Historical Romance

I’ve always had a rocky relationship with historical romance; there are some that make me gnash my teeth and want to throw the book at the wall. First, historical romance better be accurate. It drives me crazy when me (a so-so history student at best) spots inaccuracies. Second, there are social mores and cultural practices (arranged marriages, compromised virtue) that I have a hard time dealing with, feminist that I am. While I’m aware that these things are very real parts of history, that doesn’t mean I want to read about them in romance novels. There are others that I adore (Catherine Coulter, Amanda Quick anyone?)

I want high concept historical romance. I’d like to avoid virgins b/c they play into a lot of the cultural practices that turn me off. What I’d really like are well written, well-researched stories about intriguing periods of history that feature characters caught up in the thick of events. Susan Carroll does this with her brilliant book The Dark Queen. I devoured it b/c the writing was brilliant, the story exciting and the characters memorable. I’ve been reading Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series as well. I’m about ten years behind the curve, but those books are amazing. I’m currently reading a narrative non fiction about the Medici’s called Medici money. It’s about how the Medici family made their money in trade (gasp) as a banking family before they were patrons of the arts. I’m sure that would be a brilliant historical romance topic.

Hope this gives everyone some insight.


7 thoughts on “Historical Romance”

  1. the medici family was very religous and enjoyed art…art was very important specially in paintings.

  2. Speaking of the Medicis – I just finished I, Mona Lisa – the fictional account of Mona Lisa amongst the rise and fall of the Medici Florence family branch – excellent blend of fact and fiction – just thought you might enjoy it as a reader

  3. I think historical romance suffered from a gutting as it were. I know people make fun of the “bodice rippers” of the 80’s, but at least those books had passion and adventure. Drawing room dramas are so tiresome, I think a lot of readers got turned off.

    I write historicals myself although I have pushed away from it. Writing a historical is a huge time and mental investment. I’m a research freak. To put that kind of time into a book no one wants to see is tough. When I write, I have to adjust my voice to make attain an “antique” feel. I also write dark urban fantasy which is easier and seems to be hitting its stride in the marketplace.

  4. Thanks for your response Caren.

    I’m writing RS right now. The thought of writing a book longer than 450 pages scares the willies out of me LOL.

    I greatly admire historical romance writers and devoured Catherine Coulter when I first ‘discovered’ her ten years ago. And Julia Quinn more recently 🙂 Great escapism.

  5. Hi Toni:
    Just a quick note in response to your question about length. You’re right; while Diana Gabaldon writes wonderful novels, they are daunting tomes. Personally, I think they could be tightened and cut by 100-200 words per book. I think she spends some time elaborating on things that don’t need to be. Mind you this doesn’t mean it would be a short book, but a book that’s 600 pages vs. 900 is significant.
    I think your best bet for your historical novels is to aim for 80K to 100K words. This is always safer and if you find that you’re writing longer than that, perhaps you’re really writing two books.
    Caren J.

  6. I don’t read a lot of historicals because of some of the things that you mentioned. I do read Johanna Lindsay’s mallory series and Amanda Quicks but that that is about it.

  7. Hi there, I love the Outlander series, but what would you say about the length of many of Diana Gabaldon’s novels? Surely most editors would be a little disconcerted seeing a 1000 page ms land on their desks?

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