Netflix’s ‘Bridgerton’ Heats Up Romance Genre – (Press This! WSJ)

A show based on popular bodice-rippers gives an industry often dismissed as tawdry a much-needed embrace. The success of “Bridgerton” couldn’t have come at a better time for the romance industry, which has been struggling to retain its power in the publishing world. Recent years have marked a steady decline in print and ebook sales of romance novels, which went from more than 98 million units sold in 2012 to 41 million in 2020, according to NPD BookScan, whose figures do not reflect sales of self-published titles.

Source: Netflix’s ‘Bridgerton’ Heats Up Romance – WSJ

Duchess of York: From Budgie the Helicopter to Mills & Boon (Press This! BBC News)

Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, has written her first novel for adults, to be released by the leading romantic fiction publisher Mills & Boon.  Her novel Heart for a Compass is a fictional historical saga inspired by her great-great-aunt.

Source: Duchess of York: From Budgie the Helicopter to Mills & Boon

10 Books Like ‘Bridgerton’ To Read When You Need More Romance (Press This! Elite Daily)

Author Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series of novels is as delightful as the hit Netflix show adapted from it. Luckily, many viewers getting into the world of Bridgerton means quite a few new readers will head to their libraries or local bookstores to check out the books that inspired the show.

Source: 10 Books Like ‘Bridgerton’ To Read When You Need More Romance

 

Blame Jane: Romance Novels 2019–2020 (Press This! Publishers Weekly)

What’s so great about Regency romances anyway?

Source: Blame Jane: Romance Novels 2019–2020

Another interesting article – Blame Jane! “The lack of realistic options for writing interesting heroines is where the Regency loses a lot of authors. The choice can feel stuck between anachronism—planting a modern sensibility into an historic setting—and gender politics that leave modern readers cold.”

Bridgerton’s Toxic Romance Fails Its Audience (Press This! Screen Rant)

The article linked below makes the point, “The Duke and I, was first published in 2000 – twenty years ago, well before woke culture, the #MeToo movement, and our growing understanding of consent and healthy gender dynamics.” We are back again to the conundrum that historical romance needs to stay pure to the times in which women lived, or we need to tweak the past so that it doesn’t offend those in the present.

Recently I read a review for the Earl’s Well that Ends Well, a new release by Catherine Heloise, on another book website. I won’t go into the review itself but would like to focus upon a comment left by a reader. Perhaps it brings up a singular thought or one that is currently running through the historical romance genre as readers deal with the past versus the present. Can readers find enjoyment in love stories that deal with toxic relationships and time periods that were oppressive to women? On the other hand, are more progressive readers going to demand that authors write novels in tune with today’s social expectations?

It’s an interesting argument that I think is going to split the genre going forward. There will be readers who want historical norms with romance, and others who want a modern romance version set in a historical setting. I think there can definitely be a blend of strong heroines in books going forward as discussed in a previous post, “Changing Heroines in Historical Romance.” All you have to do nowadays is read book reviews and focus on the five and one-star comments. The split of opinions on the subject is growing.

Talk to me! Do you mind reading about “toxic” relationships? Of course, characters should have flaws and the healing of couples can bring two together into healthy relationships. Do the oppressive eras that women dealt with rub you the wrong way, or are you able to handle it if the female character has a bit of spunk?

The problem with Bridgerton is not in how it portrays society but in how it portrays the relationship between Daphne and Simon. Beneath the veneer of romance, it’s a mutually manipulative and toxic relationship and one that shouldn’t be emulated. Unfortunately, it’s this sort of relationship that Bridgerton chooses to center, and in doing so, the show fails its modern audience.

Source: Bridgerton’s Toxic Romance Fails Its Audience | Screen Rant

True Story of Lady Whistledown’s Scandal Sheets in ‘Bridgerton’ (Press This! Town & Country

A history lesson on the gossip columns. Great read.

“Newspapers were plentiful during the Regency Era, with most of the stories published centering on politics, crime, fashion, infidelity, or royal doings,” says Geri Walton, author of Marie Antoinette’s Confidante and regular writer on 18th and 19th-century Europe.

Source: True Story of Lady Whistledown’s Scandal Sheets in ‘Bridgerton’

The Goodreads Choice Awards Needs To Stop Being a Popularity Contest (Press This! Study Breaks)

The article makes this comment:

“For one, Goodreads needs a women’s fiction category because some books that were nominated for the best romance this year (and years previous) don’t really fit into the romance genre.”

I rest my case about the category problem. Should we be surprised? Amazon owns Goodreads, so once again readers are faced with the wrong categorization of books. When it comes to Goodreads Choice Awards, that presents problems too. I admit that when authors enter books into other contests they have the option to enter the same book into one or more categories (for an extra price). It’s not just Goodreads and/or Amazon creating the confusion.  It does, however, push those books that are true to the genre into a competition that is unnecessary.

