Articles

Duchess by Design Charms and Brings Feminism to Romance

Source: Duchess by Design charms and brings feminism to romance

In the first novel of Maya Rodale’s enthralling new series, an English duke vows to make an American seamstress his duchess…

In Gilded Age Manhattan, anything can happen…

Seeking a wealthy American bride who can save his family’s estate, Brandon Fiennes, the duke of Kingston, is a rogue determined to do the right thing. But his search for an heiress goes deliciously awry when an enchanting seamstress tumbles into his arms instead.

…and true love is always in fashion

 

Miss Adeline Black aspires to be a fashionable dressmaker—not a duchess—and not even an impossibly seductive duke will distract her. But Kingston makes an offer she can’t refuse: join him at society events to display her gowns and advise him on which heiresses are duchess material. It’s the perfect plan—as long as they resist temptation, avoid a scandal, and above all do not lose their hearts.

Articles

Be Sam Heughan’s Sassenach for the Night in Scotland – Omaze.com 

Don’t be afraid, there’s the two of you now. You and Sam Heughan. And you’re going on an incredible, pinch-me-I’m-dreaming date in Scotland! But you’re not dreaming. In fact you’ve never felt more awake, because the man who plays Jamie Fraser knows how to treat a date and tonight you’re his Sassenach. Sam’s going to pick you up in a horse-drawn carriage and whisk you away to a gorgeous Scotland castle, where you’ll get to know each other over fine whisky (or the drink of your choice) and intimate conversation. After a wee dram or two, Sam will take you… into the ballroom for the annual My Peak Challenge gala to celebrate the night away together. You’ll wake up the next morning with one thought in your head: Claire, who? Flights and hotel included.

Source: Be Sam Heughan’s Sassenach for the Night in Scotland – Omaze.com

Articles

16 American Historical Romance Books We Can’t Stop Swooning Over (Per BookBub)

So says BookBub!  Cowboys and mail-order brides. This is their list of the best for 2018.  Do you agree? Click the link below to read their choices.

From passion on the western frontier to the amorous swinging ’20s, this list has it all!

Source: 16 American Historical Romance Books We Can’t Stop Swooning Over

Articles

10 Gothic Romance Novels That Aren’t ‘Jane Eyre’ Or ‘Wuthering Heights’

It’s Halloween. Pick up a Gothic Romance!

I was named after Charlotte Brontë, so it’s safe to say that I grew up reading Jane Eyre. I loved Jane as a kid. I, too, wanted to go out and seek my fortune as a plain but determined young governess and get swept off my feet by a Mr. Rochester. I…

Source: 10 Gothic Romance Novels That Aren’t ‘Jane Eyre’ Or ‘Wuthering Heights’

Articles

11 Historical Romances To Pick Up Instead Of Re-Reading ‘Pride And Prejudice’

Look, everyone loves Jane Austen. The clothing, the tea, the socially awkward and emotionally withdrawn yet extremely wealthy bachelors… it’s all very good. And Austen’s novels have inspired many, many other wonderfully written romances set…

Source: 11 Historical Romances To Pick Up Instead Of Re-Reading ‘Pride And Prejudice’

Articles, Award Winning Authors, Historical Romance

In the News – The Amazon Jungle


Nobody knows the trouble we see…except authors.

Here is an informative blog post written by USA Today bestselling author Suzan Tisdale to Jeff Bezos, the head of Amazon.  She makes a startling introductory statement, and I can attest to the fact that I also lost 90% of my income because of Kindle Unlimited.

So what other problems are plaguing authors in Amazon land?  Read it and be informed. It’s really a jungle of survival in a world of scammers and thieves.  The landscape can be discouraging for authors.  It makes you wonder why bother to write when there are snakes slithering through the Amazon jungle.   Nonetheless, when you have the gift and urge of storytelling, it’s difficult to stop in spite of it all.

