I hope you enjoy this week’s spotlight with Historical Romance author Grace Hitchcock as she shares the inspiration behind her new release, The Finding of Miss Fairfield. She’s graciously offered TWO ebook copies as giveaways. Comment below by September 6 for a chance to win!
Welcome Grace! I’m thrilled for you to share about your new book and series with my readers.
Hi Deena, thank you so much for having me today!
I’m excited to share with you all something I have been obsessed with since I was about ten years old. I blame Judy Garland, from whose musical I first discovered a little-known slice of American history, the Harvey Girls. From there, I went on to devour every novel I could find on the Harvey Girls, including a pile of research books which led to my latest series, Aprons & Veils.
Now, whenever I tell people I am writing about a Victorian Harvey Girl romance, they usually assume the Harvey Girls are associated with an old-time saloon, but nothing could be further from the truth. In the 1890s, there were not many respectable jobs for women, so when Englishman Fred Harvey created his chain of fine dining restaurants along the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe railroads, single women without an education, or in need of earning their own way, were given a chance to earn an honest wage without the speculation that they offered anything else but food as a service.
With Mr. Harvey’s strict rules about the waitress’s code of conduct, the women were given their independence while still maintaining their good name and place in society under the protective, fatherly arm of Fred Harvey. These extraordinary, brave women became known as the Harvey Girls, the ladies who tamed the Wild West with fine china, good pie, and exceptional service with complete propriety.
While Harvey Houses were built to serve the needs of the passengers on the rail to encourage tourism in the west, the railroad workers and local townsmen also dined at the restaurant, but usually at the lunch counter. At a time when men filled towns and women were scarce, inevitably, a railroad worker or townsman would express interest in marrying a Harvey Girl. In order to marry, she would need to fulfill her work contract or risk paying a fine of a month of salary. The fine was set in place to ensure that Fred Harvey would have enough workers and that he wouldn’t simply train a girl to have her shipped to a town of bachelors and leave him without a waitress.
As you can probably tell, such a set up sends an author’s head to spinning with all the romance that could come from a woman venturing out on her own in a land filled with cowboys, bandits, ranchers, and farmers. The possibilities for romance are endless! There is so much more I could write about these fascinating ladies and their contributions to society, but I hope you enjoyed this taste of history on the Harvey Girls!
Please be sure to check out book one in my brand-new Harvey Girl series set at the historical Hotel Castañeda, The Finding of Miss Fairfield, a tale about Charleston socialite who is on the run from an engagement of convenience.
Happy reading, friends!
Thanks so much for sharing with us this week, Grace. I’ve never heard of the Harvey Girls, and I’m intrigued by your explanation! Can’t wait to read your books. Blessings to you!
Join the conversation. Have you ever heard of the Harvey Girls? Does a novel based on them intrigue you? Are you a fan of Victorian romance? What questions and comments do you have for Grace?
Keep scrolling to find the comments section.
The Finding of Miss Fairfield by Grace Hitchcock
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When an engagement of convenience becomes anything but convenient . . .
Forced into a betrothal with a widower twice her age, Charleston socialite, Sophia Fairfield is desperate for an escape. But, while her fiancé is away on business, he assigns his handsome stepson, Carver, the task of looking after his bride-to-be. Much to her dismay, Sophia finds herself falling in love with the wrong gentleman—a man society would never allow her to marry, given Sophia was supposed to be his new stepmother. The only way to save Carver from scandal and financial ruin is to run away, leaving him and all else behind to become a Harvey Girl waitress at the Castañeda Hotel in New Mexico.
Carver Ashton has had his life planned out for him since birth, but when he encounters Sophia Fairfield, he glimpses a new life—apart from his overbearing stepfather’s business. But, when the woman he loves disappears before he can express his devotion, Carver abandons all to find her. However, his stepfather has other intentions for Sophia and will stop at nothing until she is his bride . . . even if it is against her will.
Grace Hitchcock is the award-winning author of multiple historical novels and novellas. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in History. Grace lives in the New Orleans area with her husband, Dakota, sons, and daughter. Connect with her online at GraceHitchcock.com.
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If you missed Carol James’s spotlight last week, find it here.