In recent years, the platform has seemingly chosen to reward books with a lot of hype instead of judging solely by quality.

Source: The Goodreads Choice Awards Needs To Stop Being a Popularity Contest

Interview with Julia Quinn on Bridgerton (Press This! The Lewiston Tribune)

“Quinn hopes the Netflix series might draw more attention to the genre.”  We can hope!

Julia Quinn, the Seattle-based author of dozens of bestselling historical romance novels (whose real name is Julie Pottinger), is on the phone, remembering the moment she learned that her series of books about the Bridgerton family in Regency London was headed to the screen.

Source: Seattle author’s ‘Bridgerton’ novels debut as Netflix series | Arts & Entertainment | lmtribune.com

How much of Netflix’s Regency Romp Bridgerton is Historically Accurate? (Press This! Daily Mail)

The show’s producers claim, “The point was to take that Regency period as a foundation, and not betray it in any way, but we didn’t want to make it a history lesson.

I find it interesting that some readers will allow authors to take liberties in their stories when they don’t one-hundred percent reflect the norms of the historical eras in which their book is set. A few minor falsehoods are forgiven, and it’s the love story that captures the reader’s attention instead.

Other readers are purists at heart and want both — a historical romance that rings true to the era. I’ve read my fair share of reviewers who complain, using comments such as “the speech was too modern,” “badly written Regency novel, using contemporary slang,” “doesn’t seem Regency to me,” “a woman would never be left alone with a man,” “they would have never acted that way,” “not historical – check your facts,” “you address a duke as Your Grace,” etc. They find these mistakes distracting to the overall central love story.

How much of the series is fact, and how much is simply fiction? Read the fact-checks on just how accurate Bridgerton Netflix Series is below. It’s a history lesson. Of course, that raises a question.  Does Julia Quinn write historically accurate novels, or does she allow a bit of freedom in her storytelling?

The point was to take that Regency period as a foundation, and not betray it in any way, but we didn’t want to make it a history lesson.’ So, how much of the series is fact, and how much is simply fiction? Here FEMAIL fact-checks just how accurate Bridgerton really is…

Source: How much of Netflix’s Regency romp Bridgerton is historically accurate? | Daily Mail Online

Category Confusion on Amazon Best Selling Lists

I read an interesting complaint the other day in a group on Facebook for historical fiction lovers. They complained that far too many historical romance books were invading the list, making it difficult for them to find books. Naturally, I jumped on the bandwagon to explain how publishers and authors choose categories and keywords when uploading a book. I don’t know that it helped any, because the complaints kept coming.

Frankly, I will admit when I look at the best selling list for historical romance, I get confused. There are plenty of category crossovers as well, causing readers to sift through the top one hundred. As a result, I occasionally read nasty reviews when a reader who expected a certain genre gets a miss-match instead.

What is the difference between the two genres? Historical romance is a sub-genre of romance and is set in a time period set before 1950 (per RWA – it used to be WW2, but time marches on). I’m going to borrow from the Romance Writers of America website the definition. Romance novels should have a central love story, where the main plot revolves around individuals falling in love and struggling to make it work. It should have an “emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.”

The definition of historical fiction, which is a sub-genre of literature, is set in the past and “characterized chiefly by an imaginative reconstruction of historical events and personages.” (i.e., dictionary.com) Of course, those personages can experience romance too, but it’s not the central story. The Historical Novel Society has a rather lengthy article on what defines the genre.

As a writer myself, I can say that I have fallen into the trap of cross categorization. Some historical fiction novels may have romantic elements, so does that make them historical romance or historical fiction? If it doesn’t follow the rule for a happy ending, reviewers will definitely balk and complain it was not historical romance. If your lover gets beheaded at the end, it’s definitely historical fiction.

There are a few good examples of crossing genre lines taking a look at today’s bestseller lists. What the Wind Knows is a good example that is currently in the top selling-categories of historical Irish fiction, cultural heritage fiction, and 20th-century historical romance. It’s a time-travel trope, heavily laden with historical fiction, with some romance. Diana Gabaldon has repeatedly stated that Outlander is not a historical romance when it clearly stays in the top one hundred of the category. (Read Here) It currently holds a spot on the bestseller list for historical fiction too. Of course, both books have romantic elements, but they are more clearly historical fiction time-travel, with romantic elements. I like to write family sagas, but they also have romantic elements. They are not, however, historical romance as defined.

