When I was nine, I knew I would grow up and be Nikki of The Moon-Spinners, a Disney film starring Hayley Mills. I would find myself in Crete, and then I would fall madly in love with Mark, played by Peter Mcenery.
The novel by Mary Stewart was even better. The heroine is Nicola, not Nikki, a charming secretary at the British Embassy in Athens.
Since my discovery of Mary Stewart's novels, I have not needed to travel. I open the books and find myself in Crete, Austria, Corfu, Scotland, or Turkey. Stewart's detailed travelogues must have sent women running to the scenic villages and cities she so beautifully describes, but at age nine it wasn't possible for me. I must admit I've never had a vacation quite like those of Stewart's
intelligent, beautiful heroines, who stumble upon crimes and live by their wits, until something physical gets in their way--like a villain.
And of course they fall in love with the rugged, not terribly charming heroes. Her novels are discreetly sexy. No explicit sex scenes.
So I am on a Novel of Romantic Suspense Vacation (or Gothic Novel Vacation), reading some old favorites, and would be happy to receive some suggestions of other Gothic authors to read.
As for falling in love--Mary Stewart knew what we wanted. It was not supposed to go like, "I met him at a party," "I met him at the office," or "I met him while handing out cups of Gatorade during a triathlon."
It was supposed to be like a Mary Stewart novel.
A. An unemployed actress on vacation in Corfu, you fall in love while saving a dolphin. (This Rough Magic)
B. A veterinarian who learned from a newsreel that your husband was in Austria at the scene of a circus fire, you hurry there and discover while treating an old circus horse that it was actually a stolen Lipizzaner stallion. (Airs above the Grounds)
C. A strange man in a cafe in Athens insists on giving you the key to a car. It's a case of mistaken identity, but you want to see Delphi. And then you meet... (My Cousin Michael)
By the way, there are new editions of Mary Stewart's novels, by the Chicago Review Press in the U.S. and Hodder & Stoughton in the UK.