Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wartime Romances

Today is Remembrance or Armistice Day in the UK, or if you are in the US, Veteran's Day.  It's a day to remember and honour all those who gave their lives protecting our respective countries during times of conflict.

In romance novels war is never a very popular topic.  War takes loved ones away from each other, not unites them.  That may be the case but some of my favourite novels have taken place in and around wars.  The tension caused by warfare, the extremes of emotions and the desperate need to savour the moment, are contained within the pages of wartime romance books and appeal to me as a reader.  To be strictly honest my favourite of those books have not been the ones which deal with the nitty gritty of warfare but rather which looks at the aftermath, or the effect of those removed from action and forced to live with the consequences.

In my opinion, no-one writes better romance books about the consequences of war than Mary Balogh.  Many of her books are set in, around or after the Peninsular War and Waterloo and often deal with scarred heroes - both physically and emotionally.  Who can forget the delightful Simply Love, where the hero, Syd, has returned disfigured and having lost an arm? The love that grows between him and Anne, and the way both are healed as result has to be one of the best historical love stories I've read.  Similarly, her 'Slightly' series also has at least 3 of her heroes affected by war.

Another historical romance writer who I greatly admire is Diana Gabaldon.  Her Outlander books are set around two very different wars.  The first 2-3 books are set around the battle of Culloden in Scotland and the latter books are set during the War of Independence in the 'American colonies'.  In these books war is reduced to the personal as the characters of Jamie and Claire experience all the highs and lows of wartime.  The books are all huge doorstoppers but I loved them all and didn't mind the length.

As my focus has shifted to m/m books in the last couple of years, I'm reading more and more contemporaries.  There aren't as many m/m books which touch on the effects of war, but two stand out as real keepers for me.

The first is Out of the Blue by Josh Lanyon which is set in France during the first world war and is a book which does deal with the highs and lows of combat.  The romance is low key, but still compelling as we follow our hero Bat as he deals with dicing with death every day and fighting his affections for Cowboy.

The second book is Keeping Promise Rock by Amy Lane.  Most of the book follows the relationship between Deacon and Crick as they grow up together and fall in love.  During the book Crick goes to war in Iraq, and it's at this point that we see both the harsh conditions for Crick and how emotionally draining Crick's absence is on Deacon.  This is one of the best romance books I've read which shows how war affects both the one in battle and the one left behind.

So as we remember those we may have known who lost their lives in combat, perhaps you could suggest to me some romance books set in and around wartime which have touched your heart, or made you think about how it is for those in war, or left behind.


Chris said...

Those are the two m/m romances that stand out for me, too, re: war-time romances. :)

Tam said...

Great post Jen. My thoughts to all those we honour today.

I'm not one for historicals but I did really enjoy Josh's book. The feeling of being there really came though and yes, Amy's book made me cry. Sigh. I'm such a sap.

Very nice post Jen.

Jenre said...

Hi Chris
I'm glad we agree :). There are others which I could think of, but those are the two which have had the greatest effect on me.

Jenre said...

Hi Tam
Thanks! Amy's book made me cry too, so you're not the only sap here :).

Tracy said...

Great post Jen. I've read 2 of the 4 - Outlander and Out of the Blue - - both great books. I'll have to read the Lane book - it sounds good.

Jenre said...

Hi Tracy
The Amy Lane book is well worth adding to your TBR pile. You'll need tissues though :).

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