Checking the current list of best sellers in historical fiction, Julia Quinn owns six of the top-ten spots in that genre, when clearly it’s historical romance. There are quite a few other obvious historical romance books by known authors in the list, including Lynsay Sands, K. J. Jackson, and Anne Gracie. Undoubtedly, that is a result of the historical fiction category being chosen by the publisher and/or independent author during the release of the book.

Is there a solution? Not really. As long as Amazon gives publishers and independent authors the ability to choose two categories, the problem will persist when sales cause it to skyrocket to the top one-hundred in the bestseller list. If you’re looking for a true historical romance, you can always stick to the titles with a duke, earl, marquess, or other English titled- aristocrat looks like a rogue on the cover. It’s a sure sign that history inside might not be exactly historically correct (which brings up another subject altogether), but the romance is hot and steamy with a happily-ever-after ending.

Bridgerton on Netflix Has Very Little in Common with the Books (Press This! Paste)

So my recommendation to you: If you have read the books, try NOT to compare them. You can’t. They are completely different, except for the names of the characters and a vague sense that you are in a historical England. If you want to see the books brought to life on the screen, simply trade in your paperback for a Kindle.

Source: Bridgerton on Netflix Has Very Little in Common with the Books – Paste

NetGalley Has Been Hacked (Press This! The Digital Reader)

NetGalley sent out an email (and put a notice on their home page) informing users that the e-galley service has been hacked on Monday, December 21, 2020. The hackers defaced the NetGalley. . . (continue reading)

Source: NetGalley Has Been Hacked | The Digital Reader

Authors and publishers pay a hefty fee to use NetGalley.  If you are not familiar with the website, readers can obtain advance copies of books.  It was originally launched in 2008, distributing galley proofs before release.  These books are posted by mainstream publishing houses and independent authors. Apparently the hackers accessed the backup file of the NetGalley database.  Not good news.

If you are a reader, author, or publisher, you will have received notification of the breach.

The Best Romance Novels to Read After Watching ‘Bridgerton’ (Press This! Vulture)

Rakish dukes abound. If you’ve found that your appetite has been whet and more of the same is what you crave, look no further.

Source: The Best Romance Novels to Read After Watching ‘Bridgerton’

Here are some of Vulture’s recommendations.  Follow the article to read more or take your pick from below.

I’m afraid this there is going to be another duke resurgence in the genre.  As you probably know, I’m a bit tired of the character.  Nevertheless, enjoy your rakish men!

The Bee in the Bridgerton Finale Could Hint at the Plot of Season 2 (Press This! Oprah Magazine)

In the shows final seconds, the camera pans over to a single buzzing bee on a windowsill—but the scene lasted a bit too long, suggesting that the bug was alluding to something and wasn’t just an aesthetically pleasing image of an insect. We break down what the bee signifies below and how it hints at what’s to come for season two and Anthony Bridgerton.

Source: The Bee in the Bridgerton Finale Could Hint at the Plot of Season 2

No news yet, but the speculation is out already. If there is a season two, I imagine it will be well over a year until release. (Still wish they’d do a season two of Sanditon.)

Julia Quinn Rules the Top 10 Best Seller List in Kindle eBooks for the Historical Romance Genre

Julia must be extremely happy, as the release of Bridgerton – The Duke & I on Netflix, has soared many of her Bridgerton series books to the top-ten best sellers in the genre.

In fact three of them, are on the entire best-sellers in Kindle eBooks. As of this post, Bridgerton: The Duke and I (Book One) is at #3, Bridgerton Collection Volume 1: The First Three is at #6, and The Viscount who Loved Me: Bridgerton is at #9.

Congratulations, Julia!

What Is a Rake? (Press This! Oprah Magazine)

An in-depth article on what makes a rake in historical romance books.

One thing positive about Bridgerton, it may give the historical romance genre new readership. 

If you need a few good rakish reads, below are some suggestions.

Today, a rake is common archetype for the witty hero of a historical romance novel—hence why the word appears in so many titles. Explains why Simon is the ultimate “lovable scoundrel.”

Source: What Is a Rake? Why Bridgerton’s Simon Is the Ultimate Definition

Bridgerton on Netflix (My Review)

Saturday and Sunday, I spent hours watching the new Netflix Series, Bridgerton, based on Julia Quinn’s The Duke & I. There are tons of articles on the Internet that include reviews from mainstream media and entertainment sites. Now I am offering my two cents.  I’m assuming you have read Julia Quinn’s Book about Simon and Daphne’s journey, so I won’t go into great plot detail but will give my thoughts on the series itself.  Neither will I critique the story itself, which does present some problems among readers and viewers with a particular scene.

