Where Romance and History Meet - www.heartsthroughhistory.com/

Friday, April 15, 2011

HIstorical Fun Facts in Prisoner of Love

In my latest historical romance, Prisoner of Love, coming from Ellora's Cave in June, I included some historical tidbits just for fun. I write mainly Regency-set historical romances, but the truth is my graduate degree is in American History. Same century, 19th, but different continent. So I took one of my characters, Michael, to America for part of the book. He relates his experiences there when he is back in London.

Some of the historical facts in the book are integral to the plot. Michael is in New Orleans in the winter of 1819-1820, when they had a slave revolt on one of the plantations there. The revolt is what causes Michael to return to England. But I had him travel around the still quite young United States for almost two years prior to that. He visited the newly rebuilt White House and had tea with President James Monroe. The White House was burned down during the War of 1812, and Monroe had just moved back into the partially restored house in 1817. They discussed the admission of Missouri to the Union. The debate gripping the country at that time was whether Missouri should enter as a slave state or a free state, and would culminate in the Missouri Compromise. Missouri entered as a slave state and Maine entered as a free state.

Michael traveled up the Mississippi from New Orleans to St. Louis by steamboat. In St. Louis he met fur trappers and explorers--Americans, French Canadians, Irishmen and Englishmen--trading and trapping beaver in the West. He stayed in the home of Auguste Chouteau, a famous historical figure in the history of the Louisiana Territory. The Chouteau family founded the cities of St. Louis, Kansas City and Pierre, South Dakota. They controlled the fur trade in the area.

I wrote my Master's thesis on the Chouteau family. One of these days I'm going to write a book about them. They have a very colorful and romantic history. Frankly, I love this period of American history and wish that more romances were set there. I have plans to take this series, my Brothers In Arms series, to America again, but this time to actually set a story there.

Do you like to include favorite historical tidbits in your books, even if they aren't integral to the plot? What about as a reader? Do you enjoy reading these, or do you wish authors would stick strictly to the story? I know that too much of a good thing can still be too much. But I like it when an author includes one or two fun things.

1 comment:

Barbara Scott said...

I'm curious. What sparked your interest in the Choteau family?