A lot goes into writing a book set in a different time, and for writers like Marguerite Kaye, the research stage is a journey separate from the book. Here, Marguerite tells us about the inspiration behind her newest Regency Romance – The Soldier’s Rebel Lover.
“The two World Wars fought in the twentieth century demanded that the ‘angel in the house’ quit her domestic domain to take up vital war-work in the factories, in the fields and in the community. Women rose to the challenge and ‘manned’ the home front, keeping the battle-fields supplied with arms and equipment, the navy supplied with ships, the country supplied with food, ensuring that the trains, buses and trams kept running. In England, they even formed football leagues, keeping that Saturday match tradition going in football-mad towns such as Hull.
And then came the end of the war. The men returned to claim back their jobs – and their football stadiums. The women were rewarded for their efforts with a forced return to hearth and home. Their freedom was curtailed. They were no longer the breadwinner, no longer had the independence that an income had given them. They disappeared from society at large.
No doubt for many this was a relief, but for some, it must have been a galling imposition, this loss of freedom, this forced return to subservience. Despite having proved they could cope in a man’s world, convention decreed they return to their allotted role in society.
I first explored this dilemma in my WW1 trilogy of linked stories, Never Forget Me. I returned to the subject in my latest book, The Soldier’s Rebel Lover, set in the aftermath of a war that took place a hundred years before WW1. Isabella, my Spanish heroine, is an active participant in the partisan war against Napoleon. War has liberated Isabella from the constraints of her aristocratic and genteel life. It’s given her new-found respect and freedom, and in her eyes, most importantly, it’s allowed her to play a significant role in fighting for the country she loves. War has made Isabella strong and fearless, it’s given her authority and it’s given her a purpose.
And then the war ends. Napoleon has been ousted, but Spain is descending into civil war, the ruling classes determined to reverse the steps the country has taken towards liberalism and re-establish the old order – a regime in which Isabella’s family play a leading role. She must exchange her breeches and guns for silk gowns, a fan and a mantilla and wait to be wooed. But war has changed Isabella irrevocably. Invisible she may now be, but that doesn’t mean she’s abandoned her guerrilla alter ego.
Protected by a cloak of invisibility, she wages her new political battle rather too effectively. The Spanish authorities want her head. The British authorities want her silence, as she knows too much. Colonel Finlay Urquhart is dispatched with orders to achieve that silence at any cost. Peace has left career soldier Finlay at a loss. Like Isabella, he’s desperate for a new cause to believe in. Unfortunately for both of them, love is going to make the execution of that mission very problematic indeed.
Isabella is very loosely based on a real-life female Spanish guerrilla. Do you have any favourite historical female fighters you’d like to see as models for other heroines? I’d love to hear your views.”