Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Romance Unlaced: The Buzz About Historical Romance

by Madeline Hunter)

(Photo: Avon Books)

I'm going to start this column with the mini interview I snagged with one of historical romance's all-time-favorite authors.


Share one thing most readers do not know about your life.

Stephanie: My mother was a big reader of romances and it was she who first introduced me to the genre via the works of Georgette Heyer — and for the past 20 years I have known Jennifer Kloester, who has in recent years become Heyer's official biographer. Small world.

Do you write every day? Even on vacations?

Stephanie: I write Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m., and then do business tasks (non-writing) until 7 p.m. I do not write on vacations — you have to have some downtime for the creative well to refill.

What is your favorite line from your newest book?

Stephanie: They had each other, and together they had everything.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Stephanie: Classic Mini-Magnums.

What book by another author would you recommend to readers new to historicals?

Stephanie: Loretta Chase, Mr. Impossible.

Stephanie Laurens is the USA TODAY and NYT best-seller of 54 historical romances. Her upcoming book, The Masterful Mr. Montague, the second book in the Casebook of Barnaby Adair series, goes on sale May 29, in print and e-book globally, and is available for preorder now.



Are you one of the thousands of romance readers waiting for the Outlander series coming this summer (finally!) on Starz? The excitement is building. The lead actor has been much discussed online. Everyone hopes the series will be wonderful. Lots worry it won't be. That kind of hope/dread often colors the anticipation when beloved stories are dramatized.

The "Outlander" series arrives from Starz this summer, starring Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe.(Photo: Starz)

When Diana Gabaldon's book hit the stores in 1991, romance readers went wild, even though she said it was not a romance. The book and series influenced the romance market A LOT. Scottish historical exploded as a sub-genre, and time travels experienced a second big shot in the arm.

I say second shot because Outlander was not the only book to enflame the popularity of time travel in romance. Two years earlier Jude Deveraux published A Knight in Shining Armor, and it created big buzz. When Outlander became a blockbuster, time travel became a major romance sub-genre for many years to come.

Time travels have a lot of appeal for lovers of historical fiction. One character is a fish out of water, and that provides opportunities for story twists, description, historical information, and humor. If a modern heroine goes back hundreds of years, a time travel does not treat that historical setting as normal. Rather the heroine will be highlighting the differences from how she used to live, and reacting to how odd or difficult it is to manage without the conveniences and attitudes we take for granted today. The different social customs of the two main characters create a lot of conflict, too, especially when a feisty modern woman refuses to adapt to the alpha hero's notions of womanly behavior.

Trends go down as well as up, and nowadays time travels are a much smaller market. I'm hoping the Outlander television series sends the pendulum swinging back and creates renewed interest in time travels. Do you think it will? (On the left menu bar, there is an icon that, if you click, will pull up a place to comment via Facebook.)

Readers wanting to try time travels, or to plunge back in after being away for a while, can find backlists by the genre's stars such as Karen Marie Moning, Melissa Mayhue, Brenda Joyce, Janet Chapman and Lynn Kurland still available, as well as reissues and new stories woven by authors who love entering historical worlds through magic time portals.

"The MacKendimen Clan Trilogy" by Terri Brisbin.(Photo: Terri Brisbin)

For example, the reissued MacKendimen Clan trilogy by Terri Brisbin follows a couple from the present who travel back to the clan's medieval past and cause all sorts of repercussions and consequences in that time and in their own.

Shelly Thacker's critically acclaimed Forever His won a 2013 Readers' Choice Award. On New Year's Eve the heroine tumbles 700 years back in time — and into the bed of a darkly dangerous knight.

In Lori Dillon's award-winning Fire of the Dragon, the heroine is sent back in time to the Middle Ages. That wouldn't be so bad if the knight in shining armor who comes to her rescue didn't swoop down in the form of a fire-breathing dragon.

Want to go back in time, but not so far back as the Middle Ages? Gina Lamm sends her hip, young heroines to the Regency period, and Gwen Cready's time travel to the 18th and 19th centuries.

"Son of the Morning" by Linda Howard.(Photo: Pocket Books)

And if you like stories that are out of the box when it comes to their sub-genre, and that don't follow the predictable path of development, seek out Linda Howard's wonderful Son of the Morning. It combines time travel with a modern thriller. Just don't complain that it is not what you expected — you were warned!


Who was the first named author in world literature? Many scholars believe it was a woman. En-hedu-Ana was a high priestess and princess at Ur in ancient Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq). She lived around 2300-2225 BCE, and was the daughter of King Sargon and the aunt of King Narem Sin. She wrote beautiful, layered incantations to the goddess Inanna, often in the first person, and identified herself unlike prior writers who remained anonymous. Many of her writings survive to this day.

USA TODAY and New York Times best-seller Madeline Hunter is the two-time RITA-winning author of 24 historical romances. Her next book, The Accidental Duchess, will be published June 3.