Are you a historical romance fan? Have you noticed that this genre seems to be suffering of late? It certainly seems to be the source of some debate—Dear Author’s Jane Litte recently wrote a provocative post titled “We should let the historical genre die." In it, Jane argues that there is a lack of diversity in the historical romance genre, as most books published today are Regencies. She also argues that sales for these historical romances are dropping in relation to books in other genres (contemporary, New Adult, erotic, etc).
I don’t read nearly as many historicals as I used to. There are many reasons for this—too numerous to recount here. But in contrast to Jane’s opinion, I’m finding that I am shying away because of major changes in Regency-set stories. While dukes still abound, many romances these days feature mistresses, courtesans and/or working class protagonists. And quite honestly, I’m more interested in romances featuring young debutants who meet their true loves in the ballroom. These are much harder to find as authors seek to remake the Regency romance.
Yet despite my dwindling number of historical romance reads, I remain a huge fan. Most of my all-time favorite books are historicals: Devil’s Bride by Stephanie Laurens, Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey, Guardian Angel by Julie Garwood, Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn, and The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley, to name few. All of these authors are still writing and most continue in the historical genre.
Johanna Lindsey has a new romance next month, One Heart to Win, a strong story set in the American West. I had a few issues with the story, namely an indecipherable consummation scene, but it reminded me of some of Lindsey’s earlier books and that I do like those set in the American West. Stephanie Laurens also has a historical romance coming out late next month, The Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh, another in the long line of Cynster books. While Laurens’s most recent books have been hit or miss for me, Ryder and Mary’s story delighted me tremendously.
In addition to the aforementioned authors who have been staples of the historical genre, there are several newer voices that keep me excited about the state of historical romance. One of my favorite new voices is Sarah MacLean. Currently, she is writing a series about four owners of a gaming hell known as the Fallen Angel. I recommend anything MacLean writes quite highly. A Rogue by Any Other Name is a book that I frequently re-read.
Last summer, I was delighted to discover Juliana Gray, who wrote a connected series featuring three battle-of-the-sexes romances. Out of the three books, A Lady Never Lies is my favorite, maybe because it features a hero and heroine entering a motorcar race in Italy (the other two books are A Gentleman Never Tells and A Duke Never Yields). I was also captivated by Sherry Thomas’s Fitzhugh trilogy, three books (Beguiling the Beauty, Ravishing the Heiress and Tempting the Bride) filled with enough emotional angst to make me cry several times over.
Other voices not to miss include Cara Elliot, Tiffany Clare, Maire Claremont, Tessa Dare, Shana Galen, Alexandra Hawkins, Manda Collins and many more. In fact, I had a hard time limiting this list. I never miss books by Eloisa James, Elizabeth Hoyt, Katharine Ashe or Miranda Neville. The historical romance genre is alive with many wonderful stories filled with fabulous romances. In fact, there is much in it to be excited about.
Are you a fan of historical romance? Which authors are you most excited about?