What’s to Love about Historical Romance by Shana Galen


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.


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.




No Responses

  1. I want to be taken to another place and time but yet with historicals there is still the familiar (as opposed to futuristic or fantasy/paranormals). I enjoy learning about the past but within a wonderful story. And who can complain about men who were willing to die for you – sigh. As much as I like variety and reading other genres – I always go back to historicals and wonder why I strayed..

  2. For me, what I love most about historical romance is the magic of it. There’s just something so special about being spirited away to another era where all our problems aren’t problems anymore. And personally, I always find the love in historical romance to be something so beautiful. It’s like just a different kind of love from any other romance.

    I know I haven’t properly explained it, but essentially, this is why I love historical romance so much, and why I’ll always love it 🙂

  3. What attracts me to historical romance (in particular, the Regency period) are the rules, and how they get broken on the way to true love. Marriages were arranged, there were strict codes of conduct. There are only so many storylines to use, but it’s the characters that can breathe new life into a marriage of convenience, or a couple being compromised, or a lord who is really a spy. When a book is well written, it’s like a mini vacation. And I can’t deny that my heart flutters a little bit upon finding a sexy, passionate man beneath that prim and proper British exterior.

  4. I love when I read that I can close my eyes and see and hear and smell and even taste what the character is doing if the author is very good. I love being able to leave my cares behind if for only that small moment in history. And that is why I love historical authors such as yourself. xxx

    • Thanks, Ti. I like those aspects of it too. It’s so nice to escape a little from all the technology and fast pace of life now. I like to think about cobbled streets and carriage rides.

  5. i like reading historicals just because i like them. i do love the manners, and how you should address this 1 first etc. the clothes were a lot different, it makes my laugh, because they wore so many, yet most woman wore no panties

  6. I love to read Historical Romance, and being swept back to another time and place, where people lived, laughed and loved. I love attending all the glittering balls and reading about the beautiful ballgowns, and the men’s elegant evening wear. I love joining them for their carriage rides in the park, and carousing with them at their house parties. I love the handsome titled gentleman wooing me, and most of all, I love the “Happy Ever After”.

    • The HEA is the most important thing to me, Diane, but your comment about ballgowns and glittering balls is one I’ve heard from so many readers. That’s one reason I wrote about glamorous courtesans. I wanted to write about the glittering life for a change.

  7. My love affair with romance started with HRNs and even if I have expanded my reading horizons over time, I still believe that nothing like a good historical can provide a pure escape and stress-relief from my routine. And the reason why HRNs are so appealing to me is that the quest for love moves on a different set of moral grounds and rituals, so distant from us and yet so engaging. Just think about the logistics of getting undressed in a love scene…doesn’t it make more fun to write it? For sure it’s very interesting to read it 😉

  8. A Goodreads friend raved about your Duke/Diamonds novel, which meant that it’s now on my TBR pile. I’m intrigued not by the rules, but the breaking of them, or more to the point, the recognition of their hypocrisy. A gentleman can take a mistress, and it’s her that’s the subject of gossip? A proper courtesan would manipulate that societal more, wouldn’t she? Thanks for your piece, Ms. Galen!

  9. There are soooo many reasons! I mean, really, who doesn’t love a tall, handsome, muscle-rippling, handsome, hero who can kiss so well it makes your toes curl? Who doesn’t want someone who would fight to the death for them? And yes, its fun to escape from the real world for a time. Love your thoughts!

    Suzan Tisdale

  10. There are so many things I like about historical romances. I like how gentlemen were really gentlemen. They had rules and customs that hored females for the most part.

  11. I think my love comes from the first book I read (at my own leisure and not one I had to read for school) being a historical and that book changed my life. It brought me to love reading at the age of 26 (four months short of being 20 years ago ) and brought me to love history as well, which I hated in school. Now I can’t read enough about history whether it be history that’s written into a romance, or a historical fiction or a plain out history book on a subject that I choose. I will always regret not contacting Kathleen Woodiwiss and thanking her personally for changing my life with The Wolf and the Dove.

  12. I have always loved history and romance! From the first books by Georgette Heyer, The Grand Sophy and the Masqueraders to Pride and Prejudice and Thomas B. Costain, The silver Chalice, I have enjoyed traveling to other eras and foreign lands in novels that have encompassed the sights, sounds and feel of a different world.Gone with the Wind was read when I was 14 and I fell instantly in love with the genre! Despite the restrictions of past cultures, I adore strong heroines with strong yet sensitive heroes. What better way to escape the depressing headlines of contemporary life?

    • Maria, I agree historical romance is a great way to get away from the headlines. I think Gone With the Wind was one of my first favorite historical romances too. I remember reading it every few years, starting from about 5th grade.

  13. I just love to escape to another time and place as far from modern day life as possible. I crave those delicious rakes and rogues and the heroines that capture their hearts and love the mixture of romance and history.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: