A hundred years ago. It sounds like a long time, a different time for an historical, and yet so much was the same—electricity, running water, and mail delivery. Stores carried groceries and ready to wear clothing. Dinner and lunches could be enjoyed at restaurants. Items could be ordered through a catalog and delivered to your home. There were even cars on the road.
Talk about making things difficult for myself. Lovers of historical romances want to be taken away from our world to a simpler time, an exotic time. So why did I pick this time? I’m not a masochist; therefore, there must be another explanation. Quite simply, there was a war on, The Great War, and this era marked the pivotal change into what we’d call the modern era.
Long before Rosie the Riveter and Wendy the Welder, there was Rosie’s and Wendy’s mother. A woman who left the home, put her children in childcare, and stepped into jobs that were until that time thought only capable of being filled by men. She, too, made bombs, bullets, and that new fangled invention aeroplanes and later tanks. She drove ambulances to the front to pick up the wounded, manned mobile X-Ray wagons to the hospitals, and made nursing an honorable profession for secular women (and not just appropriate for nuns).
And in exchange, those women did what the women before them hadn’t been able to achieve for nearly six decades—she forced national lawmakers into giving herself and her daughters and granddaughters the right to vote and for a time, guaranteed women were paid equally to men (but only for those companies with government contracts).
With all the things that are close to modern life, how did I give the historical feel to the novels? Horses were the easiest way. After all, while there may have been automobiles, more people had wagons. Electricity was spotty and not everyone had it.
But there was a war on. The settings in Belgium showed life under fire or occupation. Definitely not what many have other experienced. For the ones here in the US, I cheated and set the stories on the fictional island of Hope’s Point. Island life was pretty exotic and different, especially when the islanders would be isolated for months at a time.
Of course, the easiest way was to rely on social conventions, dress, and the little minutiae that made things different. Such as the rising skirt lines, so those in the hospitals near the front could avoid the mud. The strict manners of the Victorian were in direct conflict with the modern attitude of many young people who feared death at any moment. Even the delivery of milk, eggs, and the interior of the stores leant a period feel.
Excerpt from Hearts in Barbed Wire:
“Time to wake up, Maddy.”
Madeline squeezed her eyes closed and sunk deeper into the pallet. Straw scratched her cheek. The coarse wool blanket reeked of animal. This morning’s events rushed back to her. The injured soldiers. Her parents’ deaths. Mathieu’s catatonic state. Pushing her hair off her face, she opened her eyes.
Uncle Cyprien smiled down at her. Cold rouged his apple cheeks and bulbous nose. “The wagon’s loaded with today’s harvest. The Dermonts and Undines will join us.”
Covering her yawn, she arched her back. Vertebrae popped. Cold air brushed against her as the blanket slipped. “What time is it?”
Uncle looked toward the open barn. The sun hung just above the wagon blocking the exit. “About an hour and a half before sunset. Plenty of time to reach the mill.”
The mill. Her heart skipped a beat. Luc and Mille would be concealed within the cargo. She peered closer. Sheaves of wheat filled the entire back. “Will you be able to return home before sunset?”
“Yes.” He winked at her. “We’ve done this before. We helped most of our young men cross the border and enlist in our army. By God, the Boches won’t get our sons.”
It’s free on Amazon US only: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00J4YICBW/ref=cm_sw_su_dp
And at these other etailers: