Ask A Wench – The Point of Historical Romance Novels

HeartsNicola here, introducing this month’s Ask A Wench feature. Today we’re tackling a big question which crops up a lot in different forms:

“With the world in such turmoil at the moment, what's the point of romance novels—especially historical romance novels about a past that's dead and gone?”

As readers and writers, we get this a lot: We’re accustomed to hearing: “What you read/write is frivolous/fluffy/some other disparaging word beginning with “f”. As the Wenches explain so eloquently below, this is to both miss the point and underestimate the power of romantic fiction. Read on to see exactly why, with the world in such turmoil, romance has so much to offer.

From Mary Jo:

What is the point of romance novels when the world is in turmoil? Seriously?  This is when we need romantic stories the most Once A Spy MM_ (002)because romance is about hope and change and building better lives for the future!  Contemporary, historical, paranormal: romance is always positive and worth escaping into when times are difficult.

Historical romance actually has an advantage because putting distance between present troubles and a romance set in earlier times gives us perspective and shows that humankind has survived hard times before.  Sometimes that distance can help us face hard truths more easily. 

I could choose any of the hundreds of Wench romances as examples, but for simplicity's sake, I'll mention my most recent historical romance, Once a Spy. Set just before and through Waterloo, the story's protagonists have both suffered greatly from the long Napoleonic wars.  The hero, Anglo-French Simon Duval, had just retired from years as an intelligence officer on the Peninsula.  He's lost family members and is burned out and emotionally weary. 

The French heroine, Suzanne Duval, is a cousin who lost her home, her husband, and her safety because of the wars, and has just escaped from painful captivity in a Turkish harem.  Both Simon and Suzanne are exhausted, burned out, and lonely. When Simon finds Suzanne impoverished in London, he impulsively proposes a marriage of friendship because neither of them can imagine anything more.  Yet their honesty, courage, and commitment brings them a love and happiness beyond their imaginations.  Romance can give us hope for a better future, not to mention escape from the trials of today! 

Anne writes:

GippslandWhen the world is in turmoil, and the news is depressing and upsetting, and there's nothing you can do, I think that's the very best time to seek refuge in a romance novel. Romance is the genre of hope. Romance novels remind us that love (in all its various forms) can triumph. Don't we all need an antidote to the relentless negativity in the media, a reminder that the world is not full of terrorists and criminals and disasters and heartless politicians?  A reminder that love is real. And important. Worth writing about, and well worth reading. (Picture: 1898 Painting by John Longstaff. Gippsland, Sunday Night, February 20th 1898.)

I'm in Australia, where we're suffering the worst bushfires ever — and there's months still to come of the usual bushfire season. We're all wondering whether there will be anything left of our beautiful country, our beautiful bushland and our unique native creatures. It's utterly devastating. We can donate money and food and clothing and all kinds of things but still, we feel so helpless. A romance novel can provide comfort and forgetfulness, if only for a few hours, and you emerge from the reading feeling heartened and hopeful again.

As for historical romance — yes, they're set in the past, but people are still people and we can identify with historical characters. And we can learn from history — if we choose. People in the past suffered climate change, had war roll over them in the most devastating ways, they suffered plagues and fires and hurricanes and natural disasters and faced starvation and so on — with fewer resources than we have today. But in among those terrible big events there are tales of ordinary people, of human goodness, personal sacrifice, of courage, kindness and generosity to strangers — and the triumph of love. Just as there are today. Historical romances can tell the stories of people like us, people caught up in difficult times and yet finding love and hope along the way. Historical romances link us with the people of the past and remind us that they survived — and so will we. 

Andrea:

The appeal of romance—those stories that celebrate hope and the power of love and friendship to triumph over adversity—is Andrea's covertimeless, as those elemental emotions are what bring out the best in our humanity. And I think these days, with strife and threats rearing their ugly heads in so many places all over the world, romance is even more important. A romance book can lift the spirits; it can remind you that you're not alone in struggling and that you have more strength than you think you have. It can spark optimism, and the belief that dark clouds will give way to light.

