Today we're pleased to welcome author Valerie Bowman, also an H&H contributor, whose forthcoming novel Secrets of a Runaway Bride is out today! She's here to talk Gretna Green, Scotland, and what, exactly, makes it such an intriguing location for romance readers and writers alike... Welcome, Valerie!
Today I thought I’d give a little insight into a certain location. A location that plays a large part in my latest historical romance novel, Secrets of a Runaway Bride. A location rife with scandal and the litter of ruined reputations. A location just over the Scottish border from England, full of possibilities and danger. What is that location? The infamous town of Gretna Green, Scotland.
So, how exactly did a tiny town in Scotland become the focus of so much intrigue?
It all began with Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act of 1754. When the English Parliament passed that act, it prohibited several things. Before the act went into effect, in England young men and women over the age of 16 (but younger than 21) were able to merely declare themselves married in front of witnesses. After the act was passed, couples in the throes of a passionate love affair had to hightail it to Scotland to have their quick (and unapproved) weddings. You see, in Scotland, a boy age 14 and a girl age 12 could marry (as opposed to the legal age of 21 in England and Wales). And again, all they had to do was declare themselves married in front of witnesses…and then get to the business of consummation, of course.