When it comes to writing romances, English history provides plenty of opportunities, in particular love affairs during wars. The English generally, where possible tried to fight their battles abroad as it gave less chance of mucking up our beautiful countryside and ruining our castles. The Normans were the last to conquer the British Isles, other’s tried and failed.
You might be led to think nothing happened for centuries after 1066. As it happens the Brits fought a lot amongst themselves. There was Stephen and Matilda (there might have been two Matilda’s I can quite work it out), but that war lasted years and nobody pays it much attention these days, unless you’re a fan of Ellis Peters and Ken Follett. The Welsh, Scots and Irish will contest to land loss and those from Yorkshire might argue the Lancastrians didn’t play fair, or vice versa, during the War of the Roses.
So come the 1600s and the proclamation of the English Civil War, it might not reflect the fact there had been many Civil Wars and most involved killing a king or two.
I had my first introduction to this English Civil War via the kids’ book – The Children of the New Forest by Frederick Marryat (1847). The orphaned children in question
and the Roundheads
hunting them, the baddies (How to tell them apart – different hats). The kids were also from a wealthy family and had to hide in the forest and learn to be peasants. Nothing like having posh noses rubbed in the dirt.
There have been loads of books set around this time – see here. Not surprising since the war was political, religious and cultural in all its ideologies and provides great fodder for the novelist.
Throw in films and TV shows – what a sizzling collection of plots, intrigue and romps. However, something seemed missing.
You guessed, I had to bring spanking into the foray. Clearly, I believed the era lacked a good over the knee moment, a few lashes of the strap and a thorough switching. But don’t despair, in my latest book – In Enemy Hands – amongst the discipline the romance blossoms between the star-crossed lovers and for good measure, my posh girl learns to live on the cheap.
Here’s an excerpt.
Poor Hester has been given a switching by enemy captain Daniel Hasard for causing trouble. But even after a hard day’s labour, she can’t help plotting her next move.
Hester stared up at the canopy. Lying on her bed, she ached from head to toe. All day she had laboured about the house and grounds. She made cheese in the buttery, dug up parsnips on the vegetable patch, and strained apples through muslin to make cider. Later, she washed the bed linen with Miriam, beat the drapes with sticks, and swept the floorboards.
Small callouses covered her fingertips. Before retiring, she rubbed animal fat into them to try to soften the skin.
A week had passed since the arrival of the dragoons and she had hardly seen them. They went out on patrol every day, leaving two men to guard the gate. The rest of the time, they stayed in the barn, keeping the company of the goat and cows. One soldier even took to milking the cows each morning and bringing a pail up to the house.
Early in the evening, the captain would appear for dinner. Having changed out of his muddy riding clothes, he dressed in a clean version of his uniform, slightly worn at the elbows, but otherwise quite smart.
They continued to sit apart and make small talk. She tried to be polite and not let slip some rash comment about the war. He asked about her day, listening attentively as she bemoaned all her chores.
“You have adapted well to your situation, Hester.”
She despised her situation. The presence of Roundheads on her land and using her home as base for operations riled her daily.
The captain offered her the services of one of his soldiers—a baker by trade—to help. Initially she shrugged off his suggestion, but examining her rough hands and feeling her sore feet, she accepted the offer.
Her feet hadn’t been the only sore part of her. Sitting down for a few days after her punishment had been difficult. Her inflamed bottom throbbed badly for a few hours then settled into a dull ache for days before disappearing without a trace.
Captain Hasard made no mention of her misfortune and his lack of curiosity bothered her. It became a gnawing kind of irritation she couldn’t explain. Why hadn’t he asked? Didn’t he feel anything towards her other than indifference, because when they were courteous with each other, she felt sure he held back, as if he wanted them to talk as equals, freely and unhindered by their divisions.
Once dinner finished, they retired to their respective bedrooms and nothing more would be heard from him.
Hester felt increasingly obliged to show resistance. She festered in her room, helpless, while her brothers and father fought to save the country from radical puritans and rebels. At least, that was what she had been told by her mother. She’d wondered if she truly understood the nature of the war and the two sides. Daniel Hasard didn’t seem to be an uneducated upstart bent on destroying the country. He appeared keen on order and justice.
Regardless of Daniel’s ambiguous character, she had to fight back. Sitting on her bed, she used the end of her apron to wipe her nose and she smelt apples. The aroma gave her an idea.