Historical romance adds the extra twist of allowing you to escape to another era where the challenges and obstacles are different that the ones you’re facing every day. That journey gives a different perspective, and the storytelling can let you get lost in a different world—which can be a welcome respite, and in and of itself a balm for the spirits. But I think seeing the same fears, worries, dangers that we all face today in another era reminds that life has always been a struggle between Light and Dark. Seeing historical heroines and hero find the courage to fight their battles can help spark the realization that every generation is tested, and that we have to dig deep to find the best in ourselves.

The cover of my latest Wrexford and Sloane mystery is  one of my favorite images because I read in it a powerful message—we all need to carry a flame in confronting whatever darkness is looming, and not let it extinguish the light.

Susan: 

Laird of secrets_Kim coverWhy romance? Oh, lots of reasons! We often need a bit of escape or a mini-vacation from life now and then, and fiction offers that in an easy, accessible, enjoyable way. Historical and contemporary romance and all of its many variants, along with other fiction genres like science fiction, fantasy, young adult, mystery, and mainstream and literary too … all offer chutes and hatches and magical portals that lead us away from our own everyday reality. We get endless chances in fiction to explore other times, places, other personalities, other situations, adventures, and feelings. Emotions are conjured in the pages—love conquers all, and so in romance we can feel loved within those pages. Other people’s problems are (usually) solved, and our own can fade away for a bit. And if your life is great and you’re OK with what’s in the news, not particularly looking for an escape, then fiction—and romance—is a way to learn, explore, experience what we might not—or maybe experience more of what we most enjoy, and in romance, it's often that important, essential sense of feeling loved, accepted, vindicated, treated with respect and generosity and kindness. Readers grow with good fiction, and romance has a lot to offer. 

Some people are uncomfortable with expressions of love, and some like to think that reading romance is somehow a weakness for readers, and writers too. On the contrary, reading romance and writing romance is a strength. We come away from a good romance novel—whether we’ve written it or read it—feeling better about life, about relationships, with a sense of hope, often with better tools for understanding individuals and relationships. We know more about history or some aspect of life. And there is nothing wrong with that! 

In fact, if you're interested in experiencing a little of 19th c. Scotland, whisky distillation, or learning about Scottish education–and if you'd love to spend a little time with a strong, scholarly whisky smuggler and the curious schoolteacher who stumbles on a secret enterprise–you might enjoy my newest release, Laird of Secrets, just out this week! 

Pat:

There are days when I read the news and wonder if there is a point to anything. . . Which is why we need escape, to clear our heads Suffrage so we can face the constant litany of disasters presented in the media. Almost any fiction offers some kind of escape. Romance, though, promises us that relationships and community will help us heal these rifts. I think all humans need to hear that kind of positive message. I sincerely believe if we can love our neighbors, no matter how unlovable, we can make the world better.

Historical romance often gives us perspective by showing that our present problems are human and nothing new, just altered by time and technology. The Luddite Revolution and the industrial revolution of the Regency are an example—fighting the change of technology that disrupts entire economies, much as the Midwest has been disrupted by the changing of manufacturing. Victorian suffragettes—fighting for the vote much as women currently fight for equal rights. It’s all there in history. . . we are making progress, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.

Mis 3Joanna here:

I write about times when the world is in pretty dire straits.

Considered one way: The very basis of order and civilization is in peril. The countries of Europe, one after another, plunge into riot, war, and devastation.

Considered another way: The despotic rule of the rich and well born is ended. It's time to build a new world. If they can …

I drop my characters into this chaos. "What you do matters," I tell them. "Be brave and loyal and loving. Do what you can."

They are and they do and they win.

We need this.

Nicola again. As you will have seen, there are some strong, common threads here about the way that romantic fiction is good for our health, how it brings hope and happiness and positivity in hard times. It tells stories of strength and survival, of change, progress and community. Those are our thoughts about the immeasurable worth of the genre: What are yours?

120 thoughts on “Ask A Wench – The Point of Historical Romance Novels”

  1. I first discovered romance novels many years ago when I was going through a very unhappy time in my life. I didn’t want to waste my time on anything that did not end well. I got over my depression and wasn’t able to read as much as I would have liked to.
    But when I retired and had more time, the first thing I did was renew my library card. I found myself drawn to the type of book that helped my so many years before. Only now I read them because I truly enjoyed them not because I felt like I needed them. I admit it, I am a romance junkie.
    Why historical? No special reason except that I have always enjoyed history and love stepping into the world of the past.

