By Dina Sleiman
But alas, once I pinned down my 1817 date and the plot for my novel, I realized the best setting would actually be
A location slightly to the south and east of my personal paradise, but every
bit as picturesque and even more full of history and gorgeous plantations.
There I found the legendary Three Notch’d Road and the lovely Birdwood
Pavilion, which almost perfectly matched the plantation in my head. Charlottesville, Virginia
Maybe you’re wondering why more inspirational romances aren’t set in the ideally romantic American south. I mean mint juleps on the verandah? Gone with the Wind? I think the answer lies in slavery. An issue far from romantic or ideal. That idyllic Southern existence was an illusion based on oppression, often even abuse. And inspirational romance fans aren’t the best audience for ugly stories about oppression and social injustice. So my challenge in choosing this Southern setting was to find a way to deal with this issue and still create an enjoyable, romantic read.
The solution I found was to face it head on. Several of my main characters are involved in the abolitionist movement. So the ugliness of slavery is not overlooked. Meanwhile, my primary plantation owners are kind to their slaves, treating them like family. And my main character, Constance Cavendish, often finds herself drawn to befriend the slaves around her.
Meanwhile, my reader is able to focus on
primary challenge, to teach the “scandalous” waltz to the twin sisters of her
former fiancé, the man who jilted her when she needed him most. That gives the
reader the perfect opportunity to visit those amazing plantation homes,
including Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, and
take a fun peek at the planter elite class of Virginia complete with its balls, fancy
parties, and Regency fashions. They get to glimpse the culture of that day including
music, dance, literature, and even science. They also get to experience the
nearby mountains, frontiersman, and American Indians.
And I’m not the only author branching out to the American South. Mary Lu Tyndall has been using Southern settings for years. In her newest book, Veil of Pearls, she takes a direct look at the world of slavery. Tamera Alexander has set her most recent books, ALasting Impressions and To Whisper Her Name, on the plantations of
And look for Magistrate’s
Folly, a great short historical romance by Lisa Richardson set in Williamsburg that should
be releasing early 2013. I’m excited about this shift in romance settings, and
I know many other authors and readers are thrilled to visit the American South
through fiction as well. I hope to continue exploring the rich history of Virginia for many years
Dina Sleiman explores the world of 1817
Virginia in her novel Love
in Three-Quarter Time. Per Amazon's Author page, "Dina Sleiman writes from . She enjoys hanging out with
her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing
her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to
teach literature, writing, and the arts. She was the Overall Winner in the 2009
Touched by Love contest for unpublished authors. Her debut novel is Dance
of the Dandelion " Her website can be found at
http://dinasleiman.com Virginia Beach