Historical Romance 101: Tearjerker or Lighthearted

Welcome to another segment of Historical Romance 101. Today we will be discussing what we love more: Tearjerkers or Lighthearted in Romances and what we love about them and share some personal favorites. Please join in and visit the other fabulous ladies: Jennifer @Feminist Fairy Tales, Amanda @ On A Book Bender, and Quinn @ Quinn’s Book Nook


Now I like both themes in a romance, but when it comes to a historical: I have to be honest I prefer a tearjerker. There are some lighthearted romances out there that still give out some great emotional depth but they are so rare to find now a days. I am probably in the minority here, but I have a hard time with the lighthearted ones, at least from the more modern historical authors. I love a story with great humor but I need historical authenticity, and some great emotional intimacy between a pair. Some of my all time favorite books would fit into both categories so that is what makes this most difficult to choose. So lets look at both and the pros and cons of each type of romance.

Light Hearted Romance 

So what is the draw of a light hearted romance? Well in my opinion, I feel that many just don’t want a story that is stressful or with much conflict, and just to relax into a comfortable read. The downside to this style of romance—is depth and is that realistic in a historical romance? In some ways yes it can be, but only if the author writes it well enough. There is also another issue that you need to watch out for: is it too modern for a historical romance? This is an issue that has been cropping up especially over the past couple years. Its a problem I seriously have issues with and can destroy my enjoyment of a story. Because when I am reading an historical romance, it can be easy going, fun, witty without having modern characters or set ups. If I want a modern characters—I will read a contemporary romance. But when I sit down for a historical, I want something different and having characters that fit the era and culture. Some of my favorite authors that do this the right way would be Julia Quinn, Julie Garwood, Karen Hawkins, Lisa Kleypas, Jennifer Ashley, and Sandra Hill and even some Tessa Dare. However there are some books out there, that I honestly struggle with. But what is most fun about the lighter reads—is the charm and sense of fun they evoke.

Tear Jerker Romance

This is a style of romance that gets to me on a personal level and I react to it in a very different way than the lighter ones. What I love about these, is finding those talented authors that can connect to a reader on a emotional depth and its not as common as one would think. I love seeing how much emotional depth these books can convey, and a story that can bring me to tears is PURE TALENT!!!! It is way easier to make a reader laugh than to cry or feel raw and deep emotion. Some of my all time favorite authors who can do this fabulously are Kathleen Woodiwiss, Heather Graham, Rosanne Bittner, Sabrina Jeffries and Kerrigan Byrne. These authors are utterly brilliant, although my top pick for a tear jerker is Do Not Forsake Me!!! Those who have read this boook KNOW exactly what I am talking about. Because there are certain moments in this story—I COULDNT stop crying, it was so intense and got to the deepest part of my emotions while reading. Rosanne Bittner is one of my favorite authors to read, and I can’t recommend her high enough.

23 thoughts on “Historical Romance 101: Tearjerker or Lighthearted

  1. Great post! I tend to pick them depending on my mood. Loved all of your picks for lighthearted, especially Jennifer Ashley and Julia Quinn. The same with the tearjerker picks: Roseanne Bittner and Sabrina Jeffries get me every time! Mary Balogh is another one that can make me cry.

  2. Ha! We mention some of the same books (The Secret, Never Seduce a Scot!). For me, it’s actually much easier for an author to make me tear up and get super emotional than it is for an author to make me laugh. I think I get a bit too emotional while reading, which is why, I think, I tend to prefer the more lighthearted romances.

  3. I’m with you. The authors who reduce you to tears usually do so by wringing out as much emotion as possible, and that’s always the sign of a masterful writer. 😀

  4. Agreed! I don’t mind a lighter romance story, but that can’t mean a sacrifice of the actual historical background and setting to achieve it since I’m reading it because it’s a historical. And yes, the majority of my favorite historicals are deeply emotional and rarely light. I still need to snag several on your list up there: the Laura Kinsale, the Kathleen Woodiwiss, and the Lorraine Heath books.

    1. oh I agree—it can be super annoying when an author sacrifces historical settings. Its one of the main reasons I love historical romance. hehe But I am like you, I like more deeper ones rather than light. I feel like sometimes they can be too fluffy for my taste. Its just not the type of romance I grew loving in historical, so an author has to be really careful with that tone if they do it. You would adore Laura Kinsale, she is definitely up your alley. But man would you love Lorraine Heath most especially her westerns!! They rock.

    1. combos are so perfect!!! I love them, but you don’t see them that often, or not as often as I would like. Sabrina Jeffries and Lisa Kleypas do great with mixing both up pretty well.

  5. I would have to say, most of the time, I prefer to the funny, lighthearted romances, I am not a big fan of the tear jerker, romanes full of drama and angst, but every once in awhile, one will grab hold, This past week, I read Me Before You, and I am still thinking about it. So good.

    1. Oh I have heard of that one, but haven’t read it yet. Waiting for the right mood. Lately I have been in a HR mood quite a bit. But it is always good to read those funny and sweet romances right?

  6. No tear jerker for me. I’m already emotional as it is haha I’m all for the other emotions expressed in books (and the occasional tear jerker grr) <333 Have a great weekend!

    1. haha yeah I can be pretty emotional too!! But there aren’t that many that get me teary eyed except for those I have listed. I do like seeing the variety of emotion you see in romance though, there are many levels of both lighthearted and deeper emotional ones with some mixes in between.

  7. I’d rather read a light-hearted romance but sometimes you need a good tear-jerker to read! Nice post!

  8. Overall I prefer light hearted romances, but it also really depends on my mood. I don’t like books that make me cry, but it also depends a bit on the exact emotional situation. I do like depth and emotional scenes in books, so I guess I also like both. I also agree that in a historical romance I like to see historical characters, if I want modern characters I will read a contemporary book. And I do admire it when an author really manages to touch your emotions in a book. I just can’t handle too much of that, especially some topics.

    1. Yeah I agree. There are times I am in the mood for something more carefree and fun. But I do adore great depth at the same time!! But it is interesting to see how different authors handle emotion. Can be quite a ride sometimes.

  9. I like both tearjerkers and lighthearted romances. I’m super happy to see Suzanne Enoch, Sarah MacLean, and Kelly Bowen on your lighthearted list. And yes yes yes for Sabrina Jeffries, Lorraine Heath, Laura Kinsale, and Maya Banks on the tearjerker side. I need to read Do Not Forsake Me soon. I’ve been on the waiting list at my library for awhile now so I’m hoping it comes in soon. Thanks for the recs as always!

  10. I love both tearjerkers and lighthearted romances, too, Renee. And I actually enjoy some historicals that have unconventional heroines, because it brings another aspect into the story – and there were some precursors to feminists in the regency era… I do agree with you that the cultural and historical aspects of an HR should be respected as much as possible, though, because one of the reasons why I pick up a historical romance is to be transported to another time and place both 🙂
    Sabrina Jeffries and Tessa Dare are both among my favorite HR writers, and I have to add Ashlyn Macnamara and Donna Cummings to that list as well.
    I’m going to check out some of your recommendations, thanks for sharing.
    Have a great weekend and happy reading.
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    1. I agree….I like the unconventional ones as well, the bluestockings are so fun!! But I like them to be realistic to the era too. Some authors write them too contemporary for my taste. I do like Ashlyn Macnamara…she is just fabulous.

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