Is the Historical Romance Genre Dying?

What a loaded question that happened to be on the Internet today.  A blog post was contributed by Jane Litte, the founder of Dear Author entitled, “We Should Let the Historical Romance Genre Die.”  A flash flood of comments were posted either agreeing or rebutting the idea.  The article was re-posted on one of my favorite sites, The Passive Voice, which generated many comments as well. It was a hot topic between readers and writers whether our Mr. Darcy-type characters are doomed to fade away into the distant past.

I commented on The Passive Voice that I don’t think the genre will ever really die, though the interest may wane because of the current trends in the marketplace. The vampire rage has paled, being replaced by the kinky millionaires and sex slaves in the bedchamber. Perhaps one day readers will want to return to the good old days for a bit of swashbuckling romance. I think new generations who fall in love with Austen’s work will want to read Regency-era stories. Of course, that genre is a bit cleaner than the 21st century, unless we start tying up and spanking Mr. Darcy for pleasure.

Frankly, authors need to make their stories more interesting, reach out to those readers who want that type of novel. Keeping a genre alive is a responsibility of not only a reader, but the author as well, who should have the incentive and imagination to bring a new flavor. If the target audience is getting bored, there must be reason behind it. Perhaps authors are just churning out too many cookie-cutter stories with not enough emotional impact to keep readers interested.

I had an after thought, too, that historical romance is no easy gig for any author.  It’s one thing to write contemporary romance, sprinkled with a bit of research.  It’s entirely another daunting job to jump into a historical era and learn all about the speech, customs, dress, beliefs, and attitudes of the day.  Without research, historical romance is bland and just a story.  You can also get crucified in reviews from staunch protectors of the faith if you dare to vary from the historical norm. I don’t mind research, because I want to develop my characters in their true surrounding.  After all, some of the research is interesting!  I always thought French letters were just that — letters.  Little did I know…

Well, I assume that in a few days another controversial post will pop up somewhere in blog land.  In the meantime, what do you think?  Is the historical romance genre dying a slow death?  If so, what can we do to spice things up a bit, without making it raunchy in content?

I’ll leave with you another wonderful photo of a period dress to ponder upon while you’re thinking of your answer. I think women must have felt so feminine and beautiful.  Believe me, my jeans and sneakers just don’t do the trick.

 

 “It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.”
― Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

  2 comments for “Is the Historical Romance Genre Dying?

  1. Mia
    May 9, 2013 at 3:23 am

    Hello there! So, this comment may become a little long because I believe fate brought me here to your blog. I was just about to go to bed and was checking my email. I saw your post from blogaholics about people interested in historical romance and was so curious that I decided to stop by your blog (which I am now following, btw).

    Historical romance has and always will have a special place in my heart. If it wasn't for historical romance, I would never be the romantic that I am today. My very first novel that I read by myself (meaning not forced upon me by teachers) was a Native American Historical Romance by Cassie Edwards. I remember hanging out with my older cousin and she wanted to look in the book section of Wal-mart or K-Mart years ago. My eyes became glued to the cover of one of Cassie Edwards romances. I bought it and the rest is history. My love for Native American Historical Romances opened me up to other Historical Romances–everything from Vikings to Highlanders, to Pirates to Dukes, etc. Some of my favorite authors used to be Connie Mason, Donna Fletcher, Karen Marie Moning, Kat Martin, Brenda Joyce (of course most of the novels I like from these authors are older titles since some of them have new series that have deviated from what they used to write).

    In more recent years, since becoming a teacher and working with teenagers, I started to step away from the historical romances because I was so submerged in YA literature, wanting to keep up with what teens were reading so I could find a connection with some of my students. I also got a bit bored for a time because some of those authors I mentioned above started writing new series in new genres and I felt a sort of loss. I was having trouble finding authors that wrote the kind of historical romances that I grew up loving.

    So this is why I think it was fate I landed on your blog tonight. I was literally on netgalley.com last night (if you don't know, netgalley is a site where publishers post ARCs and you can request them in exchange for a review) and I came across a new book coming out from Brenda Joyce, an author who used to write amazing Historical Romances. The new book, called A Rose in the Storm is a highland romance which I haven't read one in years. I ended up requesting it because it came over me last night that I miss reading that genre. Maybe it's time I start doing some research so I can find new authors that write historical romances. I miss the genre on top of the fact that I have 5 Donna Fletcher books sitting on my bookshelf that I have yet to read. But I always buy her books without fail.

    Anyway, again, sorry for the long comment but I just wanted to say hello from one historical romance fan to another. I absolutely love the concept of your blog and maybe one day we can work together on some guest posts. I have a love for history in general (I actually have a minor in Art History and if you stop by my blog and notice my theme, you will see how much I love History!) and sometimes it is hard to find others who are like minded.

    Anyway, feel free to stop by my blog or drop me an email. I also am the only one that runs my blog on top of working 2 jobs, so I basically post anywhere from 2 to 3 times a week (Mon, Wed, and I try to post movie reviews on Saturday but it has been awhile since I've done one). So anytime you wish to chat or vent or come up with ideas, don't hesitate to contact me.

    Best Wishes!

    Mia @ The Muses Circle

  2. May 9, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    Thank you for the wonderful long comment! I visited your blog as well and clicked follow. I appreciate your comments and thoughts about historical romance.It's interesting that you also review movies and television shows, because I do the same and have a separate blog called Popcorn Entertainment. I will keep in touch and you are more than welcome to contribute a guest post.

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