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

The Changing Heroines in Historical Romance

Female power. The new “alpha feminist” has arrived in the historical romance genre, becoming the new archetype of heroines presented to readers. The former heroines of eras past are now given twenty-first-century feminist empowerment by authors who are frustrated with the modern day female woes.

Should such role reversals be found only in contemporary romance or is it all right to change the facts of historical romance in order to rewrite what we dislike about a woman’s place two hundred years ago? The bodice-ripping dukes may soon be replaced by the female dominant who acts quite differently than a woman in want of a husband would have done so during the Regency or Victorian eras.

What are your thoughts about rewriting the historical aspect of historical romance to satisfy our strong female egos of the current century? Are you tired of reading about weak-willed and submissive women? Do you prefer putting period clothing on a twenty-first-century role model and ignoring the norms of the bygone days? Since staunch reviewers often chide authors that their historical romance contains modern-day dialogue, are the modern-day attitudes going to be embraced regardless of accuracy?

The growing change of empowering female characters from the past will have a huge influence on historical romance. Nevertheless, readers will gravitate toward what suits them as they read toward the happily-ever-after ending in search of romance.  It could be the typical dominant male hero that keeps your fancy or perhaps you’ll seek out the strong heroine who could care less what her place should be in the scheme of things.  Historical feminism will definitely be arriving earlier in historical romance books, according to the article below.

What are your thoughts?  Like?  Dislike?

Romance fans have long loved the genre for its unapologetic celebration of female power and sexuality. Now more and more writers are beginning to consider the ways in which their work can offer not just a happy ending, but a powerful statement.

Source: Who Gets A Happily Ever After In 2018?

Top Ten Historical Romance Authors as of February 9, 2018

Like shifting sands on a beach, so are the top-ten historical romance authors on Amazon.  Much of the move has to do with sales, of course, having pushed them upward into higher ranks.

Okay, who are the current ladies that write the stories that make you swoon prior to Valentine’s Day?  Here are the top ten authors and their most popular books as of February 2018.  It’s interesting to note that only two authors who were on our December list remain in the top ten – Christi Caldwell and Bridget Barton.  As you can see, marketing is everything.

  1. Bridget Barton – A Damsel for the Mysterious Duke, Kind Ella and the Duke, A Beauty for the Scarred Duke, A Governness for the Brooding Duke, A Bride of the Betrayed Earl. 
  2. Caroline Fyfee – Heart of Eden, True Heart’s Desire, Montana Promise, Montana Dawn, Montana Courage. 
  3. Eleanor Meyers – A New Marquess, The Son of an Earl, The Son of a Soldier, The Son of a  Marquess, To Love a Lord of London. 
  4. Tammy Andresen – Hot Winter Nights, Earl of Sussex, Taming the Duke’s Heart, Taming a Duke’s Reckless Heart, Christmastide with My Captain 
  5. Christi Caldwell – Hell and Sin, Scandalous Seasons, A Danby Novella, The Lady Who Loved Him, The Heiress’s Deception 
  6. Kathryn LeVequeHigh Warrier, Brides of the Marches, Realm of the Angels, The Legend, Godspeed 
  7. Hazel Hunter – Lachlan, Gavin, Tharaen, Evander, Tormod 
  8. Jillian Eaton – The Winter Duchess, A Dangerous Proposal, The Christmas Widow, A Dangerous Seduction, Forgotten Fiancee 
  9. Laura Landon – Brotherhood Series, Jaded Moon, Ransomed Jewels, Silent Revenge, Dark Ruby 
  10. Emma Prince – Surrender to the Scot, The Bastard Laird’s Bride, Highlander’s Redemption, The Lady’s Protector, Highlander’s Reckoning

Happy reading,
HR Admin

Author Beverly Jenkins Delivers the Unexpected

IN THE NEWS – An interesting article and interview with author Beverly Jenkins.

Her latest romance novel, ‘Tempest,’ is about an African-American mail-order bride who heads to 1885 Wyoming to meet her future husband

Read More at Source: Author Beverly Jenkins delivers the unexpected

From USA Today Bestselling Author Beverly Jenkins comes a new novel in a mesmerizing series set in the Old West, where an arranged marriage becomes a grand passion . . .

