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Topic: Want to talk historical romance at the historical fiction boards?

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Subject: Want to talk historical romance at the historical fiction boards?
Date Posted: 2/17/2010 1:27 PM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
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It seems we were beginning to thread nap over at the what are you reading for Feb post and it seems some of us would like to talk romances here with the usual troops, so here we go. Some discoveries of the long-forgotten (or almost forgotten) I've had recently,

Celeste de Blasis

Susan Bowden (a trilogy starting around death of Edward IV through Elizabethan England)

Day Taylor (loved her California books)

Patricia Gallagher (nice trilogy set in late 19C New York)

Edith Layton (at least the two I've tried so far)

Tamer sex, good storylines and plentiful historical details is what I prefer in a romance novel.

Date Posted: 2/17/2010 1:49 PM ET
Member Since: 3/8/2009
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I agree that most recent historical romance is piffle, but here are a few with enough unique historical meat running through them to make them worth wading through.  These don't meet the "tamer sex" standard, but they do meet your other two prerequisites!

Not Quite A Husband by Sherry Thomas (set around 1897) - Cold lady doctor leaves husband, husband goes halfway around the world to India to retrieve her...they trudge back to England right through the Swat Uprising, so you'll learn a bit about India civil unrest and the geography of the area, and about the lives of female physicians during that time.   Yea, there's steamy sex too, but this couple apparently has a thing for sex while one partner is sleeping...a litte creepy if  you ask me, but hey...different strokes and all that jazz. 

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley (set around 1855) - The hero has what we now recognize as Asperger's syndrome, but was treated as general madness at the time.  Very interesting look at how mental illness was viewed at the time.

The Four Soldiers Series by Elizabeth Hoyt (set in the early 1860's I think?) - Series of four books where the four heroes (one book focusing on each man) were all on the losing end of a fictional massacre during the French and Indian war.  The "massacre" is a fictionalized combination of two battles....the same one that Last of the Mohicans was based on, and the one where General Braddock is killed and George Washington (at the time, a lower officer in the British army) buried him on the side of the road.   I've only read the first two books so far, but have really enjoyed them.

Date Posted: 2/17/2010 2:08 PM ET
Member Since: 6/16/2008
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I'll have to check out the Jennifer Ashley one, Christa!

As for my recs, Day Taylor's Moss Rose was an excellent story about the Reconstruction South. Unfourtunately, it was a sequel to The Black Swan which, while good, has a bizarre WTF segment at a voodoo island. Still, there's enough carried over from it into the sequel that you'll be lost if you give it a pass. But if you can get through lesbian voodoo rape & a demented midget, it's rewarding. Adam Tremain and Dulcie Moran are two of my favorite characters from the "old skool" era.

A Dangerous Temptation by Barbara Kyle is about a woman who partners with a ship's captain out of simpatico religious convictions when Catholic vs. Protestant in England had people turning on each other. It culminates in Leiden with John the Anabaptist. There's an Amazon review blasting it for blasphemy, so that automatically means "intriguing" to me! :-)

I've got so many more in the TBR that look like they might show up later on this thread!

Date Posted: 2/17/2010 2:09 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
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Ok, picking up the conversation from the other thread, to continue here: 

Cathy said she'd seen people complain about too much history in Roberta Gellis.  Insanity, I say!  There is no such thing as too much history.  Perhaps too little romance (it is, after all, supposed to be a romance) but the more history, the better.  For my taste, Gellis gets the balance just about right.  Any farther to the romance side of the scale, and I start losing interest.

Really, the history is what I'm most interested in, no question.  But I enjoy the romance side of it too, so long as the sex isn't "mindless".  And I've been intrigued with the whole dynamic of working out an arranged marriage, contracted quite possibly with someone you've never even met, into a good marriage.  Our culture with its no-fault divorce is so quick to give up on a marriage if someone isn't "happy" or even (gag me) "love, but not in love anymore".   So I like romances that explores the exact OPPOSITE of our notions and expectations (even if I'm very aware that most are probably still too heavily tainted by the modern, however the author may try to avoid it.).  That's probably why there's only one American setting for HR that consistently interests me: the mail-order bride scenario in the old west.  Expectations for marriage had begun to change by then (choice, not a stranger, someone you liked) so I find that whole phenomenon utterly fascinating.  Anyway ... that's a tangent ...

