I began reading historical romance at the tender age of 13, when they were called “bodice-rippers”–for a very good reason. I probably shouldn’t have been allowed to. I don’t know what my mom was thinking. She, my aunt, my sister, and I traded novels at an alarming rate. We couldn’t get enough. Mom dropped out of our reading circle many years ago, but my sister and aunt still read as voraciously as I do.
Some of the first stories I read were by Rosemary Rogers (I’m sure this dates me), along with Kathleen Woodiwiss, Jude Devereaux, Virginia Henley, Shirlee Busbee, and Victoria Holt. These ladies wrote with a flare today’s reader seems to find too slow, but I believe their stories built worlds rarely glimpsed in the decades preceding the “internet age.”
Historicals, for some odd reason, have lost their “history.” I’m talking about actual events that took place. Those stories written by authors who knew how to interweave truth with fiction have been lost to “don’t put any damn history in it or we’ll have to research it.” Come on people! I want to know what happened, and I want it told in an entertaining way. I love history, but it’s much more entertaining when told by a romance author. Give me historical facts presented in a fictional romance and you’ve hooked me as a lifelong reader. Take me to exotic–real life–places. While I like a good paranormal, there’s no need to create a false world when this one’s filled with so much I’ll never get to see. Bring Ceylon to life for me as the setting of your story. Take me to Bangkok, Sweden, or Easter Island. What were the people like who resided in these places 200-2,000 years ago?
There are slews of talented writers out there, but they’ve been told to increase the pace because readers today are in a hurry. Well, I’m not in a hurry! As long as it’s crafted well, a story can have all the vivid details intact without making it a dull read.
I’m glad historical romance is no longer all about women falling madly in love with “bodice-ripping” men. We’ve come a long way, and today’s heroine is much more intelligent and stronger, as she should be. No need to rip her bodice off, she’ll help him undo the laces–if she wants to.
I’ve read thousands of historical romances and hope to read thousands more. All I ask is that you please put the history back in historical!