For those who love historical romances, I have Jackie Smith in my crib today talking about the research on her Secret Cravings Publishing release, A Soldier's Vow. See what she has to say, read the excerpt and leave her some love at the end. Without further ado, take it away Jackie . . .
Romancing Historical Details
When I first researched for my historical romance A Soldier’s Vow, I discovered so many interesting facts about the French country during one of the most terrifying periods in their long history. The German army had easily invaded the Northern part of France and often bombarded Paris but never succeeded in penetrating the city’s walls. Nonetheless, the city had been hit in other different and equally devastating ways.
Blackouts, food shortages and influenza affected everyone. Through my research, I discovered many families could no longer afford to keep their children fed, therefore they sent the weakest members of their family to their relatives in the country or other safer places. In A Soldier’s Vow, I wanted to show how the heroine Winnie Douglas saw and lived what everyone went through between 1914 and 1918 Paris. I also show how the war affected the women who stayed behind and waited for their husband, brother, cousin who joined the war effort.
The war also changed the soldiers who fought and saw firsthand the horrors and victories of war. Henry Whitfield, the hero in A Soldier’s Vow, had no idea what he would see and experience when he left his Canadian hometown. Many countries including Canada sent their strongest and bravest men overseas and fight an unknown enemy. They trained hard and fought even harder. Yet what waited for them in the trenches became their worst enemy. Rats, lice and other diseases caused the most terrible living conditions for every soldier on both sides.
Using such details in my book not only creates a setting but also brings the reader back to a time of turmoil, courage and undying love.
Taking his arm, she felt his strength, but he covered her hand with gentleness. New sensations rushed throughout her body. She gazed into his eyes and saw the kindness and honesty. Yet she guarded her heart. She couldn’t give it to someone she hardly knew. But the more time she spent with him, the more she felt as though they’d known each other all her life.
They had so much in common, from books to food and dreams of having a family one day. He even made her laugh the whole time they walked. Indeed, she felt comfortable with him. The feeling unsettled her a bit as they walked close. Again she found herself comparing him with James. Yet with Henry, she found herself smiling and giggling all the time.
As they shared her umbrella, shielding them against the cool raindrops, he talked of the battles he’d fought and the friends he’d lost on the front since the war started. She saw the sadness in his eyes. “I’m so sorry,” she said, touching his arm. “I can only imagine how it is on the battlefield.” She didn’t say another word; the horror he lived and saw every day broke her heart.
He gave her a reassuring smile, but she felt his pain and sadness.
The rain stopped. Winnie felt the cold against her cheeks. Yet inside, warmth filled her. She felt the heat of his body radiate and warm her. She enjoyed having Henry with her now. She crooked her arm around his and held on a little more.
For the first time in her life, she didn’t ask any questions or worry about tomorrow.
They reached the park near the Eiffel Tower and sat on a bench while he told her about the men in his company and spoke of their bravery. “We call ourselves Bell’s Bulldogs.” He chuckled. “These men are the finest soldiers in the whole battalion. No. The whole infantry.” He spoke about his fellow soldiers with such pride and brotherly love. His friends. She saw in his sparkling eyes how much he cared for his fellow soldiers. He also talked of his hometown of Calgary. “Alberta is a beautiful province. Mountains and lakes, and nice people.”
She pictured the Rockies with the snow-covered peaks. “Sounds like Heaven.”
“Close enough,” he said, taking her hand in his. He didn’t say another word, but she understood how peace and quiet could be precious to him. She gave his strong lean fingers a light squeeze, hoping he knew how much she cared for him.
As they reached the front door of her apartment just after midnight, he took her hand and brought her fingers against his lips once more. His eyes met hers, and he held her hands between his. Bringing her closer, he warmed her against the chill.
Her breath caught in her throat. She stared at his full lips and wondered what would happen if his tempting mouth kissed her. She closed her eyes for a brief moment, calming her racing heart.
He bent his head and leaned it against hers. “Thank you for spending time with me tonight.” His low voice stirred a new wave of warmth through her.
She bit her lower lip and held her breath in anticipation. With the tip of his thumb, he caressed her lips. Their eyes locked while his warm hand gently cupped her cheek. In a brisk yet gentle gesture, his lips took hers. She trembled under his touch, her hands on his chest, unmoving. His mouth tasted hers as his arms lowered around her, holding her tight against him. She found herself kissing him with such fervor her head spun with desire. Her arms surrounded his neck as she tilted her head, deepening his kiss. A low moan left her mouth as his lips traced her chin and jaw.
“Winnie,” his hot breath whispered against her ear. He held her for a long moment.
She leaned her head against his chest, feeling the warmth of his body through his thick jacket as raindrops fell around them. She closed her eyes and prayed for Henry’s safety and the chance to see him again soon. “Please be careful,” she whispered. “And if you can, please write me.”
“I promise,” he said, holding her even closer. “Take care,” he whispered against her ear before taking her lips hostage once more.
She watched him walk away, breathless and wanting more of his kisses. She believed he’d keep his promise. She removed her glove and touched her swollen and hot lips. And she smiled. Twirling under the rain, she giggled, feeling happy and alive.
Thanks again for doing me the honor of guesting on Romantic Words by Cynthia, Jackie.