We caught up with Mills & Boon Historical author Helen Dickson to chat about the inspiration behind her new book, Resisting Her Enemy Lord, which is set during the English Civil War. Read on to find out more about what Helen found so interesting about this particular time period…
Writing is something I enjoy, and it gives me great personal satisfaction. I enjoy reading books from all genres but Historical Romance is my favourite.
The English Civil War has always held great interest for me. The more I read of this period, the more interested I became, but it made me realise how complicated the subject was. The causes were threefold – constitutional, economic and religious. To take up arms for King or Parliament. How did one choose?
How can one not be drawn to it? It was a time of hopes and dreams, of passion, intrigue, plots, traitors and adventure, a time of rakish, vibrant Cavaliers with swords at the hip, wide brimmed hats adorned with elaborate plumes and long curling hair.
Of course, there was much more to it than that when, during the 1640s, thousands of British men, full of innocent enthusiasm and totally unprepared for the military discipline, exhaustion and violence of battle, with pike and sword, set off to fight – some for King, some for Parliament. It was a time of divided loyalties, of families torn apart. And when it was all over, things would never be the same again.
And what of the women and children left behind – wives and mothers, milkmaids and servants, gentlewomen, ladies and countesses, all courageous defenders of humble homes, castles and palaces. It was all the same to those women left to combat the loneliness, the fear and tribulations the wars brought.
Resisting Her Enemy Lord is a story that touches on the war. The upheaval and loss of this time was experienced by almost every family across the length and breadth of the Kingdom. It is 1648. Everyone hoped the war was over. But there were two more battles – Dunbar in 1650 and the decisive battle of Worcester in 1651, which saw the young King Charles II and those Royalists who escaped the battle, exiled across the Channel.
For Catherine Stratton living in Carlton Bray Castle on the Welsh Marches – her husband away fighting the King’s cause and everyone dependent on her for protection and sustenance, she has been forced to endure more than most.
When she learns of her of husband’s death she is determined to forge a new life for herself – until John Stratton – the heir to Carlton Bray and Colonel in the Parliament Army – appears in her life to change everything. He has come to escort her to London, to her father’s house. So begins their journey together. Both are beset with emotional conflicts that must be resolved.
I have often asked myself which side I would have supported had I been around at the time and allowed to choose. The King, who was the chief guarantor of the established social order, or Parliament, the less rigidly hierarchal. I have to say I still haven’t made up my mind.
But no matter – King Charles I lost his head in the end.