Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Meet Historical Star Nicola Cornick

I'm delighted to introduce to the Banditas hugely talented historical romance writer and altogether good egg (keeping the British flavor) Nicola Cornick. Nicola writes for Mills & Boon Historicals, Harlequin Historicals and HQN and her main area of interest is the Regency period.

Nicola, welcome to the Romance Bandits. Can you tell us a little bit about your early life as a writer and your journey to publication?

I think my earliest foray into writing was when I was about ten and created an imaginary kingdom called Ibazania of which I was, naturally, the queen! I had all kinds of magical adventures there and recorded them in an exercise book that my mother still keeps. I suppose I should be grateful that she doesn’t bring the book out to show visitors – as far as I know…

But despite starting to write quite early on, it took me years and years and years to get published. That probably sounds familiar to a lot of people. I wrote my first Regency romance, True Colours, when I was eighteen and spent three years revising it over late night cups of coffee with friends at college. Even now some of them remember James Mullineaux, the hero. I hope it’s because he was incredibly attractive but maybe it was just because they had to put up with him “living” with us for three years. I submitted the book to Mills and Boon and it was rejected. It took me another ten years, lots of revisions and two more submissions before they accepted it.

Strangely enough, I was dreaming about Ibazania only a week ago – perhaps I should set a Regency series of there!

You're clearly a great Regency enthusiast. What do you think lies behind the perennial appeal of this period in English history? Why does it particularly appeal to you?

Hmm, I’ve often tried to work out the appeal of the Regency period and it’s one of the things I love discussing with people. Clearly, whilst the sight of Colin Firth in a wet shirt and breeches is a splendid thing, it can’t be held completely responsible for the popularity of the Regency in books, films and TV.

Jane Austen’s books are timeless classics, of course, and some of the film and TV adaptations have been superb. I think there’s also an appeal in the rigid social structure and the rules governing courtship and marriage – and how far those rules might be bent or broken.

For me the appeal comes from the huge contrast that there was in society between the glitter and glamour of the Ton and the poverty and hardship that there was in other ranks of society. Writing about the house parties and the balls and the fabulous frocks is great but it’s also good to have the gritty side of life to research and that also provides wonderful story ideas.

You've got a great backlist, Nicola. Do you have any particular favorites among your books? Why?

Well, first of all I’m glad you like the backlist! Thank you. It’s difficult choosing favourites, isn’t it, a bit like having to choose between my pets! I can honestly say that I was madly in love with the heroes of all my books. I’m very free with my favours in that respect. In terms of favourite books, though, I have a particular soft spot for The Penniless Bride because it is a “happy book,” a rags to riches fairy story, which I think still manages to be emotionally intense as well as fun and entertaining. I also loved researching the history of chimney sweeps for that book. It was fascinating.

I loved The Penniless Bride. A real fairytale but with your exemplary grip on historical reality. Another book of yours that I particularly enjoyed was Lord Greville's Captive which was set during the English Civil War in the 17th century. Clearly, other people agreed with me as LGC was nominated for several awards. Were there any particular challenges or rewards in writing about a period other than the Regency? Do you have any plans to write more non-Regency books?

Lord Greville's Captive is another book that is close to my heart because I had wanted to write it for so long. I love the period of the English Civil War because it was a time of such intense experiences and emotions. There was huge physical danger, the potential for betrayal and redemption, heightened passions and intrigue, all of which appeal to me as a writer of romance. It was also fun to read up on and research a different time period, and because I work in a seventeenth century historic house I had lots of visual history – buildings, paintings etc to draw on. The drawback was that I had to plan in more research time than with my Regency books since I didn’t have as much detailed knowledge of the period, but that wasn’t exactly a hardship.

I don’t currently have any plans to write other books outside the Regency period except for one very special project. I’ve written a book set in the Edwardian era as part of the Harlequin Mills and Boon Centenary celebrations for 2008. It’s called The Last Rake In London and comes out in March 2008. The hero is a descendent of the Kestrel family who featured in my Bluestocking Brides Regency series. My grandmother is 99 years old and a true Edwardian lady, so the book is dedicated to her.

Your current HQN release is Lord of Scandal.I thoroughly enjoyed this story about celebrity and scandal in the Regency. Can you tell us a little about this book?