Story & Setting – Shonda Rhimes’s Netflix version follows the book’s story. However, as indicated at the beginning credits this is “Shondaland,” a vastly different view of the true reality of who composed the English aristocracy. People of color are central in the cast, explained as a result of mad King George marrying a woman of color. Obviously, there are pros and cons that the show deviates from historical reality. In order to enjoy, you will have to re-imagine a world that lives in “Shondaland” and not in fact. The series was filmed in Bath, showing recognizable locales, even though the story for the most part is set in London for the season.

The episodes give all the characters ample focus, but I found myself bored during some of the subplots as they played out. There are over 25 characters in eight episodes. I thought that far too much time was spent on Marina Thompson’s storyline and her stay in the Featherington household. Other subplots did not keep my interest either. Frankly, I think overall the series could have been tightened down to six episodes making it more interesting.

Casting – The two main characters of Daphne (played by Phoebe Dynevor) and Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings (played by Rege-Jean Page) are interesting. I’m going out on a limb here and saying that I was not impressed with the casted couple.  Phoebe isn’t what I would characterize as a great beauty, but plays the role well of an innocent and pure young lady of impeccable breeding.  Rege-Jean, on the other hand, did not float my remote. I’m sorry, but I thought him stiff, making Simon unlikable, unapproachable, arrogant, and unattractive. The way he looks down his nose at you just about kills any amorous feelings you hope to flourish as a viewer. It has nothing to do with his race, but everything to do with making the leading man appealing to audiences — not just with his clothes off.  (Fine body, by the way.) If the term a cardboard character can be used on-screen, I would term him as such. I did not feel any longing for him as a man, which is the fantasy women want when reading historical romance. It’s the irresistible rake who you conjure up between the pages of a book that is lost in translation.  Although the story is definitely a ruse between Daphne and Simon to begin with, their eventual falling in love didn’t capture my heart in any swoon-worthy manner. I didn’t care about them as a couple or their reconciliation at the end. The remaining cast is acceptable in their roles. I was surprised to see Julian Ovenden. Nicola Coughlan was adorable as Penelope Featherington.

Costumes – I’ve read there were 7,800 outfits worn. Some historically accurate — others a little over the top, including the outrageous wigs.  The Featherington family gowns are colorful with bold prints, while the Bridgertons are dressed in more subdued colors with sparkling fabrics. Daphne changes so many times it makes you dizzy. Corsets in Shondaland were a little out of date. If you love men in cravats, you will like their outfits.  I’ve never been a real fan of Regency era styles anyway.  I’m more of a late Victorian dress-gal myself.

Sex – This needs a category all its own. Had I thought about it, I should have kept a pen and paper handy to count the number of sex scenes. As I strain my brain to remember how many transpired between Simon and Daphne, I think there were eight. No frontal nudity but enough in bed to wonder whether the actor’s modesty pieces kept intact during the rambunctious scenes of sexual intercourse. Lot’s of skin and no under the covers. They did it everywhere imaginable, moaning enough to give the servants a good chuckle. On the stairs, against the wall, against a ladder in the library, in the grass, and in bed. Simon had his head up Daphne’s skirt a few times as well, sending her into ultimate sexual bliss. (On the stairs nonetheless with a camera overview – geesh! I’m thinking where are the servants?) Then there is the “no consent” scene, which is disturbing.  However, Simon isn’t exactly intoxicated as indicated in the book. He’s definitely more lucid but is horrified when Daphne gets on top. He repeatedly protests but to no avail.  The scene quickly turns upon him and Daphne’s anger regarding his “can’t” and “won’t” have children scenario, but brushes under the rug Daphne’s actions. Anthony Bridgerton has his fair share of scenes in the sack, and the hidden love affair that Henry Granville has with another male touches on the dangers that homosexuals faced in that era but only shows two males embracing.

Season 2 – Of course, everyone is asking will there be a season two?  Will Anthony Bridgerton get his love story next? From what I’ve read, it’s one of those, “I’d love to make one,” scenarios but no promises or announcements yet. Will it die as Sanditon did? I cannot imagine all of the book series going on screen, but I never thought Outlander would last as long as well.

As an author myself, I am a distant star in a galaxy of bright-shining stars in the world of historical romance. Julia Quinn is living the dream of seeing her characters come to life on screen. I cannot think of anything more exciting. Even though I’ve had a few tell me that my Legacy Series would be great, I’m an independent author with no publishing house, agent behind me, or huge sales to make it notable. Nevertheless, kudos to Julia who is no doubt enjoying her characters come to life regardless of Shonda tweaking aristocratic reality just a tiny bit. 

Feel free to leave your thoughts on whether it floated your remote or not.  Reviews have termed it as “sparkly,” “scintillating,” “delightfully horny,” as well as “shallow” and “preposterous and cliche-ridden.” Did you enjoy it, or are you sticking with the book instead? Feel free to comment.