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Are We in a New Historical Golden Age?

RuthlessI sat down to write something kind of snarky about language use in historicals after having come across some particularly heinous examples lately, but I soon found myself thinking about something entirely different:  Are we in the midst of a renaissance of the historical romance?

I think we may be getting there.  Recently I read – and was blown away by – Anne Stuart’s Ruthless.  The novel is a great one any way you choose to judge it, but it’s also noteworthy for taking place in 1765 in France.  Yes, that’s right, I said France. But, refreshing as that different time and setting may be, I loved this book because it is a voluptuous (and, yes, I really think that word applies), full-bodied (yes, I like it, even if it is redundant), lush romance between a truly dissolute rake and a strong, self-reliant woman.  And, even better, it reminded me of a classic of the author’s from a l-o-o-o-o-n-g time ago that I have saved since I first read it – Lord Satan’s Bride. And I am excited – oh, my, am I excited – about the remaining two books in the trilogy.

Then there is Loretta Chase’s Last Night’s Scandal, a book that to me is easily her best in years.  The dialogue crackles and pops and, just as we’ve come to expect from the author, when it’s time to hand over the goods on the romance, the author delivers – deliciously.

Stuart and Chase are experienced mistresses of their craft, but what about the next generation?  Right off the top of my head I can think of Sherry Thomas with her smart, witty style; Meredith Duran, who writes intelligent, lush romances; Joanna Bourne, with her intriguing characters and lush prose; and Tessa Dare bringing zing back to the Regency.

And then add in continuing terrific historical (and contemporary) romances from Lisa Kleypas; Elizabeth Hoyt; Connie Brockway (who I am so delighted to see writing historicals again); and Laura Lee Guhrke, who told us at RWA that her next series of books is set in the Edwardian era (as in the 20th century, and my cup is overflowing.

Bottom line for me is that I am more enthused than I have been in years about the future of the historical – which is nothing short of amazing considering my state of enui just a few short years ago.

I’ll be honest and admit here that I’m not a big fan of Westerns, so I’m not in the same boat as others bemoaning their loss.  But I feel their pain because I do like choice and think it is reasonable of readers to expect more than All Regency, Regency, Regency All the Time.  Most especially when it’s Wallpaper Regency, Regency, Regency.  And, despite the wonders of the authors I’ve mentioned here, there is still an awful lot of Wallpaper out there these days.

What about you?  Who has you excited these days?  Am I jumping the gun in thinking that we may be entering a new historical romance renaissance?

– Sandy AAR

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