At long last, Britain is at peace, and General Jack Armstrong is coming home to the wife he barely knows. Wed for mutual convenience, their union unconsummated, the couple has exchanged only cold, dutiful letters. With no more wars to fight, Jack is ready to attempt a peace treaty of his own.
Elizabeth Armstrong is on the warpath. She never expected fidelity from the husband she knew for only a week, but his scandalous exploits have made her the object of pity for years. Now that he’s back, she has no intention of sharing her bed with him—or providing him with an heir—unless he can earn her forgiveness. No matter what feelings he ignites within her…
Jack is not expecting a spirited, confident woman in place of the meek girl he left behind. As his desire intensifies, he wants much more than a marriage in name only. But winning his wife’s love may be the greatest battle he’s faced yet.
When I started out writing romance, I didn’t specifically intend to write about soldiers. Yet so far every manuscript I’ve completed but one has featured a military hero, and all the stories I’m writing or planning follow the pattern.
At first glance, you wouldn’t expect that from someone like me. I’m neither a veteran nor an Army brat, and I’d make a terrible soldier. I’m unhappy in highly structured, hierarchical organizations, you see. I dream of being able to quit my day job not just because I’d have so much more time to write, but also because no one would be the boss of me, and I wouldn’t be obliged to be the boss of anyone else.
But when you look a little deeper, it’s no surprise at all I’m drawn to writing soldiers. Long before I was born, my father joined the Army right out of high school and was stationed in Germany for two years. I have three much older brothers, and two of them followed in Dad’s footsteps and went into the military after high school. One went into the Marines for a few years, the other to West Point and a long Army career. I grew up seeing pictures of them in dress uniform every day. The Army brother left his cadet dress sword at our house during the early days when he moved around a lot, and I used to take it out and pose in front of the mirror.
My oldest nephew–the former Marine brother’s son–went through college in a ROTC program and serves with the Georgia National Guard. I wrote The Sergeant’s Lady, my first published book, while he was serving in Iraq. And while my grandfathers were too old and my father and uncles too young to serve in WWII, farther up my family tree I have a Confederate great-great-grandfather, a Union great-great-great-uncle, and a a four-or-five-greats-grandfather whose 18th century service makes me eligible for the Daughters of the American Revolution, should I ever choose to join. We haven’t done the kind of in-depth genealogical research that would prove it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if my ancestors were at Culloden, Bannockburn, and who knows how many other battles of history.
The heroine of my new novel, An Infamous Marriage, doesn’t have my military roots. Her first marriage, a love match from the start, was to a young clergyman, and she dreamed of a long, happy life with him in a quiet village vicarage. But he falls ill and dies of pneumonia just weeks into their marriage, and she founds herself bound by a deathbed promise into a new marriage with his childhood best friend, an ambitious young officer. She adapts to her new reality and even finds happiness until she learns–at the Duchess of Richmond’s ball, scant days before the Battle of Waterloo–that her husband has been lying to her about part of his past:
“But now, after everything, to learn you had lied? That you spoke of me in such terms? How can you expect me to forgive you now?”
He sighed and closed his eyes. There would be no persuading her, at least not tonight. “What do you want to do?”
“As soon as it’s safe, I want to go back to England. After that—we cannot go on as we have been.”
Good God, he’d been such a fool. If only he hadn’t lied—or even if he’d told the truth once Liddicott had appeared in Brussels. He couldn’t bear to lose her, the greatest treasure he had ever found. Yet he couldn’t fight for her, not now with another battle calling him away. “We’ll talk after this is over,” he said. “But now, I must go.” Behind them, the ball was beginning to break up, with the men in uniform hurrying away. Jack could hear Lord Uxbridge urging the officers to leave to join their regiments as soon as their next dance was done.
“Good luck,” Elizabeth said. “I hope you’ll find this glory that’s so important to you.” She shook her head and stared unseeingly at the crowded scene, at all the officers bidding farewell to weeping wives and sweethearts. “I never wanted to marry a soldier. Not ever.”
That stung him into speech. “Really? You gave me the impression you liked the look of me in uniform well enough.”
She raised her hand as if to slap him, then drew it down with a hiss. “Damn you. Damn your army and damn your war.”
Jack took a deep breath, then a second and a third, before he trusted himself to speak. “Very well, madam. I shall walk home and leave you the carriage. As soon as I have changed these slippers for boots, I shall join my brigade, so you will not be troubled with this soldier’s presence. I only beg of you, do not let your enmity toward me cloud your judgment. No matter how much you wish to be in England, you must not leave until it is safe.”
She bit her lip and nodded.
“I bid you a good night, then.” He turned his back on her—beloved Elizabeth!—and rushed out into night and war.
What do you think of military heroes? Who’s your favorite, either contemporary or historical? I’ll be giving one copy of An Infamous Marriage to a commenter on this post in your choice of e-book format, and at the end of the tour I’ll be giving away a grand prize of a $50 gift certificate to their choice of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Powell’s Books to one commenter on the tour as a whole. You get one entry per blog tour stop you comment upon, so check out my blog for the whole schedule! If you wish to be entered in the drawing, include your email address formatted as yourname AT yourhost DOT com.
I will reply to comments, though it may be late before I get a chance to do so. My day job is 8-5 and I live on the West Coast, so I’ll be around in my evening.