Creating Heat in Controlled Settings


Hi everyone–

I wasn’t sure what to write in my post on settings when i happened to encounter a review at Jessewave for my book, Sinders and Ash. In the review, the reviewer refers to the clever setting which happens to be a luxury hotel in upstate New York. She calls it a “controlled environment.” I must confess, i hadn’t thought of it that way before. But it’s true, i specifically chose that setting for the book in order to be able to control the actions, appearances, and responses of my two main characters. It was essential to the plot.

Sinders and Ash is a contemporary, MM retelling of the Cinderella tale. It’s important that my hero, Sinders, be seen as a hard-working man who is overlooked and abjured by the people around him. Keeping him in the same setting allows that to happen. For Ash, the “handsome prince”, he needs to be around the women he is supposed to be marrying and they have all come to this resort to meet him. So the controlled environment works for both of them.

While romances don’t usually have wide-ranging environments, single settings are fairly unusual. One-location stories are more often in mysteries, particularly the so-called drawing room mysteries. Think of Gosford Park where the close circumstances of the guests and the servants in the great house is the cauldron of emotion that brings the plot to fruition. Or Agatha Christie’s famous And Then There Were None which traps all of her characters on an island where the murders take place making the mystery so tough to unravel. Plays also often take place in a single setting like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe and many more.

Tightly controlled settings suggest constriction, that the main characters are hemmed in by circumstances. Such settings might also represent protection from the outside world. Both are true in Sinders and Ash.

Can you think of other romances that take place in a single locale? Share.

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