Readers read and be informed.  As an author, I’m thankful for strong voices such as Suzan’s in the author community who speak for us all.

This is the letter that I have sent to Jeff Bezos regarding the problems with KU Book Stuffers, Scammers, and thieves. Take from it what you will. Dear Mr. Bezos, I am Suzan Tisdale. I began my sel…

Source: An Open Letter to Jeff Bezos

Articles, Historical Romance

Traditional Publishers’ eBook Sales Drop as Indie Authors & Amazon Take Off

When I began writing in 2009 and released my first independent book, self-publishing was frowned upon.  Only losers went that route – rejects from publishers – would be authors with VANITY written across their foreheads, with an “L” for losers. The prejudice was great, and as an individual, I suffered the pangs myself of scathing reviews, trolls, and one-stars.

Now it’s 2018, nearly ten years later, and the collective landscape has changed dramatically.  Independent authors have hit the NY Times and USA Today bestseller lists.  Some writers are making six figures a year (“Over a thousand independent authors surpassed $100,000 in royalties in 2017 through Kindle Direct Publishing”), while new writers flood the market with 99 cent books and crowd Kindle Unlimited.  As a result, the expensive ebook prices from large publishing houses are beginning to suffer.  Why pay $9.99 for an ebook when for $10 a month you can get plenty more?

Read the latest thoughts below at GeekWire.com

The future of ebook publishing may increasingly belong to the independent author, especially as traditional publishers charge a premium for their traditionally published product.

Source: Traditional publishers’ ebook sales drop as indie authors and Amazon take off.

Articles, Historical Romance

Is Historical Romance in a Rut?

Ah, the dictionary — it gives me the exact words to describe this post. RUT – “a habit or pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive but is hard to change.”  Thank you, Google Dictionary.

Already, I sound a bit snarky. However, historical romance has definitely fallen into a few ruts along the road, and I question whether we need a change.  You may discover that I’m a rebel at heart.

This morning while scanning the bestseller list of Victorian historical romances on Amazon Kindle, I counted 39 out of 50 covers that consisted of one thing – a woman in a flowing dress.  Seven covers added a male alongside the flowing dress.  Two covers had a male and no female. The remainder – one with a ship on the cover and one with multiple women (a box set of brides for historical western).

My question – what is it with dresses?  Why am I finding this trend monotonous?  Like the proliferation of dukes and Regency era stories, historical romance has carved out an obvious ongoing path that doesn’t seem to vary much beyond those boundaries in the top 100.  However, the path must be a popular one because these are the books that are bestsellers.

Historical romance is a far-reaching genre that includes eras, storylines, and cover scenes that can be just as interesting and romantic. Personally,  I would love to see this genre stir the pot a lot more to include anything other than a woman in a flowing dress to attract attention. I suppose we could blame the traditional publishing houses for continuing to proliferate that scene and those who follow to blend into the scenery.

To add to the problem, covers don’t always depict dresses that are historically accurate when it comes to fashions, i.e., Victorian bustles rather than the Regency empire waists. One of the most recent examples is Lisa Kleypas’s, Hello Stranger, in a modern gown released by Avon who is supposedly a physician in the Victorian era.  A bit of buzz has surfaced about the choice, but all of the gowns of that series appear out of place.  Thank goodness for great sites like Period Images that attempts to give more accuracy to fashions when it comes to cover models.

Well, in any event, this morning was a downer as my eyes were accosted by 39 covers of flowing dresses.  Is it just me in a state of perpetual boredom or do others share my views?

I suppose the old adage if it ain’t broken don’t fix it, but something tells me the longer we stay in the ruts we’ve created, the genre will never change as a whole. Hopefully, that doesn’t lead to a slump of interest in historical romance overall as readers burn out over repetitiveness.  We could be doing more damage than good.

Historical Romance Admin

 

Articles

The Most Effective Ways To Beat A Reading Slump — According To Reddit Users

In case you’re in a reading slump….

