Romance at The Ship Inn

Simon Cruickshank has a 'starring' role in the new novel
Simon Cruickshank has a 'starring' role in the new novel

A Stonehaven hotel has found itself at the centre of an award-winning American author’s latest novel.

The Ship Inn, dating back to 1771, features in the new book by historical romance writer Regan Walker.

The harbourside hostelry features prominently in A Secret Scottish Christmas, and there is even a nod to the current proprietor Simon Cruickshank.

Ms Walker decided to name the innkeeper in the novel Mr Cruickshank as a ‘thank-you’ for the help with her research.

Simon explained: “We were really intrigued when Regan got in touch to say that she wanted to set her latest book in Aberdeenshire and that some of it would be based around The Ship Inn.

“We gave her some information about the original layout and the facilities the hotel would have had at the time.

“We received a couple of copies in the post and were absolutely delighted that The Ship features so prominently in the story.

“The characters come to Stonehaven for Hogmanay and stay at The Ship – which is still the case hundreds of years later as we are always packed with visitors who come for the fireballs.”

He added: “I think I can safely say that it’s the first time that the hotel has featured in a work of fiction – and I certainly never thought I would have a starring role in a romance novel.

“Regan has done a great job in helping The Ship come to life in the story – some of it is based on what we told her, and some of it is pure imagination.”

The novel is the latest in Ms Walker’s Agents of the Crown series.

Ms Walker, who is based in San Diego and gave up a law career to focus on full-time writing, is part of Clan Donald but has no North-east connections.

She based the story in Stonehaven and Arbroath because that’s where her research and imagination took her.

The author said: “I have yet to visit Stonehaven, but I would really love to.

“I understand that Hogmanay is a huge event there, and so my characters wanted to be there for it. When I went about researching historic inns in Stonehaven that existed in 1819 where they might stay, I came across The Ship Inn.

“My readers know that the research to make my stories authentic is important to me. The Ship Inn and the taverns mentioned were all actual establishments, some of which are open to this day, but others are historical.”