What kind of mail-order bride greets her intended with a bullet instead of a kiss? One like Regan Carmichael—an independent spirit equally at home in denims and dresses. Shooting Dr. Colton Lee in the shoulder is an honest error, but soon Regan wonders if her entire plan to marry a man she’s never met is a mistake. Colton, who buried his heart along with his first wife, insists he only wants someone to care for his daughter. Yet Regan is drawn to the unmistakable desire in his gaze.

Regan’s far from the docile bride Colton was expecting. Still, few women would brave the wilds of Wyoming Territory for an uncertain future with a widower and his child. The thought of having a bold, forthright woman like Regan in his life—and in his arms—begins to inspire a new dream. And despite his family’s disapproval and an unseen enemy, he’ll risk all to make this match a real union of body and soul.

 

Walmart is Teaming Up With One of the World’s Biggest E-Commerce Companies  

Walmart is diving into the business of selling ereaders, ebooks, and audiobooks through a partnership with Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten.

Well, here is a bit of news – Walmart selling eBooks?  Sure, why not?  They can do so online and also sell Kobo eReaders, as well as romance books.  Frankly, Amazon’s domination is huge and retailers are starting to take bold moves against the big A.

“The deal will give Walmart access to the massive ebook market, which is largely dominated by Amazon. Amazon is responsible for roughly 83% of all ebook sales in the US…”

Source: Walmart is teaming up with one of the world’s biggest e-commerce companies to take direct aim at Amazon

The Dark Side of Historical Romance

There is a dark side in the historical romance genre.  It’s Gothic romance, which doesn’t always give the reader a happily-ever-after ending. Born centuries ago, the genre flourished in the late 18th and 19th century England. They were dark tales, often with a supernatural backdrop, set in creepy houses, castles, or ruins. Somewhere lurking in the fearful locations were mysterious men with secrets or questionable pasts who wooed unsuspecting female heroines.  Of course, in the mix, there could be ghosts, monsters, vampires, and other evils lurking beneath the bed.

The romance, however, is still a focal point of these dark tales of love intermixed with the not-so-pleasant surroundings.  A few years ago a Gothic romance by the name of Crimson Peak hit the theatres starring Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, and Mia Wasikowska.  Below is a fairly short but great description of the Victorian sexuality that became part of Gothic romance.

 

If you have not seen the movie, you can also read the book.

After doing a bit of Google searching, I came across another good article about the genre that is worth the read – Romance Unlaced: Authors Discuss Today’s Gothic Romances by Madeline Hunter of USA Today (July 13, 2016).

Years ago, before big, fat historical romances broke onto the scene, I would look at the mass-market racks in the drugstore and see rows of covers that had much in common. A woman in a filmy gown running down a hill in the night. In the background, cast in eerie moonlight, was a big house. Read More Here

If you haven’t read a good Gothic lately, here are a few to try out mentioned in the article above.  Caution.  Not all may have HEA.

January 2018 Report: US Online Book Sales, Q2-Q4 2017

Calling all geeks who love statistics. Sure you want to know that 90% of all ebook sales are in the romance genre. The independent authors are taking up a huge share of the pie, leaving behind the big five in the dust.

To read more of what’s happening in the publishing industry, you dare not miss this report full of graphs and pie charts to make your eyes blurry but filled with interesting news for authors and readers.

http://authorearnings.com/report/january-2018-report-us-online-book-sales-q2-q4-2017/

Why the Name “Red Brick Media”

Robert Holland2_edited-1

Circa 1905

Why the name “Red Brick Media”?  I’m glad you asked.  I know it’s a bit strange since I’ve attached it to this historical romance website and also to my book sales on Amazon as a merchant.  I suppose you want to know what’s up with the bricks? Not exactly romantic but they do make great bookends.

On the private side, I’m a genealogy addict. It’s a terrible addiction. You spend hours in front of the computer searching for dead relatives. Then when you get a chance, you visit the graves of dead ancestors and talk to them like they can hear you. You search census records, birth records, marriage records, and learn to read scribbles of handwriting hundreds of years old. And if you’re lucky enough, you meet a living family member who is a distant cousin, who you’ve discovered in your searches.  You spit into tubes and send off your saliva to be analyzed. Afterward, you check your DNA matches repeatedly, waiting for surprises like finding a cousin you never knew you had (yep, happened to me). Yes, this is my life and these are my ancestors – brickmakers and bricklayers.

