Katherine Bone’s ~ Smuggling in the Looe!

One of the best things about writing historical romance is discovering GREAT nuggets that set a story in time, bringing fully-fledged characters to life! People are just people after all, aren’t they? No matter the time or place, human beings are… well… human, privy to any number of emotions. Having said that, I can honestly say, historical romance is a true art form. It takes more than knowing about emotion to plot a story and make it enjoyable. And it takes immeasurable time to learn about an era and become familiar enough with it to make readers feel as though they are there, experiencing a hero’s and heroine’s lives.

Making magic happen = EPIC adventure! Huzzah!!!

On any given day, I’m either writing or digging into research. Recently, I stumbled on some great information about the Cornish Coast for my Regent’s Revenge Series. The Pirate’s Debt, Regent’s Revenge Book #2, takes place along the coast and between Looe and Polperro. While Polperro isn’t new to me—the Seaton’s home, a fictional cove in Talland Bay, is featured throughout my Nelson’s Tea Series—Looe is.

What is it about Cornwall that calls to me? I recently discovered, in a quick check on ancestry.com, that my family name, Stratton, hails from that part of England. I also discovered Edwin Tucker’s bakery burned in 1906, nearly destroying several other houses on Cistern Court, West Looe. (Tucker is my maiden name.)

CornwallAm I attracted to Cornwall because part of me belongs to it? Is that why I’m drawn to Druids and Celts and Poldark? Or is it the rich, lush landscape with rock pools, estuaries, dunes, cliffs and heath that I long for? Cornwall boasts storm-blasted granite cliffs strong enough to resist the Atlantic wind and wild sea, yet fertile enough to seed splashes of colorful thrift, vetch, trefoil, and quill, cloaking the countryside like a majestic crown. A country unto its own, rife with history, populated by a people steeped in tradition, Cornwall is a multi-faceted gem.

Cornwall and Devon are also steeped in smuggling history. (Pirates! Yes!!!) That brings us to smuggling in the Looe! (Pronounced ‘Logh’ not ‘Loo’! 😉 )

Looe Island StoryLooe is only four miles from Polperro and twenty-five miles from Plymouth. An estuary splits the town, east and west. History suggests the animosity between East Looe and West Looe is based on the thirteen-fifteen arched bridge joining the two halves, ‘the sunny side’ and ‘the money side’. (Some things never change, eh?)

Book of Looe

Looe stood out in my research because of a tiny island situated offshore ripe with smuggling history, St. George’s Island, or Looe Island. Celtic crosses have been found there, as well as Mediterranean pottery. Countless wrecks have happened there and many a smuggler used the island’s 22.5 acres, 150 feet summit, fresh water springs, and countless Devonian period caves to hide their caches. Contraband remained hidden until it could be moved and offloaded on the mainland while revenue officers patrolled unaware. In fact, St. George’s secrets have been so well-protected to this day, very few have ever been privy to the location of its secret hideouts.

Besides capture by revenue officers, smugglers also had to worry about gales. The worst recorded in history, The Great British Storm, battered the island in 1703 with 120 mph winds, destroying a newly constructed Eddystone light, causing the deaths of over 1,000 Royal Navy seamen. (The total death count has been estimated at 8,000. Can you imagine how massive that storm had to have been?)

I could go on and on…

Wonderful things happen during research and magical books ARR born! (Bring on the rum!)

Exploring the Cornish CoastIf you’re interested in Looe, I suggest reading The Lowe Island Story, An Illustrated History of St. George’s Island by Mike Dunn, The Book of Looe, Tourism, Trawlers & Trade by Mark Camp and Barbara Birchwood Harper, and Exploring the Cornish Coast by David Chapman.

Here’s a glimpse at The Pirate’s Duchess, A Regent’s Revenge Novella up for preorder now! (Previously published in Once Upon a True Love’s Kiss Box Set)

ThePIrate'sDuchessFINALDuty forces him to take on the pirate code, but honor brings him back.

Prudence, Duchess of Blackmoor, has one desire—to be happy again. After struggling to overcome the horrifying death of her husband, she accepts an earl’s offer of marriage, confident she’s taking a step in the right direction. But demons, refuse to die, and Prudence finds herself caught in an intricate web of deceit that threatens the very foundations of all she holds dear.

Tobias, the Duke of Blackmoor, crosses the line when an assassination attempt on him fails. To restore the reputations of friends under attack by the same villain, and ensure his wife’s safety, he stages his own death, becoming The Black Regent, a notorious pirate bent on brandishing justice, never thinking he’d survive. But to his amazement, he has, and now the darkest-kept secrets are not worth losing the duchess his wife has become.

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If you’re an author, have you ever felt connected to a place you’ve researched before?

If you’re a reader, what have you read that made you want to go there, or live there?



5 Responses

  1. Barbara Monajem

    I don’t remember feeling particularly connected with any one place, but visits to the north of England inspired me with settings for some of my stories. Ditto re New Orleans, which has its own fabulous atmosphere.

    As a reader, I’d always wanted to visit the Isle of Skye because of Mary Stewart’s book Wildfire at Midnight, which takes place in a remote area there. A few years ago I went Skye at last — awesome!