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Today’s Wednesday Writers guest is award-winning historical author Caroline Warfield. She’s talking about her Historical Romance: 20th Century-World War I book Christmas Hope. There’s an excerpt and a chance to pre order the book at a discount. Welcome, Caroline!

 

Thanks, Catherine.

 

Stories just come to us sometimes. This one surprised me. It grew in part from a visit to Amiens ten years ago.

 

I was, as always, looking deep into history, viewing the town my ancestors left in the 17th century, and admiring the great medieval cathedral. The tributes to the soldiers of 20th century wars on the walls of that cathedral took me off guard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeds planted by those tributes surfaced in the form of a novella four years ago, the story of a soldier mired in the trenches along the Somme who finds hope among the floating islands (les hortillonnages) of Amiens. Those islands, laced with rivulets and canals, have been used for centuries as gardens, supplying vegetables to Amiens, just as the heroine of my book does. A boat tour though them helped inspire that bit.

The original novella ended with Harry and Rosemarie Happy-For-Now, but readers wanted more and so did I. What would the rest of the war do to them? How would he survive, heart and soul, the horrors of that awful war?

I was deep into the writing when I realized that a great deal of what I described came to me from my father. He haunts the book. Dad was born the year the book ends, but he fought in two great wars later in the century. Many of his sayings and ideas crept into the story. He was called Sarge to the end of his life; the book is dedicated to him.

The 19th century is my usual playground. My previous stories take place between 1812 and 1840. This is different. It took me by surprise, but in some ways it may be my favorite. It is a story in four parts; each part ends on Christmas 1916, 17, 18, and 19.

Christmas Hope

by Caroline Warfield

After two years at the mercy of the Canadian Expeditionary force and the German war machine, Harry ran out of metaphors for death, synonyms for brown, and images of darkness. When he encounters color among the floating islands of Amiens and life in the form a widow and her little son, hope ensnares him. Through three more long years of war and its aftermath, the hope she brings keeps Harry alive.

Rosemarie Legrand’s husband left her a tiny son, no money, and a savaged reputation when he died. She struggles to simply feed the boy and has little to offer a lonely soldier, but Harry’s devotion lifts her up. The war demands all her strength and resilience, but the hope of peace and the promise of Harry’s love keep her going.

When the Great War is over, will their love be enough?

 

Excerpt:

“Clergy can be narrow minded,” she said. More than this man can possibly know. With the exception of Abbé Desjardin, the clergy of Amiens had been quick to judge her, quick to believe Raoul’s accusations. Hypocritical fools!

“Your priest seemed more humane,” he said as if he read her mind.

“He has known me since I was a child. He is wise and kind. Not all of them are.”

“He said…” the corporal broke off, coloring brightly.

Rosemarie stood abruptly and busied herself making tea. She didn’t think she wanted to know what the abbé told this man, but she may as well get it out. At least he wasn’t talking to Sabine.

“What exactly did Abbé Desjardin tell you?” she asked over her shoulder, the words sour in her mouth.

“That you’ve been unfairly judged. That you chose charity over self-regard and have paid for it dearly.”

Her shoulders relaxed, the sensation of comfort rolling up her neck and down her back. “He’s a good man,” she murmured.

“How did you find the German?” he asked.

His interest sounded genuine, but she breathed deeply before answering. “I was fishing in the Somme. Early mornings are best, and I was alone with Marcel. When I started for home, I found him caught in the weeds, just where I found your Bible. Things catch there often. This time, it was a human being. I pulled him out.”

“Why didn’t you take him into Amiens?”

“I struggled to manage a wounded man and Marcel both, and I needed to dock quickly. Home was closer. I would have stopped at another cabin, but none looked occupied, and most of them would have let the boy die.” She sank back into her chair. “He died anyway. My so-called generosity was for nothing and brought me the undying contempt of my neighbors.”

“So the abbé said. He also said you are hurting yourself by hiding away.”

“He wants me at Sunday Mass. Typical priest.”

“He thinks the ladies of Amiens need to witness what a good mother you are. For your protection.”

She snorted, an unladylike sound she didn’t regret. “Those hags believe Sabine. Why should I have to put on a show for them?”

The corporal watched her intently, his blue eyes lit with curiosity, until she began to squirm in her seat. She wondered if he found her attractive. Raoul’s eyes had taken on a predatory gleam whenever desire drove him. This man’s eyes had a different sort of warmth.

“The abbé also thinks you would do well to visit the Christmas market with Marcel.”

She shook her head to deny it. “I won’t put Marcel in that position.”

“He thinks it would be better if you were on the arm of—his words—a ‘brave allied soldier.’” He grinned ruefully.

Rosemarie choked on her tea so badly the corporal jumped to his feet to pat her back until she regained control.

“The old reprobate!” she growled when she could.

Preorder for discount pricing. You can find links to various retailers here:

https://www.carolinewarfield.com/bookshelf/christmas-hope/

WARNING TO READERS OF SWEET/CLEAN ROMANCE:

This book is mildly sensual, but no open door sex and may contain some swear words.

About the Author:

Award-winning author Caroline Warfield has been many things: traveler, librarian, poet, raiser of children, bird watcher, Internet and Web services manager, conference speaker, indexer, tech writer, genealogist—even a nun. She reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows where she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

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