Different Flavors of Authors

Untitled designSo who are these women (and occasional males) that write historical romance novels?  As a reader, if you haven’t been following the ever-changing landscape in the publishing world, authors come in a variety pack.  From young to old, these are the people who pen your stories that you rate from one to five stars.  We all have favorite sub-genres.  We all have favorite eras.  We all have the likable type of hero and heroine.  However, with such a variety of authors, it may be hard to weed through the inundated market of romance these days.

The Traditional

These are the ones who have chosen the traditional publishing world.  They traveled the rough trail of submissions and rejections and paid their dues.  They were proficient in writing great query letters to hook agents. Others were persistent, knocking on doors of publishers that accept direct submissions.  Whatever gateway they have been fortunate enough to open, it has provided them support from big-named publishers and smaller publishing houses on the road to release. These authors have a unique experience with their publishers who do it all – editing, cover design, distribution, in addition to bearing the majority of costs associated with publishing a book.

The Indie

Once coined the vanity writers, self-published authors or “indies” as many call them, are an entirely different breed.  At first, they came out of the gate with a less than warm welcome or reputation, often coined as the slush pile rejects or wood-be, mediocre writers.  However, as the years have passed, the indies have taken over a large portion of the market, including reaching the USA Today and NYT best-seller lists. They have gained great strides in gaining respect and earnings. Supposedly, indies are control freaks. They enjoy full engagement in their artistic endeavors.  The smart ones seek out good editors to tone their content and talented graphic artists to do their covers. It’s a learning experience in ISBN’s, eBook formatting, printing, distribution, marketing, etc., because they immerse themselves in the publishing world in order to succeed.  They are the independent ones who bear the cost of getting their books into print.

The Hybrid

What in the world is a hybrid?  No, it’s not a new dinosaur about to hatch that will grow up to eat you or your book.  It’s an author who enjoys both worlds – the traditional and the self-published.    It’s a path that some individuals pursue in a variety of ways.  It’s not unusual for a traditionally published author to take a book when the rights have reverted back to her or him and self-published it afterward.  Frankly, it’s a sweet spot for many because they are well known as traditional authors who already have a fan base.  However, this route may take negotiation because some publishers insist on a non-compete clause that prevents authors from self-publishing while under contract.

In the end, I like to think that all three author varieties have one common goal — to spread the romance together.  At Historical Romance Books, whatever path to print you have chosen, you are welcome on our pages.

Historical Romance Books Admin





Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Elizabeth Hoyt

Once Upon A ChristmasAdam Rutledge, Viscount d’Arque, really rather loathes Christmas. The banal cheerfulness. The asinine party games. And, worst of all, the obligatory trip to the countryside. His grandmother, however, loves the holiday—and Adam loves his grandmother, so he’ll brave the fiercest snowstorm to please her. But when their carriage wheel snaps, they’re forced to seek shelter at the home of the most maddening, infuriating, and utterly beguiling woman he’s ever met . . .

Release Date December 5, 2017

Hachette Book Group





For November, A Romance Trio For ‘Hamilton’ Fans (And The Rest Of You, Too)

Historical Romance News!

Even if you haven’t seen the musical, you can keep warm this November with a delightful trio of novellas set in and around the battalion commanded by Alexander Hamilton at the siege of Yorktown.

Source: For November, A Romance Trio For ‘Hamilton’ Fans (And The Rest Of You, Too)

The Perfect Hero

Lamina WaterhouseThe perfect hero in historical romance. Is there one? What fantasy do readers want?

In reality, as much as we are filled with fanciful and romantic thoughts, there probably isn’t a perfect man. Of course, it depends on how you define perfection. Like the variety of readers and their various tastes over heroines, there is no absence of criticism over the perfect male. Once again, I’ve strolled through the reviews of some best selling authors to find out what women are thinking.

There are the usual complaints of women who dislike emotionally scared men (except for Fifty Shades, apparently), along with arrogant aristocrats and walking cardboard characters (boy that term gets used a lot). Frankly, I think women who look for the perfect hero want a type of man they can fall in love with during the story. Women are looking for romance and ways to live vicariously through storytelling, no doubt to soothe our lack of it in real life. If you love historical romance, then no doubt you want a swoon-worthy, good-looking chap in breaches, boots, with a ruffled shirt, and white cravat.

So what is the perfect hero? If we look at the typical male stereotypes in works of centuries past, we can categorize them in a variety of ways.

The Darcy Type – Prideful and arrogant but humbled in the presence of one woman. His good sense and social class tell him to walk away. Instead, he bemoans his tortured and bewitched existence as if he’s helpless to resist. “In vain have I struggled, it will not do. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

The Knightly Type – A soulful, kindhearted, and wise man who is your friend. He supports you, chides you when needed, admires you silently, and gradually falls in love. He cares deeply about your well-being and sacrifices his own happiness to ensure your own. When his outward motives reveal a deeper love, he declares the obvious. “Marry me, my wonderful darling friend.”

The Captain Wentworth Type – He suffers in silence over a love lost but clings to the hope that he may regain what he desires. As he quietly watches from the sidelines the love of his life, he waits for the opportune time to once again profess his love. “You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone forever…I have loved none but you.” Who can deny such a plea?

The Mr. Rochester Type – The tortured soul, who is moody and cynical about life. He has a dark secret, that binds him to another, while in the meantime he lures the innocent and young Jane into marrying him. Even though the Rochester type of hero should contain a warning label, women are drawn to his brooding character. His words of love are filled with desperation. “My very soul demands you: it will be satisfied: or it will take deadly vengeance on its frame.” It’s not until the ultimate tragedy plays out that happy ever after arrives.

