Tea and Biscuits Discussions: What is missing from Historical Romance?

There are many aspects of historical romance that I have found missing in recent years, aspects that made me fall in love with that genre in the first place. Many who are knew to the genre, probably won’t understand what I am talking about. But what I see in latest historical’s is depth and connection to the story, in many ways they are too light and fluffy and very unrealistic at times; almost too sugar coated.  I love seeing a story that is tough and gritty and full of deep emotion that a reader can easily connect with. I have started to see this more in contemporary and even a bit in paranormal, but I feel like historical has the greatest potential to be more than what it has been the last few years.

I would love to see more variety in historical romance. I have seen a ton of regency romance, a little highlander and not much of other sub genres that made historical romance so fun to read. What I think has been good though this past year, is seeing old romances be republished and it has been a reminder of what I have been missing from historical romance. There are many sub genres of historical romance, and some of my favorite authors have delved deeped into these such as Kathleen Woodiwiss and Johanna Lindsey. Now not everyone will be a fan of these authors, because quite frankly—they write tough book that are realistic and portray what life was really like and not sugarcoating it. (which in my opinion happens way too often these days) But I love seeing a bunch of variety in stories like these examples: westerns, highlands, medievals, pirates, vikings, native american, the islands, australian, harems and deserts, civil war and colonial , french revolution and the renaissance. This is one of the main reasons I have started reading older romances, because I miss seeing these settings.

I am hoping in the near future that this will change, that I will see more depth and a story I can get into easily that tests my emotions and takes me back to various time periods and different cultures.

If any of my readers are interested in reading some of the older romances, feel free to check out openlibrary.org. It has many romances, that are free to download on your e reader. This site digitally copies these books, very different experience when reading an ebook because its like having a paperback on your e reader.

Questions For My Readers? 

Is there something more you want to see out of historical romance? 

Do you have a favorite sub genre to read? 

18 thoughts on “Tea and Biscuits Discussions: What is missing from Historical Romance?

  1. This is an interesting topic. While I prefer the lighter fare, I know not everyone does. And I do think there isn’t as much variety lately in romance. Luckily for me, there is a lot of the lighter reads, which is what I prefer. but if it isn’t, that can be disappointing.

  2. I am not the biggest fan of historical/ regency romances for some of the same reasons you mentioned. I usually find them unrealistic, and I don’t think they get the grit and all that like you said. They just seem too light and fluffy and HEA.

    1. I know, and I used to love what Regency used to be. It just doesn’t interest me as much as it used to. I still read it, but I don’t get the same interest as I used to. Its why I have started reading older books because they are much more to my liking. And quite frankly when it comes to historical romance, finding the HEA wasn’t easy…it took hard work to get there. I just don’t see that anymore which is sad because it feels so unrealistic and not historically authentic.

  3. I didn’t know about openlibrary, so thank you!! I think one of the reasons I got out of historical romance was that most of the ones I had read were mostly the exact same thing. :/ I’d love to see more variety in it, I think I’d revisit it. I’ll try one on openlibrary and see how it goes 😀

    1. Yes Openlibrary is amazing, I first heard about it a couple of years ago in a goodreads discussion. It has a lot of authors like bertrice small, kathleen woodiwiss, johanna lindsey, cassie edwards and more. What I love about it is the variety and so I ocassionally use it when I am in the mood for something truly historical or what historical used to be (which I miss alot)

  4. I highly enjoyed your thoughts on this article and entirely agree with you on each factor that is missing from historical romance. I feel like finally a fellow reviewer and a reader finally understands what I have been stating in my own writings. Great job!!!

    1. Thanks!!! It is truly sad to see what it has become at times, because I crave more from historical and hardly ever get it from recent releases. I just remember how fun and exciting they were to read—all the adventure, and various time periods and settings and having a realistic story that you connect with. Its why older romances are still my top favorites. I just love that sourcebooks has been doing some republishing of those works. Been fun to reconnect with those authors.