My grandparents were both born in Manchester, United Kingdom.  My grandfather was a bricklayer.  His father was a bricklayer.  His cousins were bricklayers.  His uncle was a bricklayer, and the matriarch of the family was a man by the name of Robert Holland, my second great uncle. He possesses a story of rags to riches ever since he delivered the first bricks on a cart to Albert Square that were used as part of the building of the Manchester City Hall in 1869.

My second great uncle became a successful Salford (just outside of Manchester) businessman and Salford Justice of the Peace and Alderman.  He dabbled in politics, building construction, and bricks and died in 1920 amassing a large amount of wealth and property, now all gone.  I have been obsessed with his life and success for many years and have hunted down his descendants in the United Kingdom and had the privilege of meeting them.

When I think of building a successful business, I think of him. I often tell myself to build my success “one brick at a time.”  So naturally, I’ve named what I do Red Brick Media in honor of my ancestors.  The picture of the man above is Robert Holland. Of course, my great-grandfather was named Robert Holland, my grandfather Robert Holland, my uncle Robert Holland, and my cousin Robert Holland.  Needless to say, we have many Robert Hollands in the family.

All my best,

RED BRICK MEDIA – Save a brick. They make great bookends.

Huge Changes Coming to Facebook

Today an announcement was made regarding changes coming to Facebook’s feed.  As an author and promoter of books, I regularly use Facebook to engage with fans and followers.  It helps me connect, keep my followers up-to-date on news, and is a means of promotion.  As of today, that is going to change dramatically.

Facebook is making changes to make sure that your feed will include more information from your friends and family.  Content from pages you LIKE is going to drop dramatically.  As reported in the Irish Times (which had a good article about it):  “As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media,” wrote Zuckerberg. The implication couldn’t be clearer. All media companies that post their content on Facebook will see a decline in the number of users that they reach through the platform.  For those publishers that have built their commercial strategy around Facebook and are dependent on it for most or even all of their income, it could be ruinous.”

So what does this mean to you?  With my followers on my page for Historical Romance Books on Facebook nearing 1,000, you will see fewer posts.  I’ll probably fall into obscurity on your feed so marketing and news regarding historical romance from your favorite authors may be non-existent in your feed.

The only solution I can give you is to regularly follow the Historical-Romances.com website and subscribe to the feed of new posts and sign up for our newsletter. You can do so on our home page:  HTTPS://HISTORICAL-ROMANCES.COM If you love historical romance and the articles and news we post, this may be the only means of connecting with you on a regular basis to keep you informed on new releases, offer authors promotion, and provide great reviews.

To read more about these Facebook changes here is a good article on RECODE.  Facebook will be more focused now on personal connections than a platform for marketing.  For some, I’m sure that will be great news.  But for others, it will dramatically hinder our reach to bring to you the news on things you like.

Strike a Pose for Covers – The Reclining Lovers

From the back and neck strain to the grasping duke from behind, comes the ultimate place most aristocrats are hoping to place their heroines — on their back.

After searching through the covers of past and present, this pose seems to be the least used in the variety of physical positions.  Nonetheless, it serves to take the story to a satisfying conclusion…if you get my drift.  Here are a few goodies from the past.

…and those from the present carrying on the seductive reclining position.

Smashwords Unveils Publishing Predictions for 2018

Each year, the CEO of Smashwords (a distributor of eBooks for authors), writes his predictions for the coming year. Most of the time, so I’ve read, he’s pretty well spot-on right.

This year’s predictions for authors (and readers who wish to be in the know) is well worth the read. Though readers enjoy a proliferation of great deals and more books than they can possibly read, the market is becoming bleaker for publishers and independent authors alike because of the growing monopolization of Amazon in the marketplace.

I encourage you to take a moment and read Mark’s post. Be informed of how everything works besides the dashing duke you’ve fallen in love with between the pages.  Each time you flip a page in Kindle Unlimited, the author’s work you read is being paid at less than a penny a page.

