Today we're joined by Rose Lerner, whose Sweet Disorder (out now!) is the story of a widow who has no intention of ever marrying again, because her first marriage was not what she had hoped. But certain things in her life force her to reconsider that decision. Rose is here to talk about the 'specter of the Dead First Husband' in historicals. Thanks, Rose!
Trigger warning: mentions of rape and abuse
Phoebe, the heroine of Sweet Disorder, is a widow. As I wrote the story, I was conscious of a long line of widow heroines who had gone before her, and particularly of the specter of the Dead First Husband. When I started reading historicals back in the ‘90s, pretty much every dead first husband was awful, if not outright evil. Sometimes he was impotent, sometimes a rapist, often old, and sometimes even, for added villainy, gay or bisexual. Blargh.
I love me a good evil ex story (God knows there are plenty of them out there), but variety is the spice of life, so it's nice to see a fuller spectrum of previous relationships being presented these days. I interviewed the authors of some of my favorite historical romances featuring dead first husbands, and got back some delicious food for thought.