Real Life Love

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! All the leftovers here have been consumed, and I spent far too much money online for Christmas presents–both for my family and for myself. Most of these were books of course, because books make stupendous holiday gifts!

My own new book, Duchess of Sin, is out now (shipping today from Amazon!), and I’m setting out on a blog tour (see the dates here on my blog!). I’m so proud to see Anna and Conlan’s story on the shelves now, as they had to work so hard to find their HEA.

I had lots of inspirations for this “Daughters of Erin” series, and one was my love of non-fiction about historical marriages. I can’t seem to get enough of reading about how couples of the past, whether middle-class sorts like Jane Austen’s family or the nobility, made their relationships work–or not work, as the case may be! There are certainly some spectacular failures in marital history (hello, Prinny and Caroline!). I like to imagine how my own characters will build a life together.

I recently read two books about just such couples. Couples who really had almost nothing in common with each other, except that both wives were unusually strong women and both couples were very much in love. Also they lived through times of immense conflict.

The first was Joseph J. Ellis’s First Family: Abigail and John Adams. Ellis calls them the “premier husband and wife team in all American history” and for 54 years they were lovers and friends, real partners, through very turbulent times. I love the Adamses–theirs was an enviable marriage, and I like to imagine my Anna and Conlan end up something like them, working together in everything and always passionate about each other!

The other was Katie Whitaker’s A Royal Passion about Charles I and Henrietta Maria. Unlike the Adamses, this was an arranged marriage that didn’t start all that well. But it grew into a passionate and devoted marriage. A partnership that ended in disaster, but was fiercely united. Whitaker says that this marriage was both Charles’s greatest strength and greatest weakness. I highly recommend both books!

So, what are your favorite historical couples? Do you find inspiration (or warning!) in their stories??

About Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

Writer (as Amanda McCabe, Laurel McKee, Amanda Carmack), history geek, yoga enthusiast, pet owner!
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Susanna Fraser
11 years ago

I actually had to think for a bit to come up with examples of GOOD historical marriages. The tragically or comically mismatched are all too common.

The first good story that came to mind for me is Michel and Aglae Ney’s. They look like a total mismatch on paper–he was quite a bit older and was one of the risen-from-the-ranks Napoleonic marshals while she was old French aristocracy. But as far as I can tell theirs was a love match, and an island of stability and sanity for them in the turbulent times they lived through.

11 years ago

John and Abigail Adams have been my favorites for years. Thanks for the heads up on the book!

11 years ago

I think I would have to choose Llewellyn Fawr and Joanna. Llewellyn married the much younger Joanna who was the daughter of his enemy King John. Parts of their marriage was rocky, but the story is beautiful. I first read about it in Sharon Kay Penman’s historical fiction novel Here Be Dragons (I highly recommend it).

I also always liked the Madisons, but I don’t think as much is written about them as the Adams.

Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

Susanna, it is MUCH easier to think of bad historical marriages than good ones, I’m afraid! 🙂 Maybe I’ll have to do a post on historic marital disasters too. But I’ve always been a big fan of John and Abigail Adams, and envious of their great partnership (even more so after watching the HBO miniseries!)

Rachel, I love Dolley Madison as well! And from what I’ve read she and James Madison had a very prosperous marriage. I think the Adamses just left behind more letters than any other Founding Couple (almost 2000!) and so are well-known

Isobel Carr
11 years ago

Do we have you scheduled for History Hoydens? If not, I’d love to host you if you want to come talk about your fantastic new book!

Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

Isobel, I’d love to visit! Email me ( and we’ll find a date 🙂

Louisa Cornell
11 years ago

John and Abigail Adams have always had a special place in my heart. I read a biography of Abigail about 15 years ago and she really was an amazing woman. Their love story is one for the ages.

11 years ago

Have any of you read the mystery book involving John and Abigail Adams? First one is The Ninth Daughter.

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

Oh, gosh. There is still so much to learn about history.

I can’t think of any happy historical marriages…

Some unhappy ones–
Wellington and Kitty
Georgiana and the Duke of Devonshire
Byron and Annabella

11 years ago

Didn’t John and Sarah Churchill have a happy marriage? Not sure about that, but throw it out there for those who know more about the subject than I to say whether or not it is so.

Much earlier, but I believe William Marshall and his wife Isabel also had a happy marriage.

Megan Frampton
11 years ago

I have always liked John and Abigail, too–I once played their daughter in a play.

I can’t think of other good historical marriages, off the top of my head. I guess Victoria and Albert, even tho she turned into a prissy nutjob after he died.

11 years ago

Interesting post. I now have three more books to add to my TBR list. I’ll have to consider this question. It is way to late at night and my mind is mush. Maybe latter on today I can think of a couple or two not already mentioned.