Historical Romance: Personal Not Just Factual
Let’s talk about books. There’s nothing I love more than cracking open a volume, going to the first page and diving into a great story.
Okay, perhaps I am a bit of a Luddite in that prefer reading traditional books to e-books. I know of a lot of other readers feel the opposite way, which is fine too. That’s what is so great about the modern age of publishing. You can read your favorite tales – the latest releases or classics – on your e-reader. And as for audiobooks, I can’t say I’ve yet found an aspect to relish there, besides the convenience of it. I will read e-books as well, don’t get me wrong. I just like traditionally printed books. I’m not picky about whether it’s hardcover or paperback, though the smaller version is easier to hold. But there’s just something special about the physicality of holding a real book – the heft of the spine, slowly (or quickly, if you’re a fast reader) turning each page, and discovering a new world therein. The most important thing about reading, in my humble opinion, of course, is that it transports you to another time and place.
This brings me to my next point. I love the historical romance genre for this reason. Instantaneously, I can live from the perspective of that character. I can be a lady in another time or even a princess thrown into a dangerous situation. I can become a female pirate or a swordswoman. A young miss on the frontier or a spitfire born out of her time, the type who will answer to no man. It’s even fun to read the male point-of-view now and then. Who doesn’t like a compelling hero?
But most of all, it’s the world the author has created which has pulled me in. The fashion of the time period, all of those layers – the corsets, petticoats, and other accoutrements – will bring a woman to a masked ball. The mysteriousness, the romance of it all. It’s the decor of a house, or the behavior of the people. A real gentleman still affects me the way it did back in those days for any woman, the way some of us still thrill at seeing our favorite actor on screen.
Furthermore, it’s the conflicts, the tension or drama between the couple, and the plot that drives a story. Particularly in Victorian times, people had to be so careful or they might get shunned by society. It was the time of the world’s first Industrial Revolution, with much political reform and social change, after all. And, of course, Queen Victoria in Great Britain was a major influence at the time – hence the name of the era. Though numerous social inequalities existed, people were expected to be on their best behavior. Everyone believed propriety was first and foremost on the scale of virtues. Both gentlemen and ladies, especially of a certain class, were to act in a certain manner.
For instance, take the hero in Upon Your Return, book one of the Heiresses in Love Series. Captain Grant Hill is so drawn to Fara Bellamont, and yet he is bound by circumstances he cannot escape. At one point, he tells her,
“I don’t know how to help you without overstepping the boundaries of common courtesy.”
Later, he ends up stepping over the line, as does she. But that’s just how the story plays out. In book two, Gabriel Hill, the main male character of the novel, struggles often with his own behavior around Miss Chloe Waverly. Yet, as with any good romance, sometimes passion overrides propriety.
What else do I love about historical romance? The adventure! The suspense that happens, anything which drives the story forward. A conflict on the high seas, a scuffle in a street, or outside a dark tavern. Why not throw in a sword fight or some dueling pistols? Haven’t you ever experienced the same thrill with historic movies or shows? I have. Just the thought of James Fraser and Captain Randall in a duel, all the while Claire is running to track them down in Outlander…yeah, it still gets me.
Even with dramatic tension, I still feel it. I can recall a few key moments in Jane Austen movie adaptations when the heroine is stumbling out in the rain after a big argument, or during a major epiphany for the character. I’m telling you, that’s the stuff!
Ooh…and the eye contact. ♥
All right, I love Regency and Medieval romances too, really any historical romance, just as long as there is a good story to throw myself into. For me, it is difficult to choose a favorite era. I just can’t describe enough how much I enjoy reading these lives unfold on the page. I could list my favorite authors who write historical books, but there would just be too many! 😉 Gulp. They make just as many great historical dramas on film and television. Case in point, have you watched Bridgerton yet on Netflix? This series is based on the Bridgerton novels by Julia Quinn. Yes, the show is a little spicy, but well worth it.
Poldark is a good historical drama too. But for that one, I had to find it on Amazon Prime.
Demelza’s awesome! Gotta love a ginger character! 😉
Anyway, that’s why I love writing historical romance as well. Whenever I work on a historical project, I do my research. I want the story to be as authentic as possible. The reader should see, hear, or feel what’s on the page. I spend a lot of time examining old photographs or exploring journals and newspapers for fascinating tidbits. Even if I don’t use the information, it still sets the tone for the time period, a sense of history behind the item. I am always looking for new ways to express the era, at least realistically. I was once a restless reader, maddened by the facets of history. As a young bibliophile, I wanted to skip over them to the good parts. No longer, though. I have grown to recognize its purpose – a way of setting the stage in a play. As a writer, I am thrilled with these details. The more I can learn about an era, about a location or even a specific historic event, the better the story will be, and the more readers will identify with it, thereby appreciating the effort. Without accuracy, what are we left with? A frustrated reader. Let’s face it, book lovers are smart. Even if some were not history buffs in school, they have gleaned a ton of information by devouring books, and they’ll be able to tell what sounds like it fits. Carefully weaving all the details together is a delicate balance every historical writer must achieve.
Beyond research, I love delving into characters’ heads, immersing myself in the story. When I finally come up for air after writing a scene, the feeling which possesses me is inexplicable.
Is it liberating? Of course. Do I feel a sense of accomplishment? Without a doubt. It’s more than that, however. In those moments while writing, I connect with the characters, see their innermost desires and fears. It is this emotion which I try to convey on the page.
Historical romance stories are more than just about events in history, or even expressing the way people dressed or should behave. It’s all about the human condition, what drives us, what makes us tick inside. That is the big thing to take away from a book. If a character comes alive on the page for you, then the author has done his or her job.
And since we’re all-inclusive on ILRB here, how about more diversity to go along with your traditional historical romance reads?
*NOTE: All of the aforementioned books were randomly selected through Amazon.
As writers, we hope to create characters and worlds that truly resonate with readers. It’s the personal touch which drives me to love the historical romance genre, both as a book reader and a writer of romantic tales.
Fancy a walk through a creepy, gothic estate? Do you experience a little thrill inside when two characters can’t help staring at one another from across the room? Would you like to tour the rooms of a castle with its numerous tapestries and cool drafts? Do you love a good waltz as you look into the eyes of the one you desire the most?
Well, then. Perhaps historical romance is a good fit for you, too. ♥♥♥
Host Blogger Bio
Multi-genre author of Victorian maritime romance/family saga, Heiresses in Love, and 20 other books. Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and two cats. She has been writing for a little over twenty-five years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published 21 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, romantic comedy, dramatic fiction, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. An avid blogger on the side, she writes adult fiction, as well as occasional stories for children, and has recently started some young adult fiction. She also contributed to several anthologies. Though Marie has standalone titles on the market, her current published series are The Eternal Hearts Series, The Magick Series, The Code of Endhivar Series, The Misfits Series and The Blood at First Sight Series, but she has many others planned. The start of her Victorian maritime romance series, Heiresses in Love, has returned, and the sequels in the trilogy will also be released under her new publisher, Foundations Books.
Marie’s Links: https://linktr.ee/marielavender1
Fan mail email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy reading, everyone!