Date Posted: 2/17/2010 2:20 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
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A Dangerous Temptation ... It culminates in Leiden with John the Anabaptist.

Oooh ... now this might interest me.  I was born Mennonite, and some of my earliest adult books were from church libraries.  Any church we visited for whatever reason (church conference, joint meetings, visiting family or friends in other areas, whatever) I always made a bee-line to whatever anemic little library they had (always small, rural churches).  And there was always SOMETHING about the Anabaptist history, fiction or nonfiction.  I can't imagine, however, who "John the Anabaptist" might be (assuming it was a historical person.) 

Date Posted: 2/17/2010 2:27 PM ET
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But an interesting tangent it is, Sharla. I like the mail-order bride scenario as well, and it even cropped up in a YA HF I read, as a subplot (the character survived the Johnstown Flood, but lost her family, so she settled to be a mail-order bride in order to survive - it was juxtaposed with the main character, who was fretting over having TWO boyfriends).

I was just looking at an Ammy review for the Kyle book, and this made me LOL and shake my head:

"As a historical novel in itself, it was accurate. That is the highest compliment that I can give this book, it really was that bad."

They were expecting a romance, so were naturally disappointed when it turned out not to be one. I wouldn't fault the author for that, though! She managed to get her manuscript sold as it stood. Blame the publisher for slapping a frilly cover on it and writing a misleading back cover.

ETA: John the Anabaptist is John of Leyden/Leiden. I probably screwed up calling him that in the other post! It's a pretty exciting part of the book. It's definitely worth reading! John of Leiden is also the subject of an opera by Meyerbeer. /opera nerd moment



Last Edited on: 2/17/10 2:30 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 2/17/2010 2:39 PM ET
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I'm going to have to look up the Kyle book, as well.  My company has an office in Leiden and I've had the pleasure of visiting there twice.  Beautiful, "Old Europe meets New Europe" little town.

Date Posted: 2/17/2010 3:07 PM ET
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I only know Leiden from ordering lots of books in my job from Brill publishers. EXPENSIVE academic texts!

Only European town I've walked around has been Tallinn, Estonia - the "old town" is beautiful, especially the orthodox cathedral. The "new" part still has lots of Communist concrete architecture. It's quite jarring to look across the street and see Old World beauty and then look back and see impersonal, morose architecture.

Date Posted: 2/17/2010 3:32 PM ET
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Piffle, I love that word. What drives me nuts in these newer ones is such a disregard for common sense - and not necessarily historical accuracy. There was one recent one (of course Harriet loved it) set in old San Francisco. The heroine's family had died on the way west via wagon train and she walked all the way (who fed her?), and her wagon train didn't stop at Sutter's or somewhere thereabouts and set up farming to going gold hunting, but they kept going right on to San Francisco. Well, maybe. Then she hits town and you would think fact that pure women were so scarce she should have had proposals for marriage coming out of her ears, but noooooo. Then, the hero keeps talking about *buying her a ticket back home*, kind of the same way one would buy a ticket on Greyhound. Wagon trains mostly went east to west, and by the time she's in San Fran it's either dead winter or pretty damn close so you know the wagons aren't going east. If (and a big if) a ship could get out of port with a crew her *ticket home* was Ohio or something. Send a virgin 16 year old around the horn or through the jungle of the Isthmus? Finally get to New York and what's the ticket connection then to get her home?

All that, and despite the half naked man on the cover the sex was virtually nil. Argh!;(

Date Posted: 2/17/2010 3:43 PM ET
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Dang, Cathy...if you're gonna go through all that, you ought to get some sex out of it!  ;)  That's just plain not fair!

ETA:  I wasn't sure if "piffle" was even a word.  But I looked it up and found this:

pif?fle?

speaker.gif?/?p?f?l/ dictionary_questionbutton_default.gif Show Spelled Pronunciation [pif-uhl] dictionary_questionbutton_default.gif Show IPA noun, verb, -fled, -fling. Informal.
?noun
1. nonsense, as trivial or senseless talk.

