Part 2 of an Interview with Erica Vetsch,
Author of The Lost Lieutenant
Who doesn’t need to be swept away to another place and time every now and then? After all, there’s never a bad time for a good story. For readers ready to take a trip back to early nineteenth-century England, The Lost Lieutenant (Kregel Publications) by Erica Vetsch is a perfect means of transport.
The first release in Vetsch’s Serendipity & Secrets series, The Lost Lieutenant tells the story of Evan Eldridge and Diana Seaton. Evan never set out to be a war hero—he just wanted to fight Napoleon for the future of his country. After being injured while saving another man on the battlefield, all he really wants is to get back to his regiment. Instead, his act of bravery leads to him being made the Earl of Whitelock. When the life you save is dear to the Prince Regent, things can change in a hurry, and you don’t say no to the Prince Regent.
Lady Diana Seaton has little say over anything in her life. She finds herself in an untenable position trying to keep her promise to her deceased sister while also obeying her controlling father. It’s debutant season in London, and Diana’s father intends to marry her off to the man of his choosing—one who will go along with his less than honorable plans. She finds herself between the proverbial rock and a hard place. When the Prince Regent steps in with a plan all his own, the members of the Seaton family must fall in line, because it’s worth repeating, you don’t say no to the Prince Regent. Will the arranged marriage to the new Earl of Whitelock make matters better or worse for Diana?
Vetsch shares more on the themes of The Lost Lieutenant in the following interview.
Q: In what situations do your characters find themselves at the beginning of the story?
Diana is in the untenable position of trying to keep her promise to her deceased sister while also obeying her controlling father. Is it permissible to lie if your motives are pure? Her father is forcing her to go to London for the Season so he can marry her off to the suitor of his choosing, and Diana is torn between what she promised to do and what her father is forcing her to do.
Evan is recovering in the hospital after being wounded in battle and shipped home from the Peninsular War. All he wants is to return to his regiment, but the Prince Regent has other plans. Evan is made a peer of the realm, and his hopes of returning to military duty go up in smoke.
Q: Diana and Evan both find themselves caught in circumstances beyond their control. How do they each handle themselves?
I think they each arrive at the same conclusion, that God is sovereign and God is good, but by different routes. Diana is used to being bossed and coerced by her domineering father, and she has less trouble with God’s sovereignty and more issue with whether God is good to someone like her—someone who keeps secrets and lies, even though she means well.
Evan continually wonders if God really intends him to be an earl, to have a wife, to abandon the life and career he built for himself. And if so, now what?
Through their circumstances, and through learning to love one another, each teaches the other the truth about God that they know, and they also discover a few truths together.
Q: What lessons in loyalty and responsibility can we learn that would benefit us in today’s culture?
Loyalty is an underlying theme. Evan is loyal to his regiment and other soldiers who had suffered injuries in battle. I especially like the relationship between Evan and his former sergeant, Shand. They’re loyal to one another, and Shand is the voice of reason and wisdom that Evan needs from time to time. Though Evan doesn’t realize it, especially at first, he is a natural leader, for whom responsibilities are a part of life. He feels the weight of them, but that doesn’t keep him from assuming them.
Diana’s responsibility is to her sister’s child, the child she promised to raise as her own, and she’s willing to go to great lengths to protect him. She’s loyal to her sister’s memory and, as a result, lavishes love on her sister’s child. Her loyalty creates her feelings of responsibility, and she doesn’t shirk her duty, and in fact embraces it.
Q: Evan never planned nor wanted the title and position he was given. What did he learn about nobility along the way?
Evan is slow to embrace his new title and position because he feels he was given them under false pretenses. He cannot remember what he did to earn them, and he’s fearful that someone will find out about his amnesia and his post-traumatic stress and consider him insane.
He considers much of what is “required” as aristocratic behavior to be either idle, empty action or downright wrong. He’s not even sure he wants to be considered part of the nobility.
In the end, Evan learns that nobility isn’t about the title you bear but the actions you show. Along the way, he’s got several helpers, especially Diana, who show him this truth.
Q: Is there a spiritual takeaway that you hope will resonate with readers?
There’s not one specific takeaway or “lesson” I had in mind for readers. I love that through the power of story, God can use what we write and reach the people He wants to reach and teach them what He has for them.
Just as every reader brings their own imagination to a story when they read it, so too they bring their faith, their history, their experiences into the spiritual thread of the story. They start from where they currently are in their faith journey, and through the power of story, they can grow that faith and maturity through exploring the spiritual arcs of the characters.
Q: Can you give us just a little tease about the next book in the series?
The Gentleman Spy is the story of Marcus, Duke of Haverly, and a crusading bluestocking named Charlotte. Readers first meet Marcus, who becomes a good friend of Evan, in The Lost Lieutenant. Marcus marries Charlotte and thinks he can relegate her to the margins of his life so he doesn’t have to change too much, but Charlotte is not one to be pushed aside and ignored.
Learn more about Erica Vetsch and her books at www.ericavetsch.com. She can also be found on Facebook (@EricaVetschAuthor), Twitter (@EricaVetsch) and Instagram (@EricaVetsch).