Historical Romances Are Anything But Boring!
By Romance Author Kelli A. Wilkins
Recently a woman told me she didn’t read historical romances because they were boring. I replied, “Some of them might be, but not mine—far from it!” I’m not sure if I convinced her to try historicals, but our conversation got me wondering, why do some romance readers think historicals are dull?
Maybe they were turned off by boring history lessons in school, or they think nothing exciting happened in the days before electricity and the Internet. Perhaps they tried a historical romance ages ago and it was weighted down with hard-to-read language or endless “boring” details.
When I sit down to write a historical (and I’ve written a dozen of them), I never know where the characters will take me. Each book starts out from a different place. Sometimes I’ll know the plot before I meet the characters (as in The Viking’s Witch and The Dark Lord) and other times I’ll know everything about the characters and then have to work with them to uncover the plot. (This happened with my newest historicals, Wilderness Bride and Dangerous Indenture.)
But no matter how the story unfolds, I always make sure the characters are interesting and lively. I don’t have “stuffy shirts” making long-winded speeches about politics, law, or anything not crucial to the storyline. You won’t find me (or my characters) giving anyone a history lesson!
My female leads are far from the “helpless heroines” who have graced the pages of historicals years ago. These women aren’t wearing frilly dresses and hosting tea parties while waiting to find the perfect man to take care of them. In most cases they’re too busy trying to keep themselves alive or fighting against perceived notions of how a “proper” woman should behave to look for a husband. And if they do find a man they want to be with, they are only willing to accept love on their terms. Claudette from The Pauper Prince and Shauna from Dangerous Indenture are two examples of strong women who stick to their principles and fight for what they want out of life.
My historical heroes and heroines are far from shy when it comes to having fun in the bedroom! The heat levels in my romances vary from mildly sensual to super-scorching hot—depending on the characters and their storylines.
Some of my heroines are virgins waiting to meet the love of their life (Michelle from Wilderness Bride), while others are curious and want to explore (Katarina from The Dark Lord). Many of my heroines are far from virginal and aren’t shy about giving in to their desires, despite the so-called impropriety. (Check out my historical/fantasy trilogy A Midsummer Night’s Delights, A Midwinter Night’s Delights, and Ultimate night’s Delights for more on that. These novellas gave readers who thought historicals were boring and stodgy a real shock!)
As I’m writing, I include only the historical details and descriptions that are integral to the story. I don’t bog down the plot with a step-by-step procedure for churning butter, or go into an endless description of how to unfasten a corset (unless it’s befuddling the hero who’s eager to remove it!). Readers of historical romances understand that in the 1700 and 1800s everyone knew how to ride a horse, so I don’t have to describe it. But, if I was writing a time travel romance where the heroine from 2014 Brooklyn found herself in the mid-1700s, I would need to show how everything seemed different and strange through her eyes.
In a way, it’s “harder” to write historicals because of the amount of research involved, but I get to explore different time periods, characters, and settings—then let my imagination run free as I write.
When I wrote Wilderness Bride, I researched mail order brides, different time periods, American history, Native Americans, fur trappers, traders, and more. Some of the interesting things I learned in my research I added into the storyline or weaved into the background, but I couldn’t use everything. It was important for me to convey the flavor of the time period while keeping the reader hooked and the plot moving.
Every romance genre has its fans. Some people like to read contemporary romances, others live for paranormals, and there are those who switch up genres and read anything that sounds appealing. I like writing historicals—but I also write contemporary, paranormal, fantasy, and gay romances, too. Why? Because I enjoy writing great romances about interesting characters that fall in love, whenever and wherever that may be.
If you’ve never read historical romances, don’t be shy, give them a try! You might just find yourself swept away to a long ago time period in a place far away…
Kelli A. Wilkins
ABOUT KELLI A. WILKINS
Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 90 short stories, seventeen romance novels (for Medallion Press and Amber Quill Press), and four non-fiction books. Her romances span many genres and heat levels. Kelli has two historical romances debuting this spring. Wilderness Bride is available now from Amber Quill Press: http://www.amberquill.com/store/p/1941-Wilderness-Bride.aspx) and Dangerous Indenture is coming in May from Medallion Press: http://medallionmediagroup.com/books/dangerous-indenture/.
Kelli publishes a blog: (http://kelliwilkinsauthor.blogspot.com) filled with excerpts, interviews, writing prompts, and whatever else pops into her head. She also writes a monthly newsletter, Kelli’s Quill, and posts on Facebook and Twitter. Kelli invites readers to visit her website, http://www.KelliWilkins.com to learn more about all of her writings.
Catch up with Kelli on the Web:
Amber Quill Press Author page: http://amberquill.com/AmberHeat/bio_Wilkins.html
Medallion Press Author Page: http://medallionmediagroup.com/author/kelli-wilkins/