The Mr. Thornton Type – A successful man of determination in his business and family life. A bit too close to his mother, annoyed by his sister, but nonetheless respected by his peers. He is drawn to a woman of strong character, like himself, and they clash repeatedly like a stormy sea. “He shrank from hearing Margaret’s very name mentioned; he, while he blamed her–while he was jealous of her–while he renounced her–he loved her sorely, in spite of himself.”

The men above are just a small sampling, and I bet you can think of more.

The Edward Ferrars Type
The Willoughby Type
The Colonel Brandon Type
The Mr. Bingley Type

It’s an endless list of possible men who can make you swoon.

I don’t know that there is necessarily a perfect hero by any means because I believe women are drawn to types and situations when they think of falling in love between the pages of a book. Whether they be an arrogant male, steadfast friend, silent sufferer, tortured soul, or irritating sod, they possess alluring and attractive qualities. Every woman has their type. Of course, that makes it difficult for authors to consistently write the perfect hero!

Do you have a particular type of man that you like to read about in historical romance? Frankly, I like the silent suffering male who cannot live without me, like Captain Wentworth.

All our best from Historical Romance Books!


The Perfect Heroine

In the past seven years, I have had the opportunity to craft female characters by the names of Suzette, Desiree, Charlotte, Angelique, Rachel, Ann, Mary, and Caroline.  Each woman is unique so that their character fits the theme of the story that I pen.

However, it’s been interesting to learn that crafting a female character who pleases the vast array of preferences that exist among readers, is a unique challenge. It’s safe to say that each one of my imaginary leading ladies has been a victim of harsh criticism, but a few have been lauded as brilliant. The ratings appear to hang upon whether the reader likes or dislikes the personality of the heroine. Since historical romance books are inherently written for the fantasies of the female audience, it makes perfect sense that female readers can be harsh critics. As I have said before, writing romance is a tough gig.

What I find utterly fascinating is that female readers appear to be more critical of their heroines than heroes. The damaged or flawed character of a handsome man is easily forgiven, rather than the shortcomings of a woman. The heartless rake who seduces a virgin in a passionate love scene is given absolution. His less than honorable motives are overlooked as well as his reputation. As long as he’s a good lover, is portrayed handsomely on the cover in a kilt or frock coat, all is well.

After all, ladies want to fall in love with the hero of the book for many reasons. We wouldn’t be reading them if we didn’t feel there was a void to be filled in our fantasies of what love should really be like. That is why we read historical romance to take us back to another time we blindly believe to be much better than the sneaker and blue jean society of our day. However, if the heroine doesn’t fit our preconceived idea of what we envision ourselves to be in her shoes, there could be trouble brewing in the ratings.

Why are we so critical of heroines? What is it about women who are harsh on other women – even if it’s just a make-believe character with no flesh, bones or soul?  Is it because women relate more closely with their gender than they do with men?  I think it boils down to what I believe I’m learning about this phenomenon – the men or heroes are fantasies in the mind of a female reader, while on the other hand heroines tend to be more personal as we walk that path of romance with them page by page vicariously.

Any author, who has taken a course or read a book on character building, will tell you that it takes talent to craft a hero or heroine and bring them to life.  We’ve all read complaints about cardboard characters (no depth) or characters that are run-of-the-mill remakes with no individuality.  The law of character building includes the pros and cons of that imaginary person. Can an evil person experience a pang of guilt or a saint have a sinful thought? Of course they can, because without dimension, they are not human. It’s the things we love and despise about people that make for good characters.  By the end of the story, the fictional individual should have grown in some way or changed for the better in spite of their flaws while conquering that obstacle that looms between them and their happy ending.  Let’s be honest – not every living being is perfect – so why do readers sometimes expect our characters to be as well?

I will raise my hand and admit that I tend to write prickly people because conflict is the spice of my stories. After reading other popular authors in the historical romance genre, I’m finding that I often dare to stray from the regulated norms. You will no doubt find more amiable and agreeable ladies elsewhere. An interesting exercise is to stroll through one-star reviews on best-selling historical romance books, and you’ll get a feel for how readers really view the heroine.  It’s usually a love/hate relationship based on personal preferences when it comes to romantic encounters between the pages.
From my own experience and reading the thoughts of other readers, here are some of the negatives that women do not like in their heroines:

  • Prickly women who come across as bitches.
  • Weak women who can’t stand up for themselves.
  • Disabled women who don’t match the standards of beauty or perfection.
  • Gullible women who swallow men’s lies and have no good sense.
  • Arrogant women who are snobs.
  • Unforgettable and uninteresting women with bland personalities.
  • Women with poor self-esteem.
I am sure the list could be expanded, but those complaints are the most obvious. It makes me wonder though if readers have placed twenty-first-century expectations of behavior upon women of the Regency and Victorian eras. I wouldn’t be surprised if our thought processes actually wish for stronger women, which may not have been the case until the later part of the 19th century and early 20th century when women found a voice due to the suffrage movement.

Frankly, I think it is impossible to please every reader all of the time when it comes to historical romance. Each reader, like each character, is frankly unique in what they are looking for in a story. They have their perfect hero and heroine already in mind, and it’s the journey that the two must traverse to find an everlasting love that is the entertainment readers seek. I would only caution that sometimes a character can possess negative characteristics early in the story, but the author has plans to mellow them out or heal their flaws. Unfortunately, tales that instantly irritate are often discarded before the best is yet to come.So is there a perfect heroine?  I sincerely doubt it.  If one existed, every historical romance writer would be a New York Times best-selling author because they didn’t irritate a reader with a less-than-stellar heroine.

Now as far as heroes?  Well, that’s an entirely different topic that I may tackle in another post.