Today is the 4th of July—an American celebration of freedom and independence since 1776. The anthology, FOR LOVE & LIBERTY: Untold Love Stories of the American Revolution, looks at historical romance through a more colorful lens. Four New York romance authors have come together to present tales of passion and patriotism that reveal the truly diverse threads that run through the tapestry of American history.
Here, they offer some insights to their research and the role it played within their story…
From Alyssa Cole:
African-American Patriots were a part of the conflict from the very beginning. The conflict between Elijah and Kate reflects the choices facing black Americans at the start of the Revolutionary War. Crispus Attucks, a black American, was the first casualty of the war. “Be not afraid!” were the words he supposedly shouted, rallying his fellow Patriots before pandemonium exploded on Boston Common and he was killed. Blacks had already been enlisted as Minutemen in the Massachusetts militia, and many more across the North joined the ranks of the Continental Army. Despite this, in July of 1775 George Washington sent an edict to his recruiters telling them not to enroll “any deserter from the Ministerial army, nor any stroller, negro or vagabond.” This ruling was eventually reversed due to lack of manpower. Meanwhile, in that same year, the Loyalist Lord Dunmore (the Royal Governor of Virginia) sent out a proclamation promising freedom to blacks, especially the slaves of rebel Patriots, in exchanges for service to the Crown. This was actually the first large-scale emancipation of slaves in the United States.
From Lena Hart:
The Battle of Saratoga marked the turning point of the Revolutionary War when British General John Burgoyne surrendered to American forces. Burgoyne’s defeat was partly due to the assistance the American’s received from the Natives. With help from the Onyota’aka tribe (known today as the Oneida Indian Nation), the Americans defeated the British in the Battle of Saratoga. The Oneida tribe is one of the five founding nations of the Iroquois Confederacy and they divide themselves into three clans: the Wolf, Bear, and Turtle. In “A Sweet Surrender,” the heroine, Siara, is from the Bear clan, which was known to freely take in adoptees (including captive whites or blacks). In the story, Siara’s father was an African adoptee into the Bear clan, making her a Black Native American—a race of natives often overlooked or rarely discussed in history.
From Kate McMurray:
Fashionable and somewhat effeminate men were often referred to as dandies. These men were not automatically considered to be homosexual, because people in the late eighteenth century didn’t think that way. There was a class of dandies that were even more fancy and effeminate—they wore bright colors, tall wigs, and lots of ornamentation like lace and embroidery and feathers—called macaronis. (Here’s a good post on the topic: http://kingpinchic.com/2011/10/01/the-macaroni-the-dandy-and-gender-identity/) More than a gender expression, fashion was an expression of class, and in my story, Charles dresses this way partly because he wants to, but partly because he is trying to present himself as more upper-class and sophisticated than he actually is. The thing I learned that I hadn’t known before is that the line, “stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni” from “Yankee Doodle Dandy” comes from this and is not just a nonsense line.
From Stacey Agdern:
What was the hardest part of writing my story? Researching a language on the verge of extinction. According to history, the familiar language of Sephardic Jews is Ladino. It’s a romance language that mixes Hebrew, classical Spanish and a few other languages from the Iberian Peninsula. Because I was writing about Sephardic Jews during a time where they did speak Ladino, I wanted to add some phrases to the story. Unfortunately, Ladino is not spoken as widely as it once was. That made finding any resources extremely difficult. Thankfully, I was able to find a few sources and used them in the story.
There you have it—four stories that encapsulates an intricate history and diversity that make up our unique country. Woven into each tale are well-researched backgrounds and actual events with, of course, breathtaking romance. Whether you consider America a “melting pot”—or more of a “tossed salad”—we are a nation rich with color, variety and, yes, love.
To all our American compatriots—in truth and in spirit—Happy Independence Day! ♥
In BE NOT AFRAID by Alyssa Cole, a black Patriot captured by the British falls in love with a headstrong runaway determined to leave the colonies…
while a wounded British soldier discovers the healing power of love in the arms of a gentle native woman in A SWEET SURRENDER by Lena Hart…
in REBELS AT HEART by Kate McMurray, two men must make hard choices if they are to stay together when war arrives on the shores of their home in New York City…
at last, in HOME by Stacey Agdern, a young Jewish couple must decide what can hold them together before war and geography tear them apart.
“A Sweet Surrender” by Lena Hart
She carried a flint knife with her as she ventured into the condemned woods alone, refusing to stay away as Etu had undoubtedly expected her to.
When she entered the makeshift shelter, it took her a moment to realize the blankets were empty. She froze as panic set in.
Had someone taken him?
A shadow fell over her from behind and she sucked in her breath. Before she could spin around, a hard hand clasped over her mouth, smothering her scream. The small bowl of broth she’d carried slipped from her fingers and crashed to the ground.
“I would hate to have to hurt you, love,” a strong, male voice said close to her ear. “But I will if you provoke me.”
Siara knew with every fiber in her being that it was the stranger. His nakedness pressed firmly along her backside, though his voice was stronger and clearer than she would have expected it to be. She reached up to peel his hand away from her mouth. She had to let him know that she meant him no harm.
His hand only tightened, jerking her head back against his bare chest. She reached for the flint knife, but he was quick, grabbing it before she could get to it.
“Don’t make me hurt you,” he said harshly, tightening his arms around her.
Panicked from the hard grip he had around her mouth, Siara swung her arm back. Her fist landed on his bandaged thigh and he drew in a sharp breath.
She pulled away from him and he released her, bracing his weight on his other leg. She struggled internally with her concern for him and fear of potential retaliation. Though she hadn’t meant to hurt him, he’d left her no choice.
She made a move for the knife in his hands, but he tossed it away and tackled her to the ground. Everything moved in a blur as she tried to push past him, but he grabbed her by the waist and forced her to the hard earth. He fell over her with a grunt, gripping her wrists and forcing them over her head.
He was stronger than she would have expected. Too strong for someone who had just come from a lengthy recovery.
“Stop fighting me,” he growled, his face just inches from hers.
Their breathing came out in harsh pants as they glared at each other. He was sweating and looked a bit wan, and she realized he had over exerted himself. She was suddenly angry that he would undo so much of the progress his body had made these past few days.
“It’s you who asks for fight,” she snapped, tugging at her arms. “I help you. I save you.” She added emphasis to her words, trying to make him understand.
He stared down at her, saying nothing, though some of the rigidity had left him. It was then she realized how hard and warm his body was as it pressed over her into the ground. Her own body began to soften beneath him, tingling in places it never had before. ♥
Here’s the info on the giveaway!
Prize: Each author is offering one e-book (reader’s choice) from their blacklist to a lucky commenter. That’s 4 winners!
Eligibility: You must be a subscriber to the RNIC newsletter.
How to enter: Leave a comment answering the following questions — What was the last multicultural historical romance you read? What did you like or love about it?
Deadline to enter: July 14th at 11:59pm EST
Note: By participating in this contest, the winner has given permission to RNIC to share his/her name and email address with the person conducting the contest so they can forward the prizes. Prizes open to U.S. and international entrants.
Get in touch with the authors online:
About the Authors:
Alyssa Cole is a Brooklyn-based romance writer; she hosts a Romance Book Club and teaches romance writing at the Jefferson Market Library in NYC.
Lena Hart is a Florida native currently living in the Harlem edge of New York City. She writes sensual, interracial romances with a hint of mystery and danger.
Kate McMurray is a writer, editor, and romance fan who writes smart and sexy gay romance. Her books have won several Rainbow Awards.
Stacey Agdern is the two time award winning Romance Specialist at Posman Books, an independent bookstore located in Grand Central Terminal.