I first became interested in celebrity in the Regency period when I studied the appeal of heroes for my MA dissertation. It was a tough assignment but someone had to do it! Amongst others, I studied Horatio Nelson and was fascinated to realise that he was a celebrity as well as a war hero. In Lord of Scandal Ben Hawksmoor, the hero, is a man who has built a celebrity persona for himself. He’s one of the Prince Regent’s set of dazzling, dissolute characters, a gambler and a rake. But the real Ben is very different – a dark, complex character who is attracted to the heroine, Catherine, because she is open and loving and the opposite of him in so many ways.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently writing the second book in a Regency series called The Brides of Fortune for HQN Books. The series kicks off with Unmasked in July 2008. I’m pretty excited about Unmasked because in Nick Falconer it has one of those historical heroes I love – principled and honourable but sexy as hell into the bargain! Marina, the heroine, is more than a match for him. She has some deep, dark secrets to hide and is determined that Nick is not going to seduce them out of her no matter how hard he tries!

QUESTION AND PRIZES: Lord of Scandal is all about glamour and glitz and Regency celebrity. Which actor do you think looks the best in historical costume - or a wet shirt and soaking breeches! The prize is a signed copy of Lord of Scandal plus some luxurious pampering treats from the Jane Austen Centre in Bath.


Keira Soleore said...

Nicola, hi again. I loved the photo tour you did of Anna's summer visit.

And while I was there visiting your site, I browsed through the "for writers" section and bookmarked it for e-mailing you about M&B secrets when I'm ready to send my MIP (mess in progress) out.

Earlier this month, I was lucky to meet a bookseller who specializes in romance. She has a long list of authors from me and has been attempting to track down SCANDAL for me. I hope she can get a hold of it soon.

Did you learn about Ashdown and its history through your MA work, or were you interested in the estate through research for your books?

doglady said...

Hello, Nicola! I love your books! Thank you so much for writing them. Lord Greville's Captive is fabulous, but my favorite hero is Richard Kestrel in One Night of Scandal. Swoon!!

Which actor looks best in period costume? Unfair question! I have so many favorites! Matthew Macfadeyn in Regency evening clothes and then in that open throat shirt, breeches and duster flying out behind him when he is walking across the field at sunrise! DI - VINE! Colin Firth in wet shirt and breeches. Gerard Butler in barely any britches (300)! Just saw the previews for Elizabeth the Golden Age and Clive Owen in tights as Francis Drake. Oh my goodness, fetch my vinagrette! Nicola, what a great research topic. I'll bet it was fascinating. What was the most fascinating thing you learned about a real-life Regency celebrity/hero?

Annie West said...

Nicola and Anna, thanks for the post! Nicola, I'm a slow starter, I've only just discovered your books - starting with 'Lord Greville's Captive' and can't wait to get my hands on some more. Thanks for a great read. Maybe 'Lord of Scandal' next - it sounds intriguing.

Hm, best in period costume? Well, being predictable I'd have to say Colin Firth is quite something. But I also have vague recollections of an old TV series set during the English Civil War - can't even remember the actors' names but they looked grand!


Nicola Cornick said...

Thanks so much for inviting me to visit today, Anna. It's great to be here!

I’m so glad you liked the pictures from Anna’s tour, Keira. We had so much fun! I was quite envious when she went off to Scotland, though. I wanted to go too!

I first got involved with working at Ashdown about 5 years ago when I saw an advert in our local shop. They needed people to sign up to take guided tours around the house and I’d always wanted to work there so I rang up almost before the ink was dry on the ad! When I started I hadn’t done any research into the English Civil War period for years and years but it was strange how once I was there I became so inspired by the house and the people who had lived there that I literally could not stop reading up about them. And then, of course, I wanted to write about them as well. Hmm… I think that a lot of the inspiration came from the fabulous portrait of Prince Rupert of the Rhine we have in the house. If we’re talking about heroes… Well… (Pause to share Doglady’s vinaigrette!) I was showing a tour group round the other day and one of the ladies stopped in front of the picture and sighed and said: “WHAT a good looking man!” I thought she was going to swoon there and then on the stairs!

