Thursday, February 23, 2023

The History in Historic Novels with Marisa Masterson

Talkshow Thursday: Marisa Masterson
The History in Historic Novels 

It’s only a romance. Why include all those historical details?

Yes, people really do say things like that to me. Let me share with you my reason for including historical facts in my book Priscilla’s Piggy.

To me, historical details are essential to the book. I want the reader to feel as if she is in the past, to let the setting become real for the reader. This meant returning again and again to my research about the Battle of Little Bighorn as I wrote about my hero’s nightmares and time in the 7th Cavalry. That was something referred to as “total war”. That means men like my hero probably killed women and children and burned villages. Would they have become hardened to the sight of death? How would their type of experiences affect a man’s faith in God?

Those details from Jack Dixon’s experience when he and his squad discovered the nude bodies of
Custer and his men create part of the conflict in this book. Once the heroine decides she will marry Jack, things still aren’t perfect. All because he suffers from violent nightmares after taking part in the Sioux War.

While he and Priscilla, the heroine, want to be married and have a family, they are unsure how his horrific dreams can be overcome. This throws up a roadblock to the relationship. After all, how can she even share a bed with him? Also, she’s a believer. If his faith is so crippled, should she marry him?

Would this be as believable without the details? I don’t think so. Take this excerpt from the novel, for example:

“You heard my nightmare, didn’t you?”

His wife lifted the covers and moved close to him. He set the candle on the bedside table and clung to her. She nearly jumped when his whisper cut through the heavy quiet. “It was terrible, Priscilla. Worse than anything I’d seen.”


“Custer and his men. They were stripped. Some had lost heads or arms.” He stopped speaking, stiffening next to her.

She lifted a hand to his cheek. “Ears.”

“Yes, ears.” A sob rumbled in his chest. “It should have been all of us. We’d raided villages. The order was to kill everyone. Total war.”

He broke down. Sobs shook him as he hugged her to him. Priscilla wanted to shush him. Instead, she let him cry as she prayed.

Under the blankets, his hand found hers. “I shouldn’t have married you, but I couldn’t live if you weren’t with me.”

Do historical details bog down a novel? Too many, yes. A smatter in just the right spot are a must in historical romance.


  1. I agree that some historical facts are necessary to round out the story. I love it when authors do the research and produce a beautiful story of fact and fiction that transport the reader into the story.

  2. Without the historical facts and content, the story would be flat and not seem real to readers. I want to be able to envision what is taking place and to understand from where the characters are coming.