    Reply
  2. I first discovered romance novels many years ago when I was going through a very unhappy time in my life. I didn’t want to waste my time on anything that did not end well. I got over my depression and wasn’t able to read as much as I would have liked to.
    But when I retired and had more time, the first thing I did was renew my library card. I found myself drawn to the type of book that helped my so many years before. Only now I read them because I truly enjoyed them not because I felt like I needed them. I admit it, I am a romance junkie.
    Why historical? No special reason except that I have always enjoyed history and love stepping into the world of the past.

    Reply
  3. I first discovered romance novels many years ago when I was going through a very unhappy time in my life. I didn’t want to waste my time on anything that did not end well. I got over my depression and wasn’t able to read as much as I would have liked to.
    But when I retired and had more time, the first thing I did was renew my library card. I found myself drawn to the type of book that helped my so many years before. Only now I read them because I truly enjoyed them not because I felt like I needed them. I admit it, I am a romance junkie.
    Why historical? No special reason except that I have always enjoyed history and love stepping into the world of the past.

    Reply
  4. I first discovered romance novels many years ago when I was going through a very unhappy time in my life. I didn’t want to waste my time on anything that did not end well. I got over my depression and wasn’t able to read as much as I would have liked to.
    But when I retired and had more time, the first thing I did was renew my library card. I found myself drawn to the type of book that helped my so many years before. Only now I read them because I truly enjoyed them not because I felt like I needed them. I admit it, I am a romance junkie.
    Why historical? No special reason except that I have always enjoyed history and love stepping into the world of the past.

    Reply
  5. I first discovered romance novels many years ago when I was going through a very unhappy time in my life. I didn’t want to waste my time on anything that did not end well. I got over my depression and wasn’t able to read as much as I would have liked to.
    But when I retired and had more time, the first thing I did was renew my library card. I found myself drawn to the type of book that helped my so many years before. Only now I read them because I truly enjoyed them not because I felt like I needed them. I admit it, I am a romance junkie.
    Why historical? No special reason except that I have always enjoyed history and love stepping into the world of the past.

    Reply
  6. In a world as turbulent and as divided as this, historical romance provides a reassurance that not ALL is ill with the world. It is a reminder of hope, and, that at least for some, there IS a happy ending.
    Long may it continue!

    Reply
  7. In a world as turbulent and as divided as this, historical romance provides a reassurance that not ALL is ill with the world. It is a reminder of hope, and, that at least for some, there IS a happy ending.
    Long may it continue!

    Reply
  8. In a world as turbulent and as divided as this, historical romance provides a reassurance that not ALL is ill with the world. It is a reminder of hope, and, that at least for some, there IS a happy ending.
    Long may it continue!

    Reply
  9. In a world as turbulent and as divided as this, historical romance provides a reassurance that not ALL is ill with the world. It is a reminder of hope, and, that at least for some, there IS a happy ending.
    Long may it continue!

    Reply
  10. In a world as turbulent and as divided as this, historical romance provides a reassurance that not ALL is ill with the world. It is a reminder of hope, and, that at least for some, there IS a happy ending.
    Long may it continue!

    Reply
  11. Historical romance is able to hold a dark mirror up to contemporary society in a way a contemporary can’t. It is a vehicle for discussing aspects of society that a contemporary might not be able to. The sorts of historicals being written now reflect the world and sensibilities of today’s author. They are relevant as they show that the past is not irrelevant but capable of being re-evaluated. And they are just good fun in general.

    Reply
  12. Historical romance is able to hold a dark mirror up to contemporary society in a way a contemporary can’t. It is a vehicle for discussing aspects of society that a contemporary might not be able to. The sorts of historicals being written now reflect the world and sensibilities of today’s author. They are relevant as they show that the past is not irrelevant but capable of being re-evaluated. And they are just good fun in general.

    Reply
  13. Historical romance is able to hold a dark mirror up to contemporary society in a way a contemporary can’t. It is a vehicle for discussing aspects of society that a contemporary might not be able to. The sorts of historicals being written now reflect the world and sensibilities of today’s author. They are relevant as they show that the past is not irrelevant but capable of being re-evaluated. And they are just good fun in general.

