Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Is Historical a Turn-Off? by Aileen Fish

I’ve been involved in an interesting discussion with other authors recently and have heard that there are a large number of readers who don’t care to read historical romance. Since I first came to the romance genre through a friend’s historical romances, and graduated to contemporary through another friend, I was surprised to learn this.

I read my first romance in the early 80s (and began writing my first time-travel romance soon after, but that’s another story!), so I have seen the progression of many of the sub-genres from the violent heroes and virgin heroines to sullen and mysterious heroes and sassy, feisty heroines. I’ll bet as you read those descriptions, characters in something you’ve read came to mind. But whether the story was contemporary or historical, it involved two characters with a problem to solve either working together against an outside force, or standing on opposite sides of the issue.

The settings change, the clothing too, and the goal the heroine has more options than marriage to support herself, but I don’t see a lot of difference otherwise in the stories. So, I’m asking you readers, do you read historical romance, and if not, what makes you steer toward another shelf in the store, or click on a different category in your ereader?

~*~


Aileen Fish writes both historical romance and contemporary romance depending on what her heroes and heroines demand. Mr. David Lumley is the hero most recently to speak up, requesting a spot in the boxed set now available, Timeless: Historical Romance Through the Ages. You can find buy links at her website.

13 comments:

  1. When I was younger, I always read historical romance novels then my choice of reading material changed but I am glad to say I have recently returned to reading historical novels along with contemporary romance. I believe I have learned more history from these novels than I ever learned in History class. The amount of research that the authors do to prepare for these books is incredible. History books are stuffy and just filled with facts. When you take those facts and incorporate them into a storyline, it makes it much more interesting and you find you have learned something without realizing it was happening.

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    1. I think that's why I love them too, Nancy!

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  2. I love historicals! If I didn't have so many friends writing contemporary it would be the largest pile on my TBR shelf, with a smaller pile for romantic comedy. I first discovered the The Wolf & The Dove in the library and was hooked. Maybe it's a first impressions thing.

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    1. Belva Plain was the author I was first introduced to, which might be more of a saga than a romance, but they were just so engrossing, weren't they?

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  3. I read contemporary and historical so I enjoy both. Like Nancy said above, I've actually learned a lot of real history too. There are cycles within the historical genre. When I was younger American Westerns were huge. Then they went away and all the industry pros said historicals were dead. Then Regency Romance became hugely popular or at least English settings. Right now Scottish settings are the rage. I know at RWA I heard many publishers were wanting them. And with the Outlander series starting I imagine that trend will grow even more.

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    1. It does cycle around, doesn't it? I loved those westerns. Still do, actually!

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  4. I've read many historical romances over the years, but not so many lately. It's mostly because of time. I haven't had the time to read longer books, but that may change soon. Now that I'm fully retired from teaching, I've got more reading time. Time to build up my TBR pile!

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    1. Oh, that's a good point about length. I should look at what the length is for the bestselling contemporaries. Thanks, Patricia!

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  5. My preferences change over time, Aileen. I used to read the classics, then moved on to Sci fi and fantasy, then I discovered Mills & Boon and caught the romance bug. I have gone through phases of reading historical, contemporary, paranormal and back to contemporary. Right now I seem to want to read suspense, both straight suspense and romantic suspense. I guess the genres cycle in popularity if everyone is like me!

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  6. I, too, started with historicals. I'm embarrassed to say that many of my favorite early reads featured those violent heroes.

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  7. To be honest, I didn't read historicals if I could help it -- until I read one by Aileen Fish last year! I love the world you depict and keep coming back for more.

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  8. I'm more of a contemporary gal, with exceptions. That doesn't mean historicals are a turn-off -- I think it's just that readers all have certain settings and "trappings" we gravitate toward in a story. For me, the modern settings are more immediately relatable. The historicals that do catch my eye are more likely to be 20th century America (depression era and World War II, especially) simply because I'm intrigued by that period.

    However, with that said, all good stories are about the characters -- as you pointed out! People who say they'd never touch historical fiction, science fiction, paranormal fiction, etc., may never realize how easily they'd be hooked if the characters and their story are done well.

    Good post, Aileen!

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  9. I love historical stories, romances most of all. Does not matter to me if they are historical at only 100 years ago or 1000 years ago or any time in between. My fav recently was set when Pompeii erupted... As long as it is a good story! I love the ones that blend fact and fiction.

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