What About Settings?

Okay, I’ll admit to being guilty of this, too. Like many readers I know, I tend to talk about settings in terms of what I don’t want to see or what I am tired of seeing. However, I’m curious now to see what people DO want to read. From time to time, we talk historical settings and some folks defend their love of the Regency while some of us wish we could have opportunities to see a little more of the world.

The little poll below is by no means a giant comprehensive list of settings, but there are some ideas to get you started. Just vote and tell us what settings interest you most, and if what you most want to read isn’t on there, comment and tell us what it is. Chances are someone else out there wants to read it, too!

In what historical settings would you like to see a book set?

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And let’s not leave out contemporary romances either. We all know small towns are trendy at the moment, but what else do you want to see? Are you all about small town America or do you want to travel other places in your reading, too? Again, this is no comprehensive list, so if you want a setting you don’t see here, comment and add it. Obviously, it would be helpful if you mention whether you’re talking historicals or contemporaries.

What contemporary settings would you like to see?

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– Lynn Spencer

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25 Responses to “What About Settings?”

  1. Tee says:

    These lists surprised me in that I really didn’t have a favorite pick in either one of them. Just give me a good story and I’ll take whatever area the author placed the characters. And even after rechecking the lists, I still had no clue. Interesting.

  2. I didn’t vote. Because to me it doesn’t really matter, as long as the author gets it right. Some settings, although they claim to be, say, Regency England, could just as well be twenty first century New York.
    Just intrigue me, take me to a different world, not my world, one that presents me with new dilemmas and a different way of thinking.

  3. LynnD says:

    What about setting historical novels in Canada or Mexico or South America? The European Colonization of Canada strated in the 1500s (or even back to 1000 AD if you consider the Viking explorations of Newfoundland). The same goes for Mexico and South America.th We also don’t see may historical romances set in Spain and Portugal (except as the setting for the British forces fighting Napoleon). Spain and Portugal have incredibly rich histories and cultures in which historical romances could be set. It seems to me that when I started reading romance back in the 80s, there was a lot more variety in the settings. I think that reading those books was part of what fuelled my desire to travel and learn about different cultures and to learn the history of those places.

  4. Nathalie T says:

    When it comes to Historical Romance I admit that I like Regency and Georgian settings =). When it comes to Contemporary romance I would like to read more books set in France and Italy. I’ve read one or two but it would be nice to find more.

  5. I think I would like to see some historicals set places besides England and France. I say other than France because everything that I’ve read set in France is really just about English nobility living in France for whatever reason. I would love to see stories set in other countries that feature (at least) one main character as a local. I think that would make for a great story not to mention a good way to add conflict and drama.

    I would also love to see some WWI/20s/WWII romances. We tend to romanticize those times anyway, so more romance set then would be great.

    I’m not picky on contemporary, just give me a good story with great characters and strong writing and I’m happy. But I have to say, I am partial to small towns.

    If anyone has an recommendations on the two types of historicals I mentioned, I would love to hear them!

  6. Corinna says:

    “Other” was one of my choices.

    For years now, I’ve hunted in vain for romance set in Revolutionary Texas. Considering this was arguably one of the world’s most decisive wars (it led to the acquisition of almost one-third of America’s current landholdings and made her the sea-to-shining-sea nation she is today), it is surprisingly ignored. It was a dangerous and drama-filled setting on a variety of levels, and yet stories set here are almost non-existent. I’ve almost given up on hoping some creative writer will show some originality and place an HEA romance here. Seems like anything set in Texas is usually either contemporary or set in the latter half of the 19th century—not that those aren’t great settings, but there is so much more to be explored.

  7. Olya says:

    I am Russian, and often books (and movies) set in Russia or featuring Russians are frustrating to read (or watch). Russian language is not an easy one, but things like calling a person Vanya Ivanovich Petrov (umm, no, that should be Ivan Ivanovich Petrov, Vanya is a nickname and cannot be used with a patronymic) or Nastya Morozov (should be Nastya Morozova, since she is female) get annoying very quickly.