 

Yep, that about sums up most of the newer historical romance



Last Edited on: 2/17/10 3:50 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/17/2010 3:58 PM ET
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So, Cathy, how do you really feel about it? And what's the title? You can't pick something apart like that and leave that out! :D

ETA: LOL, never mind. I found it. Getting Lucky by Elaine Barbieri. The cover doesn't scream "Old West" to me!

I do love "piffle," and "hogswallop" is another favorite of mine.



Last Edited on: 2/17/10 4:02 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/17/2010 3:59 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
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Christa, I too loved the Four Solders books. The last two are as good as the first.

I just this passed summer reread the Black Swan and Moss Rose I loved those books so I wondered how I'd view them now 30 years later, so there is the OTT parts that Karla speaks of and I must admit I wince at the use of the N word but I also want those kind of nuances in a book. It is a historical romance so let it reflect the culture of the time.   

Regency or Medieval Disneyland where  authors write modern women into historical settings and situations drive me nuts. Whoever said the hero's  and I am paraphrasing seem much too Metrosexual had it right on. 

 

ETA  I am with Christa, about the sex.



Last Edited on: 2/17/10 4:04 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/17/2010 4:02 PM ET
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Karla arn't you also the one that uses "asshat"?  I love that expression, makes me laugh everytime I see it.

Date Posted: 2/17/2010 4:08 PM ET
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Yes, I love "asshat" - it applies to lots of heroes, some of whom I adore. There are lots of nuances in asshattery. Alexander Sinclair in The Taming is a redemptive asshat.

I agree, Letty, about the use of the N word, but hey, it's what was used by even "well meaning" people back then. I don't want every book I read to be idealized and sanitized to how I wish things had been back in the day, and these "Disneyland" books (nice term!) are exactly that. And ditto on the "metrosexual" comment. So much romance is forced into today's "accepted" standards, and it just doesn't often fly in the Realism Department. But then, I don't complain if a romance has too much history. Even the Queen of the Gratuitous Sex Bertrice Small gets dinged for having too much history in her books, even the recent ones!



Last Edited on: 2/17/10 4:10 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/17/2010 4:09 PM ET
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I like the mail-order bride scenario as well

Not exactly a romance, but have you read A Reliable Wife? I'm about halfway through it. Not sure if I like it yet. It may be one of those disturbing books that's hard to like.

I like the Roberta Gellis books I've read so far.

What's an asshat? Or shouldn't I ask.

Date Posted: 2/17/2010 4:10 PM ET
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I've always taken it to mean one who wears their ass for a hat. IOW, they have their head up it. :-D

Date Posted: 2/17/2010 4:14 PM ET
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Since I have a devil of a time expressing my self I would have said what Karla said, had I that ability.  I an not gifted as many of you are that's why I enjoy reading what you all say and nod to myself and say yeah that's it. 

 

ETA Genie  all people should read Gellis.  Even Elizabeth Chadwick praises her work.



Last Edited on: 2/17/10 4:17 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/17/2010 4:56 PM ET
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I have enjoyed Gellis but she does need to be taken in small doses. Some of her books are waaaay too explainatory.

I like piffle and glad its a real word. Speaking of piffle then there's the awful Vow of Seduction by Angela Johnson. Our Medieval Miss gets married, has her wedding night and her husband goes off on crusade and is presumed dead. He comes back and instead of being a dutiful wife and submits to her husband she stamps her feet and he has to *seduce* her back again. If he can't he'll go to the pope and get a divorce. Or was it an anulment? I forget which, but I had such a hard time picturing Edward Longshanks and the priests letting her get away with that crap instead of demanding she submit to her husband. No one said boo. Ooooh, and the sex - picture a dutiful catholic cousin of the king Medieval Miss having an orgasm from her husband's carousing under her skirts whilst they're sitting under a tree in full public view. As for the typo at the end, boy did I have fun with that. Ungulate indeed

I agree that the "n" word is disturbing but then that's what was used. I detest things being sugar coated.

