Of all the novels I’ve written so far and all of the research I’ve done for these novels (and believe me, I’ve done a lot!), by far the most fascinating discoveries I made were when I began researching the lives of Native Americans after the “Cowboys and Indians” era for In Your Arms. The entire Montana Romance series takes place in a fictitious town in western Montana near the mountains—an area that is rich in Native American history and culture. I wanted to show as much of that culture as I could within the context of a romance.
What surprised me the most was not how shamefully the Native American population was treated. I knew that as Americans of European descent moved west they displaced the native peoples, forcing them to live on reservations or to give up their lifestyles completely. I knew the long, sad story behind the near decimation of that culture. All of these things are what inspired me to tell Lily’s story in the first place.
What I didn’t realize was how bittersweet the efforts of missionaries and well-meaning but misguided people were. I knew that I wanted my heroine, Lily, to have been taken from her tribe as a small child and raised in one of the many Indian schools that popped up back east. I knew a little bit about the Indian schools, but the reasons why they were built, the goals that they had, and the results of their efforts was even more heartening and heartbreaking than I had imagined.
The white Americans who founded, funded, and ran the Indian schools were coming from a place of genuine charity, thoughtfulness, and good intentions. They were moved by the plight of the Native Americans and wanted to help them. The problem was that what they saw as helping them—educating Native American children in European ways, removing all signs of the culture they were born into and making them look like white people, and training them for ‘useful employment in society’—was, in fact, destroying their cultural identity. It truly was a case of the path to hell being paved with good intentions.
It was bittersweet to learn about what happened to the thousands of children who went through these schools. Many of them did go on to successful careers in the white man’s world. Many became teachers, like Lily. But also like Lily as I have portrayed her, they lost all ties with who they were. They were turned out into the world in a cultural limbo, no longer fitting in with their past but never completely accepted by the ‘civilized’ world they were trained for. The result was a generation of people left with huge psychological scars. Those scars also extended to the older generation, whose children, whose future was taken from them.
It’s heavy stuff for a romance novel! But at the same time, I was driven to tell this story. Ultimately, In Your Arms is a story about finding love and finding where you belong when everything has been taken from you. It is a story about hope and the ability of love to overcome even the most tragic barriers. It is my deepest hope that I have remembered the young men and women on both sides who endured this painful chapter of our history and that I have done them justice.
In Your Arms is the third full-length novel in Merry Farmer's sweeping, engaging, and extremely historically accurate Montana Romance series. Never one to shy away from difficult or controversial topics while still imbuing her tales with more than a dash of romance and steam, Merry depicts a tale of love, trust, and stubborness against the backdrop of the turn-of-the-century American frontier. "[In Your Arms is] a book that intelligently tackles racial tensions of post-Civil War era...a highly engaging romance between two fiery-spirited individuals...I highly recommend this book to all fans of historical romance." --Mary Chen, Amazon reviewer Get In Your Arms on Amazon, Amazon UK, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks. Add In Your Arms to your Goodreads to-read shelf!