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Take it away, Regan...My newest historical romance, To Tame the Wind, is set in 1782, the last year of the American Revolution, however, it does not take place in America. Rather, it takes place in Paris and London and the waters of the English Channel. As such, it brings to the fore a part of the war not often focused on: the incredible contribution of France to American’s victory. And key to that contribution was Benjamin Franklin.
Living in Passy, just outside of Paris in a wing of a mansion provided by Jacques-Conatien Le Ray de Chaumont, Franklin learned the language and displayed an uncanny knack for politics and persuasion, which led scholar Leo Lemay to call Franklin "the most essential and successful American diplomat of all time."
The alliance between France and America negotiated by Franklin was signed on February 6, 1778. Titled the Franco-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce, it provided for France’s open support of America’s claim of independence.
The French had three goals: to help the Americans win their independence; to expel the British from the West Indies where France held many profitable, sugar-producing islands; and to compel the British to concentrate the majority of their naval strength in the English Channel. Both the French and British tried to secure Franklin’s favor. The British eventually sought reconciliation and peace; the French sought an alliance and war. The French won enabling Franklin to pursue America’s victory. Not surprisingly, in March of 1778, Britain declared war on France.
France had made a brave move, entering into a treaty in defiance of a power with whom they were not at war for the sake of creating a republic that might one day devour Europe. The decision was not an easy one, but, sighed the French Prime Minister, Franklin had skillfully led them all by the nose. His personality and love of creature comforts were admired by the French, even indulged.
Franklin’s ally in all this was the French Foreign Minister, Charles Gravier, comte de Vergennes. Both Franklin and Vergennes endured the harsh criticism of John Adams. As Thomas Jefferson described Adams’ feelings, “He hates Franklin, he hates John Jay, he hates the French, he hates the English.” Adams could criticize Franklin all he liked, but in the end, it was Franklin who secured the money to keep America going.
|Charles Gravier, comte de Vergennes|
In all, France contributed about 1.3 billion livres (in modern currency, approximately thirteen billion dollars) to support the Americans, and this didn’t include what France spent fighting Britain on land and sea outside America. According to Franklin, our wily commissioner in Paris, at one point while France was having difficulty meeting its own expenses, it advanced “six millions to save the credit of ours.”
In addition to securing aid, Franklin worked tirelessly to gain the freedom of American prisoners in England. They were treated abysmally by the English and died at an appalling rate. (You’ll meet one handsome American privateer captain taken captive in To Tame the Wind.)
Franklin also issued letters of marque to three vessels that became American privateers: the Black Prince, the Black Princess and the Fearnot. In my story, he issues one to the heroine’s father, a French pirate named Jean Donet. Like Donet’s fictional ship, La Reine Noire (the Black Queen), the ships receiving Franklin’s letters of marque were French-owned but unlike Jean Donet’s ship, they had American captains and Irish and American crews.
|The fictional La Reine Noire|
To Tame the Wind by Regan Walker
Publication Date: May 9, 2015 |CreateSpace |eBook; 294p
Series: Agents of the Crown (Prequel)
Genre: Historical Romance
Paris 1782…AN INNOCENT IS TAKEN
All Claire Donet knew was the world inside the convent walls in Saint-Denis. She had no idea her beloved papa was a pirate. But when he seized Simon Powell's schooner, the English privateer decided to take the one thing his enemy held most dear... her.
A BATTLE IS JOINED
The waters between France and England roil with the clashes of Claire's father and her captor as the last year of the American Revolution rages on the sea, spies lurk in Paris and Claire’s passion for the English captain rises.
Praise“A sea adventure like no other, a riveting romance!” -NY Times bestselling author Shirlee Busbee
“Another exciting historical romance from Regan Walker” –NY Times Bestselling Author Virginia Henley
“I was hooked from the first page! Political intrigue, a bit of mystery and a beautifully developed romance that swept me from Paris to London and to the waters of the English Channel! Very, very, very well done!” –The Reading Cafe
website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
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Spotlight at Passages to the Past
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Guest Post at Passages to the Past