Monday, August 25, 2014

Is "Historical" a Turnoff?

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.


Tina Donahue said...

I don't think historical romances are unpopular. Tons are being published and selling. It depends on quality. I heard two years ago that vampire stories were out. They aren't, are they?

Fiona McGier said...

I don't like historical romance because I'm such an ardent feminist that I don't want to "live" even briefly in a world where the heroine has no choice in how to live her life. If the author is being true to the time-period, there won't be much the heroine can do to control her own life, including having a bank account, working for her own money, living on her own, etc.

I'm also not a fan of unwashed bodies, and even in the 1800s, washing was difficult to do and some still felt that it was somehow "unnatural". Then there's the whole idea of sex without birth control, which guarantees that any choices the female was planning on making will be defunct once she gets pregnant. And I really dislike the "secret baby" trope.

The other thing I dislike in historicals is that the heroine usually needs to be rescued somehow, because she's a powerless little flower of a virgin. Bleah. Not my kind of heroine. But the feisty ones who get away with being willful have to be wealthy or they'd not be allowed to have such an attitude. And I don't want read about the trials and tribulations of being rich, nor do I want to read yet another "take" on "The Taming of the Shrew", in which a feisty woman has to be "broken" to suit a man. No thanks.

My personal favorite is sci-fi or paranormal romance. I've even read some great fantasy romances. I write contemporary, so I try not to read too much in my own genre.

Aileen Fish said...

Tina, good point about the vampires!

Fiona, the unwashed bodies was something I had to get out of my head, too. Especially medieval-era or the like when...well, I won't go there. But yeah, I'm amazed people managed to procreate! Thanks for commenting.