My debut novel, The Legacy (April 2008), is a historical romance about the destructive nature of secrets. Set in 1525 Wittenberg, Germany, the novel weaves events occurring during the Early Reformation period into an intimate love story played out on the canvas of history.
I was inspired to write this outside-the-box historical romance about a printer and the runaway nun he is blackmailed into marrying when I came across a book entitled Martin Luther Had a Wife. The book described how the sixteenth-century religious reformer met and married Katherine von Bora, an ex-nun. She and eleven other nuns engineered a daring escape from a convent and fled to Luther’s doorstep in Wittenberg, asking for help in starting a new life. Luther decided to help the women, finding most of them husbands in a round of hasty matchmaking. The twelfth nun, Katherine von Bora, decided she’d rather marry Luther than anyone else, and theirs became one of the great love matches of history.
It got me thinking: What must it have been like for the other eleven women? They went from nun to wife in such a short time, most of them marrying strangers. And what if one of those women hadn’t wanted to marry the man chosen for her as a mate? The idea morphed into one of intrigue and suspense: What if an escaped nun was recaptured by her family and forced to marry a certain man for reasons she didn’t understand? And what if his reasons for marrying her were just as mysterious? Thus, The Legacy was born.
I created the three Behaim brothers to tell the story, one of whom is thrust into an arranged marriage with Sabina von Ziegler, a runaway nun with a tragic past. In the beginning, neither plans to consummate the marriage they each want to have annulled, but they find themselves challenged by a fiery passion they cannot resist. In addition, they must also solve a mystery revolving around why Sabina’s adopted father forced these two together in the first place. In the course of their discoveries, they find love and a truth that sets them free from their past.
While writing The Legacy, I also came across research describing the lives of the 16th century German mercenaries known as Landsknechts, or servants of the country. These mercenaries were hired by the Holy Roman Emperor, among others, to fight territorial battles between the major powers of the day (France, England, Germany, Spain, and the Low Countries). I was so fascinated with the difficult and spectacular lives of these men, I decided to make one of the Behaim brothers a mercenary fighting in Charles V’s Italian campaigns. Günter Behaim meets and falls for a Spanish blade artisan’s daughter who believes she is cursed. Their romantic adventure is featured in The Promise, available May 2009.
I hope readers will find the settings for these books a refreshing addition to their usual historical novels. If you’ve had a chance to read The Legacy, let me know what you think! You can stop by my website and read excerpts, send me an e-mail, check out pictures of conferences I’ve attended, and comment on my blog.
In addition, I’m giving away a free book and a $40 gift certificate to either B&N or GermanDeli.com (a German foods importer) to any one who comments on at least two of the blogs I’m touring. Comment here. For a list of the other places, check out my blog. Good luck!