Delia Parr: Matters of the Heart
Award-winning historical romance author Delia Parr returns with Hidden Affections, set in the lush outskirts of 1830s Philadelphia. The new novel, a tale of an unlikely couple desperate not to fall in love, takes readers deep into the matters of the human heart and the unexpected places that love and acceptance can be found.
1. Where did you get the idea for Hidden Affections?
Actually, I have to give credit to my agent who challenged me to start a story where the
hero and heroine are handcuffed together. Talk about a great way to stir the
imagination! I let the idea percolate for a while before I decided to have the heroine,
Annabelle, and the hero, Harrison, traveling by stage together when robbers strike. To
add insult to injury, the thieves handcuff the two of them to the stagecoach and make
their escape, leaving poor Annabelle in a very compromising situation with a man she
2. Did you face any interesting challenges while researching Hidden Affections?
Before I started writing the book, I really didn’t know much about modern handcuffs,
let alone handcuffs that might have existed in the early nineteenth century. I was
surprised by the amount of information available on the internet, but the willingness of
handcuff collectors and experts to share their knowledge with me was even more
amazing. Even so, it’s one thing to have information, but quite another to actually figure
out how those handcuffs worked and how to get my hero and heroine out of them!
Fortunately, I have a friend who is a police officer who helped me to get it all straight.
3. Does Hidden Affections have any underlying message?
The message that resounds through the entire book is that regardless of how bleak our
life is or how overwhelming our problems appear to be, we are never alone. Poor
Annabelle thought her life couldn’t possibly get worse when her husband returned from
a business trip and announced he had divorced her and left her penniless—until she
ended up being forced to marry a virtual stranger. The only thing that she had to hold
onto was her faith. Harrison, on the other hand, had abandoned his faith years ago, and
when he is forced to marry Annabelle, he is convinced God has completely abandoned
him. It is only through witnessing his new wife’s faith that he finds the courage to find
his way back to God—and that’s when he discovers that he was never truly alone at all. I
think readers will really be able to relate to that message because faith is not always easy,
especially when one trouble after another lands on their doorsteps, just like it does on
4. Almost every author puts a little of themselves into their stories—what did you put
of yourself into this one?
Like Annabelle, I much prefer living outside of the city, but I do like visiting the city
from time to time so I have the best of both worlds. That’s why I had Annabelle living
on a country estate right outside of Philadelphia and gave her the opportunity to travel
to the city from time to time. She’s also a woman who needs to keep busy, just like I do,
but she has one talent I find impossible to develop: She loves to knit! She’s also a
teacher, and I’ve been a high school teacher now for over 24 years, and I can imagine
how she felt when she had to give up her profession since only single women were
permitted to teach at that time.
5. What stands out about your characters? Are any of them similar to characters in your other books?
In almost all of my books, I have an older woman who mentors the heroine, and Hidden Affections is no
exception. I did, however, add a twist and this time, the older woman, Irene, does double duty. She is Harrison’s
housekeeper and she’s been his mentor for years, although he sees her more as his “tormentor.” Helping Irene
develop a close relationship with Annabelle, too, was a bit of a challenge, only because she had to be loyal to both
of them now. And of course, I always have a special animal in my stories. This time, readers will get to meet Jonah
the poor little squirrel who barely managed to escape from the clutches of a very hungry hawk.