AS a nurse at Musgrove Park Hospital, Nicola Pryce always loved researching old medical practices.

But little did she know that a love of history would soon lead to her becoming the author of five books set on the south coast of Cornwall in the 1700s.

Mrs Pryce, who lives in the Blackdown Hills, is set to publish her fifth book – A Cornish Betrothal.

She said: “My fifth book follows my previous ones, but they can be read as individual novels.

“It is 1798 and The Lady Herbalist, Amelia Carew, has healed her heart after the loss of her fiancé and thrown herself into fund-raising for the new Cornwall Infirmary.

“She paints the herbs she grows and supplies them to apothecaries from her physic garden. She has also fallen deeply in love with a young physician who is about to propose.

“The book starts on her twenty-fifth birthday with the startling revelation that her fiancé, Midshipman Edmund Melville, missing and presumed dead for four years, may still be alive.

“I’m an incurable romantic and I like to tell stories through the eyes of my heroines.”

After living in Somerset for 25 years, Mrs Pryce couldn’t imagine living anywhere else despite her love of sailing the south coast of Cornwall.

“I love Somerset… I can’t imagine living anywhere else,” added Mrs Pryce.

“I often write in my garden with the cows watching me over the hedge.

“I should be writing about Somerset but these books are based on the south coast of Cornwall because my husband and I are keen sailors. We’ve been visiting the harbours of Fowey, Mevagissey, Falmouth and the River Helford for over thirty years.

“The sea, the rugged coastline, the sandy coves and sheltering harbours form the backdrop to my stories but this time I’ve based my book in Truro and on Bodmin Moor.

“My new book is based on archives kept in the Records Office in Truro and I’m glad we no longer take the remedies suggested by some of the quack doctors at the time.”

A Cornish Betrothal is published on November 5th by Atlantic Books and can be ordered through any bookshop.