BTW, can’t wait to see those pictures of Clive Owen in Elizabethan costume! Considering it’s only breakfast time here in the UK I’m feeling very hot and bothered at the thought of all those men in historical garb. Was the TV series you mentioned “By the Sword Divided,” Annie? I loved that so much! And Poldark, and Kidnapped, and… Really must stop and take a cold shower now. Phew! Visiting the Banditas is a sultry experience!

Anna Campbell said...

Nicola, so glad you dropped by the Bandit lair to play! Goodness, spoilt for choice when it comes to gorgeous men in period costume. By the Sword Divided was fantastic, wasn't it? Hmm, just off the top of my head (and I'm sure I'll think of more), Doglady, you're so right about Mr Darcy striding through the dawn mist to claim his Lizzie. Sigh. Anthony Andrews in the Scarlet Pimpernel. Poldark (I had a huge crush on him as a young un!). Ciaran Hinds in Persuasion. Gabriel Byrne in the Man in the Iron Mask. The Bedouin offsider in The Mummy films (hubba, hubba!). Peter O'Toole in Lawrence of Arabia. The French guy (Vincent someone?)who was the hero of Queen Margot (incredibly violent film but he was awfully pretty, at least until they chopped his head off!). Oh, dear, there are just soooo many to choose from! I think I'll be back! Oh, and I hadn't even put Richard Armitage in North and South on that list! Swoon material!

Nicola took me to see the picture of Rupert of the Rhine. Very swoonable it was too! Ashdown really is gorgeous, Keira. I've got some great pictures and hope to do a column about it on my website or here one day soon.

Keira Soleore said...

Swoon on the stairs... :) Now, that would make a story, except that if that were me, there'd be no strong pair of arms or even a settee to break my fall.

So the guided tours led to the book--a great case for write what you know.

FoAnna, wouldn't it be fabulous to have this oh-so-glorious estate just in my neighborhood?!!

Keira Soleore said...

Um, Anna, I can feeeeeel your enthusiasm, but in your original post you did say actor (as in singular), not a list of actors. Ahem!

My choice would of course be the "Look at me. Look back at me." Richard Armitage of North and South.

Buffie said...

Hello Nicola!! It sounds like you have some books that I need to pick up and read!

As far as actors, I think Christian Bale would be a fabulous one in period costume and in a soaking wet shirt and pants ;)

Deb Marlowe said...

Hi Nicola!

Waving madly at you!

Oh, The Penniless Bride is one of yours that I have not read, but it sounds fabulous--Now I know the perfect reward for finishing my latest book!

The March book sounds fabulous too! There is just something about those Edwardians...

Nicola Cornick said...

Hi again

Was so excited last time I forgot to answer doglady's question about the most fascinating thing I'd learned about a real life Regency celebrity/hero. Hmm. Good question! I think that it might have been that when Lord Byron published his poem The Corsair he had a portrait painted of himself in full pirate gear to publicise it! Not only was that a neat piece of marketing but I bet he looked good too!

Anna - laughing here at your loooong list of swoonworthy actors. Totally agree on the nominations, especially Richard Armitage. And hi Buffie - great choice in Christian Bale!

I have to add Jim Caviezel in The Count of Monte Cristo to the list. I loved it when he reinvented himself as the Count and was incredibly alpha!

Hi Deb (waving back!) So nice to see you here!

Well, I'm off to work at Ashdown this afternoon so I'll pop in again when I get back. I always warn visitors to take care on the stairs but I hadn't anticipated any swooning-related injuries!

Caren Crane said...

Nicola, welcome to the Bandit lair! We are thrilled to have you here. I thoroughly enjoyed the photos from your and Anna's tour this summer--I was so jealous!

I am friends with Deb Marlowe (who adores you and rightly so!) and we have talked about doing a home tour of Britain. I have never been, so it would be especially great for me. Unfortunately, I write contemporaries set in the Southern USA, so I don't think I could write it off on taxes for research. *grumble*

As for men in historical costume, I wouldn't kick Antonio Banderas's Zorro out of bed for eating crackers! And Foanna, the Bedouin in the Mummy movies was my darling Oded Fehr! *swoon*

Thank you for the hot flashes, Nicola, and for visiting with us!

Joan said...

Hi Nicola,

Joan here and welcome to the Lair.

I agree about Jim Caviezel in "The Count of Monte Cristo". He had a LOT of angst to work through and revenge to get...and he got the girl too!

