by Heather Hiestand
Recently—very, very recently, even though I should have read it months ago, but then I got very, very busy—I read Heather Hiestand’s If I Had You, her introduction to the Jazz Age, with vague threads to her Redcakes series. It’s a fun book (with the sequel coming up in February 2017), so I won’t spoil it for you, but I can tell you that the subplot deals with the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, when the disenfranchised Russians poured into Europe, running from the savage revolutionists and those who glommed on and began gleefully pillaging whatever they could. What happened to those fleeing Russians, trying to forget the horrific murders and executions, all too often having occurred because someone coveted a piece of jewelry or a plot of land and decided that informing on someone was the way to get it? That there was blood spilled of the innocent wasn’t their concern.
Because historical romances so often pay short shrift to anything other than the romance (don’t get me wrong; it’s the heart of the story, but there has to be something other than heart to keep the entire thing alive), this subplot with ousted Russians seeking revenge is both fascinating and insightful into the Britain of the 1920s. Of Europe in the 1920s, come to think of it. Our hero and heroine meet in London, both fish out of water—she’s from the countryside, and he’s from out of the country (yes, Russia! How did you guess?)—and they’re both running from their past. The Great War scrubbed both of their past (her parents perished on the sinking of the Lusitania; his parents were executed because they had property a cousin wanted, and his older sister executed because she was a conspirator) and now, they have to create their own future. When better than the Roaring Twenties? (Because of my many years working on Wall Street, I’ve long had an interest in the end of the 1920s, so what led up to 1929 always interested me too.)
Anyway, the themes that Hiestand used here are universal, so as I was reading away, hoping for more and more details about 1920s Britain (the details she used for her Redcakes series, about the well-to-do Victorians, really described the rise of the society), it occurred to me that the parallels to modern-day society were pretty clear, and it also occurred to me you could build another society in the far-flung future, using the same themes of loss and revenge and rebuilding.
Anyway. I have to add that I’ve known Heather for many years, but I always make a point of buying her books. Interested in relatively modern history? Interested in how the past always, always informs the present and the future? You’ll like If I Had You.
Elizabeth MS Flynn has written fiction in the form of comic book stories, romantic fantasies, urban fantasies, historical fantasies and short stories, a young adult novel, and a graphic novella (most published under the name of Eilis Flynn). She’s also a professional editor and has been for 40 years, working with academia, technology, and finance nonfiction, and mystery, science fiction, fantasy, and romance fiction. If you’re looking for an editor, she can be found editing at emsflynn.com and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re curious about her books, check out eilisflynn.com. In any case, she can be reached at email@example.com.