Broken Bones in the 18th Century

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Highlighting facts behind Historical Romance with Hallie Alexander and her Widow’s Guide to Scandal.

A broken ankle in the 18th Century requiring the patient to stay abed for 6-8 weeks was inconvenient at best, unless the accident causing the fracture occurred at the home of your love interest. That’s what happened to the hero in my debut historical romance, A Widow’s Guide to Scandal.

Using banter between the hero and heroine, I distracted both the reader and patient from what the physician was doing to his ankle, which was a kindness on my part. Without X-rays (discovered 1895), medical professionals, and bone-setters without formal education, had to move the limb around to listen and feel for fractures. Mostly, it was a matter of guesswork.
Once a fracture was confirmed, the bones needed to be set in place and held immobile until they healed. As plaster casts didn’t come into use until the early 1800s, physicians splinted fractured bones with wood, leather, and linen bandages stiffened with some form of a paste, often including egg whites.

For broken legs and such, the patient confined the limb to a fracture box. This contraption made of wood had three sides like an unfinished coffin. Leather straps bound it in place. Our unfortunate hero got to use one of these. However, he didn’t have to stay in bed the full 6 weeks with it because, luckily for him, he and a friend were carpenters—when they weren’t deviling the British as members of the Sons of Liberty. They built a wheeled chair (invented 1595) so he could come to the heroine’s rescue any time she needed him.

About the Book: A Widow’s Guide To Scandal

Henrietta Smith was fifteen when she stole a kiss from Marcus Hardwicke. Over a decade later, she’s still waiting to be kissed back…

Henrietta learned the hard way that you get what you pay for and it might mean you end up with a British soldier quartering in your home threatening your friends, an enormous dog tracking mud through your house and stealing the chickens, and Marcus Hardwicke disrupting your uncomplicated life by trying to improve it. And to think she just wanted her roof fixed.

Marcus, wickedly handsome carpenter and rebel rogue, fell off Henrietta’s leaking roof. He can’t leave until his broken ankle heals, giving him plenty of time to consider his past mistakes, including Henrietta’s indelible kiss from a lifetime ago. But Henrietta could lose more than her home if she doesn’t encrypt British secrets, and the latest puts Marcus in the crosshairs.
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About the Author

Hallie Alexander’s debut historical romance, A Widow’s Guide to Scandal, was published in 2020 by Soul Mate Publishing. It was a finalist in the 2019 Cleveland Rocks Romance Contest. She writes steamy, feminist American historical romances with heroines who become the heroes of their own story as their swoon-worthy partners work to deserve their love. She is a Northerner living in the South with her husband, three children, and Doodles of Mayhem™, Bruno and Willow.

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Caroline Warfield, Author

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