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Romantic Historical Fiction as a label?

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Romantic Historical Fiction as a label?

Post by DeAnnaCameron » Tue June 14th, 2011, 6:24 pm


I'm still pretty new to the forum, so I apologize in advance if I'm raising a topic that has been addressed already, or if I'm posting in the wrong place. Please feel free to correct me or redirect me, or whatever, and I won't be offended at all. :-)

So my question is, What do you think of the term Romantic Historical Fiction?

I'm curious because I've been thinking this is the answer for writers like me who write historical fiction that has a good deal of romance but is not, technically, historical romance because the romance is not central to the plot.

I thought I was really on to something until some reader friends told me they would make no distinction between Romantic Historical Fiction and Historical Romance. They aren't romance readers, or historical fiction readers, though.

So that's why I'm posing the question to you...

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Alisha Marie Klapheke
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Post by Alisha Marie Klapheke » Tue June 14th, 2011, 7:07 pm

As a reader, I don't care what anyone wishes to call it. I just read what trusted people have suggested or I take it home if I like the back cover and the first page. Genres have just been difficult for me as a writer and a reader. It seems so many works cross lines these days and genres are just not as important as giving me a comparison work. For instance I like: My book may appeal to fans of (mention other authors who've written similar type books here). But I guess I didn't answer your question...

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Post by Margaret » Tue June 14th, 2011, 7:15 pm

I make a distinction. To me, there are definite, sometimes really strong differences. I generally avoid historical romance, because the history usually takes a very distant back seat to romantic story lines that I find pretty unbelievable (the men are either brutes I wouldn't go near or every woman's dream of a female brain in an incredibly toned and sexy male body). I do read romantic historical fiction, because I can immerse myself in the story without getting chucked out of it every few pages by something that seems ridiculous to me; some of it's very good, even of literary quality. Probably the people who don't make a distinction would be happy to read either.
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Tue June 14th, 2011, 7:29 pm

If it isn't genre romance, just call it Historical Fiction. It would be hard to cover any period without some degree of male-female goings on. History is full of romance-- it's built into the human psyche. It's also full of sex, seeing as the race continues. Sometimes the two actually meet, for a while.

I don't read genre romance. I do read historical fiction. There is usually some romantic plot thread.

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Post by Misfit » Tue June 14th, 2011, 9:46 pm

I'd like to see these types of books better classified. When I do reach for a romance that is what I'm looking for. I'm not knocking romances, but I need a bit more than wall paper settings with 20C characters stuck in the past. I've seen historical readers sticking their noses up at some authors (I'll pick on Roberta Gellis), and prejudge the books based on the covers. Then I've seen romance readers complain about Gellis because she's got too much historical details for their tastes.

What is a reader to do, and how do they find the right romance for them when they are packaged so poorly you don't know what's in side? Straight romance authors like Garwood and McNaught have benign covers yet there's plenty of sex inside, and I've picked up books with cheesy covers that scream bodice ripper and there's way more history and very little sex.

FYI, Emery Lee has started a group at Goodreads (and now a FB page) addressing just this issue and she's worked hard to get a bookshelf going to exactly those type of books for readers like you and me. GR group page is here.
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Post by Divia » Tue June 14th, 2011, 10:56 pm

I think yours would be just normal historical fiction with a romantic substory.
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Post by boswellbaxter » Tue June 14th, 2011, 11:10 pm

I do make a distinction between romantic historical fiction (which I think of as "historical fiction with strong romantic elements") and historical romance. I think of a book like Kathleen Givens' Rivals for the Crown, for instance, as being romantic historical fiction.
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Post by anne whitfield » Wed June 15th, 2011, 4:12 am

This has always been a tricky one, I know as it's what I write and it's never classified as one thing or another.
I usually call mine, historical women's fiction, but even then it's not a label most are familiar with.
My publisher called my latest release historical romance, but it's not, not in the sense most readers think of historical romance. I'm worried to death people will think I'm trying to deceive them, sigh.
Good luck with this one. :)

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Post by SarahWoodbury » Wed June 15th, 2011, 4:54 am

I had my novel rejected by a publisher which said, "we haven't had much like recently with romantic historical fiction". I think another used the term "historical fiction with romantic elements". Which is pretty much what I write.

I think it is good to distinguish between historical romance and the romantic historical fiction. The term 'historical fiction' is just so broad . . .

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Post by Madeleine » Wed June 15th, 2011, 11:12 am

Anne, I've just read the synopsis of your book - and good luck with it by the way - and I wouldn't classify it as a historical romance. It's a difficult distinction to make, and personally speaking I would investigate a book that's classified as either historical romance or romantic historical fiction ie I'd check out a proper plot synopsis, look at any reviews, maybe see what other books the author has written, before deciding whether to buy the book or not, especially as I'm not a great romance fan. As MLE says, most books have some sort of romantic plot thread somewhere along the line, whatever genre they are in. It is a bit of a grey area, but personally I'd rather go with historical fiction -
you can only have so many sub-genres, and hopefully it would be up to the individual reader to make up their own mind, otherwise you could be having all sorts of sections: historical fiction with romantic elements, historical fiction with battle scenes, historical family saga fiction, etc; and even then there would probably be a romance in each genre somewhere!
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