When writing a book, authors are faced with decisions about what era to choose and what location to place the story. Since historical romance genre readers have their likes and dislikes, those decisions can influence sales.
If you do a quick perusal of today’s best-selling historical romance books on Amazon Kindle, the top forty-eight bestsellers are set in the following locations: Thirty-nine in the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, and Ireland) and nine set in North America.
An interesting article was published in USA Today on July 6, 2016, focusing on the fact that historical romance set outside of England can be risky business.
Settings in England continue to flood the marketplace. Perhaps that is why we are drowning in dukes and other titled aristocrat-related stories. Why, however, are readers not as interested in other geographical settings? The British have apparently made such an influence on literature throughout history in their abundance of romantic poets and female authors such as Austen, Bronte, and Gaskell, that we rarely look elsewhere. Romance in England holds our fanciful interests more so than stories set in other regional settings. Perhaps it’s one place the empire continues to rule because it appears the sun never sets on the British Empire of historical romance.
The more I look at the trends of the genre, the more I become convinced readers and authors are stuck in a rut. Of course, if readers don’t support the authors who dare to cross country borders, a dramatic change in the genre may never occur.
Romance stories can be universal and not confined to one country. It’s “a book or movie dealing with love in a sentimental or idealized way,” says the English Oxford Living Dictionary. Nevertheless, let’s face it — there’s nothing to idealize in a story about falling in love with a farmer from nineteenth-century Poland. However, give us an English country estate, lavish lifestyles, a titled duke, and we’re more than ready to transport ourselves into the idealized romance of English life.
I’ll admit that with my English ancestry on my maternal side, I am more prone to read books set on English soil. On my paternal side, I’m Eastern European, but don’t seek out historical romance books set in Russia.
How about you?