I grew up on a steady diet of Western romances – the scrub of Texas, the mountains of Montana, the wilds of Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, the Dakotas, even Oregon once or twice. It seemed in the romance world of my youth, you could be one of a few things – a cowboy in the West, a business man in the East, or a British/Greek/Australian tycoon… Or a woman who loved one of the above, of course. That’s kind of limited, I suppose, considering the vast, worldwide community of people who love romance. I’m glad things are changing to better reflect us readers.
As a writer, I gravitate towards nature, so I guess Westerns should come naturally to me. In fact, I did write a book set in the beautiful “mountains of Montana” this year, Charity. But the problem is, I’m Canadian. I love the nature right here, too. And we have lots and lots of it to praise. It’s not better; it’s just home. And I would love to see it used more often as a backdrop to passion.
In Canada, we can use six months worth of snow as an excuse to stay in and snuggle. We have the Northern Lights under which to fall in love. Vast skies and open places, rivers and oceans, and rugged coasts. Deep forests and quiet fields. As someone who has traveled a bit around the country, and grew up near the sea in the woods, and loves winter – all of these things inspire me. And all of these things scream “Romance!” to me.
So, is “the Northern romance” Canada’s version of “the Western”? If so, it hasn’t really caught on, though we see more “Western romances set in Canada’s West” than we did before. One reviewer of my Northern romance, Strings Attached, asked, “Who knew Canada’s North could be so romantic?” Well, I guess I did.
Margaret Atwood claimed that authentic Canadian stories are marked with the quest for survival. Well, where better to set a tale of survival than in the North? And, for me, survival is tied with love and partnership – two against the odds makes for compelling romance.
Strings Attached is set in northern Manitoba, on a ranch in the dead of winter under those Northern Lights. When my couple, Theo and Josie, embrace under the ribbons of gold and green dancing across the sky, it’s a natural call to happily ever after. The isolation (or, as I prefer, solitude), the cold outside fought off by warm fires, the partnered struggle against the elements – seems like all the ingredients for love, to me.
Though, I admit those novels from my youth must have had a strong affect on me. After all, the hero of Strings Attached is an Australian, and the heroine is a woman who loves him. She also happens to be a Canadian bison rancher, though, so I guess that’s my twist.
Winter well, friends, and all the best for the holidays. – AH
Anne Holly is a Canadian writer of romance and erotic-romance, as well as a mother and teacher. She has been published by Wild Horse Press, Decadent Publishing and Rebel Ink Press, and in 2012 by Pink Petal Books. Anne’s work is characterized by its unusual heroes, sweet/spicy balance, witty dialogue, responsible citizenship, and its positive, optimistic nature. She has found a particular niche in holiday romance. You may visit Anne at her blog or website, or find her on GoodReads, Facebook and Twitter (@anneholly2010). Sign up for her newsletter here. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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