    Reply
  14. Historical romance is able to hold a dark mirror up to contemporary society in a way a contemporary can’t. It is a vehicle for discussing aspects of society that a contemporary might not be able to. The sorts of historicals being written now reflect the world and sensibilities of today’s author. They are relevant as they show that the past is not irrelevant but capable of being re-evaluated. And they are just good fun in general.

    Reply
  15. Historical romance is able to hold a dark mirror up to contemporary society in a way a contemporary can’t. It is a vehicle for discussing aspects of society that a contemporary might not be able to. The sorts of historicals being written now reflect the world and sensibilities of today’s author. They are relevant as they show that the past is not irrelevant but capable of being re-evaluated. And they are just good fun in general.

    Reply
  16. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Mary. It’s very uplifting to know that romantic fiction can help people through tough times in their lives. I do think historical romance has a very special appeal as well. We all like to visit other worlds!

    Reply
  17. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Mary. It’s very uplifting to know that romantic fiction can help people through tough times in their lives. I do think historical romance has a very special appeal as well. We all like to visit other worlds!

    Reply
  18. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Mary. It’s very uplifting to know that romantic fiction can help people through tough times in their lives. I do think historical romance has a very special appeal as well. We all like to visit other worlds!

    Reply
  19. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Mary. It’s very uplifting to know that romantic fiction can help people through tough times in their lives. I do think historical romance has a very special appeal as well. We all like to visit other worlds!

    Reply
  20. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Mary. It’s very uplifting to know that romantic fiction can help people through tough times in their lives. I do think historical romance has a very special appeal as well. We all like to visit other worlds!

    Reply
  21. Well said, John! Yes, we all desperately need the hope that a happy ending can bring. And it isn’t just fiction – the books really can mirror life! It’s not all doom and gloom. It just feels it if you read much of the media!

    Reply
  22. Well said, John! Yes, we all desperately need the hope that a happy ending can bring. And it isn’t just fiction – the books really can mirror life! It’s not all doom and gloom. It just feels it if you read much of the media!

    Reply
  23. Well said, John! Yes, we all desperately need the hope that a happy ending can bring. And it isn’t just fiction – the books really can mirror life! It’s not all doom and gloom. It just feels it if you read much of the media!

    Reply
  24. Well said, John! Yes, we all desperately need the hope that a happy ending can bring. And it isn’t just fiction – the books really can mirror life! It’s not all doom and gloom. It just feels it if you read much of the media!

    Reply
  25. Well said, John! Yes, we all desperately need the hope that a happy ending can bring. And it isn’t just fiction – the books really can mirror life! It’s not all doom and gloom. It just feels it if you read much of the media!

    Reply
  26. That’s a really interesting observation, Michelle. I do agree that romance fiction can offer multiple insights. A lot of people speak of the escapism of romance and that is one element but it also offers emotional truth. It’s a complicated genre in the best way and should be given recognition as such.

    Reply
  27. That’s a really interesting observation, Michelle. I do agree that romance fiction can offer multiple insights. A lot of people speak of the escapism of romance and that is one element but it also offers emotional truth. It’s a complicated genre in the best way and should be given recognition as such.

    Reply
  28. That’s a really interesting observation, Michelle. I do agree that romance fiction can offer multiple insights. A lot of people speak of the escapism of romance and that is one element but it also offers emotional truth. It’s a complicated genre in the best way and should be given recognition as such.

    Reply
  29. That’s a really interesting observation, Michelle. I do agree that romance fiction can offer multiple insights. A lot of people speak of the escapism of romance and that is one element but it also offers emotional truth. It’s a complicated genre in the best way and should be given recognition as such.

    Reply
  30. That’s a really interesting observation, Michelle. I do agree that romance fiction can offer multiple insights. A lot of people speak of the escapism of romance and that is one element but it also offers emotional truth. It’s a complicated genre in the best way and should be given recognition as such.

    Reply
  31. Yes to all the above – totally agree with what each of you expressed.
    While working I had little time to read and then it was mostly mysteries that my husband thought I would like – I did enjoy them. After he passed away and we closed our business I had time to read and picked up Historical romance books which I fell in love with right away. I think he would have liked some of them as he was a history buff.
    Back then we lived in the Wash DC area and so deep into the politics. Then we moved to the country in central USA. Still watch the news channels but at the same time I am reading. Only when the news story is of interest do I depart from my reading. I enjoy being taken away from what our world is dealing with for a few hours each day. We each need a break from the news around the world as none of us can solve all the problems. We can choose where we can be of help and now we can help.
    Thanks for a wonderful topic and for voicing my feelings so well.