Date Posted: 2/17/2010 5:06 PM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
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BTW, it never hurts to wander over to Amazon's romance discussions. You just never know what's going to happen there. If you're looking for time suck I'd recommend the you're darned certain hated phrases thread. Enter if you dare http://www.amazon.com/tag/romance/forum/ref=cm_cd_cg_ef_sap?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=FxM42D5QN2YZ1D&displayType=tagsDetail ;(



Last Edited on: 2/17/10 5:07 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/17/2010 5:10 PM ET
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After spewing my diet Coke on my screen, I just HAD to go back to the dictionary and see if  "ungulate" was a real word.  Sure enough....I'm sorry I did because I'm not sure the mental picture was worth it in light of the "tree scene" described above:

un?gu?late?

speaker.gif?/???gy?l?t, -?le?t/ dictionary_questionbutton_default.gif Show Spelled Pronunciation [uhng-gyuh-lit, -leyt] dictionary_questionbutton_default.gif Show IPA
?adjective
1. having hoofs.
2. belonging or pertaining to the Ungulata, a former order of all hoofed mammals, now divided into the odd-toed perissodactyls and even-toed artiodactyls.
3. hooflike.
?noun
4. a hoofed mammal.

As for the "Disneyland" heroines, I kinda like that in the right setting.  The heroine in Mr. Cavendish I Presume by Julia Quinn had quite modern expectations and I loved that book.  For some reason, I think it works in books that are supposed to be funny and is funny in books that aren't supposed to be.

 


Date Posted: 2/17/2010 5:47 PM ET
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Cathy I got out my Wolf and the Dove, I have one book to finish then I'll read it.  I can remember the last time so this will interesting.

ETA  I posted this in the Romance Forum  It is just so deliciously cheesy!!

I just finished and oldie, Devil's Desire by Laurie McBain,   I think I read it back in the 70's but had no recollection of the story.   I do love reading some of the older books they tend to either crack me up or make me cringe, this did both.  The long lost brother, the mean but desperately in love hero, the angry, spirited, frightened,  turned on heroin.   As well as the crazy Aunt, the lecherous Squire not one but two, the beautiful discarded ex-mistress that happens to turn up at the squires neighboring estate for a house party, in the stalker kind of way.   As well as smugglers, not nice smugglers, but knuckle draggers with rotten teeth and body odor.   Ah the nostalgia of formula historical romances, must have sex scene between pages 100 and 150, etc.   I had fun reading it!



Last Edited on: 2/17/10 6:00 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/17/2010 6:11 PM ET
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Ladies, we are having waaaaaay too much fun on this thread here. I do have to get the sex with trees book out from the library one of these days, although I think Katiebabs pretty much says it all on her Amazon review.

I can't wait to see how well Jerelyn does with WATD.

As for the ungulate, I had to do the same thing and I played on that in my review at the Shelf of Shame and Amazon. What's fun is to look at the newer reviews after mine, curiously not by those who regularly review and they address some of my issues with the book including what they refer to as a "typo" - interesting as only the author would know for sure if it was a typo. Review with some lovely quotes here, http://shelfofshame.blogspot.com/2009/11/vow-of-seduction-by-angela-johnson.html

BTW, if you ever see me making a comment about *woe is me* in my reviews it's my private little poke at a not-so-favorite author

Date Posted: 2/17/2010 7:08 PM ET
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I've always taken it to mean one who wears their ass for a hat. IOW, they have their head up it. :-D

Learn sumthin new every day.

Date Posted: 2/18/2010 9:39 AM ET
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Now you've whet my appetite for Devil's Desire, Letty! When oh when will that smut lot from Ebay get here?!??!?

The 70s romance I just finished, The Taming, didn't have actual sex between the H/h until page 370+. Then again, she was still only 15 years old. Talk about verboten stuff in today's romance!

Date Posted: 2/18/2010 10:46 AM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
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The Taming was another of the books I revisited, this past summer at the lake, It rained every day.I was glad that I over packed books! 

 

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