Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Face the past in order to claim the future - Farewell to Kindness (The Golden Redepennings #1) by Jude Knight

In a sense, all good stories are about morality. When we tell stories, we impose an order on the universe; a structure with a beginning and an end, a purpose and a result. In romances, we end our stories on an upward trajectory - the traditional happy ever after. Love must win, and that mostly means good must triumph. What could be more moral than that?


Cover art created for and owned by Jude Knight

The man who hunts. Rede believes he has turned his back on compassion and mercy. But he is distracted from the hunt for those who killed his family by his growing attraction for Anne. His feelings for her are a weakness. Or could they instead be a source of strength? 

The woman who hides. Anne protected her family from scandal and worse by changing their identity. She must keep Rede from discovering who they are. She cannot give him her heart without trusting him, yet how she trust him when he has closed himself off to love? 

And the danger that threatens them both. When their enemies link forces, Rede and Anne must face the past in order to claim the future.

Morals and History Romance

In a sense, all good stories are about morality. When we tell stories, we impose an order on the universe; a structure with a beginning and an end, a purpose and a result. In romances, we end our stories on an upward trajectory - the traditional happy ever after. Love must win, and that mostly means good must triumph. What could be more moral than that?

But what about the moral behaviour of the characters?

Again, the genre dictates that heroes and heroines must behave in a moral fashion. We have to want them to resolve their differences and succeed. If we don't like them, we won't care whether they have a happy ending. If we dislike one, or the other, we'll actively hope that the writer finds a substitute so that the unliked character is not rewarded for his or her bad behaviour.

For example, it is widely accepted that romantic heroes must not rape. And today's readers have a much stronger and rigorous definition of what constitutes rape. The bodice ripper image belongs to history, to a period when women were not expected to show enthusiasm for sex and a level of coercion gave them the freedom to be both sensual and moral according to the norms for the time.

Today, we think a man who does not take no for an answer is a creepy stalker who needs his comeuppance.

Historical romance adds an extra layer of courteous behaviour to the mix, but it is also set in a time when behaviours we would regard as immoral today were acceptable and even expected. For example, many wealthy people made their money - directly or indirectly - from slavery. People tolerated a level of violence that is unthinkable today. A servant, a wife, or a child could be beaten, and no-one would blink an eyelid.

And the upper classes, where most historical romance stories are set, widely accepted sexual immorality - at least from men. Women, too, as long as they could keep it secret. Today, we find the secrecy and the double standard more shocking than the behaviour, though the suggestion that 1 in 5 women made their living from the sex trade might give us pause.

Historical romance is unrealistically moral. In historical romance, even if sex comes before marriage, we know the hero and heroine will end up together. Only villains (or unreformed rakes who will eventually get their comeuppance) have sex with people they don't marry.

Another issue historical romance can cover is economic discrimination. In England, the gap between the rich and poor may have been the widest in the early 19th century it has ever been, if the respective heights of poor boys and the sons of gentry are anything to go by. We have records of measurements from the workhouse and from Sandhurst officers' academy. The poor boys were shorter than anywhere else in Europe at any time, and the height of the rich lads hasn't been matched till the present day (by young men in the US).

Not all historical romances grapple with these issues, but the best of them do. And they do it in a way that doesn't feel forced, but is a natural part of the story. And I leave such a story wondering about how to apply what I've learned in my own life. To me, that's the essence of a moral story in any genre; that it makes you think, that it shows you an aspect of character that you can admire, that it makes you want to be a better person.


What was it about this woman that made Rede want to spend time with her? She was, of course, delectable. But many women had faces and forms as lovely.

Since Marie-Jos├Ęphe died, he’d felt the stirrings of lust from time to time—and more than stirrings. Acting on those stirrings always felt like too much trouble, though.

In his private desires, as in all the rest of his life, he saw the world as if through a thick blanket that numbed feeling. He went through the motions of looking after his business interests and the Earldom, of acting appropriately in social occasions, of charming his tenants and his neighbours—but all the time, he was acting a part, as if he had been buried with his wife and children, and was reaching from the grave to operate his own body like a puppet.

Except when he woke each morning with his grief still raw. Except when he was planning how to make his enemies pay. Except when he read the reports David sent him every week.

And now, something beyond his vengeance was reaching through the blanket of unfeeling and bringing him back to life. Or, rather, someone.

He studied her for a moment, as he stood apart from the group. He couldn’t put his finger on what made her different. Perhaps it was that she talked to him, and not to his title or his wealth. He enjoyed her wit, her humour. He liked how she treated him with no more and no less deference than she did Will or the Squire or the innkeeper’s wife.

Today, she was dressed far more like a lady than a cottager, in a light-coloured dress in the modern style, modestly covering but shaping to her bosom, and dropping from there to a flounced hem. Yesterday’s apron had defined her slender waist, but the dress beneath it had hidden her shape entirely. Today’s dress left her waist a mystery, but clung to her hips and legs as she walked...

It would give the villagers confidence to see their lord working side by side with the other local leaders. Rede had run large teams of trappers, invested the money into multiple enterprises and made a not inconsiderable fortune by finding managers he could trust and inspiring them to give their all to serve him. He knew the value of showing his tenants and neighbours that he counted himself one of them.

His decision to help was for the village at large, not to impress the lovely Mrs Forsythe.

“And,” he admonished himself as he rode away, “if you believe that, I have a village built of pure gold in Upper Canada that I’d like to sell you.”

On prerelease 2 March 2015, on sale from 1 April 2015
Price: US99c from 2 March 2015 to 8 April 2015; USD3.49 from 9 April 2015

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About the author:
Jude Knight started writing fiction when she was still at school, but went on to spend many years as a commercial writer. In late December 2012, she came home from her mother’s funeral determined to finally achieve the dream her mother had always supported. 

After more than a year collecting ideas, doing research, and creating plots and character sketches, she stopped procrastinating and started writing. Her first novella was published just before Christmas in 2014, and – to Jude’s awed surprise – hit several Amazon bestseller lists in both the US and the UK, at one point reaching the top 2 in the US and the very top in the UK. 2015 is the year of the novel, with one in April, one in September, and one in December. Jude is also part of a collaborative group of writers, the Bluestocking Belles, so watch for their boxed set just before Christmas 2015.

Jude has chosen 1 April as the launch date for Farewell to Kindness in honour of all the people who told her that she’d never achieve anything if she didn’t get her head out of a book.

In Jude’s books, you’ll find strong determined heroines, heroes who can appreciate a clever capable woman, and villains you’ll love to loathe. The novel plots tend towards the gothic, with a leavening of humour, and some insights into the similarities and differences between now and way back then.

Jude thinks her Mum would have liked them.

author's other works

1 comment:

Jude Knight said...

Thanks, CCAM. Candle is available free from most resellers. I'm currently writing Encouraging Prudence and A Raging Madness. They'll be published this year.