Christmas under the Sugar Sun

Click the image below for a peek into the world of the Sugar Sun series. Experience the daigon, or Christmas pageant, with Javier and Georgina of Under the Sugar Sun. The link will take you to Instafreebie, where you can download chapter 29 of the novel in the format of your choice.

Happy holidays, everyone! Maligayang Pasko!

Christmas daigon Under the Sugar Sun by author Jennifer Hallock in Sugar Sun series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

And have you signed up for the Sugar Sun newsletter yet? The holiday wrap-up is coming soon. Make sure to get all the latest updates on Sugar Moon by registering here!

newsletter for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Thanksgiving Over There in the Philippine-American War

I spent many Thanksgivings in the Philippines, and it was great. We had some fun parties, including one at our farm. The only drawbacks were that it was a normal workday for me, and I did not get to watch football live all day long. This year I have a little time off: my exams are graded and student comments written, so wheeeee! And, like in recent years, we will celebrate “Friendsgiving” in New England with two vegetarians. Meh, I’m not big into Turkey, anyway, so I’ll take it.

Thanksgiving 30th US volunteers Philippine-American War by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.
30TH VOLUNTEER INFANTRY REGIMENT: Thanksgiving dinner for the men of Company “D”, 30th Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the outer Manila trenches at Pasay. The photo was taken on November 24, 1899 and shows the men sitting down to their meal laid out on a long bamboo table protected from the hot sun by a canvas awning. The Soldiers from Company “D” are wearing their blue Army service shirts and campaign hats. Some of the men wear a special red kerchief around their necks, which later became a hallmark of the regiment and earned them the nickname, “The men in the crimsom scarves.” Company D was lead by Captain Kenneth M. Burr throughout their tour in the Philippine Islands. Photo and caption uploaded by Scott Slaten on the Philippine-American War Facebook Group.

What would it have been like in November 1899, though, just as the Philippine-American War was moving from conventional conflict to guerrilla war? Yes, the American military had more men, more guns (though not necessarily better ones), and more bullets. And without General Antonio Luna, who had recently been assassinated, the Philippine forces lost one of its greatest strategists. But Aguinaldo made the decision to disband his forces for an unconventional conflict, and that gave the Filipino revolutionaries a new edge. For the American troops, they had to realize they might not be going home anytime soon.

While I have the advantage of hindsight and can easily say that I do not support America’s imperialist cause in this war, none of that changes history. I wonder what was going through these young men’s minds on this day. Thanks to the Philippine-American War Facebook group, and especially Scott Slaten, for posting these photos. If you are interested in this war at all, you really should follow this group. It’s free, the discussions are strident, and the photos are amazing.

Thanksgiving 30th US volunteers Philippine-American War by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.
30th INFANTRY REGIMENT, USV – Thanksgiving Day at Pasay, outer Manila trenches with the 2nd Section, Company G, 30th Infantry Regiment USV, November 1899. The photo shows the men with their Krag rifles stacked on the street of their small camp. Note the sign for the 2nd Section in the middle of the photograph. Photo and caption uploaded by Scott Slaten on the Philippine-American War Facebook Group.

These photos are also nice reminders that even in war, people celebrate holidays and birthdays. They even fall in love. (That’s where we historical romance authors come in, as Beverly Jenkins so often reminds us.) But what these men’s families wanted to know was not whether they were having a good time, but when they would be coming home. They would not get their answer for another whole year:

From the November 22, 1900, edition of the Washington Post.

Since most of these soldiers had originally volunteered for what they had thought was a brief war in Cuba, this was probably a relief. Some did re-enlist as regulars, though, which meant a much longer commitment.

For your Sugar Sun readers out there, here’s a little Thanksgiving tidbit for you: Pilar Altarejos, daughter of Javier and Georgina, was born on Thanksgiving 1903. I thought that was appropriate. The couple could be thankful for being together— how romantic!—and I thought it would get Javier’s nationalist back up a little. (Yes, I’m terrible.)

Hopefully, wherever you are, I hope you have a great week. The best thing about this holiday is the reminder to be grateful for something. I am grateful for so many things, but I want to add you, my readers, to that list. Thank you for reading and for following the Altarejos clan through all its ups and downs. More adventures in love will be coming, I promise!

NaNoWriMo to finish Sugar Moon part of the Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Sugar Sun extras: A complete list

When I was writing Under the Sugar Sun, I imagined annotating it with all sorts of fake documents: telegrams, ledgers, even Javier’s high school report card from Seminario-Colegio de San Carlos! Yep. Apparently, I thought that needed to happen.

I was looking through these documents the other day, bemoaning how much time I wasted making them, and then realized: I have a website. Junk is what the web is for, right? So, here you go: Sugar Sun extras! Enjoy.

Extras for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Extras for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Extras for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Extras for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Extras for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

I hope you enjoy the little tour into my obsessive brain. Thanks for reading!

Sugar Sun extras: The Altarejos and Romero family trees

Altarejos family tree for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

While I was drafting Under the Sugar Sun, I made character sketches and background briefers on the whole Altarejos and Romero family tree. Before I even knew the end of my book, I knew who this family was.

