, alone for the first week. I stayed in different hotels every night, and spent my days travelling from one appointment to the next. Everyone was helpful and enthusiastic about my project.
One hotel, the Grosvenor House, even had their historian there to meet with me. Who knew that hotels had historians? But in London, where virtually everything is ancient it makes sense. My week was laser focused on researching hotels with four-poster beds and trying out Afternoon Teas and checking out those romance novel settings. So much so that I didn’t do a single one of the usual tourist sights, which leads to an embarrassing but funny story.
I’m in a taxi late for my next appointment and we go by this fancy, impressive structure behind an iron fence. Leaning foreword, I asked the cabbie, “What is that big building.” In a dry, flat tone with nary a hint of incredulity, he responded, “Buckingham Palace.”
Still, today, my cheeks turn a bit pink at the memory. And I wonder—would a D.C. cabbie be so kind to the wayward tourist who asks the same thing while passing 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?
The highlight of that first trip was staying in a 900-year-old castle (part of my easy excursions chapter) after my husband joined me in England. It doesn’t get much more romantic than that! And that’s how an erotic romance author ends up writing the Romance Readers Guide to Historic London.
Before I go, I’d like to thank Victoria Vane and Embracing Romance for inviting me here today. And if you happen to get the book, take a look at page 270 for a Victoria surprise. The first reader to post a photo of it on my Facebook page will win a small prize. (https://www.facebook.com/RomanceReadersTravelGuides)
Photo Credits: By Steven Glapa of Amberley Castle (author receiving tour of interior ruins and restored gatehouse); the London photo is compliments of a stranger (author and her DH on a bridge in front of County Hall, now a Marriott hotel).
Written specifically for the 30 million historical romance fans in U.S., the Romance Readers Guide to Historic London offers everything you want to know about the famous London sights in romance novels. In the “Then and Now” chapter (fully half the book), learn the back-stories of places such as Almack’s, Bedlam, and White’s, and whether they’re still around or can be visited. Hear fascinating anecdotes, like which princesses stayed where or which upstairs maid married up. More than 130 photos and “Then and Now” illustrations show how these places have changed over the centuries. In addition to a foreword by NY Times best-selling author Sabrina Jeffries, romance excerpts by Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, and today’s best selling authors—Mary Balogh, Tessa Dare, Elizabeth Hoyt, and more—add delightful flavor to the places described.
The Guide is an entertaining read for the armchair traveler curled up by the fire with a warm cup of tea. But, it’s an essential resource for anyone who wants to experience old London first hand. Enjoy an authentic Afternoon Tea in a charming salon or play princess sleeping in a four-poster bed or even a castle! With historical maps, insider tips, and “~for the guys” highlights, the Guide will make it easy for even a rookie traveler to hit all the historic-romance highlights. The Romance Readers Guide to Historic London is your companion to the London of Elizabethan, Georgian, Regency, and Victorian times, whether in the comfort of your own home or on that once-in-a-lifetime trip.
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Sonja Rouillard is a successful writer of fiction and non-fiction. Recently, she launched an erotic romance career under the name Kate Allure with two books from Sourcebooks (Playing Doctor and Lawyer Up), receiving high praise: “The sensuality and sexuality are palpable…4 Stars!”—RT Book Reviews. “Intense chemistry, great characteriza-tion, and a kinky page-singeing ending will have readers clamoring for more.” —Publishers Weekly.
Besides being a huge fan of historical romance, Sonja’s other great love is travel and seeking unusual, off-the-beaten-path experiences. China, Monte Carlo, Bora Bora, Mexico, Luxemburg, and Poland are among the many foreign countries she’s visited. Her extensive U.S. travel covers the gamut from exotic Hawaii, to historic Washington, D.C., and the indigenous cultures of six remote Native American reservations. Sonja lives in California with her husband of 26 years, 3 children, 3 dogs, 2 cats, and a Flemish Giant rabbit.
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