For our American readers and AAR folks, yesterday was Independence Day and many of us are enjoying the day off today. As always around this time of year, I find myself thinking about Revolutionary War history and realizing that I haven’t read much fiction set during this time period. For such a time of new beginnings and hopefulness, it would seem to be the perfect setting for a romance. It’s a shame more authors don’t use it.
Over email, other folks at AAR and I got to discussing our favorite colonial and American Revolution-set novels. Though few of us had not read much set during these time periods, most of us both in the USA and overseas had particular favorites we remember warmly. It would appear that while we may not find many books with these settings, the ones we do find stand out.
Several of us especially enjoyed young adult books we had read. I discovered Ann Rinaldi’s Time Enough for Drums in high school, and really enjoying it. This story of a family split over whether to support the English or the revolutionaries stuck in my mind for years after I read it. Blythe Barnhill has a soft spot for Sabrina, a novel by Candice F. Ransom from the Sunfire series set in South Carolina during the Revolution, and both Maggie Boyd and Lee Brewer greatly enjoyed the classic Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes. And rounding out the list of childhood favorites was the children’s book Ben and Me by Robert Lawson, which was recommended by both Maggie Boyd and LinnieGayl Kimmel.
And then there were the romances! Rike Horstmann called classic romance Celia Garth by Gwen Bristow “delightful” and stated that, ” I
must have read it about five times during my teens, and I learned
almost all I know about that period in the South from it.” Bessie Makris counts herself another fan of this novel. Karyn Monk’s The Rebel and the Redcoat received mentions from several people as well. Blythe Barnhill counts it as one of her favorites, and Lee Brewer and Lea Hensley like it as well.
Not surprisingly, other reviewers’ minds went immediately to the Outlander books. Andi Davis is a fan of the series, and Jane Granville commented of the detailed colonial and Revolutionary War history found in the later books that, “It’s all just so interesting — and I’d much rather learn history through the lens of a novel.” In addition, to Outlander, several of us(myself included) also thought of Pamela Claire’s colonial novels. Heather Brooks has read the DIK-reviewed Untamed several times over and Lea Hensley and Jean Wan are fans of it as well while Cindy Smith has Ride the Fire, also by Claire, on her keeper shelf.
Rounding out the list of favorite books, one of my most dearly remembered Revolutionary War-set historicals is the classic Dawn’s Early Light by Elswyth Thane. It kicks off her Williamsburg series and is a rather sweet romance set against the background of Revolutionary Williamsburg. And the other favorites chosen? An oldie by Jude Devereaux called The Raider, which Maggie Boyd couldn’t help mentioning and Chase the Dawn by Jane Feather which Jean Wan states that she “LOVED” round out the list.
And what about you? What are your favorite colonial and American Revolution-set novels? For those of you overseas, what are some pivotal moments in your country’s history that you would love to see portrayed in romances?
– Lynn Spencer