Two best friends torn apart by war. Could the re-enactment of four Christmas dinners create a love worth fighting for?
Lord Rafe Stanmore didn’t just lose his leg in the war; he lost his charming outlook and all his athletic prowess. His best friend, James St. George, brought him through the worst times with his cheerful letters. Rafe can’t bear to face James now he’s so altered, but to placate his sister he agrees to a quick visit. His secret longing for James and the nightly re-lived trauma of the war should be able to stay hidden for a few days.
During the war, James tried to declare his love for Rafe with careful words and extravagant gifts, and never had any indication of his affection being reciprocated. How could gorgeous, athletic, and aristocratic Rafe be interested in polio scarred James? But when Rafe arrives at the farm unexpectedly, James can’t resist giving him all the Christmases he missed. It’s his last chance to show Rafe exactly how he feels.
Four Christmases to reveal a passion that can’t be denied. One last chance to admit the love they’ve been hiding all along.
This book contains discussion on war, war injuries, and polio injuries.
The first act of parliament to outlaw homosexuality in England was the Buggery Act of 1553 and convictions were punishable by death. This was downgraded in 1861 to ten years imprisonment with the Offences Against The Person Act, but in 1885, the Criminal Law Amendment Act made any homosexual act illegal, even those in private homes. Known as the Blackmailer’s Charter, it was ambigiously worded and any letter could be used as ‘evidence.’ In 1895, Oscar Wilde was prosecuted under this act. By contrast, lesbian acts of homosexuality were never explicitly covered in any legislation (presumably because these laws were written by men and assumed a male perspective?). A Bill was introduced in 1921 to include women but was rejected on the basis that it might encourage women to explore homosexuality.
Leading into WWI, the Eulenburg Affair of 1907-09 was considered the biggest scandal of the Imperial German Empire with Prince Eulenburg being tried for homosexuality, and the resulting drawn out scandals meant that many in England associated homosexuality with being German. This was exacerbated in 1918 when “The Forty-Seven Thousand” was published by homophobic British politician Noel Pemberton Billing, purporting to be a list of 47,000 English men and women whose sexual “weakness” made them targets for German spies. In France, asking someone “Parlez-vous allemand?” – “Do you speak German?” helped queer people identify each other. All of this meant that being gay was seen as unpatriotic in a war against Germany. On the plus side, because of the general illegality of homosexuality, the British Army had no regulations preventing this type of affair until 1955 (a ban which held until 2000).
Changes took a long time. The Wolfenden Report of 1957 recommended removing that homosexual acts between consenting adults in private should no longer be illegal, and this was finally made law in 1967 with the Sexual Offenses Act. It wasn’t until 2004 that the Civil Partnerships Act allow same-sex couples to enter into legally binding arrangements, and in 2013, England passed the Same Sex Marriage Act.
Maurice by EM Forster was written in 1914 and is considered a subversive text because the main character Maurice gets a romantic happy ending with Alec. The book wasn’t published until 1971, however, it and many others most certainly existed.
Strafe – the Germans had a poster which said ‘Strafe England’ or ‘Punish England’ and the English speaking soldiers took the word strafe and used it to describe the way a machine gun cuts down a regiment of soldiers.
Goggle-eyed booger with a tit – gas mask
Dutch courage - "boldness inspired by intoxicating spirits" (1809)
The term "phantom limb" was first coined by American neurologist Silas Weir Mitchell in 1871, although the concept dates back to 1551.
Polio has been mostly eradicated by vaccination, with only 137 new cases in 2018, and only 5 cases in 1,000 will develop paralysis, however, the vaccine was hugely popular when it was first released with people lining up in the streets to get theirs because the long term devastation on the people who had the worst cases of polio were well known.
In 1914, the Army paid an average of £45 for a cavalry horse (2018 £5,100), while after the war in 1919, the going price for a horse “fit for work” was £36 (2018 £1,800). Source: Theirs not to reason why, by Graham Winton.
Sceptre became the highest priced Thoroughbred yearling when she sold for 10,000 guineas in 1900 (a record that stood for at least 20 years). One guinea = £1.05, and 10,000 guineas equates to £1.2million in 2018. Source: The Autobiography of Robert Standish Sievier, by R Sievier. Published 1905. Overby Christmas is a fictional daughter of Sceptre, although the other pedigree notes in this novella are real.