This post was originally published on Feb 10, 2012 as “Why I Love Historical Romance”, but I’m dragging it back out because the Historical Romance Network is celebrating all the sub-genres of Historical Romance today on social media with #WhyIReadHistoricals and #WhyIWriteHistoricals and these reasons are all still valid for me.
My accountability group was talking about why we write in a particular genre and what attracted us to it. Also, we were asked if we like to read any genres we don’t or can’t write? Why? And would we like to try a different genre? I’ve already answered the “Why Romance” question, but I’m not sure I’ve ever covered Why Write Historical Romance and Regency Romance in specific.
#WhyIReadHistoricals: How I found them & Why I stuck with them
I grew up reading a variety of historical romances pilfered from my mom’s stash: Kathleen Woodiwiss, Kat Martin, Rosemary Rogers, Shirlee Busbee, Virgina Henley, Johanna Lindsey, and many, many, more. I’ll freely admit I was looking for escapism and a bit of the bodice ripping excitement promised by the covers. It was a slightly different kind from what I was finding in Science Fiction and Fantasy in that this was real world stuff, not wholly made up! Westerns/Colonial American, Medievals, Regencies… all were fair game. I never read the contemporary romances then. Probably because they all had boring object-centric covers instead of those wildly passionate clinches.
#WhyIWriteHistoricals: Why settle into the Regency Era?
The romantic notions of titles and balls, the escapist fantasy, the slower/different pace of life, along with the layers and intrigue in the rules of society intrigued me. The descriptions of men’s fashions, especially the mysteries revealed when a man removes his cravat. While I love me some eye-candy, there’s something to be said for leaving things to your imagination too.
They’d also just done away with the powdered wigs, patches, and panniers of the Georgian Era. Not practical and not attractive, in my opinion. Medievals were too much fantasy compared to the historical reality of fleas, sandy grit in the bread, women being literal property. In the Regency that last hadn’t changed legally, but the authors were showing their heroines more as partners than dependents. Victorian Era was too hypocritical for me in many of its attitudes around sex. I never really got into Edwardian Era books because anytime they drive up in a car or the phone rings, my immersion is shattered. Yes, I love Downton Abbey, but yup, the phone and the cars were jarring at first there too. I suspect my problem is more with books where the setting isn’t firmly established in the beginning and those things sneak up on me.
What else do I read besides Historical Romance?
What don’t I read? The most represented genres on our shelves (well, the ones *I* read anyway) include Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, some Contemporary Romance, some Romantic suspense, historical time travel, a handful of chick lit mysteries, and a selection of urban fantasy. Again, it’s usually the escapist aspect that draws me to these genres, something removed from my ordinary world. But I always circle back to historical romance of one flavor or another.
If not Historical Romance, what else might I try to write?
Maybe contemporary romance, Urban Fantasy or some fantasy, but it’d probably be flavored in some way by the historical aspect and it’d likely still have lots of romantic elements. But for now, I’m focused on the current crop of characters in my head who all reside firmly in Regency London.
If you’d like to join the buzz please consider posting your reasons for reading or writing historical romance using either of the hashtags (#WhyIReadHistoricals and/or #WhyIWriteHistoricals) on your social media. The more the merrier!
Your Turn: What’s YOUR favorite genre of book to read and why?