Karen Witemeyer has fallen in love with writing historical romance novels. “I admit it—I’m a sap,” the author says. “I love rugged heroes, charming heroes, dark heroes, wounded heroes, take-charge heroes. Oh—ahem—and the heroines, too.”
The author finds something “so alluring” about that short window of time where two people meant to share a life together discover one another and fall in love. “I’ve been married nearly 20 years and am living out my own happily-ever-after,” she says. “But I can still remember those early weeks and months when my husband courted me.”
Karen’s debut historical novel for Bethany House, A Tailor-Made Bride, revealed her talent for bringing such stories to life. Publisher’s Weekly agreed: “Witemeyer’s debut will grab fans in the historical romance crowd. She blends lively writing, storytelling prowess, and enough romance to keep readers satisfied. … Thought-provoking and entertaining faith-based fiction for sure.”
Watching old Hollywood musicals as a teen, including Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Singing in the Rain, influenced Karen’s writing choices, preferring historical-setting stories infused with light-hearted humor. “For me, there is nothing more romantic than traveling to the past,” Karen explains. “And when times are hard, like we’ve experienced over the last few years with our nation’s economy, the need to escape drives our entertainment choices. The farther one can escape, the better.”
She hopes her readers experience a world far different and less complicated than their own while reading her stories. Karen’s latest novel, Head in the Clouds, transports readers to Texas in the 1880s and blends regency romance with the American West—by bringing an English nobleman to Texas. Gideon Westcott hires Adelaide Proctor, a young woman escaping a humiliating husband-hunting debacle, as governess to his niece, Isabella.
“I wanted to write about a woman with big dreams who grows impatient when God doesn’t seem to answer her prayers,” Karen says. “The longer God is silent, the more confused and frustrated she becomes until she finally takes matters into her own hands and pursues her dreams in the way she thinks best. It’s only when she learns to wait on the Lord that He begins to work in her life to bring about blessings she never imagined.”
With degrees in Psychology, Karen utilizes her education to create unique characters in her stories. A Tailor-Made Bride includes a secondary character so chained by grief he subconsciously holds people at bay by allowing his personal hygiene to deteriorate to the point no one wants to get near him. In Head in the Clouds, little Isabella suffers from elective mutism as a result of traumatic events in her recent past. “I have no doubt my studies in psychology subconsciously influence my writing,” says Karen. “Would these characters have come about if I didn’t have a background in psychology? I don’t know. But I believe having this background gives me insight into my characters I wouldn’t have otherwise.”
Karen believes finding joy in life gives strength and endeavors to pass that on to her readers through humor. “I want action and drama, too, but if a witty turn of phrase can make me smile or a character’s reaction can elicit a chuckle loud enough for the people around me to stare, that’s even better.”—Rel Mollet