    To be fair, when Russian writers murder the English language, I get equally annoyed ;)

    I wonder what other foreign readers think when American authors write romance novels set in their home country…

  8. Jacqueline says:

    I admit it…I’m one of the readers who adores Regency, early-mid Victorian England, and Medieval settings. It’s pretty much the only setting I read, not because I have a hatred, or any such nonsense, for other settings, but because said setting is my favorite. I read what I love.

    Although, I do admit that I really like Laura Lee Guhrke’s book And Then He Kissed Her – seeing the late Victorian period was really fun!

    Sadly, though, I don’t read contemporaries, simply because I’ve found them to be pretty boring. (No offense contempt. fans! *Smiles*) I just love escaping into another time that is completely unlike the modern era.

  9. Blythe says:

    A BIG vote for more Colonial romances. I absolutely love them. As for contemps, I really prefer big cities and even (dare I say it?) the suburbs. People fall in love in the suburbs too. Also, why not a Scandinavian romance. I bet they fall in love over there too (not just spy and kill people).

  10. Olya, I’m a Brit, and my country is regularly traduced in historical romances. Let me count the ways…
    The books just don’t sell over here. Readers might try one, but when the book involves a horse leaping over Hadrian’s Wall and the reader can look out of her window and see the remains of the wall, together with its 15 foot ditch either side, it does tend to spoil the mood.
    I almost gave up reading historical romances at one point, but now I read my favorites, and may venture into one of the new ones carefully.
    Not doing proper research limits the market of the books, but when that market is the US one, with huge sales, why worry?

  11. AAR Lynn says:

    “What about setting historical novels in Canada or Mexico or South America? ”

    @LynnD – Oh, I would love this!

    @Corinna – I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Sunfire young adult romances. They were historicals that came out in the 80s/90s. I still remember reading Victoria, which was set in Texas against the backdrop of war with Mexico. I haven’t reread it in a while, but I remember liking it.

  12. Corinna says:

    Oh, thanks so much, Lynn! I’ll try to hunt the Sunfire stories down. :)

    “I wonder what other foreign readers think when American authors write romance novels set in their home country…”

    “Olya, I’m a Brit, and my country is regularly traduced in historical romances. Let me count the ways…”

    I don’t think this is something that occurs only when authors write a story set in a country that is not their own. It can happen regardless of the region being written about, even if it is in a writer’s native country.

    For instance, I think this is why I’m frequently dissatisfied with stories set in Texas. My family has been here for generations (too many to count if you include my Apache side of the family) and the misconceptions and inaccuracies about Texas that abound in both book and film can become annoying, or at least laughable.

    I think it’s just something that’s pretty much unavoidable. A writer can do a good job, but unless a place is deep in their blood, they are going to miss some details and nuances. Sometimes you just have to ignore the inaccuracies and enjoy the story for what it is. ;-)

  13. JML says:

    Back in the day so many of the Gothic romances where set in Cornwall- the moorlands were a great place for the heroine to get the begeezes scared out of her, lol! I’d like to see that setting again through the eyes of today’s historical romance writer.

    In the U.S. we don’t seem to have any romances set in Hawaii. Too perfect a location? There are small towns on those islands and a great mix of people living there including a large number of military personnel. Seems like it would be great for an author.

  14. chris booklover says:

    Generally speaking, the setting does not matter much to me. I love a well written novel, irrespective of the tame and place where the action occurs. The only caveat is that the characters should speak and act as if they belong to the setting, not sound like 21st century Americans.

    Having said that, I would love to see more romance novels set in the Roman Empire. There are remarkably few of them, although this is a favorite period for historical novelists generally.

  15. Rosie says:

    I want to see everything on that list besides for Regency and Victorian British Isles (since I think we have a lot of those already, especially Regency). It wouldn’t let me vote for more than 5. :(

  16. lindajean says:

    “Sometimes you just have to ignore the inaccuracies and enjoy the story for what it is.”