Right now, there is a movie out with Colin Firth in MY period (Roman)costume called "The Last Legion". I haven't been able to see it but gotta love those tunics. :-)

AndreaW said...

Hi Nicola! Great blog!

I promise I'm not copying Buffie, but to answer your question about actors, anyone that knows me knows that I love Christian Bale. He would be perfect in historical clothing, soaking wet or nothing at all! LOL


doglady said...

Oooh Oded Fehr!!! Lovely! And Antonio Banderas is easy on the eyes too. Nicola, I LOVE Byron and oh I would do anything to see the portrait of him as a pirate!! Looking forward to seeing Colin Firth in a tunic too. I almost forgot! Hugh Jackman in Kate and Leopold. That man can wear a uniform. And he was rather delectable as Van Helsing as well! Off to take a cold shower and then off to work!

Anonymous said...

Nicola, thanks so much for being here! I am a fan of your books as well. :-)

I get the sense that Harlequin is heading in a slightly different direction than other NY publishers--more meaty with historical detail, perhaps a little less focused on the s-e-x. Do you think that's true? (Not that I've got anything against a steamy book, Ms. Campbell! ;-) )

CrystalG said...

Hi Nicola. Great interview.
I think Colin Firth and Richard Armitage look great in historical costume.

Trish Milburn aka Tricia Mills said...

Hi, Nicola. What an interesting interview. I too started writing while I was in college, though I couldn't do research by hoofing it out along the Oregon Trail. :)

I've always thought I'd love working at a historic home. I live close to the home of President Andrew Jackson -- actually applied there once, but never got a call. :(

I agree with so many of the actors mentioned. Here's my list:

Orlando Bloom in Pirates of the Caribbean, particularly #3
Christian Bale in The New World (though the movie was dreadful)
Daniel Day-Lewis and Eric Schweig in Last of the Mohicans
Oded Fehr (I second Caren's swoon) in The Mummy movies
Matthew MacFadyen in Pride & Prejudice
Gabriel Bryne in Man in the Iron Mask (forgot that one until Anna said it & I'll try to ignore the fact that he's 20 years older than me)

Anna Sugden said...

*waving madly* Hi Nicola - fellow Brit Anna here (the other, other Anna ... not Anna Campbell or Anna Lucia *grin*)

Great to have you here!

I'm all for Colin Firth *pause to sigh* and Clive Owen but I loved Kurt and Val in Tombstone and of course Daniel in Last of the Mohicans. I know they're not Regency ... but yum anyway. I wouldn't mind seeing Matthew McConnaughey in a wet shirt (britches optional!) Oh and John Hannah's voice doing any narration.

Nicola Cornick said...

Back again! Caren, it would be so great if you and Deb came over on a tour and dropped by to say hello! I'm sure we could think of a creative way for you to claim it as research...

The list of hot guys in period costume is fab. I'm getting all the films I haven't already seen out on DVD as soon as I can. And Colin Firth in a Roman story. Oh wow!

Interesting question about Harlequin, Kirsten. I think one of the very good things about writing for them is that you do have more latitude to write a different type of book than you might with some other publishers. Yes, they are looking for the sensual reads but they are also happy to look at the more meaty historical books too, as you mention. And the range of historical periods and perspectives is pretty wide too so authors aren't limited in that respect either. As long as you come up with a gripping story they will give it consideration and they do like new and different stuff.

That said, they have asked for very steamy Regencies from me so the sensual books are popular too!

anne said...

Welcome Nicola.
I have been enjoying your novels for years. I think that Liam Neeson would look great in costume.

Caren Crane said...

Nicola, you may be sorry you extended the invitation if Deb and I turn up on your doorstep! You're right of course. The three of us creative types could find some way to write it off. *g*

Oh, Anne, I had forgotten Liam Neeson in Rob Roy. Yum! You could give him a good soaking and I think he would look fab. And Sean Bean--oh, my! Loved Sean in the Sharpe series. More swooning!

Aunty Cindy said...

Welcome to the lair, Nicola, GREAT to have you with us today!

As you can see, we LUVRE our hunks! :-) Of course we LUVRE our various historical time periods too.

Ah yes, Oded Fehr was one of THE BEST things about The Mummy movies, though Aunty didn't mind Brendan Fraser soaking wet from his swim in the Nile either!

