How many of us have secrets?
I doubt if there would be many people who don’t have at least one secret. I don’t mean of the dark, dangerous variety, but some of us may well have a secret that could place us in danger. Fortunately, I am not one of those.
My secret – I am a chocoholic. How many times have I told my hubby that I no longer eat chocolates, then I sneak off to my several hiding places (not to be divulged on pain of death), where my secret stash is hidden. You should always have more than one hideout for your illicit goodies just in case one of them is discovered. I don’t want to be like Old Mother Hubbard – who went to the cupboard to get her dog a bone, and when she got there the cupboard was bare and the poor doggie had none. Change that to and when Margaret got to her secret stash, the chokkies were gone and she had none. A disaster of that proportion could not be allowed to happen, hence a few hiding places. I call it my insurance policy.
In many families there are secrets that will never see the light of day, except if someone in the family is into Geneology. My sister has unearthed some shocking scandals as she undertook research into our family tree. I swear, I could write a book about it. One of the most shocking secrets was the fact that my grandmother had a baby when she was unmarried and only eighteen years old. The baby died when he was only 6 days old. A couple of years later she married my grandfather. No-one knew that, it remained hidden for 120 years, until my sister unearthed the information during her research.
Another relative spent time in jail in the 1880’s for aiding and abetting Ned Kelly, a famous Australian bushranger (outlaw). Then there were all the “premature” babies that were born to aunts and great aunts. Not to mention one great uncle who had two wives. Then there was a cousin who ran off with a man who was older than her father. That caused a stir. Especially as the man had a wife and 4 children. Still, can’t be all bad, thirty years later, and the couple are still together.
In my experience, and I do have to quantify this by saying I mainly read historical romance because that is what I write, there are often dark secrets lurking in the background. Some of these could be life threatening, in any case at the very least they threaten the hero and heroine’s chance of getting their happily ever after ending.
In my novel, Allison’s War, the heroine’s secret is that the baby she is expecting does not belong to her husband.
In A Rose In No-Man’s Land, the hero hides a secret from the heroine. She is broken hearted to find out that he won’t marry her, when in fact he wants to marry her, but can’t because he is being blackmailed by the sister of his dead wife. If he marries the heroine, he risks being hanged for a murder that he did not commit.
In Daring Masquerade, my heroine pretends she is a boy so she can gain employment with the hero. Then, of course, she falls in love with the hero. I mean, what can she do about it?
In my novel, Haunted Hearts, (the only contemporary I have published), the heroine discovers that her father-in-law has been going through her drawers and stealing her panties.
So, you can see that secrets abound in my novels, and I am sure I am not alone in this regard. A secret can drive our stories along, add passion and drama, and keep the reader wondering what is this secret? How can it be resolved? Will the hero and heroine get their HEA?
Margaret Tanner writes historical romance for The Wild Rose Press and Books We Love.