Altarejos family tree for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Let’s look at Javier’s household a little more closely, in the center lower portion of the family tree. Wait, you’re thinking, isn’t Javier an only child? If you remember, he is the only surviving child. Lourdes’s other three died at birth or in infancy—a tragedy that would have been all too common at this time. In Sugar Moon, we learn a little more:

The last delivery had been so traumatic that it almost killed the doña, too. Left with only one healthy son for all her effort, Lourdes had spoiled him with indiscriminate love until young Javier was hustled off to boarding school to grow up. When Javier returned home for his first vacation, he found a new little “sister” in the bedroom next to his.

That “little sister” is really his cousin, Allegra, the heroine of Sugar Moon. Her true story is not really even on this tree:

Altarejos family tree for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Early in Under the Sugar Sun, while Javier was flirting with Georgina at the Luneta, he explained that Allegra’s real father was a Spanish friar:

“My aunt never made a public accusation, of course. And my grandparents managed to marry their daughter off to a respectable, if not terribly intelligent, man. Unfortunately, even he could add. My aunt named the baby Allegra, hoping her husband would believe the child a miracle of rapid gestation. As you might imagine, their marriage was not a happy one.”

In fact, the marriage was so unhappy that Allegra’s mother, Raquel, ran off with a Spanish soldier. Horatio Alazas returned the child that wasn’t his to the Romeros—he had given Allegra a last name, and he believed his duty done. Lourdes took her sister’s child as her own, and that is how Allie ended up at Hacienda Altarejos. This whole backstory was inspired by a real Filipina friend of mine who raised not only her sister’s children, but one of their children, as well. Anything for family.

Altarejos family tree for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

And then, of course, we have Padre Andrés. In Tempting Hymn it explains:

The biggest secret of the Altarejos clan, though, stood at the front of the nave: Padre Andrés was the late patriarch’s bastard son. Since the priest’s legitimacy was never openly questioned, neither was his ordination—but no one who looked at Don Javier and Padre Andrés side-by-side could miss the fact that they were brothers.

More about Andrés’s family will be coming in the upcoming Sugar Communion (expected 2018). I know this is eagerly anticipated by a few readers. I promise that I’m working on it!

Altarejos family tree for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

One day I might tell more about Lourdes and Lázaro’s marriage, but suffice it to say that Lázaro Altarejos came by adultery honestly. From Under the Sugar Sun:

[Javier] sat in the heavy wooden chair in his office and examined a painted miniature of his grandfather, the first Altarejos hacendero—though Altarejos was not even the Spaniard’s true name. When Capitan Hilario Vélez y Perales resigned his Army commission in Manila, he had balked at the idea of returning to his sowish wife and homely children in rural Altarejos, Spain, so he reinvented himself as an eligible feudal lord on the new frontier of sugar. Hilario “de Altarejos” eventually dropped the preposition from his nickname, won himself a thousand acres of virgin soil for saving the life of the alcalde-mayor, “married” a lovely mestiza who never knew that she was only a mistress, and planted himself a legacy.

That’s the Altarejos clan. Soon I will be making family trees for Javier and Georgina’s children…and more! I can’t wait.

Extras for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Sugar Sun extras: Georgina’s search for Ben

When I started my research for Under the Sugar Sun, I spent a lot of time in the microfiche room at Ateneo de Manila looking through the Manila Times. At first, I did not know what I was looking for. Inspiration, I suppose—and I found it in a real article entitled, “Sister Hunting for Brother: His Name Is E.L. Evans and He Is Supposed to Be in the Philippines.” The sister’s letter had been mis-delivered, and the recipient sent it on to the newspaper as a last-ditch effort to find the missing brother. And thus the Ben Potter and Balangiga story line was born. (And I know you don’t like him yet. You are not supposed to. But just wait. Sugar Moon is coming, and I think Ben will change your mind.)

Back in 2011, I rewrote the original article for Georgina and Ben. Yes, I was writing the book that long.

Georgina search Ben Potter in Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Now, you cannot totally blame Georgie for being worried. These were the real headlines from the Boston Daily Globe about what happened to his unit:

Disaster in Samar. American Troops Surprised at Balangiga. Forty Officers and Men Killed by Insurgents. Company C 9th Attacked While at Breakfast.

Death List. Names of Those Lost at Balangiga, Samar. Five of the Number Went from Boston to Philippines. Thirty-Five Killed and Died of Wounds. Eight Missing.

Nine Boston Men. Seven of Them Were Enlisted Men, and It Is Feared They were All Among the Lost at Balangiga.

Wounded at Balangiga: Boston Loses One More.

Enlisted men’s families were not sent a telegram when their loved ones died. Only officers’ next of kin were offered that peace of mind. Georgie would have combed these articles and found all sorts of discrepancies, as you can read above. This is based on the truth. When I compared the newspaper lists against the Company C roster, there were lots and lots of errors. Even the early Army reports had errors—no surprise, since they were the ones who gave names to the reporters. It was enough to drive a confused family crazy.

And it did not help to read letters like the one below. This is a real letter by a private at Balangiga who, before he died, wrote to his family in Boston about the worsening conditions of his unit. His family let the newspaper print the letter in full, and I can just imagine what Georgina and her mother thought. I recreated the article so that I could edit it down to its most salient points, but it is taken from a real article on this date and in this newspaper.

Sister-Seeking-Brother-Manila-Times-Revised

This letter really defines Georgina’s obsession with finding and, ultimately, returning her brother to Boston. She didn’t know she was a romance heroine, after all. She thought her life more Gothic-style mystery, I suppose. But she will figure out the truth—after a calesa ride or two!

Extras for Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series by author Jennifer Hallock. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.