Friday, September 7, 2012

Spotlight: Historical Romance

There's nothing wrong with wanting to read a book just for fun, whether it has wizards on boats, clever amateur detectives, rugged adventurers, or horrific monsters. The Adult Services team here at Carnegie-Stout loves books of every genre, but we all have our favorites. Personally, when I'm feeling stressed and need an escape, I turn to Historical Romance (or military science fiction). Sometimes I like to read a book that's fun, sexy, and ends with Happily Ever After.

What is Historical Romance? It depends on who you ask, but typically the phrase is used to describe steamy stories set in the late 18th or early 19th centuries, most often in England, and feature at lead one protagonist from the upper reaches of society. Although there is a growing popularity for titles set during the Victorian period. Romances with an American setting during this time period tend to be more in the style of a pioneer or old west story, or set during the Civil or Revolutionary War.

It's been a while since we posted our first Read Alike list (for Julia Quinn), or last year's experiment in reading all of the nominees for the RITA's Historical Romance category. Both of those lists are full of excellent books and authors for fans of Historical Romance, but there wasn't room for all of my old favorites or the newer authors just entering the world of Romance so I've gathered a few more suggestions below. If you happen to prefer Contemporary Romance, check out this post from earlier this summer.

The Heir by Grace Burrowes
I recently picked up Ms. Burrowes' first novel, The Heir, at the suggestion of a patron, and I tore through the 400+ pages in a single weekend. It's set during an unusually hot summer (sound familiar?) and the sparks between the characters are equally combustible. The Earl of Wyndham is a determined bachelor whose father has an overbearing need for grandchildren, his housekeeper, Anna, is capable, intelligent, attractive, and obviously born to something better than a servant's life. The story has a slower pace, which allows their relationship to develop more naturally, and Anna's mysterious past keeps the tension high.

A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant 
I just love it when a romance turns my expectations on their head. Ms. Grant's first novel, A Lady Awakened, seems to have a predictable set up, a newly widowed and childless Martha and the irresponsible rake next door come up with a bargain to save her husband's estate from her dastardly brother-in-law. The surprise is that the sex isn't instantly mind-blowing, though not for lack of trying on Theo's part. The focus on the characters' growing emotional and intellectual connection, along with their colorful country neighbors, makes this book more than a little heartwarming.

Goddess of the Hunt by Tessa Dare
Ms. Dare is another relatively recent addition to the romance shelves, and her charming characters and witty writing has earned her a 2012 RITA Award. Her first novel, Goddess of the Hunt, is the story of Lucy, who's a bit of a tomboy. Lucy attempts to win the heart of her childhood crush by seducing another man, and finds rather more than she expected.

Some Enchanted Evening by Christina Dodd
Ms. Dodd has been writing for two decades now, and while in recent years she's expanded into romantic suspense and paranormal titles, she's still a master of the steamy historical. Try Some Enchanted Evening, which adds a bit of fairy tale to the mix. Clarice is a princess in hiding in Scotland, where she sells cosmetics to support herself and her younger sister. Until Robert Mackenzie, Earl of Hepburn catches sight of her and realizes she's more than she appears.

Love Only Once by Johanna Lindsey
Ms. Lindsey has been writing steamy historical romances for almost thirty years now. Over the years she's written a wide variety of romances (including some with elements of Science Fiction), but all of her novels feature strong men, spirited women, and the clash of wits that comes with passion. Love Only Once is the first novel in her popular Malory Family series set in Regency era England. Regina Ashton is kidnapped by a handsome stranger and finds herself drawn to him in spite of her pride and his troubling past.

And if you can't get enough Historical Romance, here's another five authors worth checking out:

Please stop by the Recommendations Desk on the first floor, check out NoveList Plus on the library's website, or visit W. 11th & Bluff next week for more reading suggestions. Or submit a Personal Recommendations request, and we'll create a reading list just for you!

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