History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

13 January 2012

Historical Romance: The Keeper Collection

Every now and then I stop reading romance. I have to, I find. Usually it's when I am in one of those moods where it doesn't feel like the stories could possibly ever really happen---no man is ever that much of a hero and no heroine is ever that beautiful and plucky, or resilient, or brave, or smart...

So I try other kinds of fiction for a while and usually come to a sad place where I feel like I might have "outgrown romance" ---as a reader and a writer.

Then I stop writing romance for a while. I can't find my muse, can't find the time, or frankly, I start feeling like I just "don't feel the love" for romance...if you know what I mean.

But then out of the blue, something happens and I snap out of it. I read a book that fires me up and excites me, keeps me thinking about it long after I've finished that last page. This time that book was published a decade ago, but one that I have only just discovered and will certainly put in my "Keeper Collection."

The book is FLOWERS FROM THE STORM, written by the wonderful historical romance writer Laura Kinsale.

Wow. What a story. A rakish duke, felled by a stroke and plotting family, is seriously handicapped and angry---and rescued by a Quaker heroine, one who is not so beautiful and who's good at math. This book is 533 pages long and steeped in conflict and characterization and in deep emotion. These amazing characters drove the story in a way that was so plausible, so real I felt for them.

And kudos to Ms. Kinsale for the incredible amount of research that made that book transport me back in time---to a place where stroke victims were thought to be lunatics because they could not understand, be understood or speak, and were often sent to an insane asylum. The author's careful attention to inheritance law, and to the facts surrounding the Quaker movement in England and yes, to the academic study of mathematics at that time is so apparent and so well done.

For a few hours on New Years Eve in 2011, right into the first few hours of 2012 I sat there reading FLOWERS FROM THE STORM, lost in the time and place, caught up in the lives of these two people (who were soooo meant to be together). I read until 2am. That doesn't happen too often. This was a book I could not put down.

What a way to ring in the New Year!

I'm back on the romance writting (and reading) wagon again. Glad to have found an old book that gave me a new, renewed enthusiasm for a genre I will always love. I will always be a fan, I know.

Has anyone had read one a "keeper" romance lately that got you going again after a dry spell? I'd love to hear about it. I want more!

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Blogger Susan Blexrud said...

I so understand your romance dilemma. I, too, wonder at times whether the genre has simply asked me to stretch the boundaries of suspended belief to the point that the rubber band snaps. I'm not buying the conflicts, or the worlds are too insane to make me feel that anyone (including paranormal ilks) could live in them. That's why I belong to a history book club, where I can discuss books outside of the romance genre. However, like you, one good romance can reinvigorate me. For me, that book was Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase. Yep, it sucked me right back in. I also recently read His at Night by Sherry Thomas for a romance book club I lead at Malaprop's Bookstore in downtown Asheville. It also has some outlandish premises that nonetheless WORK!
There's a lot of crap out there in the romance genre, but the good stuff is still REALLY good.

7:16 AM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

I'm right there with you, Susan!

And Lord of Scoundrels is won of those books that restores my faith in the romance genre, too.

I couldn't agree more---the good stuff out there is REALLY GOOD!

7:29 PM  
Blogger Isobel Carr said...

When I feel this way I read Georgette Heyer, or Julia Ross, or Pam Rosenthal and I'm reminded that the genre really does contain wonderful books that are every bit as good what's being published in any other genre.

4:32 PM  
Blogger Renee said...

I usually have the newest Sabrina Jeffries or Julia Quinn to get me started again. I have also found as I have gotten older that I love exploring other genres only to come back to romance again and again. It always makes me feel good!

6:16 PM  

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