For those of us who are publicly avid readers, burning through books can begin to feel a bit like a competitive sport. One book a week! One book a day! Books and books and stacks of books and wow, it’s crazy, we bleed literature, baby!

Source: The Most Effective Ways To Beat A Reading Slump — According To Reddit Users

Articles, Historical Romance

See the Cover for Elizabeth Hoyt’s ‘Not the Duke’s Darling’ (Press This)

 

DileEntertainment’s online magazine today released an article regarding Elizabeth Hoyt’s new book, Not the Duke’s Darling, which is the first in a new series scheduled for release on December 18, 2018.  The cover is finally up on Amazon. It’s an interesting article about the storyline. Check it out at the link below!

Plus, the author talks creating a fictional secret society of powerful women.
Source: See the cover for Elizabeth Hoyt’s ‘Not the Duke’s Darling’

Articles, Historical Romance

No Bodices Were Ripped in the Making of this Romance Novel – The Boston Globe

The #metoo movement is hitting the romance genre. “Put another way, how does a genre commonly dubbed “bodice-rippers” stay relevant in an era when the ripping of bodices sounds more like cause for a lawsuit than a display of passion?” Read more below. Perhaps us ladies should start ripping shirts instead!

Writing a ‘trigger-free love story’ is dicey in the age of #metoo.

Source: No bodices were ripped in the making of this romance novel – The Boston Globe

Articles

The Regency Romance: How Jane Austen (Kinda) Created a New Subgenre

Interesting article worth the read about Regency romance novels and the earlier authors who blazed the trail for our modern-day romances based off of Jane Austen’s era.

Okay, I confess: I am not attending the Jane Austen Festival purely out of love for one of the greatest novelists in the history of the English language. I’m also driven by a deep and abiding love of the Regency romance.

Source: The Regency Romance: How Jane Austen (Kinda) Created a New Subgenre

Articles

Historical Romance Author Christi Caldwell

With Christi Caldwell’s latest hit, The Hellion, she’s in the news! Read about it below and follow the link.

WESTPORT – Christi Caldwell breaks her career up into two periods. The time before her son Rory was born and the time after. The point of inflection was 2008. At the time, Caldwell taught history at Fairfield Warde High School, but when Rory was born and Caldwell and her husband learned he had down syndrome, Caldwell did not return to Warde in order to attend to Rory’s many medical appointments. “It was a really uncertain time in my life and so I found that writing was really cathartic. I put a lot of emotion into it and it’s where I channeled my energy,” Caldwell, 38, said. When Caldwell was ready to return to work, she couldn’t find a teaching job.

Source: Meet Your Neighbor… Historical Romance author Christi Caldwell

Articles, Historical Romance

Historical Romance via Time Travel

My first exposure to the possibility of time travel came through the movie, The Time Machine (1960), about a 19th-century traveler transporting himself by his nifty machine 800,000 years into the future.  The story was written by H.G. Wells in 1895.

Since that time, readers and moviegoers have been traveling through time.  For historical romance readers that means we fling ourselves backward to find romance and love between the pages.  How we get there can be as interesting as the stories themselves — time machines, portals, fast cars, telephone booths, jumping off a bridge, or touching monolith looking stones in Scotland.  Whatever the transport medium, we experience a rush, finding ourselves in another world that leaves behind our cell phones, computers, modern-day problems, but perhaps we still hold onto our Kindles as we dream about being there.

One of my favorite recent time-traveling movies is Midnight in Paris.  In that movie, a very profound statement is made by one of the characters.

“Nostalgia is denial – denial of the painful present… the name for this denial is golden age thinking – the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one one’s living in – it’s a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present.”

This nostalgia is no doubt what drives the female reader to historical romance books. It’s the idea of being a duchess in love with a duke, regardless of the realities of the time period.

