Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Women's Business

War- an appropriate setting for romance?

UK-0913-978-1-472-00329-4Given that I have two books out this month set in a war zone, my debut historical When the Dawn Breaks (follow the link to other books to find out more) and my latest Mills and Boon (The Wife He Never Forgot) I thought I should ask the question- Is war an appropriate setting for romance?

Some of you may be aware that I have wanted to write a Medical set in Afghanistan for some time. My editor wasn’t too keen at first as she thought the war might be too close to home. I suspect she knew that I wouldn’t be able to write a book set in Afghanistan without mentioning some of the horror. When I was finally given the go ahead to write this book, the first in a duo with the fabulous Tina Beckett, my editor suggested I set at least part of it, a few years in the past – perhaps to give some distance.

It’s a story that begins in Afghanistan, a story about love, but also I hope a story that honours the men and women who risk their own lives to help and care for our soldiers.

As part of my research for The Wife He Never Forgot I spoke to doctors who served with the forces during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, both of whom had gone out on patrol with the troops. The doctor who served in Iraq admitted he was terrified a lot of the time. What also impressed me enormously was the fact that doctors and nurses, men and women would accompany the Chinooks as they flew in to retrieve wounded men. The army recognised that it wasn’t so much a Golden Hour that they had to save the soldiers but a Platinum Ten Minutes hence the Chinooks were equipped like a miniature Accident and Emergency Department with the latest, high tec equipment as well as the most experienced doctors and nurses.

If there are any positives to come out of conflict then it is the huge advances in medicine war always bring. For example MIT has developed a powder that can be poured onto a wound to stop it bleeding – particularly useful with neck wounds. Plastic surgery developed rapidly during the Second World War and there are many, many other examples.

It was never my intention to glamourise war, but I wanted to try and imagine the courage it must take to serve during a conflict and to explore what the long lasting effects might be.
So to return to my question- is war an appropriate background for women’s fiction and if it is, how far should the author go in terms of showing the horror? And do you have a book set during a conflict that has particularly touched you?
I’d love to hear what you think.

Anne x

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10 thoughts on “War- an appropriate setting for romance?”

  1. I personally don’t like the idea that any setting is inappropriate for women’s fiction, though I admit I may not be in the majority there. But, aside from Medicals, where could you even explore active duty like that in category romance?

    Looking forward to getting my paws on it. I’m sure it’s a great read!

    1. It’s definitely a major plus of writing medicals that the author can go places where other category romances might not be able to. For me, telling a love story while not romanticising war, was quite a challenge. Only readers will be able to tell me if I achieved this.

      (Don’t know why this came up as anonymous and as me. Going to check it out.)

  2. I believe that love knows no boundaries and if the setting in your heart when you started out to tell your love story was a war, then that’s exactly where it needed to take place. People could say the same thing about finding love in the ER or anywhere in a hospital setting with all the sorrow and sickness around. Truth is, the human spirit often only survives because of love. How many WWII soldiers had letters from their wife or girlfriends in their wallets to bring them solice.

    Love feeds the soul like nothing else, and it can seed and bloom in war.

    1. Hi Lynne
      You’re right of course. Any medical setting be it an ER or a medical ward will have its share of tragedy. I don’t know if anyone is watching 24 hours in A&E at the moment? Its great for showing the reality of A&E while being uplifting .

      Anne x

  3. I don’t believe that any setting is inappropriate for a romance novel. Adversity brings out the best in people and heightens emotions. Having two people meet and fall in love during a war is something that can and does happen, and the thing I love most about Medical Romances is the fact that they are rooted in reality. I have set a book in a (fictitious) war zone in the past and it was extremely well received. I can’t wait to read yours, Anne!
    Jennifer

  4. What’s the name of the book, Jennifer? I’d really like to read it.
    Ps Sitting outside my rented cottage in Skye while I’m replying to this and there is a piper playing on the hill opposite!

    Anne x

  5. Well I read and really enjoyed “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer “. It is a romance set on Guernsey during WWII. I read it because people were talking about it on a lot of blogs. It had parts that made you want to cry but love overcame it all in the end. Not just the love of a man for a woman but the love and trust the people of Guernsey displayed for each other in the face of Nazi oppression.

    I will read your and Tina’s books. Love happens anywhere and everywhere.

    1. I haven’t read that yet although people I know have raved about it, Kaelee. Definitely going on my to read pile. I’ll let you know when I’ve read it.

      Anne x

  6. I think love happens during wars just like it does anywhere else. I don’t have a problem with it and think the storylines interesting. I look forward to reading yours.

  7. I’ve been thinking about this. A lot of Canadian soldiers came home with British War Brides after the world wars. In a lot of cases it was the nurse that cared for them. My husband’s uncle was one of them.

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