Tuesday, May 08, 2007

In search of historically accurate romances

No, this isn't a rant; it's more of a plea.

I'm in the middle of my book chapter on historical romantic fiction, specifically the section dealing with the historical romance subgenre, and am having trouble finding examples of romance novels set in certain places/periods. I'm looking for titles published between mid-2004 and now (well, up through mid-2008 - my deadline) in which the author takes reasonable care with historical accuracy. "Wallpaper historicals" have their audience, but this is a guide for historical fiction readers, and I'm not interested in them here. I'm also limited to novels that libraries are apt to own (which means mainstream and library publishers only, for the most part).

The time periods for which I have little or nothing: England/Europe during the Elizabethan period/Renaissance (I know about Susan Carroll's Dark Queen series, but have her in the "romantic historical" chapter); World Wars I and II and other 20th century settings; early America; early modern Europe (basically 1650-1900); medieval England and Europe. Actually, I have a handful of medieval romance novelists down already, but I don't want to miss anything or anyone major. I'm aware that these time periods aren't exactly popular nowadays, but...

Suggestions on other periods/places welcome, too. I've noted an absolute ton of Regency novelists already, but if there are any authors/novels I should be sure to include, please let me know.

Not sure how many responses I'll get, if any, but I figured it was worth a shot. Meanwhile, I'm going to hunt through my back issues of Romantic Times for titles I've missed.


  1. Well, there's Nicola Cornick - she has one set during the English Civil War:

    Also, Deborah Hale's The Bride Ship, set in early 19th C Nova Scotia.

    Both of these authors do a really good job of incorporating real history into their romances.

    I'll try to think of some others.

  2. Thanks - I figured you might respond even if nobody else did :)

    I'll note the English Civil War novel, which I didn't have down yet (though I actually have quite a few for that section). I annotated her Regencies earlier today. Nicola has a letter in the May HNR about her research, though I haven't seen the hardcopy yet and am guessing you haven't either.

    Bride Ship, I also have down (I own a copy). But please, send more if you come up with any.

  3. I'm not sure of her publication years, but Isolde Martyn offers accurate history and nice romance. Medieval and at least one French Rev.

    Anne O'Brien (Harl/M&B) for Restoration romance.

    Jeanne Westin same period, more light and swashbuckle-y but good history.

    Cheryl Sawyer. Regency-era.

    I would've said Cornick if Teresa hadn't got there first!

    One of my favourite Elizabethan era--warts and all--romance novels is Heart of Deception by Taylor Chase. I don't think she's had anything out within the dates you need--by that name.

    I'll keep thinking.

  4. Thanks, Margaret! I think this question may be harder than I thought - those are all good suggestions, but I admit I have those authors listed and annotated already. All except Taylor Chase, which by the pub date could have made it into my first edition, if I'd known about it (but her Gayle Feyrer books did make it in). I'll keep an eye out for it to read myself.

    This is good, though, I'll take it as a sign that I'm on the right track!

    Frustrating, still, I looked around some more today and am beginning to doubt I'll have anything at all in my Tudor/Renaissance section.

  5. I read A Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne Gist last year and I thought it felt very authentic, though I am not an expert on Colonial America.

  6. I would have added Katy Cooper, but her books are older. And set in an alternate Tudor England, where Arthur survived to be king. But the rest of the history is really good. Alas, they're from the late 90s.

    Am still thinking for you.

  7. Thanks again, much appreciated.

    I am going to include Deeanne Gist, but move her over to the Christian fiction chapter - I'll be listing some romances there too, as appropriate.

  8. Anonymous9:42 AM

    Hi Sarah

    May I answer this about my own novel? The historical research I undertook for 'A Little Blue Jacket' (out in paperback in May, published by Liberty Books isbn 9780955100048)was extensive.

    The novel is based on my grandmother's young life and is set in the early 1900's in South Africa. Obviously I undertook a great deal of background reading (history,culture,geography, etc)but I also travelled there to research: I used not only the libraries and museums but also travelled the routes that my characters took.

    For a novel set in not only another continent but in another period, the research was essential if the story was to be believable. And I do hope that I have created a true sense of period and place as a result.

    I have a bibliography for anyone who is interested.

    Yours, Lucy

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Sarah, have you search Amazon? You can search by era and see what comes up?

    Audrey Howard wrote a book in 2005, set in WWI, As The Night Ends.

  11. Hi Anne, thanks - I've checked Amazon and will keep on searching there :) Audrey Howard's a good choice (I've read As the Night Ends) but her novels haven't been published in the USA. Alas, that's another of my requirements -the books have to be available in American public libraries. Should have mentioned it earlier.

  12. Anonymous12:21 PM

    My favorite of the Tudor period is Suzanne Robinson's Lady Gallant. It is wonderfully evocative of the period of the end of Mary Tudor's reign fraught with danger for those backing Elizabeth.

    The hero has to redem himself in this, and he works HARD at it. NO last page "I'm sorry. Yes, you're forgiven. Ilove you" scene. The romance makes sense4, the history makes sense, and the author intersperses various period poetry throughout the book (mostly the baudy stuff).

    It's well worth haunting your used book stores to find. And the author, under the name of Lynda S. Robinson, has written an equally wonderful mystery series set in the time of King Tut in ancient Egypt.

  13. Thanks, Valerie - I'll look for it. I've got some credits on paperbackswap, too, and that sounds like a potentially good trade.

  14. Try Elizabeth Chadwick. She's written some fantastic medieval historical fiction which is apparently very accurate.