One of the questions I love to ask readers and other writers is, why do you read historical romance? I’m fascinated by the answers. I want to know what brings readers back to the genre again and again. After all, there’s nothing new in history. Everyone knows who won the Wars of the Roses and the Battle of Waterloo and what those swollen buboes in the armpits are going to lead to.
You’d think readers would tire of reading stories with old-fashioned values and archaic “rules,” but this isn’t what readers tell me at all. Readers love the classic values the characters in historical romance must abide by. Readers like to step back to a time when people married forever, men were gentlemen, and chivalry was still alive and well. Readers also tell me they like the history they learn from historical romances. We might have all done better in school if history had been taught using more fiction novels and fewer dry textbooks.
Readers tell me many more reasons they enjoy historical romances—the heroes, the clothes, the balls—but the majority tell me they read historical romance because they want to escape from the modern world. Readers want to go back to a simpler time when life wasn’t full of text messages and tweets and CNN. Readers want to imagine an era when a family sat together at the dinner table, and the meal and conversation were the entertainment; when a man came to call on a woman and took her and her chaperone for a ride in the park; when the flash of an ankle was scandalous.
Of course, we all know history wasn’t exactly like this. I read somewhere that during the Regency about 10% of the female population in Britain were prostitutes. That’s clearly not romantic. There was no indoor plumbing and some people were wary of submerging their bodies in bath water. Again, not particularly appealing. Men had mistresses, people died horrible deaths from syphilis, and plenty of children went to bed hungry and cold.
But most of us don’t pick up an historical romance to be confronted with realities we can hear about if we turn on the news. We don’t want to think about the pile of dishes in the sink or the laundry waiting to be folded. We want to be swept away and quite possibly swept into the arms of an arrogant duke, a roguish pirate, or an enigmatic spy.
I write historical romances for these readers. I love fast-paced stories that feature strong women and dangerous men and lots of intrigue. Recently, I began to think more and more about the increasing popularity of gossip. There are internet sites, magazines, and TV shows dedicated solely to celebrity gossip. The Regency Era, my chosen period, was little different. People loved gossip. So why not give readers of today a taste of what their ancestors so enjoyed? I began a series about three notorious and glamorous courtesans. These women are the celebrities of their day. They are studied, emulated, and sought after.
Sound like the perfect situation? For the heroine of my new book, When You Give a Duke a Diamond, life is almost perfect. Until some important diamonds go missing, and she is somehow implicated in their theft. And then when Juliette witnesses a murder, and a powerful duke is searching for his missing fiancée, life becomes very complicated indeed.
So many possibilities, and not one mention of anything to remind me about all those unread emails in my Inbox. That’s why I love historical romance.
What about you? Why do you love historical romance?
One reader who comments will be chosen to win a copy of When You Give a Duke a Diamond.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shana Galen is the national bestselling author of numerous fast-paced, adventurous Regency historical romances, including the Rita-nominated Blackthorne’s Bride. Her books are published all over the world and have been featured in the Rhapsody and Doubleday Book Clubs. She taught English at the middle and high school level off and on for eleven years. Most of those years were spent working in Houston’s inner city.
Now she writes full time. She’s happily married to an incredibly supportive man she calls Ultimate Sportsfan, and she has a daughter who is most definitely a romance heroine in the making.
HISTORICAL ROMANCES by SHANA GALEN