However, the only one guaranteed to make me swoon on the staircase (or anywhere else) would be my ever-lovin Eric in that short skirt and sleeveless tunic in Troy. Okay, Orly, Sean and Brad didn't look too bad either... Maybe the movie wasn't so great (and once Hector/Eric bites it, I lose all interest) but all those bulging male biceps and thighs MORE than make up for the silly plot and bad dialogue!

AC off for the cold shower :-P

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Nicola! Welcome to the Bandita Lair! So lovely to have you with us. Love your books, even though I'm not a historical reader usually, I read Lord Grenvilles Captive. Now I'll have to dig up Penniless Bride too! :> As to men in gorgeous clothes, Clive Owen has got to be right up there in a tie with the darling Alan Rickman, in his dress uniform for the wedding...yum. And oh, Oded Fehr, from the mummy movies you mentioned, Anna and Caren. Hubba-hubba indeed. Grins. Great info on Ashdown and now I have to go check out the vacation piccies...

Maureen said...

Hi Nicola!

Congratulations on your new book. I pick Colin Firth from Pride and Prejudice.

Beth said...

Welcome to the Bandit Lair, Nicola! Wonderful interview *g*

Love everyone's choices for favorite actor in period costume, especially AC's choice of Eric in Troy - he was the best part about that movie :-)

Cherie J said...

Welcome Nicola! The Regency period is one I have been fascinated with for a long time. My choices for hotties in breeches would be Colin Firth and Orlando Bloom. Thanks for blogging with us!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Kirsten, that hot sex in CTC was historically accurate ;-)

Oh, Christian Bale. Lovely! Colin Firth in Roman gear, lovely. Keira, you're so right about Richard Armitage and look back. Swoon on the stairs of Ashdown House and break leg. Ouch! Oh, Trish, and how could I forget DDL in LOTM. For a while there, all my heroes looked just like him! Clearly, I could go on and on!

Waving at Deb Marlowe! Can't wait to read your debut book Scandalous Lord, Rebellious Miss!

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Nicola -

Such an extensive list of fabulous heros...I'll take them all, thank you, and maybe even seconds. :)

I love your colorful covers, Nicola, and I'm putting The Penniless Bride on my buy list. Thanks for joining us today.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Okay...I just had to google Clive Owen in the movie The Golden Age...and yes he is quite wonderful in period costume. But then Clive is wonderful in any outfit or lack thereof! IMHO.

A few years back one of my daughters bought me the A&E mini series of Pride & Prejudice. Good daughter! So I get to see Mr. Darcy in wet shirt and britches as many times as I wish. sigh

But one of the men in period costume I love is Sean Bean as Richard Sharpe. mmmmmm nice tight pants, er handsome uniforms those officers wear. :)

Helen said...

Loved the post Nicola and I will be out looking for your books they sound wonderful. I am always happy to find new authors for me to read. As for an actor who looks good in a historical costume or wet shirt Hugh Jackman Yummy.
Have Fun

Anna Campbell said...

Helen, how did I know you were going to mention our Hugh? As the Duchesse de Snorkville would say, SNORK!!!

Nicola Cornick said...

Thank you all for such a warm welcome. It has been great visiting the Banditas today! And I have enjoyed the list of historical heroes VERY much. I'm really impressed by the way everyone has come up with so many hot nominations for heroes in wet shirts. You guys are really into the spirit of this!

Helen said...

Anna how could I not mention Our Hugh I loved him in Kate and Leopold and he is just such a nice all round guy.
Have Fun

Cassondra said...


A huge WELCOME to the Bandita lair. Thank you for visiting! In particular it's nice to hear the story of your progress to publication, rewrites and rewrites and a girl hope. (grin)

I'm so envious of your time on the INSIDES of those wonderful old homes. My visit to Great Britain in grad school had me walking all over England, Scotland and Wales, but unfortunately the tours of the insides were brief walkthroughs, and the rest of the time was spent in the gardens (which is what I was there to study). The gardens were impressive, but to spend that time on the history of those who lived in the homes--ahhhh! Pure fun. No analysis of why Gertrude Jekyll placed this wall here, that knot garden there.....

I have to say, the heroes to fall in love with are what draw me over and over again to any book. It's so nice to hear that YOU love your heroes as much as your readers do.

