Where are all the Jewish characters in historical romance? Old Testament retellings of Biblical stories are readily found in inspirational romance, but isn’t there more? The history of Jewish people in England, for example, goes back to the time of William the Conqueror, and the first documented Jewish immigrants set foot in the American colonies in 1649. With a rich culture, both religious and secular, and traditions that stretch back thousands of years and across the globe, there’s an endless supply of interesting characters with stories ready to be told. Readers looking for a Jewish hero or heroine in English or American historical romance may have to do some digging, but oh, the gems that can be found. Where to look?
Medieval lovers might consider Barbara Samuel’s classic A Bed of Spices, which pulls no punches regarding the difficulties faced by interfaith lovers Rica and Solomon as the Black Death spreads across Europe, while anti-Semitism points an accusing finger at the Jews. Solomon, a physician in training, wants nothing more than to heal, and though he never expected to find his soulmate in Catholic Rica, he admires her intellect as well as her passion. To say that both families do not react well to this pairing is an understatement. At one point, Solomon’s father gets physical with his son to keep him from bringing danger to both families, and yet it is Solomon’s faith and traditions that form the backbone of his character, and indeed provide a way for the couple to be together at last.