Delving Deep and True Into History With Elizabeth Ellen Carter

Historical romance lovers are in for a treat with our Get Lost in a Story guest today, Elizabeth Ellen Carter! Elizabeth doesn't shy away from a challenge, let me tell you! One of the books on my must-read list for 2017 was her mystery/suspense/romance novel set in ancient Rome – Dark Heart. But she’s equally at home in the 19th century, swashbuckling with pirates, and that's where we find her latest novel, Revenge of the Corsairs, which is out later this month.

About Elizabeth Ellen Carter...

Elizabeth Ellen Carter is an award-winning historical romance writer who pens richly detailed historical romantic adventures. A former newspaper journalist, Carter ran an award-winning PR agency for 12 years. The author lives in Australia with her husband and two cats.

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Rescued after two years a concubine in an Ottoman harem, former debutante Laura Cappleman faces a difficult journey back to normal life. As she travels to Palermo aboard Kit Hardacre’s ship, the Calliope, she is deeply traumatised – and pregnant to her kidnapper.

Laura rejects the emotional support of her long-time admirer, Calliope First Officer Elias Nash, and her cousin, Sophia, Kit’s wife. She withdraws into herself and her art. Finally, after giving birth, she decides to return to London, hoping to erase the torment of harem life from her mind.

Powerful Emir Selim Omar died on the day of Laura’s rescue, but his wickedness lives on in his third wife, Rabia, in whose household Laura was held. The ruthless widow may yet hold onto the favour and power she wielded as mother to Omar’s only male heir. However, as opportunists pick the Emir’s empire apart, the child is killed.

When Rabia learns Laura has given birth to a boy, the solution is obvious–the concubine is stolen property and so is the child sired by her late husband. She will take the boy and kill anyone in the way.

As Rabia’s assassins close in, Elias – both embraced and rejected by the damaged woman he loves, uncertain she will ever return, and alone in Palermo with a child to whom he has given his name – must take the battle to the enemy. Otherwise, there may be nothing for Laura to come home to.

Read a little...

And what of your love?

What about it? She knew very well how he felt for her. What about her love? She did nothing but tug him back and forth. He was never certain of what her answer would be. If he was to declare openly how he felt for her, he may as well hand her a knife and pull his coat open for her to plunge the blade through his heart with her reply. Yet if he denied his love for her now, it would be a betrayal of himself.

“You’re asking too much of me,” he said.

Am I?”

“Yes–until I know my feelings are returned,” he answered.

Laura turned away.

“I don’t know if I even want to keep the child. I don’t know if I want to live in Sicily for the rest of my life. I don’t know!”

One time, during a raid, Elias had been blindsided by a corsair, the blow from a solid timber fid sending searing agony through his head and a second blow across his chest expelled all the air from his lungs. He was blinded and winded. As he sank to the deck Elias had opened up his eyes to see his bearded assailant turn the club-shaped tool in his hand, until he held its sharpened end over him like an awl, ready to plunge it through his heart.

Laura’s words brought back that moment and that pain.

“Then that’s the end of the matter.” Elias turned on his heel.

“Wait!” Hurt and confusion, was written across Laura’s face, mirroring his own. Elias watched her pull together a large breath. Tears danced along the inside of her lids.

“You do me the greatest honor, and if I thought my gratitude alone was enough to make you content, then I would answer yes without hesitation.” Molten silver now trailed down her cheeks. “But it wouldn’t be enough, not for you, when you deserve so much more. How can I give you another answer when I don’t know my own mind – let alone my heart?”

Follow Elizabeth Ellen Carter on Amazon to be notified when Revenge of the Corsairs becomes available! 

And out now...

As a spy deep in the heart of Revolutionary France, Michael St. John hopes to make amends for a wasted life his by helping the citizens of the Vendée stage a counter-revolution.

Jacqueline Archambeau, tavern owner and cook, accepts that life and love have passed her by. She never dreamed she would fight her own countrymen for the right to keep her customs and traditions.

When they plot together to steal plans at a regimental dinner will they risk their lives — and their hearts?

Read a little, buy the story...

Bonjour.” The smile on Jacqueline’s face was unexpected, as was the greeting and he found himself returning it.

