Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Creating the Fantasy World of Historical Romance

I love romance. I love historical romance. Okay, I know what you're thinking. You should. You write it. But I loved historical romance long before I began writing the genre. And when I said I read...oh, I read. Many an afternoon I would curl up with a good book and disappear from everyone. My time. My escape from reality if only momentarily.

I'm sure there are many reasons one reads romance, any romance. For me, it is that escape. An escape into a fantasy. Really isn't that what romance books are all about...creating a fantasy for the reader.

A historical romance has a formula that can't be altered; tinkered with perhaps, but never...never changed. There always has to be a happy ever after. That's what we as readers want. We want that happy ever after.

Now I write historical fiction also. I can be a fanatic on history especially American Revolution, but that's a different cup of tea. I'm not going down that path today. Today is for romance.

So in this world of historical romance, how important is inaccuracies? Where are the boundaries in the midst of historical accuracy in this world? I believe it's subjective. I'll give you an example. I submitted a manuscript to a major publisher. Now granted I'm much more knowledgeable about American history than English. Also when I first dove into writing a story set in Regency England there were some intricacies that I hadn't had down quite yet. Nothing major. A minor point which was easily corrected.

But while she was correcting me on how a lady should curtsy and to whom, I was in the mist of a historical romance where a Duke was about to marry his mistress who really was a lady, but she had been accused of murder and ran off to London without a cent to her name; stopped a duel he was about to participate in, all the while she was walking to work and was quickly given a job as his nurse. Finding he couldn't live without her, he married her which was a good thing since she was expecting-I mean increasing. Oh, I almost forgot his family loved the heroine and not once did it mention her curtsying to her Duke! And I enjoyed the book!

Why? First, I was in the mood for a light read. The book was engaging; the writer wonderful. The other reason...I have a Cinderella complex. I love a happy ending whether or not its reality. Granted I love to read other genres, but when I read a romance that's why I'm reading it. I'm in the mood not to be mentally challenged. I don't want to think. I want to feel.

I will be the first to admit that romances aren't reality. If they were, nobody under the title of a Viscount during Regency England wouldn't have married or even fallen in love. Seems to be a critical element in a Regency. You have to be an aristocrat or a least the hero has to be. Those poor servants, merchants, and farmers didn't have a chance for true love. Couldn't if you weren't connected to a title. Really think about it. Think about all those romances during that period of time. Then ask yourself- how many titled aristocrats were there in England?

I admit there are times when I do find some of what it is written hard to swallow. Improbable plots are the ones I have the most trouble with understanding. I mean I'm pretty lenient when I read a Regency Romance, but even I question a Duke marrying a school teacher or an Earl marrying a forger and thief. I guess there are are only so many marriages of convenience one can write about which leads to so many improbable plots. But how hard is it to come up with something fresh in historical romance?'s hard. And it's probably the reason there are so many improbable plots and so many discrepancies.

As for creating the Fantasy World of Romance...there are rules to consider and follow. The difference in writing a real fantasy world such as in WHISPERS OF A LEGEND is that one doesn't have that those restrictions. I haven't figured out how to write a light romance, but I do have a historical romance coming out January 15th.  THE JUDAS KISS is set to be released!  At the end of the month under Carrie James Haynes I have a historical/paranormal romance to be released, DAUGHTER OF DECEIT.



  1. I like historical romances and especially historical mysteries but I would never dare to write them. I would make way too many mistakes.

  2. Susan,
    I'm sure you would do fine. I don't worry about it at all as long as I'm on American soil. Crossing the ocean, I'm stepping into unfamiliar territory. But I'm sure I'm about to learn a lot.

  3. Oh yes, historical romance novels can be quite challenging to write because you need to get your facts straight (hint: intensive research). And on top of that, you have to make it light and engaging for the readers. That’s why I think it’s amazing that this subgenre continues to improve!