Michelle Styles: The Enduring Power of Historical Romance

Michelle Styles: The Enduring Power of Historical Romance

So why historical romance?

1. Historical romance allows readers to use a time machine and instantly be transported to another one. It allows readers to experience what life might have been like by focussing not on the political views of the elite or tactics in warfare but the domestic life fuelled by the growth of the emotional relationship between a man and a woman.

2. The author is creating a world and bringing a historical period to life. Often history at school can seem as dry as dust. A well done historical setting can breathe new life into the past and make people appreciate the past. Historical romance can make history sexy.

3. The clothes. I love the descriptions of balls, gowns and the accessories such as fans, hats, gloves and jewels. There are more reasons to dress up in a historical novel. Vicarious dressing up has a lot to recommend it. Let’s face it this is the only way I will ever have a hand span waist.

4. The emotional relationship between the hero and heroine. Unlike today, people didn’t expect romantic love when they married. And yet the hunger to love and be loved, to be treated like you matter by one special person is a timeless and enduring emotion. If you look at history, you see love blossoming in the strangest of places and most unlikely circumstances. Historical romance explores what happens when romantic love occurs and how the couple react to that love within that society’s given rules and strictures.

5. A historical author see the world and society in different ways than a contemporary author might view that same society. Historical romance holds a dark mirror up to the present day. Historical novels are not the same as contemporary novels as the author has not had actual direct experience of the time period. So the author is highlighting concerns from a modern perspective. These allow the author to address some of the darker themes of today’s society. For example the Regency period was a time of great technological change. During the Viking period there was a great and violent culture clash which utterly changed Western civilisation. In the past, women often had to struggle with the same choices they make today but the stakes were higher. For example if a Regency business woman married, unless she was very careful, her new husband would gain control of the business (and society might think it a good thing!) Or a Viking woman who spent her life on the edges of society as warrior thinking she was beyond love suddenly finds love and has to make a choice between her old life and the new one. Or the lack of effective birth control means passions need to be curbed. Or there is a great risk of a scandal that could undo everything.

And finally…

6. I love that there is a Happily Ever After. Too often in life, things do not end satisfactorily, but when you read a historical romance, you know the heroine will find and will be valued for who she is and who she becomes.

What do you love about historical romance?

The new book by Michelle Styles ‘Prejudice in Regency Society’ is out in April and available to pre-order as a Paperback and eBook.