Posts Tagged ‘armchair travel’

Armchair Romance Makes the World Go Round

June 30, 2011

I started reading category romances in the early 80s. Mills and Boon, Harlequins, Loveswepts, Candlelight Ecstacy Supremes (yup – thanks for that line Dell!) and Silhouettes. I devoured them. I love reading romances with their optimism, affirmative relationships and their happily ever afters. But something that sneaked up on me, something that I was only vaguely aware of, was my enjoyment of reading category romances set around the world and, in particular, in different states of America.

Oronce Finé 1534 World Map - Cordiform Projection

The first time I recall choosing to read a romance because of  its setting was after I had read Janet Dailey’s Tidewater Lover (set in Virginia) and Mistletoe and Holly (set in Vermont). I then borrowed from my local library A Lyon’s Share (Illinois) and realised that this was no coincidence. After a little bit of research I discovered that Janet Dailey had decided to write a category romance for every state of America. How fabulous! I had hit the mother lode! I continued borrowing and buying Dailey’s books purely for this reason. I don’t think I read all 50 in her Americana series but it certainly put in the hook for reading romances set in specific states or countries.

I am a huge fan of Anne McAllister‘s Montana Cowboys, ooh! and her Boston Savas’s. I loved Cindy Gerard‘s Wyoming based Outlaws trilogy and oh! those hot hot hot Westmorelands by Brenda Jackson live all over America. They’re in Montana, Colorado and Texas just to list a few states.

Of course, settings in category romances go beyond America and are set all over the world with the reader getting a wonderful sense of place from many stand out authors. Sarah Mayberry has a wonderful balance of character and place in her books which are mostly set in South-Eastern Australia, Karina Bliss‘ sense of New Zealand and those wonderful English villages juxtoposed with exotic Spanish, Greek, Argentinian and Italian villas in Lynne Graham‘s angsty gems.

For the reality is, wherever in the world you are, whatever country you are traversing, whichever place you are discovering, it is inevitable, that somewhere and sometime, someone has had a romantic moment there. And as a romance reader and armchair traveller, I want to read those stories.

Vassiliki

Armed with an Atlas

June 21, 2011

I am innately curious about the world around me (makes sense that I’m a Reference Librarian then). I love watching Global Village and will often organise dinner around when it is on TV so I can sit down and watch. I love the fact that I can watch it on SBS1 and then flip to SBS2 and watch a previous show that I may have missed (or watch it again if I’ve already seen it).  Exploring a country (sometimes my own) from the comfort of my lounge chair is a relaxing and rewarding experience and seems to satisfy a deep need to know things within myself.

But I simply cannot watch Global Village without my handy 20+ year old Atlas beside my chair as I like to know the exact location of the show in relation to the rest of the world. When watching shows like Ice Truckers I rely on the topography maps in my atlas to help me appreciate the isolation and dangers being faced by the truck drivers in this show – to put everything I’m seeing into context. Food Safari, Luke Nguyen’s Vietnam, Jamie does…., any cooking show which explores the culture and cuisine of another country is guaranteed to find me sitting there with my handy dog-eared Atlas on my lap pinpointing precisely where in the world that little town or country is.

Let’s be honest, sit me down in front of a documentary and lo and behold I’ll grab my Atlas and have it open before 5 minutes have passed – I’ve even told my family they can buy me a new one for my birthday! Next to the family dictionary it’s the most used book in the house – and I wouldn’t have it any other way. An Atlas opens up the world around us in ways that are suprising, unique, and oddly informative – and a great way for the whole family, not just me, to learn about and explore the world.

CatyJ