All my best, your HR Admin.

Smashwords’ CEO and founder Mark Coker has once again unveiled his annual predictions for the publishing industry, and to say this year’s edition is dark would be an understatement. Coker continues his longtime tradition of decrying all things Amazon, but this year…things are different. For too long, it was easy to dismiss Coker’s predictions as…

Source: Smashwords Unveils Publishing Predictions for 2018

Strike a Post for Covers – The Behind Approach

Moving on from the back and neck strain pose comes the opposite of the hero seductively approaching the heroine from behind.  Not quite as popular as the frontal view, they still make up a large number of covers in the historical romance genre.

As you can see, the windstorm continues with flying female hair in a few of the scenes.  The male domination remains as the shirtless, seductive hero catch their female prey. The ladies are turning their heads backward getting a good look at their seducer. The last cover, however, has me scratching my head as the hero is apparently into gymnastics, raising her into the air!

Does the pose continue these days! You betcha! Men are still grabbing the ladies from behind.

Anyway, it’s all in fun.  Stay tuned for the next overused pose in the historical romance books genre.

Strike a Pose for Covers – The Backstrain

Yesterday, I was feeling a bit loopy looking at old historical romance book covers. Have you ever thought about the cover poses in this genre?  If you look at the older books, I can imagine an ensuing backache and neck strain sustained if a shirtless man bent me over backward, while I lifted my naked leg up against his side.  Romantic?  I laugh at the faces of these ladies who often turn their head away and looked pained rather than seduced.  Of course, the windstorm is always blowing and the hair is flying around.  Do they make you go ouch or moan at the thought of the dominant male seducing you as our spine cracks?

Have a bit of a chuckle with me on the first strike a pose for covers blog post.  More to come!

Has the pose diminished in current historical romance covers?  Not really.  Backs and necks are still out of line, however, it’s hard to find the consistent leg up these days.

Why Reviews Are Important to Authors

Book reviews. They are important to authors. From accolades to one star they serve a purpose beyond feedback of a story. Reviews are an essential means by which authors can promote their books.  Without them, they are lost in a digital sea of ebooks or are collecting dust on a shelf.

Reviews are garnished in a variety of ways.  However, some retail venues, such as Amazon, can be a pain when it comes to receiving and keeping reviews.  Their policies go far beyond no family members or friends posting reviews. They are now targeting individuals who may interact with authors on Facebook or other social media platforms.  Big brother is watching.

Here is an eye-opening article regarding this problem.  On author forums, you’ll read plenty of complaints about disappearing reviews from people they don’t know personally.  A lot of book reviewers as well are getting nasty-grams from Amazon threatening to be blocked. These over-reaching rules go far beyond the purpose for which they were initiated to cut down on fake reviews. My gut feeling is that the independent author rather than the traditionally published author is the main target.  READ HERE – Amazon’s Review Policy is Creepy and Bad for Authors.

Beyond this challenge, reviews are integrally connected to marketing. Marketing is a pain. It’s expensive. It’s a time-consuming task. It’s necessary to get visibility in a saturated marketplace when you don’t have a mainstream publisher backing your book.

The biggest obstacle in releasing a new book is the lack of reviews that plague authors on Amazon for months on end. Without reviews, they cannot market. Without marketing, they cannot get noticed.  When you hear the best way to thank an author is to write a review, I sincerely hope that you will consider supporting the authors you read in this fashion. A few words and a number of stars help immensely to aid authors in getting noticed.

Did you know that after 20-25 reviews, Amazon notices and will include authors in the “also bought” list or the “you might like list” as you browse for books on Amazon? After 50-70 reviews, you might get an email recommending an author’s book to read based on your genre preferences.

You may ask — well why don’t authors pay for advertising? Authors do but are restricted where they can advertise because of lack of reviews. There are multiple places to market books. Some are as cheap as $5 a day to as high as $600 a day, depending on the marketing venue. Almost all of these advertisers have requirements that include a minimum number of reviews and minimum star ratings to be accepted. They either post it plainly on their website, or the marketing resource will check all your book ratings on Amazon, iTunes, Nook, Kobo, and Goodreads to see if you qualify.

