MY HEROINE, HOLLY KIRWAN – MARGARET TANNER
War is a terrible thing, not only for those fighting in it, but for those who wait at home for news of their loved ones. Barely a day goes by without the papers referring to casualties in Afghanistan or a couple of years go it was Iraq. Young men struck down in their prime, but what of the women they leave behind? The ones who “keep the home fires burning” as they would have said in earlier wars.
In Australia, war widows and their children receive a pension and benefits from the government, but what of their other needs? Here in Australia there is an organization known as Legacy, dedicated to the welfare of widows and children of deceased servicemen. The men do not need to have been killed in action, but must have seen active service in a war zone.
My mother was a Legacy war widow, even though my father died decades after he returned home from fighting overseas.
Legacy was started by veterans returning from the 1st World War who wanted to keep a promise to their dying comrades “look after my wife and children for me.” It is a completely voluntary organization and receives no funding from the government. Their funding comes from public donations, bequests etc. The sole aim of Legacy is the welfare of children and widows of service personnel who have died.
They do offer some monetary assistance if required, but their priority is to help the widow with tasks that her husband would have performed – home maintenance, educating and supporting the children, organizing holiday camps for children and giving practical advice on pension and other matters that the widow cannot handle on her own. Every widow and child is appointed a Legatee to look after them. A Legatee is almost always an ex-member of the defence forces who gives their time freely to help the family of their deceased comrades
Holly Kirwan is a fictional character in my novel, but she could quite easily be anyone’s daughter, sister or friend. Here is a young woman who fought against terrible tragedy and was eventually able to have a second chance at happiness.
I have to say I love all my books, (sorry about the self adulation), but my favourite would be Holly And The Millionaire, my one and only published contemporary romance. It has been published before, but after revision and updating, and a wonderful new cover, Books We Love have re-published it. It might seem strange because I call myself a historical writer, but somehow Holly got under my skin and stayed there. She was a gutsy little fighter whose soldier husband was killed in Afghanistan and left her with a toddler to bring up on her own. She didn’t let being dealt a bum hand in the game of life defeat her.
I didn’t need to do much research for Holly’s story. My youngest son has been in the army, so I obtained information from him, and the newspapers were full of the war in Afghanistan.
I actually got the idea for this novel when I was flying back to Australia from London, after visiting my oldest son who lives over there. A good deal of the story is set in Melbourne where I live. I tried to imagine how a young woman would feel, all alone with her baby, and on the run from her husband’s ruthless parents. They want the baby but not her, and they will stoop to anything to get their son’s child. How devastating and frightening that would be for Holly, especially as her husband was barely cold in his grave.
I wanted to make the hero, Justin, the opposite. Wealthy, confident, ruthless to a point, but underneath that hard exterior, a man with a heart, who falls in love with Holly and her baby, but doesn’t realize how much he cares until he almost loses them.
HOLLY AND THE MILLIONAIRE
Fleeing from her ruthless English in-laws who are intent on stealing her child, Holly Kirwan boards a flight home to Australia and meets Justin Devereux. They are instantly attracted to each other.
Justin doesn’t want a permanent woman in his life, particularly one with a baby in tow. Holly, still grieving for her soldier husband who was killed in Afghanistan, doesn’t want to be disloyal to his memory.
BLURB: MAKE LOVE NOT WAR
Make love, not war was the catch cry of the 1960’s. Against a background of anti-war demonstrations, hippies and free love, Caroline’s life is in turmoil. Her soldier brother is on his way to the jungles of Vietnam. She discovers she is pregnant with her wealthy boss’ baby, and her draft dodger friend is on the run and needs her help.