Today PHS editor Donna Alward takes us on a virtual vacation of her latest setting....
I thought about blogging about travel plans, but then I realized that I'm really not going anywhere soon that is worth blogging about. So then I thought, what about settings? And I realized that my June release is different from most of my books, which up to this point mostly take part in rural Alberta. Usually wide open spaces with a view of the mountains.
But for Hired: The Italian's Bride , I stopped looking at the Rockies and immersed the book within them. This book is a little different from my others. There's not a cowboy in sight. Nope, this is an office romance, but one that I hope is filled with the same kind of deep emotion and appeal that I try to bring to all my books.
My characters are in the hotel business, so where better to put them than in Banff, Alberta? Banff is renowned the world over for its beauty and the variety of activities available to its guests - whether it be back country hiking or a day at the spa being pampered with the latest in treatments. It's a local pub and fine dining at its best. It's skiing and Hot Springs and a wonderful place to fall in love. It's a short drive to Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, up the Icefields Pathway to some of the most stunning vistas in the world. The glacier fed lakes are heartbreakingly blue and green - as vibrant as a peacock's feather. The first time I visited I was simply in awe.
When I lived in Calgary, we visited Banff several times a year. Banff Avenue is the main drag, and the Bow River disects the town. We would often browse the boutiques lining the avenue, making sure we stopped at Bernard Callebaut for chocolate and usually the Spirit of Christmas store no matter what time of year we were there. Lunch was traditionally at the Banff Springs Hotel.
The Banff Springs is a hotel like no other, and there are aspects of it that I brought to creating the Fiori Cascade in Hired: The Italian's Bride , especially the interior. While the Cascade is smaller and slightly more intimate, the opulence was something I definitely wanted to translate.
We never did eat in the formal dining room. We used to dine in the Rundle Room before they renovated it, and after that we would lunch at the Bow Valley Grill - in fact, the first time I met PHS columnist Biddy, we ate lunch there. It is more casual, but delicious and the dessert selection to die for.
All around the hotel you get a fabulous view, but my favourite was going out on the balcony and looking down over the winding Bow River and golf course. It was this view I had in mind when Luca and Mari are having coffee in the very first chapter!
The Hot Springs are at the pinnacle of town, and just before you arrive there the Rimrock Hotel is on the left. From the front, the Rimrock does not look imposing at all. But that's because it's nearly part of the mountain itself. (We've lunched there as well). The construction of the Rimrock always intrigued me.
The trip was never complete without a stop at Bow Falls. Especially in the spring time during runoff, the falls are spectacular. They are not very high, but the force of the water is truly wonderful.
I think what makes Banff so wonderful is that it is surrounded by some of the most beautiful nature on earth, but at it's core it is a town dedicated to pampering its guests and enjoyment in all its flavours.
I couldn't think of a better place for Mari and Luca.
Donna's next release is Hired: The Italian's Bride , due out on June 9 and available at eharlequin beginning May 1!
Romantic Times Reviews gave it a four rating and had this to say: "A lovely setting, well-written characters and a completely believable conflict make for an engaging read."