    Reply
  32. Yes to all the above – totally agree with what each of you expressed.
    While working I had little time to read and then it was mostly mysteries that my husband thought I would like – I did enjoy them. After he passed away and we closed our business I had time to read and picked up Historical romance books which I fell in love with right away. I think he would have liked some of them as he was a history buff.
    Back then we lived in the Wash DC area and so deep into the politics. Then we moved to the country in central USA. Still watch the news channels but at the same time I am reading. Only when the news story is of interest do I depart from my reading. I enjoy being taken away from what our world is dealing with for a few hours each day. We each need a break from the news around the world as none of us can solve all the problems. We can choose where we can be of help and now we can help.
    Thanks for a wonderful topic and for voicing my feelings so well.

    Reply
  33. Yes to all the above – totally agree with what each of you expressed.
    While working I had little time to read and then it was mostly mysteries that my husband thought I would like – I did enjoy them. After he passed away and we closed our business I had time to read and picked up Historical romance books which I fell in love with right away. I think he would have liked some of them as he was a history buff.
    Back then we lived in the Wash DC area and so deep into the politics. Then we moved to the country in central USA. Still watch the news channels but at the same time I am reading. Only when the news story is of interest do I depart from my reading. I enjoy being taken away from what our world is dealing with for a few hours each day. We each need a break from the news around the world as none of us can solve all the problems. We can choose where we can be of help and now we can help.
    Thanks for a wonderful topic and for voicing my feelings so well.

    Reply
  34. Yes to all the above – totally agree with what each of you expressed.
    While working I had little time to read and then it was mostly mysteries that my husband thought I would like – I did enjoy them. After he passed away and we closed our business I had time to read and picked up Historical romance books which I fell in love with right away. I think he would have liked some of them as he was a history buff.
    Back then we lived in the Wash DC area and so deep into the politics. Then we moved to the country in central USA. Still watch the news channels but at the same time I am reading. Only when the news story is of interest do I depart from my reading. I enjoy being taken away from what our world is dealing with for a few hours each day. We each need a break from the news around the world as none of us can solve all the problems. We can choose where we can be of help and now we can help.
    Thanks for a wonderful topic and for voicing my feelings so well.

    Reply
  35. Yes to all the above – totally agree with what each of you expressed.
    While working I had little time to read and then it was mostly mysteries that my husband thought I would like – I did enjoy them. After he passed away and we closed our business I had time to read and picked up Historical romance books which I fell in love with right away. I think he would have liked some of them as he was a history buff.
    Back then we lived in the Wash DC area and so deep into the politics. Then we moved to the country in central USA. Still watch the news channels but at the same time I am reading. Only when the news story is of interest do I depart from my reading. I enjoy being taken away from what our world is dealing with for a few hours each day. We each need a break from the news around the world as none of us can solve all the problems. We can choose where we can be of help and now we can help.
    Thanks for a wonderful topic and for voicing my feelings so well.

    Reply
  36. I was one of those skeptics who thought romance novels were fluff. Then, a couple of dozen years ago, I borrowed a CD from the library to listen to on a long road trip. And I fell in love.
    The story was an historical romance/mystery. It was the mystery part that probably drew me to this book, (and I really adore mystery/romances – Andrea Penrose), but the historical aspect was an eyeopener. I don’t think I expected so much detail and accuracy and, as I also love history, I was hooked.
    I have learned so much from reading this genre and I believe, if they just tried it, many skeptics would be surprised.
    So, yes, I read these stories to escape from the troubles of today, but I also read them to learn, to broaden my knowledge and, hopefully, I will have a new perspective that will ease my way in surviving these unsettled times.