  5. I still enjoy my lighter historical romances, but I have slipped in several that lean more toward historical fiction to get the realism, authenticity, and yes, grit. The historical sagas tend to offer that. Have you tried Jean Plaidy or Isolde Martyn yet?
    My favorite sub-genres beyond regency and Victorian and Vikings and Highlanders are those set in Asia like Jeannie Lin’s Tang Dynasty. And I just bought a historical romantic suspense set in medieval Japan. Medievals are great. I also love Renaissance Italy. American Frontier. Australian Frontier. Ancient times like books set in Greece or Rome. I read one and loved it set in the Iron Age in Mesopotamia. I’ve read a few Russian pre-revolution and war time.
    Okay yeah, I’ll go for any historicals obviously. Hey, I even read the Caveman ones. 🙂

    1. I do love China themed romances but I haven’t read any since high school—so sad. I miss those that I had read. I will have to try out Jeannie Lin then. Caveman ones are fun aren’t they??? So alpha male. I don’t think I have tried Plaidy or Martyn but adding them to my list though. I love Vikings though or anything really on the sea. Johanna Lindsey has a couple of Russian ones that are fun too. But those are so rare to find.

  6. This discussion came up at our IRC convention. I myself will rate a book lower just because the author wrote it completely in today’s times. I know TV shows such as Reign can get by with it but books nope… I want the feel of being in that time period. I believe the biggest problem lies with the authors not finding the right editor for that time period to challenge them but then again for some reason readers have changed, they don’t seem to want what we older blogs are use too anymore. Sad to say romance across the board has changed since Fifty Shades of Gray has came out. You can also look at Amazon just voted J.R. Wards new book as number one in Romance and the book is not romance so this will cause an affect down the line in all of romance be it PNR or Historical. I quit reading so much because of stuff as your article speaks about and until our romance authors find their way back, their sales will continue to take a turn down.

    1. oh wow really??? That is awesome, I didn’t know if many would agree with this topic because so many now seem to like the new light and fluffy regency reads. It is really interesting to see so many contemporary aspects in historical’s. (quite amusing) because I feel like when you are talking 1800’s, or the 1300’s, or even beyond that….that aren’t women’s rights or anything like that. And I have seen reader’s complain about a woman not fighting for them. But back then, it was unheard of. So I tend to respect an author more when they are more realistic about the circumstances. I have found that a heroine’s strength isn’t determined by if she has a “career” or not . And I have noticed lots of changes due to Fifty Shades and its a bit heartbreaking to me. Because there will be a mainstream author that I have enjoyed in the past, and they will put in some BDSM scenes that just don’t fit the time, culture, or the tone of the story at all. I think this is why historical romance hasn’t exactly gotten huge like it used to be. I mean ten years ago romance was HISTORICAL ROMANCE hehe. It really saddens me to see how much its underrated now and I think a major part of it is due to the fact of the quality and how realistic they are. It’s probably one of the toughest genres in romance to write, so I admire those that do. Some of them do great, but the number grows smaller and smaller as the years go by and more readers tend to want more light stuff or lots and lots of sex in romance—which in all honesty just doesn’t fit historical to be honest. There should be more of a balance. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. It looks like we both agree on some major points.

      1. We had a blogger to bring it up in one of the panels. She mentioned about how she wanted to read the historical aspects, when someone cut in ad said they didn’t because they could never understand the language. This is one subject along with others such as, whatever happens to HEA in romance, we really need to keep in focus because its becoming a thing if the past. So keep complaining and I need to get my discussion going on this too.

  7. I am still pretty new to the historical romance genre and finding my way, so that means I haven’t been aware of this change as I’ve mostly read some newer historical romances. I do think that histroical romance is a genre that leads itself well to gritty and emotional stories. To shwo the struggles and harshness of life back then and how different things were. Although it can also be nice to read some lighter and fluffier historical romances, depending on my mood.

    It can be hard for me to determine what’s realistic or not for the time and it’s something I sometimes struggle with when reading a historical romance. I also like to get a good feel for the time and setting by reading the book, but that isn’t something I have encoutnered a lot yet so far. I would love to read some historical romances with different settings, so far most that I’ve read are set in England. I would love to read more historical romances set in america or even in any other countries. I hadn’t heard of open library so far, so i’ll check it out.

    1. There is quite a bit in historical romance for you to discover, especially if your newer to the genre. But there are many varieties which I love. Its so fun to travel the world in a story and see different cultures from various time periods. I am a huge history nut, so that is why I love historical romance so much and also why I am picky about it too. Hope you enjoy Open Library. I love it.

  8. I have noticed the same thing too. I think it is because readers in general have changed along with the world. Most people want to escape into a light and fluffy world that is often not realistic. They don’t care about accuracy. They actually get mad if there is any accuracy. Anyway, thanks for sharing the site. I look forward to using it so I can get a dose of the good old days.

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