When I was writing Solace in Scandal, an interesting thing happened. The first half of the story is set at Wolfe Manor, a secluded estate in rural New York. The hero and heroine are trapped on the grounds by the paparazzi. It’s primarily Alex and Elena — and the setting. The grand old mansion and its grounds were so key to the story, in essence they became another character.
The mansion itself is old and stately, rigid and cold. It very standoffish as Alex and Elena first meet. The lake house is much warmer and cozier. Accepting. Yet the grounds were what really came alive. At times the woods and lake could be beautiful and inspiring. When trouble lurked around the corner, those same woods could be dark and menacing. The lake took on a foreboding quality.
With the autumn season in full force, the weather and settings were able to magnify the relationship brewing between Alex and Elena. At times it’s stormy and dangerous. At others, it’s secluded and intimate. With few other characters to play off of, the setting had to step up – and it did. Big time. I don’t think the love story could have stood out so much if they’d been trapped in a penthouse or free to come and go.
What do you think? Do you like “forced proximity” romances? Do you think setting is important to a story?