The sub-genre of historical romance via time travel has in the past few years found a huge resurgence due to Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander Series, even though it was published quite a few years ago.  Starz having put together the series with dreamy Sam Heughan has brought to life those mysterious stones and the possibility of traveling back in time.  Like other hot genre trends, there appears to be a proliferation of time-travel historical romances to choose from on Amazon these days.

If you had the chance, what era would you like to visit?  Medieval? Georgian?  Regency?  Victorian?  Edwardian?  No doubt, you’ll pass on the cave-man days.

Happy traveling through the stones of time!

Historical Romance Admin

 

 

Articles, Historical Romance

Amazon Won Arbitration That Addresses The Six-Figure ‘Book Stuffing’ Kindle Scam

An interesting read about scams on the Kindle platform – book stuffing.  No, it’s not a book stuffed into a turkey cavity.  It’s something entirely different where cheating authors make $100K per month abusing the KDP platform.  Read how they scam you, the reader, and steal profits from honest authors.  Amazon is putting a stop to the abuses of the system.

Last Tuesday, an Amazon subsidiary filed in federal court seeking to confirm an arbitration award against a self-publisher alleged to have abused Kindle’s terms by “combining selections of works they had already published into purportedly new books,” a practice called book stuffing.

Source: Amazon Won Arbitration That Addresses The Six-Figure ‘Book Stuffing’ Kindle Scam

Articles, Historical Romance

Beyond Bodice-Rippers: How Romance Novels Came to Embrace Feminism

Another interesting article.

“Bodice-rippers,” the most famous term associated with the romance genre are, according to the book Beyond Heaving Bosoms: “typically set in the past, and the hero is a great deal older, more brutal, and more rapetastic than the heroine.” The heroines were young, virginal women whose purity was of paramount importance to their worth. The rapist-turned-true-love hero was a standard character.

The genre is known for promoting traditional gender roles, but a new generation of writers is challenging these conventions.

Source: Beyond Bodice-Rippers: How Romance Novels Came to Embrace Feminism

Articles, Historical Romance

Top Ten Historical Romance Authors as of March 11, 2018

One month has passed since my last list of top ten on the Kindle eBooks in the Romance >Historical Romance list.

The sands have shifted again in the vast landscape of historical romance books and the authors who write them.  In fact, the list usually changes daily.  Below is a list of the authors, with their current best-selling book.

How do authors get to the top ten?  It’s all about popularity, brand, good books, and/or exceptional marketing.  Usually when an author hits the top one hundred of any genre list, the book turns into a feeding beast multiplying sales.  The better the marketing, the higher you climb, and the more visibility you receive.  It’s a book-eat-book jungle in the world of Amazon algorithms.

Drum roll, please….we’ve done all the searching for you!

  1. Kate Quinn (Penquin Publisher) – Mistress of Rome
  2. Eleanor Meyers (Sherman Brooks Publishers) – The Legend of the Earl
  3. Bridget Barton (Independent Author) – A Damsel for the Mysterious Duke
  4. Lisa Kleypas (Avon) – Hello Stranger: The Ravenels, Book 4
  5. Ellie St. Clair (Independent Author) – He’s a Duke, But I Love Him, Happily Ever After Book 4
  6. Christi Caldwell (Independent Author) – The Lady Who Loved Him (The Brethren Book 2)
  7. Kathryn Le Veque – (Dragonblade Publishing) – Brides of Scotland (Four Medieval Scotland England)
  8. Caroline Fyffe (Montlake Romance) – True Heart’s Desire (Colorado Hearts Book 2)
  9. Kimberly Cates – (Independent Author) – Angel’s Fall (Culloden’s Fire Book 2)
  10. Mary Balogh – (Class eBook Editions, Ltd) – A Day for Love
Articles, Historical Romance

What Happened to the Historical Romance Novel?