BookBub is by far the best place to advertise, hands down but competition is fierce for placement from publishing houses to other successful independent authors. Only 20% of those who apply are chosen to run an advertisement.  Depending on the genre and if you advertise in the USA, internationally only, or both, costs can be astronomical. For a one-day historical romance advertisement, the fee is $640 for a book priced at 99 cents. The fee rises if the price is higher.  Results on BookBob are phenomenal but not cheap.

Remember the next time you read a book that the author is hoping for a review.  It can be a sentence or a multi-paragraphed discourse.  It brings feedback on the story, helps authors to get noticed, and makes them eligible to obtain advertising from third-party websites.  They also bring encouragement and advice on how to be a better author going forward.

If you don’t know how to write a book review, don’t worry.  You won’t get a five to one-star review in return for your effort.

Your Admin from Historical Romance Books

Let’s Duke it Out

BS1Let’s face it, ladies.  We are drowning in dukes!  This morning when I visited the historical romance best sellers on Amazon Kindle, that’s pretty much dominated the scene in the 100 top selling books.  Even those books that don’t have the title “duke” on the cover, doesn’t mean there isn’t one lurking between the pages.  Most of these dude dukes are bad boys with a few charming ones thrown into the mix.

Here’s a quick sampling if you don’t think I’ve gone historical romance raving mad.

Blame it on the Duke
Kind Ella and the Charming Duke
A Beauty for the Scared Duke
The Duke of Nothing
A Duke in Shining Armor
The Duke of Ruin
A Governess for the Brooding Duke
The Silent Duke
From Duke Till Dawn
The Desires of a Duke
My Wild Duke
The Lady, the Duke, and the Gentleman
Kissing the Duke
The Broken Duke…and on, and on, and on.

Once in a while, a lord, marquis, and earl sneak in the bunch, not to be confused with the many rogues of the historical romance genre.  There are even duke series like Difficult Dukes, The Disgraceful Dukes, Girl Meets Duke and many more.  I guess I’m scratching my head on why we always have to fall in love with a duke.  Is there a hidden code that only best-selling romances must be duke centric?  Is this the only peerage that can sweep us away into the fantasy land of romance?

After doing some research, I’ve found a Goodreads Listopia entitled, “Dukes…Bring ’em on!”  If you Google the term “dukes in historical romance novels,” you’ll be smacked to learn the results.  There’s an interesting article on NPR entitled, “Put Up Your Dukes: Romance’s Favorite Rank.”

Perhaps it boils down that with all these erotic romance covers, we have determined that dukes are the sexiest and most desired of the English peerage. We prefer dreaming about becoming a duchess regardless if we understand why we should address him as His Grace or where he stands in the scheme of English peerage. Whatever the reason, I’d frankly like to see more historical romances that go beyond this narrow breed of titled men and even dare to focus on a man without an aristocratic title.

What are your thoughts, readers?  Don’t be shy!  Start chiming in and enjoy the discussion.

Your Admin from Historical Romance Books

P.S. If you want to learn about British peerage, here is a good article on Anglotopia, “The peerage: A primer on Understanding Lords, Ladies, Dukes, Earls and More.”

Self-Publishing Success Story: Collette Cameron, USA Today Bestselling Historical Romance Author

A great article from Alliance of Independent Authors.

“In our interview with USA Today bestselling romance author, Collette Cameron shares some great ideas for how to achieve self-publishing success as she has done.”

SOURCE:  https://selfpublishingadvice.org/self-publishing-success-collette-cameron/

Find her latest release on Amazon.

 

The 10 Best Romance Novels of 2017

Entertainment Weekly has spoken. Here are the best in Historical Romance novels this past year all from traditional publishers.

Do you agree?

4.4 Amazon Rating – Released by Kensington March 28, 2017

 

4.7 Amazon Rating – Released by Avon Books August 22, 2017

4.4 Amazon Rating – Released by Avon Books January 31, 2017

 

4.2 Amazon Rating – Rel;eased by Avon June 27, 2017

View the link for the entire list.

Source: The 10 best romance novels of 2017

What Makes a Great Historical Romance?