    Reply
  37. I was one of those skeptics who thought romance novels were fluff. Then, a couple of dozen years ago, I borrowed a CD from the library to listen to on a long road trip. And I fell in love.
    The story was an historical romance/mystery. It was the mystery part that probably drew me to this book, (and I really adore mystery/romances – Andrea Penrose), but the historical aspect was an eyeopener. I don’t think I expected so much detail and accuracy and, as I also love history, I was hooked.
    I have learned so much from reading this genre and I believe, if they just tried it, many skeptics would be surprised.
    So, yes, I read these stories to escape from the troubles of today, but I also read them to learn, to broaden my knowledge and, hopefully, I will have a new perspective that will ease my way in surviving these unsettled times.

    Reply
  38. I was one of those skeptics who thought romance novels were fluff. Then, a couple of dozen years ago, I borrowed a CD from the library to listen to on a long road trip. And I fell in love.
    The story was an historical romance/mystery. It was the mystery part that probably drew me to this book, (and I really adore mystery/romances – Andrea Penrose), but the historical aspect was an eyeopener. I don’t think I expected so much detail and accuracy and, as I also love history, I was hooked.
    I have learned so much from reading this genre and I believe, if they just tried it, many skeptics would be surprised.
    So, yes, I read these stories to escape from the troubles of today, but I also read them to learn, to broaden my knowledge and, hopefully, I will have a new perspective that will ease my way in surviving these unsettled times.

    Reply
  39. I was one of those skeptics who thought romance novels were fluff. Then, a couple of dozen years ago, I borrowed a CD from the library to listen to on a long road trip. And I fell in love.
    The story was an historical romance/mystery. It was the mystery part that probably drew me to this book, (and I really adore mystery/romances – Andrea Penrose), but the historical aspect was an eyeopener. I don’t think I expected so much detail and accuracy and, as I also love history, I was hooked.
    I have learned so much from reading this genre and I believe, if they just tried it, many skeptics would be surprised.
    So, yes, I read these stories to escape from the troubles of today, but I also read them to learn, to broaden my knowledge and, hopefully, I will have a new perspective that will ease my way in surviving these unsettled times.

    Reply
  40. I was one of those skeptics who thought romance novels were fluff. Then, a couple of dozen years ago, I borrowed a CD from the library to listen to on a long road trip. And I fell in love.
    The story was an historical romance/mystery. It was the mystery part that probably drew me to this book, (and I really adore mystery/romances – Andrea Penrose), but the historical aspect was an eyeopener. I don’t think I expected so much detail and accuracy and, as I also love history, I was hooked.
    I have learned so much from reading this genre and I believe, if they just tried it, many skeptics would be surprised.
    So, yes, I read these stories to escape from the troubles of today, but I also read them to learn, to broaden my knowledge and, hopefully, I will have a new perspective that will ease my way in surviving these unsettled times.

    Reply
  41. I never liked the real world–everything is always so hard to do, and things may not work out no matter how good you are or how hard you work. So, I read. I started with science fiction, because those stories are about as far from the real world as you can get. But something was missing–women. Most of the characters were men, and I wanted to read stories where women count. I like action and adventure, but I wanted to read those kind of stories where women were the main characters. My heroines of all time are Miss Fisher, Xena, Warrior Princess (including Gabrielle) and Emma Peel. So, I went to romance, where women count, women get what they want, and there’s always a happy ending. (A gorgeous hero who’s crazy about the heroine doesn’t hurt, either. :)) And specifically, historical romance, mainly Regency, because it’s far enough from the real world for a little fantasy, but not so far as to be completely different.

    Reply
  42. I never liked the real world–everything is always so hard to do, and things may not work out no matter how good you are or how hard you work. So, I read. I started with science fiction, because those stories are about as far from the real world as you can get. But something was missing–women. Most of the characters were men, and I wanted to read stories where women count. I like action and adventure, but I wanted to read those kind of stories where women were the main characters. My heroines of all time are Miss Fisher, Xena, Warrior Princess (including Gabrielle) and Emma Peel. So, I went to romance, where women count, women get what they want, and there’s always a happy ending. (A gorgeous hero who’s crazy about the heroine doesn’t hurt, either. :)) And specifically, historical romance, mainly Regency, because it’s far enough from the real world for a little fantasy, but not so far as to be completely different.

