Beyond Bestsellers: Historical Romance

by Lindsey A.

Welcome to your February edition of Beyond Bestsellers, Sno-Isle Libraries’ community reading challenge! I hope you’re all back in the swing of things. Jocelyn’s Epic Fantasy post will bring you up to speed with the second wave of the reading challenge. Each month we will read books from different themes, and participants can engage with us by creating lists in the catalog or offering reading suggestions in the blog comments. This month the theme is Historical Romance.

I read widely in fiction but when I want an escape, I often choose historical romance. I love reading about eras far removed from my own. It’s like taking a vacation, but traveling through the Craigh na Dun rocks from Outlander and finding myself in the past. I love learning about the ways people managed daily life and relationships throughout history. Courtship in the upper echelon of Regency society was very different from dating today, and different still from the customs of ancient China or medieval Scotland.

But in every age, all around the world, people have fallen in love.

It is easy to dismiss the romance genre, but a 2016 article suggests that “believing in romance and love and the connection it provides fosters a sense of hope.” We could use a bit of hope these days!

Historical romance is one of romance’s biggest subgenres. Within it are many subgenres, from Biblical romance to Western romance to Edwardian romance and beyond. Below is a quiz to help guide you toward an era that might interest you, but romance can take place in any period of history. Twentieth Century historical romance has grown in popularity, and it’s not uncommon to find books set during World War II. Soon the genre will include the Cold War, the counterculture of the 1960s, even the fall of the Berlin Wall, and then we will all feel old.

In addition, through the month of February we are offering these ebooks and eaudiobooks with simultaneous access on OverDrive. There’s no need to wait in line – they’re available immediately!

Lisa Kleypas has a new book coming out this month in her Victorian Ravenels series, Hello Stranger. It features a female physician and a former member of Scotland Yard!

I really hope you find something that appeals to you this month. If you’re put off by the shirtless dukes and highlanders, try finding a historical novel with a strong emphasis on the romantic relationship. I think you’ll find that romance plays into quite a lot of fiction.

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2 responses to “Beyond Bestsellers: Historical Romance”

  1. Shannon says:

    This post has brought back wonderful memories! I grew up “secretly” reading Kathleen E Woodiwiss, Joanna Lindsey, and Lavyrle Spencer. A maternal Aunt loaned me my first H.R. novel when I was about 14, and we spent hours curled up on opposite sides of a huge sectional, reading our latest scores from the book exchange store because at that time, our southern Bible-belt library didn’t carry the “racey” genre. A few years ago, I came across a decent condition paperback of “Shanna,” by Woodiwiss, and it now has a treasured place on my overladen bookshelf. Spencer was mainly considered a “romance writer,” but most of her novels were set in times long past. She wrote very well, did excellent research, and created amazingly authentic characters: “The Hellion” is one of my all-time favorite romance novels. I was devastated when she announced her official retirement; she meant it, and she never published another novel. I collect as many of her books as possible, but each year they are more scarce.
    Thank you for this awesome post. My day is much happier!

    • Lindsey A. says:

      You’re so welcome, Shannon! I love getting to talk about romance with other readers. It’s amazing what romantic gems you can find in used book shops! I still visit my local shop to browse, and recently picked up an old school edition of “Shanna” myself. I think Johanna Lindsey’s historical romances were the first I read (though I can’t remember which one specifically), but I’ve never actually read Lavyrle Spencer. I’ll have to check her out soon! I didn’t realize she’d retired from writing. Thanks, Shannon!

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