Reading Jessica Brockmole's July debut, Letters from Skye, reveals that the title of the book is, er, literal! Letters from Skye is an unbashedly romantic epistolary novel following the star-crossed romance of Scottish poet Elspeth Dunn and American college student David Graham in Edwardian era Scotland & during WWI. This secret courtship is pried open in 1940 by Elspeth's daughter Margaret, who is involved in her own wartime romance, and the letters following this relationship as well as Margaret's with her mother, lend an even richer texture to the plot.
The epistolary novel is common in mainstream fiction and classic literature (Bram Stoker's Dracula!), but it's rare in the romance genre—perhaps because it risks lessening the emotional intensity? Or because it means the hero and heroine are involved in a long-distance and/or physically estranged relationship? That said, there are a few romance novels that use letters and other forms of communication to build the protagonists' relationship:
My Sweet Folly by Laura Kinsale—Many readers consider the letters forming the beginning of Folie and Robert's courtship the best part of the book, but perhaps that's the point: the distance created by letters allow you to shape your own narrative, even if you cannot keep up the masquerade in person.
My Dearest Enemy by Connie Brockway—Lily Bede and Avery Thorne battle over the ownership of a house in the series of witty letters that kick off this late Victorian historical romance.
Goodnight Tweetheart by Teresa Medeiros—Medeiros steps into contemporary romance to tell a romance in a series of tweets! I think she carried off building a credible story in 140 characters or less.
Sleeping Beauty by Judith Ivory—Notorious ex-courtesan Coco Wild's charming letters to her son David map out her emotional state as the much younger James Stoker pursues her with a shocking ardor.
Any other recommendations for epistolary romances? What do you feel might be the pros and cons of this format in a romance genre novel?
Evangeline Holland is a writer of historical romances, an amateur milliner, and a really great cook. When not writing or reading, you can find her blogging about the Edwardian era on her website, the aptly titled Edwardian Promenade.