Dedicated to Corporal Jacob Serena, U.S.M.C. You might be distant, but you still manage to be a great brother. Love you always.
Author’s Note: Dear Readers, please note that as you read this book, the majority of the happenings in India, including the uprising, the martyrs, and the crossing of cultures and territories, are completely fictional. What was more important to me in telling this story was getting across a theme of acceptance and de-stereotyping races, rather than being completely true to what was historically accurate. Enjoy this book for its empathetic and truthful depiction of human beings, but please be cautious in trusting its historical reliability—at least in India.
Acknowledgements: When I began writing this series in January of 2017, I had always hoped, but never expected, that any publisher would pick it up. I’m twenty-three, as of this moment, and still have a great deal to learn about literature. I got rejected many, many times, and therefore, first and foremost, I want to thank Red Sage Publishing for taking on this unusual, comical Victorian family.
Thank you to my first editor, J.S. Cook, who patiently advised a novice writer. Your friendship means more to me than you know. I value all of your suggestions and the funny comments you would put in track changes just for the heck of it.
Thank you to my marketing director, Lindsay Hautanen, for the encouragement and for explaining all of the technical aspects of writing to someone who knows very little about social media!
Thanks to my second editor, Zee Monodee, for doing an awesome job guiding me through some of the tougher parts of India to tackle on the page, especially the Urdu language. If I was going to get anyone for a second, and final, editor, I’m glad it was you!
Thanks to the cover art team for always knowing exactly how to read my mind. I don’t know how you guys do it. The covers are stunning, every single time.
Thank you to anyone else at the Red Sage Publishing team who had a hand in saying “yes” to this series, or helping it along to be the best it could be. You guys are the greatest.
Last but not least, thank you to my friends and family who kept me going even when I wanted to give up, who tolerated my long hours of hiding in my room as I wrote frantically and were always up to giving suggestions. Mom, thank you for not taking romance novels away from twelve-year-old me (after discovering that I was sneaking them behind your back.) Dad, thanks for the quiet encouragement. Grandpa and Grandma, thank you for igniting in me a passion for history and all the stories about our family roots. Jake, thank you for being a constant presence of support regarding this series. I couldn’t have done so much without you. Your concerns, edits, enthusiasm, and ability to read each book upwards of ten times to get it just right were integral to this series’ success.
Thank you, all. Love to everyone mentioned and, of course, my readers.
Description: Reuben Ranlyn joined up with the military so he wouldn’t have to attend even one more humdrum ball or soiree. Always the most physical of his siblings, he grew up being punished for picking fights and disrupting his lessons. The only option was to become a private with the army, and even then, he struggles to control his impulses. When he receives a letter from a general, he knows the news can’t be anything other than a dismissal. He finds out soon after, however, that he has been selected to go to India for a mission. The rebellious and conceited eighteen year old that leaves off on a ship in 1862 is not heard from for years, except for the occasional letter updating his superiors in England. And in 1868, the boy that returns is now twenty-four and very much changed by the tragic and violent uprising of martyrs that plagued the entire west coast of India.
Echo Hyde was an heiress until her father sank his leather company and drank their family out of their mansion. Suddenly, her beautiful looks mean nothing, as no man would take on a wife without a dowry, and her gentle breeding gets her no favors outside of the familiar walls of the ballroom. Desperate to get away from the revolting company of her father, she accepts an invitation from her best friend and travels halfway across the world to England, where she encounters a mysterious figure she never thought she’d see again – that of Reuben Ranlyn. She met him once when he was passing through the area many years ago, and then she had thought him impolite, bold… and surprisingly charming. Now, she is faced with the shell of the boy he once was. Armed with a crude sense of humor and his devastating sensuality, he carefully dodges her questions about the horrifying events that occurred when he was abducted and tortured within an inch of his life. And what’s worse is that despite her best efforts, she can see him for what he truly is and finds herself falling for him almost as quickly as she begins to fear that he’ll leave again…
Reader Alert! An adventurous Victorian romance, How to Love a Soldier traverses the tempestuous relationship between Reuben Ranlyn, a sarcastic and sensual lance corporal, and Echo Hyde, the fallen heiress whose wealth and inheritance is stripped suddenly from her after her father drains his accounts with his unimpeded consumption of liquor. As the once-dying embers of their attraction roar to life, a storm rages on in the west coast of India. Reuben has saved the country once, only to discover that the terror hasn’t ended yet, and can only bring himself to return if he has the love of the beautiful, aloof woman who turned down his proposal after finding out the terrible things he did while overseas…
To My Readers: How to Love a Soldier has become an area of great pride for me. An in-depth exploration not only of the Indian Mutiny (with some theatrical fictional liberties, of course), the question of race and what it meant for someone of color from the Victorian era to find importance within themselves, and a response to the stereotypical depictions of the exotic woman from previous decades of romance novels, this book is more than just a pastime of pleasure. To me, it is an empowering book for women, a depiction of strong and masculine men who can unashamedly have loving, non-romantic relationships, and a look at how quickly societies can become corrupted – not just on one side, but on all of them. I would also like to point out here, for reference, that the hero mentions in one scene that he would like to have seen the downfall of the East India Company in his lifetime. Several years after the end of the book, he would see it meet an end. I think this, more than anything, mended the sore relationship between England and India, and led to a respectful distancing between the countries bridged mostly by the trade of tea, fabric, pottery, and plenty of other valuable items, both aesthetic and practical. I invite my readers into what I hope is an entertaining and informative piece about an India and a man both in need of a bit of help, and I implore you to explore further into this fascinating time.
About the Author: Abbey Faith is twenty-three years old and working on her teaching license. She currently lives in Ohio, but wants to end up in England.