Please give a warm welcome to historical romance author, Pamela Sherwood, who is joining us with her recent release of A Song at Twilight!
An Equal Match
by Pamela Sherwood
An ongoing challenge of writing a historical romance is portraying the hero and heroine’s relationship as one of equals, no easy task when the eras most authors choose to write about are seldom noted for gender parity. In the eyes of the law, women were second-class citizens, first the property of their fathers and then, upon marriage, of their husbands. Although the Victorian and Edwardian eras brought reforms that improved women’s legal standing, gave them more control over their property, and even allowed them to retain custody of their children in the event of separation or divorce, the freedoms which many of us take for granted today were as yet an unrealized dream.
All the more important, then, for a heroine to find the right hero, someone who will see her as a partner and, if not his full equal, then at least as someone whose thoughts and feelings merit consideration. As a person in her own right, with her own dreams and aspirations, rather than as an appendage or an extension of himself.
In both of my Victorian-set romances, Waltz with a Stranger and its sequel, A Song at Twilight, the couples must deal with the issue of partnership and the necessity of facing crises as a team. Aurelia and Sophie both insist on being taken seriously by the men they love, of not being “wrapped in cotton wool” and shielded from unpleasant realities. Ultimately, they prevail, though not without some debate--and even an outright quarrel or two!
In defense of my heroes, both of whom are reasonable men, James and Robin are products of their time, gentlemen raised with the understanding that women (and children) were to be cherished and protected. Letting the women they love risk their lives and reputations alongside them doesn’t come naturally. James’s anxieties on this score are twofold: he first meets Aurelia when she’s a physically and emotionally fragile cripple, and, all apart from her condition, she’s a sheltered American heiress, insulated by her family’s love and wealth, and seemingly ill-equipped to deal with adversity and danger. And even after she’s grown stronger in body and mind, James still feels obliged to spare her from whatever trouble he faces…until she makes him see that they are stronger together than apart.
By contrast, Robin doesn’t have the worries about his heroine’s health that James does. And Robin’s mother was an army wife who followed her husband through various postings, including India, so he’s aware of how strong women can be. On the other hand, Robin has concerns about Sophie’s youth and relative inexperience. They meet when she is seventeen, just out of the schoolroom, and he is almost twenty-six, with several unwise choices in his not-so-distant past. He worries continually--and not without cause--that his past will damage Sophie and drag her down.
Robin’s overprotectiveness both touches and frustrates Sophie, because it contrasts so sharply with how he pushes her in other ways. He recognizes her musical ability almost at once, tells her bluntly that she’s “wasted” performing at musicales and family soirees, and encourages her to set her sights higher--on a career as a professional singer. He recognizes her potential as an artist, even as he tries to deny her suitability as a romantic partner for him, and ironically, that’s what saves her when his past does drive them apart … at least for a while.
But when fate reunites them years later, Sophie renews her efforts to be accepted as Robin’s partner in all things, telling him, “You don’t have to protect me anymore. Not as you did when I was seventeen.” Old habits die hard, but ultimately, in the face of tragedy, Robin finds the wisdom to accept the support and resources that Sophie offers, and they face the crisis before them as a united couple.
Readers, do you enjoy watching a couple come together as a team? And who, in your opinion, are the most evenly matched couples in romance?
Thank you for hosting me today on Reading Between the Wines!
Pamela is giving away one copy of A Song at Twilight, to one commenter. (US and Canada only, please). To enter, just leave a comment on this post answering her question and then fill out the rafflecopter below. Good luck!
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