Jun 20 2017 7:04am

How Do You Define “Old School Romance”?

“Old School Romance” is having a moment in the genre. Nostalgia is as well in the general zeitgeist of our country right now, so it comes as no surprise that this theme has permeated our genre too. However, the idea of old school romance can mean something different to each reader. Is it a certain decade that best encompasses old school romance? Is it a certain feeling? If you had to define “old school romance,” how would you? 

Tell us your definitions down in the comments!

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Jennifer Proffitt
1. JenniferProffitt
I think it's a combination of things. I've felt the "old school" vibe around new romances. It's partially a decade thing (to me anything from the 80s and 90s) and then like a type of romance--usually historical, usually with a very particular voice that almost feels literary.
Vol Fan
2. Vol Fan
Old school, to me, is when there seems to be more emphasis on the "historical" in the romance. Older romances, first bodice rippers, etc., seemed to be much more epic in their storylines. They were romances yes, but they also had a deeper connection to the history of the story. They were more vivid, more landscape, more flavor. I loved that myself. Sadly this seems to be lacking in a very many of today's historical romances and which is why I've become bored too easily with them. My boredom also comes from the fact that they are lacking in historical diversity. Too many regencies for instance. I'd love more different eras, different locales, westerns and WWI/II stories. Even the covers all look the same to me. Hopefully, I did not offend anyone that loves these books, but give me old school historical romances anyday over the majority of these new ones.
Trish Copley
3. Vol Fan
I forgot to add that I blame the publishers for the lack of diversity, not the writers. I think many of them would love to branch out into other eras and locales, but are not allowed to by the publishers. Many of those that get published that are not the same old formula, are published independently I would imagine. I.e. Judith James' restoration books are incredible, yet according to her statement, the publishers don't want anymore of them. Ellen O'Connell's westerns are awesome, but have to be published independently. Too bad that too many publishers are myopic and formula obssessed, but thanks to their ability to self-publish, we can still find awesome "old school" type books.
Vol Fan
4. Althea Claire Duffy
Unfortunately I tend to expect an "old school" romance to have a raging jerk hero, likely even one who rapes the heroine. I know they aren't all like that, but I've seen enough that I'm very wary. I do, however, second what Vol Fan said about historical romance - I love vivid historicals with a lot of flavor and I want more historicals set outside the usual time and place. Actually, I see so many other people saying so that it makes me surprised most publishers have such a narrow definition of what "historical romance" should be.
5. carmenlire
When I think of the official definition of old school, I think of bodice ripper historicals and contemporary romance a la Linda Howard (After the Night, for example). The heroes were class-A jerks, the heroines were always waife-like and in need of rescuing, and the whole affair had the sexist tinge that you don't really notice until you go back and read it years later.

However, if I had to say what makes a romance old school for me, personally, it would be those books I read when I first starting reading the genre 10 years ago. Nora Roberts comes immediately to mind, as I've spent the past week rereading some of her older suspenses including Private Scandals, Sacred Sins, and Brazen Virtue that just smack of the late 80s/early 90s!
6. lauralee1912
When I think of Old School Romance, I think of books by Bertrice Small, Judy McNaught, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Johanna Lindsey, Jude Deveraux, Julie Garwood, etc. The reading list of my newlywed years. To me, Old School means the heroes are often overbearing and the heroines often make really bad decisions, all against sweeping historical or contemporary backgrounds and the descriptions of intimate times glow purplish.
Elizabeth Halliday
7. Ibbitts
What I think of as "Old School Romance" was heavy on storyline and light on sex. Romance has very little to do with sex ... as a matter of fact, romance is not even a requirement for sex. Romance is mental; sex is physical. There's also a big difference between making love, having sex, and fornication. These days, that is often forgotten. In my opinion, Old School Romance has evolved into a genre we now refer to as Christian Romance.
8. willaful
I use the term pretty loosely, to encompass a variety of styles/tropes/themes that were more common in older romance.
9. bigedsgirl1
Some authors that epitomize old school romance for me are Judith McNaught, LaVyrle Spencer, Jude Deveraux and Beverly Jenkins, with their books such as Someone to Watch Over Me, Morning Glory, A Knight in Shining Armor, and Bring On The Blessings respectively. I've recently become a fan of Peggy L. Henderson and Miranda Liasson; another two authors that give me that same emotionally satisfying feeling when reading their novels.
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