Welcome to Wednesday Writers. Christmas is coming and there’s nothing I like better during the holiday season than a good Christmas romance (or movie). So, on Wednesdays and Thursdays I’m filling out the year with a variety of Christmas romance book posts. On Fridays look for some free Christmas romance book promotions. Today’s guest is Linda Shenton Matchett who’ll be sharing her Historical Romance from the The Hope of Christmas Collection. Welcome Linda!
A Doctor in the House: The Story Behind the Story
While investigating the various areas American women served during WWII, I discovered Margaret Craighill. No slouch, Margaret got her BA and MS degrees from the University of Wisconsin (graduating Phi Beta Kappa), then received her Doctor of Medicine from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. An impressive career followed, and by 1940, she was the Dean of the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. However, as soon as President Roosevelt signed the Sparkman-Johnson Bill which allowed women to enlist in the Army and Navy Medical Corps, she signed up and became the first female doctor in the Army Medical Corps, and a third generation officer.
Dr. Craighill traveled more than 56,000 miles visiting war zones around the globe where she reported on the condition of the 160,000 Army nurses and WAC personnel. She successfully challenged the persistent idea that American women were unsuited to military roles. At the end of her service she was awarded the Legion of Merit.
I knew I had my heroine, or at least the inspiration for one.
Now, for my hero…I decided to make him highly uncomfortable. (Rubs hands together gleefully.)
Many of the English felt the American troops were “late to the last war, and late to this one.” In addition, feelings still ran high between the Irish and the British, so to give my heroine Irish ancestry with an appropriate surname would get under my hero’s skin. Last but not least, I took away my hero’s home.
Throughout the war in England, countless stately homes were requisitioned, acquired by, or lent to the war effort for all sorts of purposes: military command centers, barracks, hospitals, storage facilities for the nation’s art collections, listening, and monitoring centers, schools, orphanages, and even prisoner of war camps. Owners had no choice as to whether they would give up their home, and were often stuck in servant quarters or caretakers’ cottages. To add insult to injury, a considerable number of the homes suffered irreparable damage by their occupants.
This will be a Christmas Archie and Emma won’t forget.
A Doctor in the House (Part of the Hope of Christmas collection)
By Linda Shenton Matchett
Emma O’Sullivan is one of the first female doctors to enlist after President Franklin Roosevelt signs the order allowing women in the Army and Navy medical corps. Within weeks, Emma is assigned to England to set up a convalescent hospital, and she leaves behind everything that is familiar. When the handsome widower of the requisitioned property claims she’s incompetent and tries to get her transferred, she must prove to her superiors she’s more than capable. But she’s soon drawn to the good-looking, grieving owner. Will she have to choose between her job and her heart?
Archibald “Archie” Heron is the last survivor of the Heron dynasty, his two older brothers having been lost at Dunkirk and Trondheim and his parents in the Blitz. After his wife is killed in a bombing raid while visiting Brighton, he begins to feel like a modern-day Job. To add insult to injury, the British government requisitions his country estate, Heron Hall, for the U.S. Army to use as a hospital. The last straw is when the hospital administrator turns out to be a fiery, ginger-haired American woman. She’s got to go. Or does she?
Squaring her shoulders, Emma O’Sullivan set off toward the nearest railroad car. It straddled the tracks and listed at a thirty-degree angle. Careful of the glass shards and twisted metal, she hiked across the uneven ground, her two-inch pumps sinking into the grass. When would the Army devise a woman’s uniform that was actually practical?
The bottom step was missing, so she grabbed the handrail and tried to hoist herself to the next tread. Her narrow skirt trapped her legs, and she grimaced. Glancing right and left, she confirmed no one seemed to be watching her, so she tugged the garment above her knees and pulled herself inside the train nearly losing a shoe in the process. Despite the chill in the air, perspiration broke out along her hairline.
Her gaze searched the dim interior. At the far end of the car a large, bearded man moved among the dozen or so passengers. His white shirt was torn in several places, and blood saturated his right sleeve. Gray tweed slacks that looked as if they were hand-tailored to fit were rumpled, and his highly-polished, black wingtips bore scuffs and gouges. Smudges of dirt on his swarthy face gave him an air of piracy. He knelt and examined the cut on a small boy.
There were other people to tend to, but the man seemed to be losing blood at an alarming rate. She threaded her way to his side and held up her bag. “Sir, it appears you may need stitching. I’ve got supplies here and could do that for you.”
He swung in her direction, and the gaze from his cobalt-blue eyes pierced her face. His forehead wrinkled, and his mouth was a thin slash. “I’m fine. I don’t need some nurse practicing her sewing skills on me. There are others more seriously wounded. See if you can do anything for them.”
She faltered. Why did every man she met assume she was a nurse? Not that there was anything wrong with nursing, but she was a full-fledged doctor and had the credentials to prove it. Graduating almost at the top of her class at Johns Hopkins Medical School had proved her detractors wrong.
“Sir, your arm needs to be tended to, and I’m quite capable–”
Looking her up and down, he sneered. “An American, are you? Listen, girlie, I don’t take orders from a woman, even if she is wearing a uniform.” He shook his head. “What was Roosevelt thinking when he agreed to allow you women in his Army and Navy?”
“He was thinking we could get the job done.” She stamped her foot and reached for his sleeve.
Batting her hand away, he rose to his full height. “Let me make myself clear. Push off and go do your nursing in another car. I do not need some upstart, Johnny-come-lately American girl to treat me or my fellow passengers.” He turned away and bent over an elderly man who held a scrap of blood-stained cloth against his forehead.
Emma pressed her lips together. Fine. Mr. Upper Crust was on his own. If he bled to death, it’d be his own fault. With any luck, the rest of England’s men wouldn’t be as infuriating. But without a doubt, few would be as good-looking.
Want to read more? You can find Linda’s story at https://amzn.to/2ptGZga
About the Author:
Linda Shenton Matchett is an author, speaker, and history geek. A native of Baltimore, MD, she was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry and has lived in historic places all her life. Linda is a member of ACFW, RWA, and Sisters in Crime. She is a volunteer docent and archivist at the Wright Museum of WWII and a trustee for her local public library.