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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

HERO BLOG TOUR: THE KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR – AN ARCHETYPE HERO FOR THE AGES


  
Welcome to RWA/NYC's Hero Blog Tour.
This is the last stop on our tour.

Leave a comment today and you will be entered to win a copy
of Lis’IN THE ARMS OF THE ENEMY.



THE KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR – AN ARCHETYPE HERO FOR THE AGES
by Lisbeth Eng

There is something about “a man in uniform” that turns most women’s heads. Police officers, soldiers, sailors – we find them virile and appealing, at least that’s been my impression from a rather unscientific survey of females friends and relatives. As romance writers, we want our hero to be as attractive as possible, and we often costume him in a military uniform, the archetypal “Knight in Shining Armor.” I believe this is especially true in historical romance, since contemporary fiction is much more likely to reflect the mixed-gender armed forces and police units that exist in present day society.

I am an author of World War II fiction. Not only is it historical fiction, but the chances of finding a hero in uniform during that era are greater than in a peaceful period (if there have ever actually been any in the history of our planet). If you read the back cover blurb of my World War II romance, IN THE ARMS OF THE ENEMY, you will find that I mention one woman and two men. No, this is not a ménage à trois. The woman, Isabella Ricci, is the heroine; either of the men, Italian Resistance commander Massimo Baricelli or German army officer Günter Schumann, could be the hero. (You’ll have to read the book to find out which of the two it is.)

Men and women who served in World War II have been referred to as members of “The Greatest Generation” and we rightly honor those who served their country and fought against tyranny. My own father, for the most part a peaceful man, was proud of his service in World War II as part of the American Army’s presence in Asia. We continue to honor, even glorify, men and women in uniform as defenders of our freedom.

My World War II novel takes place in Europe, and the characters are almost exclusively Italians and Germans. The book opens in 1943 Italy, after Mussolini has been deposed, imprisoned and then rescued by German commandos. At that point, Hitler had Il Duce brought to Germany, and Mussolini agreed to set up a puppet Fascist state in northern Italy under German control. The Italian Resistance, originally composed of independent troops and eventually banded into larger brigades, fought against the Germans and their Fascist allies. As partisans or “irregular forces” (francs-tireurs) they were not protected by the rules of war in effect at that time, and were subject to immediate execution if captured.

Both potential heroes in my novel, the Italian partisan and the German officer, could be categorized as soldiers, though only one wears a uniform recognized under international treaties. Isabella Ricci, the heroine, can be viewed as a soldier, too. In fact, her commander refers to her as his “brave little warrior.” She is committed to the Resistance, but unlike other female partisans who took up arms against the enemy, some even commanding brigades, she uses her wiles to elicit military information from the Germans. The only uniform she wears is that of a domestic servant at German headquarters, where she secretly uncovers intelligence to use against the enemy.

At least three other 20th century romances published by The Wild Rose Press (this year’s RWA/NYC Publisher of the Year and also my publisher) feature heroes in uniform, and all take place either during, or just prior to World War II. American soldier Miles Coulson finds himself fighting for his life in Anzio, Italy in Christine Clemetson’s A DAUGHTER’S PROMISE. The hero of Janet Fogg’s SOLILOQUY, set in World War II France, is wounded British pilot Arick Ambrose. Rickard Sankt wears a German SS uniform in Jennifer Childers’ KINDERTRANSPORT, set in Germany on the eve of World War II. (If you’re wondering how a hero can wear an SS uniform, I suggest you read Ms. Childers’ wonderful book. You’ll be more than satisfied with the explanation!)

Throughout history, woman have worn uniforms and taken up arms in defense of their countries; it is not purely a modern phenomenon. Joan of Arc immediately comes to mind. But I have found in historical romance, it is most often the hero who wears the Shining Armor, as least figuratively.♥


An English major in college, Lisbeth Eng has also studied Italian, German and French. She has worked in the finance industry for over 25 years, and serves as Treasurer on RWA/NYC’s Board of Directors. Her first novel, IN THE ARMS OF THE ENEMY, is available in e-book and paperback at Amazon, B&N and The Wild Rose Press. Lisbeth invites you to visit her at www.lisbetheng.com.


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3 comments:

  1. Interesting setting for a book

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

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  2. I loved all yhe heroes on the tour. Knights and soldiers are the best.

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  3. Casting your hero in the guise of a soldier in a story set in wartime gives an author the most intense of conflicts, the most life-changing of circumstances, and affords her the best opportunity to convey courage, loyalty, bravery and all of those other qualities or circumstances that make a great hero - including a crisis of conscience, hard decisions, and life and death choices not just for himself, but for the woman he loves. There is no more dramatic arena for a love story! And I, as a reader, am always ready to engage with characters like Gunther who blast a stereotype out of the water and remind us that sometimes a person is not defined by the events that surround them, but by their heart and soul.

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