We’ve all been there—sitting through a history class as a kid, being totally bored out of your mind. It’s enough to turn anyone off on history, right? Perhaps, but I am here today to argue FOR historicals, especially historical romance novels.
Okay. Why bother? There are a few reasons that I love them. The biggest reason is the heroes. Oh, yes. You must have a hero come riding in on a sleek, powerful stallion to sweep the heroine off her feet. Every young girl who has ever read a fairy tale has that image in her head. It’s even better if your hero is in uniform! Where is the best place to find a man in uniform? It has to be the military. Everyone who has seen the 1973 movie, The Way We Were, knows about that scene with Robert Redford in his white dress uniform while Barbara Streisand swoons over him. With that in mind, I decided the best place for me to find men in uniform and horses was the Civil War time period.
However, there was something I wanted to avoid. So many of the older historical romances portrayed women as weak and in need of rescue by the big, strong man. I wanted to stay away from that particular stereotype. History has shown us that women were just as strong and capable back then as they are today. Those are the women in my stories. Charlotte “Charlie” Garrett in SECRETS AND SACRIFICES joins the Confederate army and fights for what she believes in. Jenny Winston in JENNY’S PASSION is willing to go to great lengths for the man she loves, and Lila Montgomery in LILA’S VOW, takes up a dangerous life as a spy to exact her brand of revenge. Are there real life examples of strong women in the past? You betcha. Women like Clara Barton who established the Red Cross after her work in the hospitals of the Civil War, and Sacajawea, the Indian lady who traveled with Lewis and Clark, are just two examples. There are many more.
My final reason for loving historical romances—the history itself. I love to learn new things, particularly if I can be entertained along the way. When I find a historical romance that teaches me something and gives me the passion and romance of a bygone era, I am sold! Since I began writing historicals, I have found that I am not alone. One reader of mine took her family to visit Fort Delaware on Pea Patch island after reading my book, SECRETS AND SACRIFICES, where my hero, Captain Daniel Reid was imprisoned. Another reader, a college student, began soaking up everything she could find in her college library on the Civil War after reading JENNY’S PASSION.
I ask you, what better reason for reading and writing historical romance could you have?
Thanks to Vinspire publishing for having me today. I leave you with an excerpt of LILA’S VOW.
Excerpt from LILA’S VOW by Diane Wylie
“Get away from the window, girl!”
Another loud boom rattled the windows. Lila turned with a barely suppressed shiver of fear. She clenched her teeth. The filthy Rebel crouching under the other sitting room window waved his pistol at her. She moved away.
The soldier had a long, scraggly, dark beard, and his hair hung out in greasy strings under a tattered slouch hat. He scowled at Lila, revealing broken and blackened teeth.
“Where’s yo’ Mama wi’ that food ah needs?”
Beatrice Sutton came in then, carrying a tray of fried chicken and biscuits. She placed it on the floor in front of the soldier where he crouched out of sight. Lila watched him grab up the chicken and begin stuffing it in his mouth as fast as he could, eating as if he were starving…which he probably was. All of the Confederate soldiers she had seen so far had the same gaunt, ragged look about them this one had.
“Look what I got, Luke!” Through the door from Lila’s bedroom came another soldier, just as unkempt as the first one. In his hand was a coffee tin, which he upended, spilling some of its contents onto his palm.
“You can’t have that! That is all the money I have saved for two years!” She lurched toward him.
Mama grabbed her arm and pulled her back. “Shhh, honey,” she said.
“Yeah, honey,” the soldier sneered, “y’all cain’t have dis now. It’s mine!” He started shoving the gold coins into his pockets.
Luke got up and grabbed at the tin, a chicken leg hanging from his mouth. “Gimme some of that!”
“Sure, give me some o’ that food,” the soldier with her money said.
Tears pricked Lila’s eyes. For two years she had saved her earnings from her job as schoolteacher. She had been saving the money to buy a spinet piano of her own and figured in another two years she would have enough. Since Papa died, she had been forced to spend more of her earnings to keep body and soul together. Mama earned money with her sewing, and between them both they had been doing just fine. Now her money was going to be stolen from her!
The two soldiers greedily counted the coins as they simultaneously shoved food in their mouths. She had to do something. Mama stood and watched them, frowning at their antics. The soldiers had all turned their attention away from Lila. Pushing a few escaped strands of dark hair out of her face, her gaze fell on Luke’s pistol. He had laid it on the floor next to the tray of food and forgotten it! Slowly she inched over to the weapon and stood over it, allowing her full skirt to cover it. With her feet, she slid the gun across the wood floor. All the noise from the battle raging outside, and the excited voices of the soldiers hid the sound of metal scraping.
Once she maneuvered the pistol in front of the chair, she sat spreading her skirts carefully. Then she brushed unseen lint from her skirt and continued to brush it off lower and lower, keeping her eyes on the Rebs. Sliding a hand under her skirt, she came up with the gun.
“Hold it right there!” Lila screamed. “Drop the money, or I’ll shoot you, I swear I will!”
“Lila!” Mama gasped in surprise.
“Y’all don’t want to do this, Lila. Yo’ is just a little bit of a woman. Bet yo’ cain’t shoot that there gun no way,” Luke jeered at her.
Gritting her teeth and closing her eyes, Lila aimed the gun for the ceiling and pulled the trigger. The pistol bucked in her hand, and she staggered back, almost falling. Thank goodness it was already loaded!
The next thing she knew, the sound of coins raining down on the hard floor had her opening her eyes in time to see the Rebs running out of the front door, a trail of gold behind them.
Copyright 2009 Diane Wylie
Links to buy Lila’s Vow by Diane Wylie
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