If you ever get to know me personally, you will soon find out that I love to analyze just about anything.  My quest for the day is what makes a great historical romance book?

To answer that question, I turned toward one-star reviews left for books written by famous historical romance authors from the big publishers. You would think I’d be reading the five stars instead, but what is lacking in historical romance stories has my interest piqued. Here are the top-ten complaints I discovered.

  1. Predictable Plot.  Supposedly, these are books where you already know how it’s going to end after reading a few chapters.  In other words, there isn’t a plot twist or anything else interesting in between boy meets girl and the happily ever after.  The story is supposed to reach a climax point (not the other kind of climax, ladies) before reaching the satisfying end.
  2. Contrived Plot.  I’ve seen contrived plots on television but what’s the definition and why does it irk readers?  Frankly, there is an excess of comments if you Google the term.  They apparently stretch plausibility, such as setting up situations that are unbelievable and deliberate.  Other thoughts are that contrived plots are forced and unnatural.
  3. No Tension – No Sizzle.  Well, this one is obvious.  Hero and heroine are a dud.  Is sexual tension always the spice of the story?  Of course, how can you believe the love if there isn’t any sizzle?
  4. Too Much Sex or Not Enough Sex.  There doesn’t seem to be a happy medium when it comes to this complaint.  There either isn’t enough sex or there is too much sex.  I suppose a story should come in between the sheets somewhere.
  5. Dialogue – Boy, this one rampant, of course.  Historical romances with too many modern statements don’t go over very well.  Authors must write Regency-speak or Victorian-speak, regardless if we actually lived in those eras. However, I question whether every historical romance needs to sound like Jane Austen’s writing or Charlotte Bronte’s prose.
  6. It’s a Ghost -This is an interesting complaint aimed at well-known authors who have released multiple books. Statements like, “Makes me wonder who actually wrote it.”  “What have you done with the author?” “Someone else must have written this book.” Do you think long careers make some authors fizzle out? Do they rehash plot lines and run out of inspiration?  Food for thought.
  7. Boring.  It’s either a boring story or boring writing.  The boring story is an obvious one — nothing to keep the reader interested in continuing the book.  Another common complaint that arises are scenes that are too descriptive. How long does it take to describe a person, a room, landscape, or even a sex scene? Too much is often termed writer’s fluff.
  8. Poor Editing.  Surprisingly, these comments are not for independent authors.  There are plenty aimed at large traditional publishing houses.  It makes me wonder how much author support has been cut back due to financial reasons. An odd style that drives me absolutely bonkers is no quotation marks for dialogue.  And don’t get me started on sentences that start with “and” and the lack of the Oxford comma.
  9. Unlikable Characters.  This brings me back to what is a likable hero or heroine?  Check out my former posts.  There are some personality types readers do not like in their books.
  10. No Character Development.  Characters are made of cardboard or are fully formed.  Character development is a hot topic but also a difficult one to pinpoint.  Of course, characters need flaws, positive traits, and growth.

In conclusion, everyone reacts differently to a book.  It’s interesting to read polarized positions of the same novel, making you scratch your head if they read the same story.

As always, chime in!  What are your complaints?  I love to hear from our followers.

Your Admin for Historical Romance Books

Georgette Heyer – Regency Romance

The article link below to The Guardian was actually released back in September of 2016.  I’ve been thinking about focusing some posts on a few well-known authors of the past who have paved the way for the historical romance genre’s popularity.  Georgette Heyer is certainly one of those writers who come to mind.

The article states, “Heyer, known for her tales of romance and intrigue set during the early 19th century, died in 1974, the author of more than 50 books. She said of her work that ‘I ought to be shot for writing such nonsense, but it’s unquestionably good escapist literature.'”  Obviously, many have escaped over the years into the Regency era through her books.

Though she passed away in 1974, she still ranks #46 in the top 100 historical romance authors in ebooks and #28 in historical romance in print.  This prolific writer’s popularity has not waned in any fashion over the years.  Her author page on Amazon is filled with her works.

Read more about her life here:

Three short stories by the queen of Regency romance have been discovered by her biographer and are being reprinted in a new volume.  Source: Forgotten Georgette Heyer stories to be republished

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