Until he felt the unmistakable press of a gun barrel at his lower back. It seemed that Madame Jacqueline was not alone.

“Your knife, monsieur.” Jacqueline held out her hand.

Michael obliged, handing the weapon over hilt first.

“So, Jacques is really Jacqueline?” he asked, feeling like the world’s greatest fool.

“And I’ll take any other weapons you might have on your person,” she continued.

He hesitated, and the barrel pressed at his back became silently insistent.

“Please?” she asked as pleasantly as if she had simply asked him to pass the butter.

Michael raised his arms, threaded his fingers, and placed them at the back of his head.

“You’ve completely disarmed me, madam, but you are welcome to check for yourself.”

Hazel eyes clouded with mistrust. Jacqueline glanced to the person behind him as though looking for instruction.

“Who sent you?”

The voice behind him was that of another woman.

Michael gritted his teeth. He would kill Colonel Jeffers when they next met. The man knew his contacts were women and thought it amusing not to tell him. To further his bona fides, Jeffers had even made him memorize the first stanza of a poem, Ode To Him Who Complains, no less, by scandalous poetess Mary Darby Robinson.

Let's Talk...

AVRIL: Revenge of the Corsairs is book 2 in a series – how do the two stories fit together and are there more to come? 
ELIZABETH: Revenge of the Corsairs picks up toward the end of Captive of the Corsairs with the escape of Laura and Sophia from the harem, rescued by Elias and Kit. Sophia was more psychologically prepared and emotionally stronger than Laura who has been left devastated by her experience. Revenge of the Corsairs is as much a character study as it is an adventure romance.

The Heart of the Corsairs will have third title, Shadow of the Corsairs. This will be a prequel to Captive and Revenge. I’m looking forward to starting this title for a number of different reasons. It will feature an interracial romance between Jonathan and Morwena (they were married in Captive of the Corsairs) and it will reveal what makes the bonds of friendship so strong among Kit, Elias and Jonathan. In the third book, Kit is right on the edge of madness and Jonathan is given the opportunity to walk away. Any sensible person would, so I want to explore why Jonathan doesn’t.

Hopefully I can soon reveal news about a new series set in the same universe.

AVRIL: Can you tell us a little of the time period? What’s the attraction?
ELIZABETH: Many romance readers are familiar with the Regency period but only from an Anglo-French perspective (the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars etc) but few people recall the Ottoman Empire and its influence on Mediterranean and eastern European history until we reach the beginning of the 20th century and the First World War.

Right up until 1830 when the French finally colonized North Africa, shipping in the Mediterranean was menaced by Barbary Coast pirates from client states supported by the Ottomans. From 1650 up until 1830 between 800,000 and 1.25 million Europeans (some from as far away as Iceland) were forced into slavery (which is, by the way, why you see some Arabs and Turks with striking blue or green eyes. At some point, one of their ancestors was most likely a European slave).

I had also read that in the very early 1800s, the United States was paying 10 percent of its GDP as ‘tribute’ to the Barbary Coast pirates. Thomas Jefferson had had enough and used that money to found the US Marines to defend merchant ships.

I found this era fascinating because it filled in so many gaps in my own knowledge of history.

AVRIL: Are there time periods you’d like to see represented more regularly in romance? 
ELIZABETH: That’s a loaded question for me! I love any era in history but I do worry that every now and again historical romance appears fall all too quickly into Regency and Medieval/Highlander.
I know these are the most popular eras and there is a lot to work with, but every now and again, I like to poke the bear with an uncommon time period – such as late Empire Rome from Dark Heart. I have a concept for a historical set during the reign of Henry VII that I’ll get to one of these days.

AVRIL: What are the most challenging aspects of researching past eras?
ELIZABETH: Challenging assumptions is a big part of it. Most of us only have a gossamer thin knowledge of past events and even that has been influenced on depictions in popular culture which is why, to the average person, ‘medieval’ is synonymous with ‘backward’ when that is far from the truth.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been fortunate to get to know a number of historical scholars who have been especially helpful when I’ve been stuck. Basic research, however, is very straight-forward with a lot of academic research freely available online.