This is a Press This! redirect to a fascinating article written in 2014 that deals with the overabundance of duke-centric historical romance novels flooding the market. Some of the blame is placed on Amazon and their algorithms.  You know how it works nowadays – you search for a couch on Google and then couches are everywhere on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, etc.  If you search for a Regency romance on Amazon, and you’ll get hundreds of suggestions on other Regency romances filling your pages.

The article explores the draw to dukes and the lessening of other genre eras losing popularity for a variety of reasons. In the end, though, it encourages both authors and readers there is much more out there to write about and read about when it comes to historical romance.

Read more at What Happened to the Historical Romance Novel?  on Huffington Post

Articles, Historical Romance

Global Settings for Historical Romance

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 twenty are set in the following locations: 14 – United Kingdom, 2 – France, 3 – United States.

An interesting article was published in USA Today/LIFE by By: Joyce Lamb | July 6, 2016, focusing on the fact that historical romance set outside of England can be risky business. (See Link Below)

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 19th 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.

To read more about the brave authors who dare to set historicals outside of England, click on the link below.

Happy reading!

Diana Quincy, whose new historical romance, A License to Wed (Rebellious Brides No. 3), is out this week, joins us to explore the topic of setting historicals outside of England. Diana: If there’s one unwritten rule in historical romance, it’s that venturing outside of England is a risky proposition.

Source: Why setting a historical romance outside of England is risky business

Articles, Historical Tidbits

Victorian Women – The Unromantic Reality

Years ago, I stumbled across the book Victorian Women by Joan Perkin during a Google search and realized that it was a treasure chest of information about the Victorian era and the challenges Victorian women faced.

Studying the contents has been an eye-opening experience. I highly recommend it if you’re interested in moving beyond the romance of the era and into reality. What is unique about the book, is that it contains text from women who lived during that time period, expressing what it was like to be a woman in a man’s world. Joan Perkins includes the lives of all women, in the upper class, middle class, and working-class, to give the reader a complete picture. To be a woman in the Victorian era was frankly unromantic. Here are a few of the many items that I found informative:

  • The importance of class and gender in the Victorian era played a large role in a woman’s life. A quotation from Alexander Walker, a physiologist, in the mid-1800s had this to say about women. “It is evident that the man, possessing reasoning faculties, muscular power, and courage to employ it, is qualified for being a protector: the woman, being little capable of reasoning, feeble, and timid, requires protection. Under such circumstances, the man naturally governs; the woman as naturally obeys.” The general male opinion regarding the female sex was void of respect. Women, however, as general, didn’t buy into the fact that they were inferior to the male species. Wives who only gave birth to girls were considered failures in their marriages. A male child was considered far better not only to produce an heir for the upper class but to produce workers for the family of the working-class.
  • No formal schooling existed for children until the 1880’s. Upper-class women were taught at home by governesses and tutors. The middle upper class taught their children at home or paid for private schooling or boarding school. The lower class women were self-taught or remained illiterate. I am astonished from my own ancestry research on my family in the Manchester, UK area from the 1800s to 1890s how many of my ancestors put an “X” as their mark on documents such as marriage certificates.
  • On one spectrum, the Victorian era was one of prudish ideals. Sex, menstruation, and masturbation were never discussed in the upper and middle classes. Most women entered marriage completely ignorant regarding sexual relations or the female reproduction system. Sex was a considered a marital duty in order to produce children and should never be a pleasurable experience for a woman. Ignorance was a means used to keep daughters pure until marriage.
  • Up until the age of 21, men and women needed parental consent to marry. Marriage for the upper classes, of course, was arranged for wealth and power. Charlotte Bronte thought that romantic awakening was romantic folly. Women shouldn’t fall in love till the offer of marriage had been given, the wedding ceremony over, and the first half year of marriage had passed. Middle-class women married men that received their parents’ approval. Finding a husband could be difficult. In 1851, there were 500,000 more women than men in England, and by 1911, the number rose to a 1.5 million.
  • The lower-class women lived entirely different lives. In the 19th century over a third of women were pregnant when they got married. The farming community “indulged freely in fornication and adultery.”
  • A double standard existed in all three classes. Men were not criticized for fornication or illicit sex before or during a marriage, but women were held to different rules.
  • The mortality rates were astounding in childbirth. One in 200 women died giving birth. Most women had an average of nine children. There were crude and ineffective means of birth control, and abortion was a crime. Many poor women, however, attempted to abort babies and died in the process.
  • Once married, a woman’s property belonged to a man. Any wages a woman earned during the marriage belonged to her husband. It wasn’t until 1882 that an Act of Parliament finally gave a married woman the right to her property at the time of marriage or earned during the marriage.
  • Underpants were not worn before the 1840s. Now you know.
  • There are interesting chapters regarding what women did during the Victorian era regarding entertainment and domestic life for all classes.
  • We romanticize the Victorian era far too much. A wife was the property of the husband. Once again, the double standard held where he could be unfaithful, but the wife could not. Divorce came by Private Acts of Parliament before 1857 and was very costly and difficult to obtain. Men could divorce their wife for adultery; women could not divorce only on the grounds of adultery, but it had to be accompanied by either physical cruelty, bigamy or incest. Custody of children went to the fathers, and the rights to see the children after a divorce could be curtailed or forbidden for the mother.
  • The husband had the right to “to give moderate correction” if she did not obey. Wife abuse occurred in all classes of society. Women had very little recourse against husbands who beat them and leaving was often not an option. Not until 1878 were women able to separate from abusive husbands and receive some type of maintenance from their spouses.Because divorce was difficult to obtain, married partners would often separate and go their way. Alternatives would be living with another lover out of wedlock or committing bigamy.
  • Most women outlived their husbands by many years, and widowhood for women in all classes could be a devastating and difficult time. One in four individuals over 65 were considered paupers and ended up their lives in workhouses or asylums. Unless they had family members who could afford to care for them, widows needed to turn to other means in order to support themselves. If they were savvy enough, they may take in boarders, clean houses, or find other menial jobs in order to survive.
  • There were a growing number of women who preferred spinsterhood rather than marriage because they were free to handle their money, make their decisions, and keep their illegitimate children. Middle-class women had more opportunities to pursue skilled jobs, but they were paid a pittance in comparison to their male counterparts. Lower-class women often worked long hours in factories and other jobs, and sometimes resorted to prostitution.
The book is filled with many true details from women of the past that will shock you regarding the hardships and inequality they faced. However, there are truly inspirational stories, too, about those women who worked to bring about equality and change for women.

You can order the book in paperback at Amazon. I purchased a used copy for $6.00. When it arrived, it was an old library copy, and a bit worn. However, I didn’t mind because it’s received my pink highlighter throughout the text. After recently checking Amazon it appears that copies are becoming unavailable. If you want to read the book, you may have to search out libraries and other venues. I highly recommend the effort if you are interested in Victorian-era research.

As an author, I realize that I am guilty of writing about an era and purposely ignoring the hardships that Victorian women endured. Perhaps as modern ladies, we are merely enamored by men in ascots who look dashing, rich, and handsome. We love our dukes and titled men, the fancy houses, and the lavish lifestyles and fashions. These are the fantasy men we have chosen to fall in love with between the pages, and the lovers we have given our heroines.

However, the aristocracy of England during the Victorian era only accounted for 2% of the population. Another small percentage included the upper-middle-class, which consisted of 15% of the population. These were families such as businessmen and tradesmen, who could adequately support their families.

To write about the other 83% of the population would be depressing to most readers. Frankly, I do not think that women care to read about suffering women in romance books. I know when I wrote about the hardships of one poor French woman in 1870 in my first book, The Price of Innocence, I was severely criticized in reviews for writing a “miserable story.” However, let’s be honest with ourselves. Lives for women during that time period were for the most part miserable, which thankfully gave rise to changes in law and attitudes.

Purchase Here
Victorian Women