In case there is any doubt as to my lifelong case of raging Anglophilia, today’s picture should put that to rest. Paris-themed stationery aside (as in literally; I had to move my Marie Antoinette themed matchbook notepad out of the way to take this image) I’ve been hardwired for most things British straight out of the box, as far as I can remember. Don’t ask me when it began, because I have no idea, though I will allow that, by the time I was one year old, the family newly moved to a house in Bedford, NY, from Manhattan, our bottom-of-the-hill neighbors were Scottish immigrants. Shortly after that, my mom met her best local friend, a British expat, who happened to have a baby my age (yes, our families met on a playground, why do you ask?) Very easy to guess, in this case, what sort of adults I saw most often on a regular basis in my formative years. I strongly suspect they imprinted on me, early, and with lasting impact.
While that probably explains my affinity for mentally hopping the pond, I lay the thankblame (which should totally be a real word) for historical romance being my soulmate genre at the feet of two aunts. Aunt L was my mom’s sister. She lived in New Jersey, and, every time she visited (we lived in CT by this time,) she would bring at least one paper grocery bag stuffed to the top with historical romance novels. I was too young to read them at this point, but it was still my job to take the bag directly to the laundry room, un-bag them, and set them aside for my mother’s later perusal. This was when I fell in love with some of the cover art in that first wave of historical romance. It was all painted back then, not photographs, every cover a tiny work of art. I read the blurbs, noted hero and heroine first names (I’ve been name-obsessed since I was about eight) and was a good kid, not looking into the forbidden pages, not even a little.
Well, kind of. Aunt S, wife to Uncle G, my dad’s best friend from their Army days, wrote one. Then two, then three, you get the drift. I went with Mom to the book section of Caldor, to peruse the rack and keep an eye out for Aunt S’s name. I don’t remember which one of us found it, but I remember how my heart did a skippity-skip when I saw it, then another when Mom took it out of the rack. We were buying that book. We were taking it home. I have had that same feeling many a time, when lifting a much-desired book from its shelf, rack, box, hitting the download button, whatever, but this one…this one was the very first, and I knew, without knowing much about it, that this one would be special. I didn’t know it was going to change my life.
Even before Aunt S wrote her first book, even before (to my knowledge) Aunt L hauled grocery bags full of historical romance novels from NJ to CT (and it only now hits me that my mother and aunts were romance readers, and I never got to talk romance novels with them. I even remember mentioning something about a character from one of Aunt S’s books to Aunt G, another of Mom’s sisters, and her responding that she saw the character differently…you read at least one romance novel, Aunt G, and you never said.) I lived in Bedford, NY, during the Bicentennial (dating myself, I know, but I am fine with dating myself, because I always have a lovely time; I’m delightful.) As in town that was literally burned to the ground by the British Army during the war, except for one house. Home to a very lovely historical society I loved then and love now, and setting for my first historical romance, My Outcast Heart.
Dalby and Tabetha’s story takes place a half century and change before the war, so they’d be opinionated seniors by that time, but it’s safe to say that, growing up around that much Revolutionary history, the Georgian age imprinted on me, as well. Maybe that’s why the Georgian period seems to be my historical default setting when I start a new novel. It’s not the only period I like – I’ve written sixteenth century, English Civil War, turn of the twentieth century romances so far, that are currently available, and I have hopes for my first medieval, but when it came time to start Her Last First Kiss, there wasn’t any doubt that it would be Georgian.
There aren’t any Redcoats (aka Lobsterbacks) in Hero and Heroine’s story, though they’ll likely find a few when they get where they’re going, but in future books, there absolutely will be. Ember and her Golden Man still rustle at me from the pages of notebooks and not-quite-right drafts, and I’m sure there will be other soldiers with tales to tell, so I will keep acquiring lobster-related items along with my Union Jacks and other related ephemera. For now, I’m head down, eyes on my own paper, for Hero and Heroine’s tale, which I can now get to, as I can cross “blog entry” off my list. Happy midweek!