Once a Soldier, Always a Soldier
by Ann Chaney
November 15, 2022
Of all the topics for our 2022 Windtree blogposts, this week’s is personal to me. I served in the US Army for seven years. The daily life of a soldier revolves around their chosen occupation and continual training in preparation for combat.
I served on active duty in the 80’s (telling my age) in what was then West Germany. While I wore camouflage clothing every day, I seldom left my office. For three years, I was an administrative assistant to first a battalion commander and then to a brigade commander. I was lucky to have worked for officers who trusted me to do my job. Under their guidance, I learned how to develop and manage large projects. That skill served me well when I left the Army and rejoined the civilian world.
Fast forward to 2013, I decided it was time to stop talking and write a book. Really my husband (retired from the Army) is the one who said “It’s time to write that book.” As with everything in my life, I wouldn’t be where I am today without John’s encouragement.
I spent quite a bit of time mulling over what sort of story I wanted to tell. Yes, a love story set in 19th century England with a happily ever after was first and foremost, but I wanted to bring the soldiers and camp followers who lived and died during the Peninsular Wars.
My first book of the Lords of Whitehall series, Dangerous Pursuit, is the story of Viscount Richard Weatherington and Lady Serena Preston. The couple, childhood friends, chase after an assassin intent on killing General Wellesley while fighting the simmering attraction they feel for each other. A military courier escorts them to Wellesley’s enclave. The sergeant’s easy-going manner gives the pair a chance to rediscover their friendship and let go of their past misunderstandings.
Dangerous Liaison, my second book of that series, takes place in London and the English countryside. No battlefields. For this book, I wrote about an aide-de-camp to Wellesley who is a spy.
The Earl of Moreham, the spymaster of the Lords of Whitehall, has stepped away from Society to deal with the enemies of the Crown on English soil. Moreham is focused on exposing those who want to overthrow the King’s government.
His agents, all friends from his days at Eton, watch as a duke’s beautiful ward pushes her way into the earl’s latest mission… the investigation of her guardian for treason.
My third book of the series will be published in early 2023, Dangerous Illusions. The setting is once again London as the Lords of Whitehall work with a traitor’s sister to identify the members of a clandestine group of peers in cahoots with the French secret police.
I’m also working on a book about a British calvary captain who survived the March of Death across the northern Spanish mountains in December of 1808 to the port of Corunna. The injured captain, separated from his batman and horse, sails for England to a wife who believed him when he said he would never come home. The couple set out to clear his name of dishonor and to find the batman and horse.
My intent is to show that soldiers regardless of the century or battlefield are all the same. Men, and now women, have families and friends who they miss. I spent six years in Germany. Six birthdays, every holiday, and I gave birth to our son there. Soldiers are resilient. We create our own soldier families and celebrations. We were still homesick, but for a few hours we laughed and enjoyed the day.
The next time you see a soldier or someone wearing a baseball cap with their unit or ship designation, remember your kind words “Thank you for your service” covers a lot of ground.
To my fellow veterans, “Happy Veterans Day”.
Ann Chaney writes historical romance novels set in Regency England in the early 19th century. A nomad, a volunteer, a dreamer and an obsessive organizer best describe Ann Chaney. In the last 36 years, she and her husband have moved eleven times. Her professional career included serving on active duty in the US Army for seven years and working 30 years in various administrative roles in primarily Human Resources and university administration. Her first book, Dangerous Pursuit won the 2016 Historical Unpublished category Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery & Suspense. In 2019 the book was designated as a finalist for RWA’s 2019 Golden Heart contest.