    But if a story is poorly researched and the inaccuracies are big, I can’t ignore them — they pull me right out of the story. Like a contemp that was set in Southern California and the author said that the orange trees had shed their leaves in the winter. I just lost track of the story immediately as I wondered how she could have made that mistake.

    My pet peeve is how inaccurate most romances set in Scotland are. One I read recently had the 18th-century hero taking only one day on horseback to get from Glasgow to Inverness. Now there was a writer who clearly did no historical research.

  17. lindajean, I’m with you. If something egregiously wrong happens, then it pulls me out of the story. If it happens again, or a different one, then I’m out again. It stops me believing in the story and the characters. If the author can’t get the facts right, what’s the point?

    That’s why title and naming errors are probably the worst. Because they happen again and again. Repetitive errors are hateful because of their very nature, so someone who thinks a duchess should be addressed as “my lady” is wrong every time. Or a woman in 1800 called Shirley or Vivian. Still, for that, if you buy electronic, you can change the name!

    Scottish stories bear absolutely no resemblance to the Scotland that actually exists. So many mistakes in most of them! There might be one or two that try to work, but I don’t know because I don’t go there any more. It’s not snobbishness, it’s constant disappointment.

    If we want romance to be taken seriously, then we have to present people outside the genre with a historical that has some accuracy in it. IMO of course. But to me it’s as bad as sending cars down Madison Avenue instead of up.

    I do have some wonderful beta readers who help me to get things right. For “Cats’ Eyes” I had two, a Brazilian lady and a Portuguese lady who helped me get the language right, but more than that, the customs, too.

    • CEAD says:

      Lynne Connolly: That’s why title and naming errors are probably the worst. Because they happen again and again. Repetitive errors are hateful because of their very nature, so someone who thinks a duchess should be addressed as “my lady” is wrong every time. Or a woman in 1800 called Shirley or Vivian.

      This! And in this case it’s so easy to find the correct data, too. Just get a copy of Debrett’s or subscribe to it online, and you’ll never get it wrong again.

      I want to blame the editors at least as much as the authors for this one. If you’re editing historical romances, you have to be seeing titles and addresses all the time; it’s a detail that will be coming up repeatedly. Why don’t the editors tell the authors, ‘You’ve got your titles all wrong, go fix them’? Or something?

  18. Mari says:

    I do love the Regency stories, but I am happy to read about other time-periods too. As a Canadian, I am always looking for books set in Canada but they can be hard to find. I also think ones set in Africa or the Middle East could be really interesting.

  19. maeb says:

    I love American colonial settings—Pamela Clare and Sara Donati. And I wish I could find more Viking historicals. I’m also a sucker for Scots.

  20. patricia patterson says:

    I am interested in contemporary stories set in the American West with American Indian characters. I discovered Kathleen Eagle this summer. Wow. I also love Cait London’s Tallchief series and ironically, Tallchief written by Dinah McCall who also writes as Sharon Sala. Great stories and wonderful historical perspective but relevant to us now.

  21. Kay Webb Harrison says:

    I totally agree with LynnD about setting more historicals in Canada, Mexico, Central Am and South Am. Also, more authors should set historicals in SPAIN. There were colonies of Greeks, Phoenicians, and Carthaginians. The Romans, Visigoths, and Muslims/Moors all ruled all or parts of the Iberian Peninsula. The Christian Reconquest (La Reconquista) from 711-1492 offers wide scope for romantic conflicts. For contemporaries, modern Spain, now an integral part of Europe, provides fertile fields for novelistic cultivation.

    Kay

  22. Judith says:

    The setting is not a factor in what book I choose. It is the characters and storyline that draws me. That being the case, I did not vote.
    But I’ll admit settings can be interesting in itself.

  23. Caryl says:

    I would love to see romances set in Crete during the Minoan period because this is one of the few times in history when women had powerful, independent roles in society, so having a strong female lead would be historically accurate.

    I would also enjoy reading a romance set in the Mayan, Incan or Aztec periods, prior to the Spaniards arriving. So little is known about those empires (and the scholarship is changing all the time), so it would be a great imaginative exercise. Plus, way cool textiles, jewelry, feasts and settings.

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