by Jennifer Delamere
I was raised in a military family. By the time I was thirteen and my father retired from military service, we had lived in six different places and spent an entire summer overseas. I was the youngest child and only daughter, so it’s easy to see why I learned early on to be comfortable with my own company—and with the company of a good book, of course. I became an avid reader. I also became fairly independent, perhaps less swayed by the opinions of peers as others might be. These were aspects of my own life that found their way into the character of Rose Finlay in Holding the Line.
One day, long after I was an adult, my mother happened to mention there had been a time when she and my father seriously considered having one more child. In the end, they had decided against it. At the time she told me this, I accepted her statement and didn’t think too much about it. But slowly, especially in the years since my mother’s death, I’ve had moments when I felt sadness over their decision. What if that child had been a girl? Then I would have had a sister, perhaps someone who might also have become a friend and confidante.
None of those things would have been certain, of course. But it was an idea that came to stick with me, nonetheless. Especially in times when I felt particularly lonely. Even us independent types feel the need for a good friend at times.
This tension between self-sufficiency and the feeling of aloneness that can sometimes pierce it is also a theme in Holding the Line. Having been widowed while still in her twenties, Rose learned early on to be self-reliant. Yet she also had the good fortune to develop close friendships with two other women. During the events of Holding the Line, her friends are largely out of town, and Rose strongly feels their absence at several points when she is enmeshed in troubling situations. Even so, her friends will ultimately provide valuable assistance to her at a critical time.
A series of odd circumstances introduces Rose to John Milburn, and she is surprised to find in him a kindred soul. They bond over many things, including a love of books and, ironically, a desire to remain single due to troubles past and present.
The bond of family, with its benefits and drawbacks, is another topic I explore in Holding the Line. I once heard a romance author quip that it seemed none of the characters in historical romances had parents or siblings. That was an overgeneralization, to be sure, but I’ve often called it to mind when plotting my books. Including family members can add depth to just about any storyline. How our family sees us can often be quite different from the viewpoint of others.
Our families can be a tremendous source of strength and solace in bad times, but their expectations can also add a lot of pressure to our lives and the decisions we make. It can cause problems when their expectations run contrary to our own desires—especially if we are confident that God is the one spurring our choices.
In Holding the Line, John Milburn is called upon to go to extraordinary lengths to help his sister and sister-in-law, both of whom are widows with children. John’s unshakeable belief that God can carry us through even the worst of times helps him rise to the occasion. But he’s human, too, and there are days when he can’t help but find these extra responsibilities irksome or even burdensome. Meeting Rose feels like a breath of fresh air, reminding him there is more to life than the constant demands of work and family. It isn’t long before they begin to realize their burgeoning friendship could become something more—unless the problems intertwined with family, societal expectations, and even Rose’s workplace prove insurmountable.
At its core, Holding the Line is about friendship and family, how those two things are (usually) different, yet their impacts can overlap in our lives in profound ways. It’s also about how God can help us find unexpected ways through even the murkiest of situations. I hope the reader will find the book a little bit thought-provoking as well as enjoyable and inspirational.
About the Author
Jennifer Delamere’s acclaimed Victorian romances have been finalists in the RITA Awards and have received a Maggie Award for Excellence. She’s been an editor of nonfiction and educational materials for nearly two decades and lives in North Carolina with her husband. Visit her at jenniferdelamere.com.
About the Book
A widow at just 30 years of age, Rose Finlay is determined to put all ideas of marriage and family behind her and pursue an independent life. But when she notices a young woman about to be led astray by a roguish aristocrat, bitter memories from her past arise, and she feels compelled to intervene. The unintended consequences of her efforts will ultimately force Rose to reexamine her life in a new light.
Did You Know?
A study by the University of Miami in 2014, revealed that peacemaking gestures promote forgiveness. That’s a key to being a peacemaker.
The peace symbol that looks like an upside-down tree is often misunderstood. Gerald Holtom designed it as part of a campaign for nuclear disarmament in 1958. He used the semaphore flags for N and D as the basis of the design, while also picturing a man before a firing squad in his mind. He thought he recalled Goya’s painting, but that one has arms raised up. Later, Gerald realized if the symbol were flipped it would resemble the tree of life and Christ’s sacrifice on the cross to bring hope.
Another symbol used for peace is the Celtic cross. All strands are interwoven with no beginning or end. With peace, we want God’s love to be woven in our hearts and to be in harmony with everyone.
Peace begins in our hearts with faith and trust in Christ. When we have inner peace, it’s easier to listen to others and reach out in kindness. As we reach out with Christ’s love, we become peacemakers. That’s one of many reasons to read the Bible and pray regularly. The Psalms often help people develop inner peace.
The angels proclaimed peace at the birth of Christ, to people of God’s good pleasure. Peace is something many people strive to achieve, both inner peace and peace in relationships. Do a self-check to be sure you have faith in Jesus and love others as Jesus does, with wanting the best for each person.
-Karen Whiting, Growing a Peaceful Heart
Why I LOVE My Local Christian Bookstore
“I love shopping in bookstores! In fact, it’s one of our favorite date-night activities! We explore the various sections together and pick out one book each. We get to spend time together, and we both get new books! It’s a win-win!”
-Michelle Medlock Adams, Fly High