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Topic: Pre-1500's historical romance, any suggestions?

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Subject: Pre-1500's historical romance, any suggestions?
Date Posted: 10/19/2009 12:24 PM ET
Member Since: 9/29/2009
Posts: 2,551
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I'm interested in reading some historical romances that are pre 1500's. This can include medieval or dark age romance that is pre-renaissance, ancient Greece, ancient Egypt, ancient Rome, etc... as long as it is heavy on the historical. I'm not interested in anything written from a Christian fiction point of view, but I understand that religion was a major part of society back then. Can you guys give me any suggestions?

Date Posted: 10/19/2009 1:02 PM ET
Member Since: 6/16/2008
Posts: 772
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Just what is your line between historical vs. romance? I mean, there's heavy relationships in the Masters of Rome series, but it's primarily historical fiction.

I liked Marsha Canham's The Last Arrow. It's around the time of Robin Hood. Maybe not super-historical, but the story's not all about the rumpy-pumpy.

I've got several of Pauline Gedge's books - Ancient Egypt - but haven't gotten around to reading them. But from what I've heard about them, they might be a good & balanced historical/romance hybrid.

Just finished the first book of David Gemmell's Troy trilogy and while the history isn't exactly written in stone (and Gemmell's Trojan universe is very alternate at points), there's more historical than romance there. What romance there is seems token, at best.

Last Edited on: 10/19/09 1:06 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/19/2009 2:05 PM ET
Member Since: 9/29/2009
Posts: 2,551
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When I say heavy on the historical I mean any novel where the author has done at least some research into both the day-to-day living situation and the political/sociological atmosphere of the time period. I don't care to read anything that uses a historical time period as just a simple setting in order to get to the sex scenes. A good example is with native american romances. Think Cassie Edwards vs. Kathleen & Michael Gear. While I've read and enjoyed Cassie Edwards, her novels are very formulaic and predictable and the setting takes a backseat to the "rumpy-pumpy" as you said in your post. ^_^ I'll  check out the authors that you have mentioned.

Date Posted: 10/19/2009 2:58 PM ET
Member Since: 6/16/2008
Posts: 772
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Tsk tsk! Cassie Edwards worked hard to plagiarize long passages from old anthropological texts to give her books authenticity! ;)

Thanks for clarifying. If you like political/sociological atmosphere, you really can't beat Colleen McCullough's Rome series. There's just not a lot of romance, although it's obvs that the author has a huge crush on Julius Caesar. But there's lots of spouses among the characters, some genuine love & affection, and family drama/intrigue. I'm just biased since I love that series madly and the lack of HEAs doesn't bug me at all. The first book can be a bit hard to get into (it took me 2 tries), but I fell in love with it and devoured the other six 800+ page books. (Some people love Gabaldon, I love McCullough)

Last Edited on: 10/19/09 2:58 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/19/2009 3:28 PM ET
Member Since: 9/29/2009
Posts: 2,551
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ROFL, did she really? I wouldn't be surprised. Her books were so cheesy that I could only ever read one or two before I just got sick of them. Plus, I got tired of the "this is how Indians say hello" language lessons.

Date Posted: 10/19/2009 5:46 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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I don't remember how much historical detail there was in these but they are 2 books I enjoyed:

Saving Grace by Julie Garwood (heroine was married off at 13 to much older man who abused her-after she's widowed-brother marries her off to hero to protect her from being married off again by the King)

The Maide of Lorne by Terri Brisbin (heroine's father betrays King and she's given the choice to marry the knight he sends to take over his holdings or be put to death)

Last Edited on: 10/19/09 5:47 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/19/2009 6:10 PM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2008
Posts: 2,207
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Anya Seton's KATHERINE is an awesome Medieval, based on fact and I think she did well with her research. Virginia Henley has a slew of pre-1500s historical romances, heavy in history, based on some real historical persons;

Elizabeth Chadwick does her research - excellent author.

If I think of more I'll post.


Date Posted: 10/19/2009 7:00 PM ET
Member Since: 12/21/2007
Posts: 1,642
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I just finished listening to The Marsh King's Daughter on audio and I can highly recommend Elizabeth Chadwick as an author who knows her history. She doesn't pound you over the head with it but there are so many little details that are just fascinating.

I'd also recommend the Margaret of Ashbury novels by Judith Merkle Riley. I could not put the first two novels down once I started reading them and now I'm on the wish list for the third.


And although they aren't romances, they are still great books--I recommend Rosemary Sutcliffe's Roman Britain books. They are young adult novels but man oh man they are great reading. I re-read them quite frequently (check them out from my library).

Date Posted: 10/19/2009 7:44 PM ET
Member Since: 7/6/2009
Posts: 1,407
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I second the recommendation for Katherine. That's the first historical romance I remember reading, and it got me hooked for life.

Recently I got interested in Georgette Heyer when I found out she basically invented the regency romance. She also wrote a few books set in earlier periods, and she did the same meticulous research for them. If you read any of these, I'd be interested to know what you think - I haven't read them myself. :)

Simon the Coldheart - 1400-1418. There's a sequel, Beauvallet, set in 1586, that tells the story of Simon's great-great-great-grandson.

The Conquerer - 1028-1066, about William of Normandy and Matilda of Flanders.

My Lord John - 1393-1413. This was Heyer's final novel, published posthumously by her husband.

She has a couple of others as well, but they're set between 1600 and the Regency period.

Last Edited on: 10/19/09 7:45 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 10/20/2009 1:30 AM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
Posts: 2,164
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Love, love, love Elizabeth Chadwick.  I highly recommend her.  I started with The Love Knot back in college and, while I haven't read all of her books, I've read several and have loved every one so far.

Date Posted: 10/20/2009 10:01 AM ET
Member Since: 6/16/2008
Posts: 772
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I second the Judith Merkel Riley recommendation. I've only read the first one, A Vision of Light, but it was very good. Woman is married to a merchant and is indulged by her husband to have her history written down by a monk. Of course he's bigoted against the woman's vanity of doing so, but he needs the money, being a younger son and all. They eventually fall in love. IIRC, the story takes place during the Black Death.

Date Posted: 10/20/2009 11:24 AM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2006
Posts: 5,498
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The Warlords Bride by Margaret Moore was good.  Set in Wales I think.

Somewhere in Time by Merline Lovelace is a series romance but it was set in Ancient Rome and it was pretty good, very interesting.

Date Posted: 10/20/2009 11:35 AM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,175
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I also recommend Elizabeth Chadwick.  I just don't know of any one that does it as well.   A close second is Roberta Gellis love her, she is really the one that made me love historical romance..