Spies, lies and traitors of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars plus a hero who will do anything to protect his ‘reluctant bride’ from shame and dishonour… These are the main ingredients of my latest book The Reluctant Bride.
But let me talk a bit about the research.
The human element is what engages readers but I admit I had to work hard to strike the right balance between giving my readers a history lesson, and giving them a roller coaster of a romantic adventure plus a sense of the violence and shifting loyalties of the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars.
When I started writing my Napoleonic espionage romance The Reluctant Bride, I was concerned mostly with the pivotal event in my honourable war hero’s life: the retreat to Corunna which took place in 1809 when the British army – and a ragtag bunch of camp followers – retreated to the coast where they’d been told, falsely, that English ships would be waiting to rescue them.
During the retreat my hero, Angus, is forced into an untenable situation which continues to haunt him when he meets my heroine, Emily, and which motivates him to rescue her from ruin, partly to atone for his own past.
I researched the event from a variety of sources, however The Reluctant Bride was a simple ‘marriage of convenience’ story when it won Romance Writers of New Zealand’s Single Title competition six years ago.
With each draft the plot developed and by the time I’d finished – four major rewrites later – The Reluctant Bride was a romance filled with suspense, action and adventure showcasing ‘the darker side of the Regency’ as one reviewer put it.
So how much research overall was required?
I’d have been daunted by the requirements if I’d known at the outset that The Reluctant Bride would incorporate so much of the French Revolution in its backstory.
However, by draft three I realised that my heroine’s heritage was steeped in the violence of the September Massacres of 1792 when the streets of Paris ‘ran red with blood’. I didn’t know it until late in the piece – and neither did she.
The research was extensive as I needed to understand just how crazy those times were, when heroes could become traitors in an instant, losing their heads to the guillotine.
So while overall the research was huge I did it over a number of years and over many drafts, carefully plotting and layering the work until it won Choc Lit’s Search for an Australian Star competition late last year.
I thoroughly enjoyed learning about historical events of which I had a basic knowledge, having devoured social histories since about the age of twelve.
But it was a real treat to come out of the writing of this book, feeling like an authority. In fact, there were so many amazing and quirky facts that didn’t make it into the book that I was inspired to create several authentic costumes and throughout this year have been doing a series of popular History Through Costume Talks focusing on the years between the French Revolution and the Battle of Waterloo.
Here I am wearing it and signing a copy of The Reluctant Bride at the Bendigo Writers Council.
So that’s it from me for research, Ivy, though I could write a book about it.
Thank you very much for having me to blog.
Thanks for visiting, Beverley. I love history so it wouldn’t be hard for me to get lost in the research. There’s a picture of the full costume Beverley made at the end of the blog. Gorgeous isn’t it?
Emily Micklen is proud, passionate – and left with no option after the death of her loving fiancé, Jack, but to marry the scarred, taciturn, soldier who needs to secure a well-connected wife.
Major Angus McCartney hopes that marriage to the unobtainable beauty whose confident gaze about the ballroom once failed to register his presence will offer both of them a chance to put the past to rest.
Emily’s determination to be faithful to Jack’s memory is matched only by Angus’s desire to win her with honour and action. Sent to France on a mission of national security, Angus discovers how deeply Emily has been duped, but the secrets he uncovers lead them both into danger. Can Angus and Emily unmask the real conspirators before they lose everything?
The Reluctant Bride is available as an ebook and in paperback from September 15.
Beverley is generously giving away a digital copy of LADY SARAH’S REDEMPTION. To one (1) lucky commenter. Isn’t Beverley’s dress lovely? What era’s mode of dress do you prefer? Giveaway ends @12am est 9-20-13 with the winner announced shortly thereafter. Good luck y’all!