TBR Challenge: Back in Time

provoked Given I read historicals almost exclusively, this month’s prompt wasn’t much of a challenge so I decided to look for something – for me – a bit different. Provoked is the first in Joanna Chambers’ Enlightenment trilogy, and an M/M romance, which is a genre I’ve read only once or twice before.

Not being overly familiar with historical M/M, I had the idea that it would be quite difficult for a romance to have a convincing HEA for two men at a time in history when homosexuality was not only illegal, but punishable by death – and while I certainly have no problem with the idea of two hot guys stripping off their frock coats and getting it on, I can read erotica for that. I read romance (as opposed to erotica) most of the time because I want more than that in my reading material – I want a decent storyline, too, and – with any luck – one that doesn’t stretch my credulity to breaking point and beyond.

The book is set in Regency Scotland, at a time of much political and social unrest. The author immediately evokes a strong sense of time and place with the opening of the story in which two young men – weavers accused of treason – are publicly executed. Present in the crowd is David Lauriston, a twenty-four year-old advocate who had defended the men in court, even though their fate was a foregone conclusion. Continue reading

Where Have All the Historical Romances Gone?

historicalromance1 In the past, I’ve bemoaned a lack of variety in historical romance settings, and we’ve even voted on where readers wanted to see historical set (Result: we like 19th c. England but wouldn’t mind reading about other places and times, too!). However, over the past few years I’ve been seeing change in the historical market overall.

Historical romance once dominated the market. When I started reading romance as a 1990s high school student, the vast majority of books out there were historicals – and they were set all over the place. When I started at AAR in 2003, it was harder to find a wide variety of historical settings, but there were still plenty of books. Continue reading

In Search of the Big Romantic Saga

horseireland I missed a lot of the old school historical romances the first time around, but starting in college, I began to discover them in used bookstores. There are definitely some aspects of Ye Olde Romance that are best forgotten (such as A Pirate’s Love and similar rapefests), but the older books had their good points, too. Roberta Gellis has long been a favorite of mine, and I remember how her stories could span years of a couple’s story, taking them through all manner of places and conflicts. Continue reading

Fun With Historical Romance Vocabulary

dictionary Some weeks ago, I wrote about what I have learned from historical romance, focusing on historic events and places of interest. But this is not the only way these books have shaped me: I have also picked a number of words from them. With this I don’t mean technical terms like words for carriages, clothing etc, which only describe items in their historical context and which I understand, but – for obvious reasons – don’t use in daily conversation. What I mean are words that are old-fashioned in present-day English, but which I have picked up from historical romances and that have slipped into my usage of English, sometimes to the astonishment of my listeners. As a non-native speaker, it can be difficult for me to distinguish between words that are commonly used in present-day English, and those that are regarded as unusual by native speakers!
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All the History I Learned From Romance

jousting I am a history geek – for some reason unknown to me, when it comes to history, my brain registers and stores a multitude of little details presented to it, unlike, say, names of trees or car brands. I regularly astonish people by knowing historical facts that are way out. Yet I hardly ever open a book of historical fiction, even less often a book of reference. I have learnt what I know about history from reading romances.

For every wallpaper historicals out there, there is a novel that is meticulously researched, and manages to imbue historical facts with so much life by linking them to the lives of characters I am intrigued by, that those facts just stick to my memory like a burr.
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Are We in a New Historical Golden Age?

RuthlessI sat down to write something kind of snarky about language use in historicals after having come across some particularly heinous examples lately, but I soon found myself thinking about something entirely different:  Are we in the midst of a renaissance of the historical romance?

I think we may be getting there.  Recently I read – and was blown away by – Anne Stuart’s Ruthless.  The novel is a great one any way you choose to judge it, but it’s also noteworthy for taking place in 1765 in France.  Yes, that’s right, I said France. But, refreshing as that different time and setting may be, I loved this book because it is a voluptuous (and, yes, I really think that word applies), full-bodied (yes, I like it, even if it is redundant), lush romance between a truly dissolute rake and a strong, self-reliant woman.  And, even better, it reminded me of a classic of the author’s from a l-o-o-o-o-n-g time ago that I have saved since I first read it – Lord Satan’s Bride. And I am excited – oh, my, am I excited – about the remaining two books in the trilogy.

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