Home Forums Let’s Talk Romance Diversity in HR Reply To: Diversity in HR

Nan De Plume
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And I shall mourn the loss of your magnum opus comment along with you, Carrie. Although I will say your revision is pretty darn good. :-)

First, are you trying to make my TBR list collapse under its own weight? I haven’t heard of “The Black Madonna,” but it sounds awesome. I’ll have to check it out.

Second, I totally agree with you about the personal taste factor. Beyond that, I think a lot of the criticism of HR that presents diverse characters in a way that probably couldn’t have happened for the time period is a problem of marketing. Take the kerfuffle about “The Bridgertons,” for example. My problem- and probably the problem of other critics- was not that there is a series that blends anachronistic music, costumes, decorations, and colorblind casting per se. My beef was its marketing as a Regency HR instead of historical fantasy. Honestly, I think you can tell any story you want to, but let’s not pretend it’s historically grounded beyond some window dressing. It’s historical fantasy fiction, which is fine. But why not be more open about this being the case, especially when this is one of the first mainstream examples representing the genre of “HR?” I get that HR has a fanciful element inherent to the genre, but I think there’s a difference between working within the framework of plausibility for a particular era- the zeitgeist, if you will- and totally throwing all that to the wind and still labeling it as being somehow historical. As far as I’m concerned, those are two different subgenres of romance- just as fantasy and science fiction are two different subgenres of speculative fiction. Neither one is necessarily *bad,* but mislabeling things annoys a lot of people.

“I don’t go on rants about how no one should write mafia fiction or books with assassins as the hero. I have all kinds of problems thinking they make sympathetic heroes, but that’s fine. Other people want to read it and that’s grand. I feel the same way about having representation in historically set novels.”

I totally get what you’re saying. And I agree we should all read and write what we please. As for representation in historically set novels, I think the same courtesies should also apply to readers who like the comfortable, familiar whitewashed Regencies that once exclusively defined the genre. There’s room for both kinds of readers without the consumers of such literature being automatically slapped with the label “racist.” I concede that some of them might be, but then again, I don’t automatically accuse ardent fans of Italian mafia stories of being anti-Italian either. A lot of it just comes down to taste.

“I feel the same way about having representation in historically set novels. I want those stories and I hope more authors will write good ones.”

I want well-written diverse historical fiction and HR too. I know some of my comments on other threads have left a bad taste in people’s mouths because of my wording. Basically, I want characters to be created believably and intelligently. Now, for some readers, representation via cameo appearances is enough. It’s not enough for me. I want characters to feel real, warts and all, rather than a mere political bullhorn. That’s true of any character for me. If I can sniff out the author making a point with a character rather than fleshing out that character as a well-rounded person, that’s not a story I’m going to enjoy. But it’s okay if others think that’s enough. We’re all different.

“We know trans people existed, and it’s good to see them in stories.”

You might enjoy “Confessions of the Fox” by Jordy Rosenberg, if you haven’t read it already. It’s an interesting kind of #ownvoices dual narrative story where a transmale professor stumbles across a manuscript that presents the historical thief Jack Sheppard as a transman. Normally, I don’t like reimagined history that changes the races, sexes, and other canonical facts about real life people, but it worked beautifully in this book because the professor is trying to authenticate this document. Is it the real story we never heard, or a piece of hopeful fanfiction? Interesting stuff. I enjoyed it.