Romances that Heal
I’m very excited to be guest blogging here today and I wanted to talk about two of my favourite themes in romance: redemption and healing.
My second historical romance, Engaged in Sin, released in November, and features ones of my most tortured heroes, Devon Audley, the Duke of March. Wounded in battle at Waterloo, Devon was left blinded and is tormented by memories war.
I love stories where the heroine heals the hero; where the hero is brave and noble, but is being crushed by the weight of guilt, loss, or painful memories. Devon Audley went to war even though, as a duke’s son and heir to the title, he should not go. He went to escape the grief of losing his fiancée, only to throw himself into a horrifying nightmare of violence and loss. When he returns to England without his sight and suffering ‘battle-madness’ as he terms it, he refuses to go to his family, as he doesn’t want to burden them. Instead he behaves like a recluse and hides in his country house. Devon refuses to accept help—until the heroine, Anne Beddington, thrusts herself into his life.
Anne is in danger. She is on the run, accused of a crime she did not commit. When she learns Devon’s friend intends to hire a courtesan to give Devon a little “sexual healing”, Anne pretends to be the ladybird, trying to keep her past a secret.
Anne’s touch brings Devon more than pleasure. Gradually, she helps to heal his heart and soul. Here is a small excerpt from one of my favourite scenes. In it, Devon has just been woken from a nightmare by Anne…
“I mean what did you do to me that made me leap up and slam you onto the ground?”
“I—I brushed your hair out of your eyes.”
“Exactly. It was an inconsequential touch, but it set me off like a flame reaching a keg of gunpowder. I’m mad. The war, the battles, the blindness, the killing and the grief—I wasn’t strong enough to let it all just glance off me. I’m no war hero—all throughout the damned thing, I was filled with pain and fury and grief and doubts. A hero is a man who is filled with confidence, who takes action and doesn’t waste time on remorse. He doesn’t hide in the blasted dark. He gets a damned grip on himself. But I can’t. I’ve gone out of my wits, and I’m going madder by the day. I’m not getting better, I’m getting worse. That’s why I have Treadwell to scare people away.”
“You are drinking too much,” she said firmly. “That is probably why you are getting worse. If you were to stop drinking—”
“I like drinking,” he snapped. What was wrong with the chit? Didn’t she recognize the need to get away from him and stop arguing?
“But it doesn’t help—”
“It helps me. And I intend to do a fair bit of drinking right now. So you need to get out of this room and leave me alone. For the rest of the night, you will stay in that bedchamber. You will not come out until I summon you.”
Devon expected to hear her footsteps patter across the floor. If there ever was a cue for a woman to hasten out of a room, this was it. But, no, the stubborn wench was not moving.
“Go,” he roared. “Get out now.”
He should have felt satisfaction as her feet slapped against the floorboards, then the door slammed—obviously behind her as she left. Instead, he now needed a drink because he felt like a blackguard. War hero. His bark of laughter rang in the room. What a blasted joke that was.
(Excerpt from Engaged in Sin ©2011 by Sharon Page)
When I first decided to write Engaged in Sin, I wanted to ensure I portrayed Devon’s struggled with blindness and post traumatic stress accurately. To my good luck, a television documentary on post traumatic stress disorder aired while I was writing the story. And I was able to find two amazing books on blindness.
The first book was a memoir written by a man who lost his sight, called “On Sight and Insight” by John M. Hull. I had certain preconceptions about how blindness would affect Devon—for example, I thought his other senses would become better to compensate for his blindness. However in the memoir, the author said his senses did not actually improve—they were just all he had to rely on. For me, that was an astounding discovery and touched my heart.
The second book was a biography of James Holman, a young naval officer who lost his sight in 1811. He went on to become a world traveler, and his life story is fascinating. While blind, he crossed Siberia in a sleigh. From this book, “The Blind Traveler”, I learned how medicine in England dealt with blindness. Surgeons at the time resorted to the technique of couching to deal with cataracts—which involved giving a blow to the eye with a slender spike to detach the lens. Scary stuff.
I think this research helped me create a realistic tortured hero in Devon Audley. Do you enjoy romances with a healing theme? What are your favourites? I’ll be giving away a copy of Engaged in Sin to one lucky commenter.
Visit Sharon at www.sharonpage.com