According to this article in the Duluth Superior, should you be shopping for a getaway this Valentine’s day, romantic destinations are found around the world: take your honey to Savannah, GA, which I agree is a fantastically romantic city, or spring for the big airfare and take her to Australia. I love how the heading doesn’t mention a specific city or even a region, just the whole damn country. Perth? Melbourne? Adelaide? Sydney? Uluru? Equally broad: Zanzibar! Jamaica! Patagonia!
Sweeping recommendations aside (“The Motel 6 in Patagonia, honey? Oh, you shouldn’t have!” “Priceline, baby. Priceline.” “Oh, you’re so romantic.”), the article made me wonder about romance novel settings, and romantic places in general.
Personally, I tend to shy away from places that are marketed as “romantic.” From the posh to the pedestrian, anything hyped as romantic will certainly have less than the ideal amount of Luuuuuurve® Potential once I arrive and inspect it myself. For example: the Pocono resorts in Pennsylvania.Crack open a bridal magazine and you’ll see their ads in the back: champagne glass shaped hot tubs, pools in your room, fireplaces. And have mercy, the reports I’ve received from how crusty and gross those rooms really are. Not romantic at all, unless your idea of romance is a blacklight, a petri dish, and some seriously curious carpet stain samples.
The romantic hype almost always indicates a let down for me, especially because romance is usually infused by the feelings between the couple experiencing the place. Hubby and I think driving long distances together is romantic. The car make and model doesn’t usually matter, although I was never fond of summer on the fake pleather seats of his poo-colored Pontiac 6000. I peeled my legs off that seat like a fruit roll up coming off the plastic liner. Yuck.
Savannah? Certainly romantic. But I also think parts of Pittsburgh are romantic, because that’s where Hubby and I grew up. Same with certain spots in Morgantown, West Virginia, where Hubby and I got together while working at a summer sleepaway camp.
But am I going to get all excited about a romance set in Pittsburgh, or perhaps Mo-town? Hardly. While those spots are romantic solely for myself and Hubby, when I’m looking for romance in a novel format, I don’t gravitate towards one particular setting as a rule, though when I think about it, there’s a lot of cliches to be found in the setting. And thinking about cliches gets me ruminating indeed.
Someone should put together a Grand Tour of Romance Novel Locales:
England, Scotland, Ireland, some bits of Italy, maybe even an adventurous genre-breaking foray in to France. But what of the States? What romance novel locations are consistently hyped up by multiple mentions in publication around the US and Canada?
Well, there’s always The West. Start with some prairie dogs, dust, and perhaps a wagon wheel, and, historical or contemporary, just add cowboy and you’ve got romances. Lots of them!
There’s the South as well: both the riverboat gambling/bayou swamp South and the Old South romance of Spanish moss, verandahs, and strict social conventions.
More than a few are set in New York City, and LA. Usually, and again, sweeping generalities here, if you pop quizzed me on what setting equals what plot: New York City is fashion, media and/or advertising. And big corporate business. LA is movies, tv, celebrity in general. NYC is cold, LA is warm, insert appropriate clothing mentions here.
So, generalities aside, how important is setting in what you choose to read, and, where you choose to go for a romantic evening? Would you read about the same place you’d visit for a romantic weekend trip? More to the point, what romantic places do you prefer to read about, and are the same as where you’d like to visit?