AVRIL: Heroines through the ages – what’s the secret to making a modern reader get on board with them?
ELIZABETH: The secret is developing well-rounded characters. I believe human nature is transcendent – we live, love, laugh, and hate pretty much all the same things we’ve always done. The only thing which changes is technology.

If you’re writing a heroine who is going to do something that a modern day woman is not, then it’s up to you as author to provide sufficient motivation and build a world so real that your reader understands exactly why she’s made that decision.

Laura, the heroine in Revenge of the Corsairs is suffering from what we now know as PTSD from her experience in the harem. During the course of her recovery, she is going to make some decisions that cause pain to the ones who love her, but it is vital to her own internal journey back.

I’ve been absorbing a lot of development psychology over this year which has really helped in articulating motivation.

AVRIL: I know you also have a story in an historical anthology – what can you tell us about the anthology and your story?
ELIZABETH: The Night of the Feast is a short story in the Bluestocking Belles’ annual anthology called Never Too Late. Set in a variety of locations around the world over eight centuries, Never Too Late features eight different takes on four dramatic elements selected by our readers—an older heroine, a wise man, a Bible, and a compromising situation that isn’t.

We’re delighted to say that 25% of the proceeds from the sale of Never Too Late supports the Malala Foundation.

The Night of the Feast is set in the Vendee region of France during the French Revolution and a little known campaign by the inhabitants to resist the dictates of the Parisian revolutionaries. As a spy deep in the heart of Revolutionary France, Michael St. John hopes to make amends for a wasted life his by helping the citizens of the Vendée stage a counter-revolution. Jacqueline Archambeau, tavern owner and cook, accepts that life and love have passed her by. She never dreamed she would fight her own countrymen for the right to keep her customs and traditions. When they plot together to steal plans at a regimental dinner will they risk their lives —and their hearts?

AVRIL: What’s your pet hate as an historical romance reader?
ELIZABETH: Ahistorical characters is my number one pet hate in which every heroine seems to be a proto Emmeline Pankhurst railing against the patriarchy.Women, men, and society at large, are a lot more nuanced than that. I think we do our readers a disservice to not have greater lighter and shade in our characters and the goals, motivation and conflicts which drive them. Not every heroine has to rail against the system, she could be struggling for survival, protecting the ones she loves, or navigating the social mores of her time in search for true love.

Elizabeth Ellen Carter has an e-book copy of her novel, Captive of the Corsairs and an e-copy of the Bluestocking Belles Never Too Late collection to give away. To go into the draw, just tell us in the comments if you have a favourite historical romance time period, and either leave your email address with your comment or via Rafflecopter.
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  1. Thank you so much for having me as a guest!

  2. Welcome to GLIAS, Elizabeth Ellen !!

  3. I actually like the 1920's because of The Flappers and I don't see many based there and I also think that's when a lot of new inventions were happening so it's neat to read about that also
    Thanks for sharing with us

    1. I have an idea of a series set in the 1920s. I need a whole other lifestyle to write them all!

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  5. Today was a wonderful blog and thank you so much Elizabeth for coming to GLIAS. I like the 1900's and most of the reason is my dad he came over from Germany with his family. He told me about the SF earthquake in detail as he was there. Of course he had me late in live and I used to live 20 min from SF. Sometimes when he picked me up from the evil foster home he would be very talkative and others we would just go to the library and he wouldn't talk much or even the whole time I was there for the weekend. When he did talk I listened as I found what he had to say about his brothers running a bar and bootlegging out of the back of the bar also running a gambling room during their bar is in SSF. I loved the stories and I loved him so much he had to put up with a lot with my mother who was just a terrible woman. Anyway the early 1900's-1940's. For him!

    1. That is so fascinating and heart-wrenching all at once! You know, I will never forget the wonderful movie with Jeanette McDonald and Clark Gable called San Francisco, and the earthquake scenes are so brilliantly done.

  6. I love so many periods. Regencies of course, but I also like Medieval stories, and lately I've been drawn to books set in WWII.

  7. I like the idea of ancient Rome or Greece or Egypt!

    1. Me too! And Elizabeth's Dark Heart, set in Ancient Rome, is a great read.