Fifty Shades of Historical Romance by Genevieve Graham


Okay. Not really fifty shades. I was just looking for a catchy title. Did it work? Whoa. I just looked up “Romance Novels” in Wikipedia. They list ten sub-genres of romance. Ten! Can you name them without peeking? I couldn’t. Here’s something you might find interesting: I don’t normally read what I call “romance”. I have read some, but mostly I gravitate toward Historical Fiction – or Historical Adventure, meaning stories thick with journeys, battles, tragedies, but also love in all its forms … the real stuff. Underneath everything runs a theme of love or romance, and that’s what makes all the trials worthwhile for the characters and for the reader. You root for the lovers to eventually unite happily, but it’s hardly worth reading a book (in my humble opinion) if you know within the first couple of pages which bedroom they’ll be visiting first.  

So I haven’t been what you’d call a typical romance reader. I would much rather lose myself in the rich tapestries painted by geniuses like Diana Gabaldon, Sara Donati, Penelope Williamson, Jennifer Roberson, and recently Joanna Bourne and Kaki Warner. Their characters are battered and bruised, living the times as they were really lived, often sacrificing in order to hope for that happily ever after. And the scenes can be brutal. But in the end, I admit, I do go for the “love conquers all” theme. 

So that’s how I write my books. I like to dig into 18th century life but not focus on the well-to-do. I write stories that involve more than just two people in love. With “Under the Same Sky”, I stuck my heroine in the middle of nowhere, with nothing. I dropped my hero on to a doomed battlefield. Then I said, “Find each other. Good luck,” and left them to it. Not very romantic, was it? I keep to gritty realism. In fact, because of some of the brutality, I was somewhat surprised when Penguin published me as a Historical Romance author. Then I learned that the Queen of Adventures, Diana Gabaldon, denies writing that genre … but all her readers know how hopelessly romantic those stories are, and how our hearts ache for more.  

My book covers depict Historical Romance. Definitely. They’re beautiful and sweeping and lush, featuring gorgeous people who stare either into the reader’s soul or into the vast horizon … and while I love them, I worried some readers would feel misled and even disappointed if they’d expected a “normal” kind of romance. Fortunately, though many people said, “that was not what I expected!” I apparently broadened some readers’ horizons, and I’m so pleased about that. 

I started Wikipedia-ing again, and this time I looked up “Romance (love)”, and found this:

In the context of romantic love relationships, romance usually implies an expression of one’s love, or one’s deep emotional desires to connect with another person.” likens romance to: “adventure, flight of fancy”, which sounds right to me. 

“Sound of the Heart” is more of a romance than “Under the Same Sky” was, I guess, because the characters are with each other physically fairly early on, though they aren’t lovers at first. They develop a deep, loyal friendship that I find romantic in itself. Oh, and “Sound of the Heart” features the first “love scene” I’ve ever written *blush*. I think you’ll notice I stay away from words normally used in romance novel sex scenes. I’m particularly adverse to using words like “thrust”—unless it has to do with a sword. I just find describing the physical act so much less romantic than describing the merging of minds and hearts.  When Berkley took me on board, they introduced me to some incredible Historical Romance authors, including Kaki Warner and Joanna Bourne. No quiet, frilly, kissy-face books, those. Right around that time I became pretty excited about being called a Romance author.  

What kind of romance do you prefer? Neat and tidy? Hot and sweaty?

Or are you like me, a fan of wild, unpredictable adventure where you really do have to wait and see if there will be a happily ever after?

Please comment with name and email for a chance to win a signed copy of “Sound of the Heart”.


No Responses

  1. I like romances where I can connect to the characters; where the chemistry leaps off the pages & the characters become real to me. It really doesn’t matter much to me either way – neat/tidy or hot/steamy or some where in between as long as it’s well written.

  2. Hot and sweaty, but I like historical…more for the history than the romance…
    For me, romance is all about the trust and respect built between the characters. Since I write BDSM, these elements are very important.
    Thank you for participating in the blog hop!

  3. I prefer an adventure! I love when it takes a bit of time before the happily ever after. It makes the story much more interesting and enjoyable for me! 🙂 Thank you for the giveaway and for being a part of the hop!


    • Crystal, if you’re all about the adventure, my books will probably work for you! I go for the story behind the story, the grittiness and reality of the times, the way life actually happened outside the rich and royal.

  4. It all depends on my mood. I like them all, neat and tidy, hot and sweaty, and unpredictable adventures. All romances thrill me.

    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  5. Genevieve, great post! I’d say as long as it’s a romance, i’m in. I can’t be picky, i love them all, the inspirational, the sweet, neat & tidy, the hot & sweaty, the mysterious until the last minute and get the HEA kind. I read them all 🙂 Thanks for a great giveaway…Krista

  6. Love the cover, there is nothing better than a man in a kilt. I love the hot sweaty, romance novels with mabe a couple twists thrown in somewhere, that leaves your jaw hanging open. Great giveaway.

    blinkysthebest at aol dot com

  7. Thanks for the awesome hop and giveaways! This is so much fun! Thank you! My favorite thing about romance is the romance. lol I love the characters, the plots, the HEA’s, the love. I love it all!

  8. What a great hop! Grand prizes, old friends to visit and new ones to meet… and chances to win at each stop too. I’m in Blog heaven! :-}
    I love my romances to have humor, characters you can really like, HOT sex and a HEA.
    I’m a sucker for the HEA. All my favorite authors give me a great story line, characters I can identify with, HOT love scenes and a perfect HEA!
    Thanks for being part of the hop and for the chance to win.

  9. Why I like Romance Novels….The reason I like Romance Novels so much is because it is one place where I can be anywhere like England, Scotland, Rome, Ireland, or anywhere in the US. I can also be in any time like 1200’s Scotland, 1500’s England, 1900’s Chicago. I can be anyone like a princess, a servant, a werewolf, a duchess, a vampire, or a lost soul. But no matter what I get the privilege and the experience to overcome many different obstacles and find love. I am a mother of three teenagers as well and there are many days when I need an escape and my heart needs a rest from the trials of being a parent and trying to do what is best for everyone but yourself. I have overcome cancer, loss, and financial problems and Romance Books let my heart soar and feel free. Let me tell you in this world, and during this time where life can have so many struggles it is great that you can be, have, and do so many things to find love and romance and still be yourself!

  10. I like a romance where there is humor and chemistry between the characters. And happily ever after shouldn’t come too easily, there must be some struggle to attain each other’s love.

    tmrtini at gmail dot com

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