Today I am so pleased to welcome Renée Dahlia to Joyfully Jay. Renée has come to talk to us about her latest release, Her Lady’s Honor. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Between the Lines of History
The oft-quoted saying that history is written by the victors has an element of truth to it, and it can make it difficult to find the stories in history that haven’t been noted as important by the white cismen who wrote history. It takes a degree of reading between the lines, for example the scientist Joseph Lister is noted as the “father of modern surgery” for his research into the use of sterile instruments. But in his biography on Wikipedia, there is a note “Lister was assisted in all his research by his wife, and after her death, he retired from practice.”
Firstly, ‘his wife’ isn’t even named in that phrase (Agnes Syme, daughter of surgeon James Syme), and secondly, he just quit all his work when she died! To me, that just screams – she did it all and he couldn’t continue without her skills and knowledge.
In Her Lady’s Honor, one of the heroines serves in WWI as a veterinarian, and although it was relatively easy to find examples of women working as doctors during the war, it was much more difficult to find veterinarians. From the UK alone, the British Army Veterinary Corp employed 1,668 veterinarians and 41,755 others between 1914 and 1918, treating over 2.5million horses with three-quarters of them returning to service after treatment. Every other nation involved also sent horses and all the necessary people to care for them as well. With regards to the British Empire, the Army initially refused to have women serve as doctors, something resolved by women as they simply started their own charity hospitals and proved their worth. After six months, the Army had changed their mind and employed women doctors.
Speaking of not being written into records, when I was reading about women doctors in WWI, I stumbled across a photo of a doctor and an ambulance driver, and the caption noted the two women lived together for the rest of their lives. That caption inspired part of the second book in this series, but back to Her Lady’s Honor…
For a woman to become a veterinarian, she had to apply to England’s Royal Veterinary Society (RVS) to be allowed to train. Dr Aleen Cust was first refused in 1897, so she enrolled at the Edinburgh Veterinary College under a male pseudonym. She graduated, but the RVS wouldn’t let her use the title Doctor, and she found work as a veterinary assistant. Lucy Cheeseman applied to study in 1906 and was rejected by the RVS and went to become a renowned entomologist instead. There were probably others.
In 1915, Dr Cust volunteered to work for the British Army Veterinary Corp, and they allowed her to work in an unofficial capacity blaming RVS restrictions for not giving her the full title of veterinarian. After the war, the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act was passed in 1919, and Dr Cust finally convinced the RVS to let her use Doctor in 1922. When she died in 1937, there were sixty women veterinarians registered with the RVS.
In Her Lady’s Honor, Nell’s war work is inspired by Dr Cust. The story begins at the end of the war, when Nell arrives in Wales with her boss’s horse. She meets her boss’s daughter, and quickly realises that the reasons she respected her boss during the war are not valid for peacetime. Her Lady’s Honor deals with some difficult topics; domestic violence, shell shock (PTSD), and for the other heroine, Beatrice, the restrictions of being a woman without education or money.
The war might be over, but the battle for love has just begun.
When Lady Eleanor “Nell” St. George arrives in Wales after serving as a veterinarian in the Great War, she doesn’t come alone. With her is her former captain’s beloved warhorse, which she promised to return to him—and a series of recurring nightmares that torment both her heart and her soul. She wants only to complete her task, then find refuge with her family, but when Nell meets the captain’s eldest daughter, all that changes.
Beatrice Hughes is resigned to life as the dutiful daughter. Her mother grieves for the sons she lost to war; the care of the household and remaining siblings falls to Beatrice, and she manages it with a practical efficiency. But when a beautiful stranger shows up with her father’s horse, practicality is the last thing on her mind.
Despite the differences in their social standing, Beatrice and Nell give in to their unlikely attraction, finding love where they least expect it. But not everything in the captain’s house is as it seems. When Beatrice’s mother disappears under mysterious circumstances, Nell must overcome her preconceptions to help Beatrice, however she’s able. Together they must find out what really happened that stormy night in the village, before everything Beatrice loves is lost—including Nell.
One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!
Renée Dahlia is an unabashed romance reader who loves feisty women and strong, clever men. Her books reflect this, with a sidenote of dark humour. Renée has a science degree in physics. When not distracted by the characters fighting for attention in her brain, she works in the horse-racing industry doing data analysis and writing magazine articles. When she isn’t reading or writing, Renée spends her time with her partner and four children, volunteers on the local cricket club committee, and is the Secretary of Romance Writers Australia.
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