I'll stick with my same old three-- Oded in the Mummy flicks, Daniel D. Lewis in Last of the Mohicans, and Viggo in LOTR. No actual breeches in the bunch, but for the pure lust factor, I have a tendency to go for the scruffier hunks in leather leggings.;0)

Authorness said...

Great interview, Nicola and Anna.

I love seeing Jeremy Northam (Emma, Gosford Park) in costume. I can't picture him in 21st-century garb.

Vanessa ;)

Stacy S said...

I haven't read any of your books yet. But they sound great.

tetewa said...

Your books sound great and I would love to see Ryan Goosling in a costume! (HOT)

Joan said...

Ok, Helen. Fess up.

You KNOW Hugh don't you!

I have a major thing for the Jackman...Two pics of him with long tousled hair and scruff are pasted to my writing desk. Those pics ARE my hero Damon.

That's it. I'm flying to Oz right now. Pick me up at the airport in a couple of days.....I'll be the one with a "Dear God, the plane DID have enough fuel to fly that long" look on my face.

Helen said...

Joan if only, I would race to the airport and pick you all up so as we could have a great party with Hugh he is so to drool over
Have Fun

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Nicola, what a fun day! And I worked out that because thinking about gorgeous men in historical costume is research, I can get it off tax. Kewl! Nicola, thanks so much for visiting. It's been a hoot!

And don't forget to call back in a day or so, everyone, to see if you've won Nicola's great prize.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Oooh, one last note on great men in great breeches...I've been trying all day to remember this one - Ioan Gruffudd in the Horatio Hornblower series! Whew! Very hot. Grins. Couldn't remember it to save my life, but my DH remembered...he remember how much I raved about the cute Ioan! Ha!

Christine Wells said...

Rushing in late! I hope I haven't missed you! Nicola, great to have you on Romance Bandits! I'm supposed to be in the deadline cave (Aunty was distracted by the thought of Eric Bana in Troy, and I slipped out when she wasn't looking!)

I've read many of your Regency historicals and enjoyed them all. They are clearly well-researched and grounded in history--you certainly have the home advantage as far as research goes! I envy you! Do you see a lot of difference between English-set historicals written by English authors as opposed to non-English authors?

Aunty Cindy said...



crop in hand

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I haven't read any of Nicola's work but now have two ordered so they should be here soon, and already started a spreadsheet so I can get her backlist. :-)
I guess I am a tried and true kind of gal, I loved seeing Colin Firth in wet breeches, oh, and wet shirt too of course.

Nicola Cornick said...

Popping back to catch up with a few people and to say thanks again. I hope you like the books, Dianna!

Christine, so glad I didn't miss you. That's a very interesting question about differences between English-set historicals written by English authors as opposed to non-English authors.

I think that a few years ago I would have said that yes, there was quite a lot of difference between English-set historicals written by English authors and authors from other countries. Obviously I’m making huge generalisations here but from my experience I would say that the difference mostly lay in the style. English authors tended to write an “old-fashioned” type of book with slightly less depth in the point of view so that you didn’t get into the protagonists’ feelings as much. As a result a reader wouldn’t get as intensely emotional or sensual a story in some of those books. These days, though, I think that has changed. Many UK readers love the emotional depth of US published historicals and will buy those authors from Amazon and other internet booksellers if they can’t get them in the shops. Books by authors such as Loretta Chase and Gaelen Foley are sold retail in the UK now and are very popular. The two markets seem to have moved closer together. There are also some UK authors who now write the sort of deep, emotional reads that are my favourites – authors like Louise Allen for Harlequin whose books I adore. And obviously I like to explore that sort of style myself! So I think there isn’t as much difference as there used to be and hopefully more non-UK authors will continue to be published over here, and vice versa.

Anna Campbell said...

Interesting comment, Nicola. I visited the UK in 2004 and couldn't find any US romance apart from a Nora Roberts that I found in a newsagency in Inveraray of all places (thank goodness! I was desperate for a nice juicy read!). This last trip a couple of months ago, I noticed lots of US romance generally available. Shelves of historicals in the big book shops, a specialty romance bookstore in Charing Cross Road (what a treat!) and big authors like Nora available in bookshops everywhere. I think there's an emotional punch that you get from the American-style romance that is universally appealing if people can get their hands on the books!