Historical romances. Putting these 2 words together seems almost an oxymoron in the world of “happily ever after”. For the contemporary romance author, writing a romance without an HEA is like committing hari kari in terms of potential sales, because romance readers demand that their heroes end up together. When they don’t, it’s a death knell for the book once the word gets out.
Historical romances almost never have an HEA. The best the reader can hope for is the ever elusive HFN. Do historical romance readers have different expectations than contemporary romance readers? Maybe they have had their hearts broken so many times they no longer expect their guys to end up together. Is part of the allure the thought of overcoming all odds – not to be together forever, but to show just what the human spirit can endure? Do we long for days long gone by when men were men and no feat was impossible? Do these books have some sort of a cachet which appeals to the “intellectual” in those readers who love the genre?
I have been trying for some time to figure out the reasons for the popularity of historical romances and so far have not been able to crack the code. Not that there has to be a reason for the popularity of this sub genre which has been around for as long as romances have been published. But recently I was really depressed while reading a historical romance and I wondered why a writer would choose a plot that was such a downer. It’s bad enough to know that one of the protagonists will probably end up with a woman he’s forced to marry, or be killed – leaving his lover alone forever, but to write stories that have a thread of doom and gloom throughout is really pouring it on.
I do love historical romances but I admit that the books set around WW2 or later are more to my taste because the men don’t get sick from diseases long extinct such as scurvy – I won’t upset you by detailing the horrible symptoms and effects of diseases like this, let’s just say they are not pretty. I don’t think that reading romances is supposed to make you depressed! I can’t imagine love flourishing in such an environment and I wonder if the authors are at all upbeat when they are writing these stories. Do they take happy pills so that they don’t slit their wrists? 😀 I realize that this post will not make me the most popular person today, but I’m really curious about the allure of historical romances, given the built-in downsides of no HEA in a genre (romance) where this is almost sacrilegious. I will confess that a few Age of Sail romances like Captain’s Surrender and Ransom are some of my most loved books, and Transgressions is up there, still ….. IDK
Do you read historical romances because the thought of the protagonists being jailed or ending up on the gallows, if they are caught having sex, makes the story more appealing and exciting? Or is the attraction the wonderful uniforms in Age of Sail romances and the pomp and ceremony in the books? Maybe the thought of ripping off those nice fancy uniforms and tight breeches gets the adrenalin pumping. 😀
Readers, do you feel uplifted when you read about the horrible conditions that the men have to endure for love and country (since in most of these books they are fighting one war or another)? Do you love these romances because they are about a past that didn’t have all the modern problems we endure today? (At least there are no identity thefts in historical romances) 😀 Is it because these stories are set in an era where men had to rely on each other, brute strength, and maybe, just maybe, a bit of intelligence to survive?
Writers, why do you love historical romances? What’s the alllure of this sub genre? It can’t be easy – the research and amount of detail in the world building are incredible so I know you must love the different eras, but what are the other reasons why you write historical romances?
(I should point out, if it wasn’t clear, that I’m only discussing M/M historical romances which are quite different in terms of HEA than het historicals).
The floor is open for your brickbats. 😀