    Reply
  43. I never liked the real world–everything is always so hard to do, and things may not work out no matter how good you are or how hard you work. So, I read. I started with science fiction, because those stories are about as far from the real world as you can get. But something was missing–women. Most of the characters were men, and I wanted to read stories where women count. I like action and adventure, but I wanted to read those kind of stories where women were the main characters. My heroines of all time are Miss Fisher, Xena, Warrior Princess (including Gabrielle) and Emma Peel. So, I went to romance, where women count, women get what they want, and there’s always a happy ending. (A gorgeous hero who’s crazy about the heroine doesn’t hurt, either. :)) And specifically, historical romance, mainly Regency, because it’s far enough from the real world for a little fantasy, but not so far as to be completely different.

    Reply
  44. I never liked the real world–everything is always so hard to do, and things may not work out no matter how good you are or how hard you work. So, I read. I started with science fiction, because those stories are about as far from the real world as you can get. But something was missing–women. Most of the characters were men, and I wanted to read stories where women count. I like action and adventure, but I wanted to read those kind of stories where women were the main characters. My heroines of all time are Miss Fisher, Xena, Warrior Princess (including Gabrielle) and Emma Peel. So, I went to romance, where women count, women get what they want, and there’s always a happy ending. (A gorgeous hero who’s crazy about the heroine doesn’t hurt, either. :)) And specifically, historical romance, mainly Regency, because it’s far enough from the real world for a little fantasy, but not so far as to be completely different.

    Reply
  45. I never liked the real world–everything is always so hard to do, and things may not work out no matter how good you are or how hard you work. So, I read. I started with science fiction, because those stories are about as far from the real world as you can get. But something was missing–women. Most of the characters were men, and I wanted to read stories where women count. I like action and adventure, but I wanted to read those kind of stories where women were the main characters. My heroines of all time are Miss Fisher, Xena, Warrior Princess (including Gabrielle) and Emma Peel. So, I went to romance, where women count, women get what they want, and there’s always a happy ending. (A gorgeous hero who’s crazy about the heroine doesn’t hurt, either. :)) And specifically, historical romance, mainly Regency, because it’s far enough from the real world for a little fantasy, but not so far as to be completely different.

    Reply
  46. So many reasons! Getting lost in a story; learning about customs, language, dress, and decorum from times past; manners, manners and more manners! Humor, love, witty repartee – why would we ever give it up?

    Reply
  47. So many reasons! Getting lost in a story; learning about customs, language, dress, and decorum from times past; manners, manners and more manners! Humor, love, witty repartee – why would we ever give it up?

    Reply
  48. So many reasons! Getting lost in a story; learning about customs, language, dress, and decorum from times past; manners, manners and more manners! Humor, love, witty repartee – why would we ever give it up?

    Reply
  49. So many reasons! Getting lost in a story; learning about customs, language, dress, and decorum from times past; manners, manners and more manners! Humor, love, witty repartee – why would we ever give it up?

    Reply
  50. So many reasons! Getting lost in a story; learning about customs, language, dress, and decorum from times past; manners, manners and more manners! Humor, love, witty repartee – why would we ever give it up?

    Reply
  51. I read romance novels to escape, not necessarily from the wrongs in our world and country but to escape from my confinement. I am disabled and cannot drive a car, so I’m stuck at home 24/7. Oh yeah, there are people who knows my situation, but they choose to be too busy. So the books are not just my escape but friends I can count on.

    Reply
  52. I read romance novels to escape, not necessarily from the wrongs in our world and country but to escape from my confinement. I am disabled and cannot drive a car, so I’m stuck at home 24/7. Oh yeah, there are people who knows my situation, but they choose to be too busy. So the books are not just my escape but friends I can count on.

    Reply
  53. I read romance novels to escape, not necessarily from the wrongs in our world and country but to escape from my confinement. I am disabled and cannot drive a car, so I’m stuck at home 24/7. Oh yeah, there are people who knows my situation, but they choose to be too busy. So the books are not just my escape but friends I can count on.

    Reply
  54. I read romance novels to escape, not necessarily from the wrongs in our world and country but to escape from my confinement. I am disabled and cannot drive a car, so I’m stuck at home 24/7. Oh yeah, there are people who knows my situation, but they choose to be too busy. So the books are not just my escape but friends I can count on.

    Reply
  55. I read romance novels to escape, not necessarily from the wrongs in our world and country but to escape from my confinement. I am disabled and cannot drive a car, so I’m stuck at home 24/7. Oh yeah, there are people who knows my situation, but they choose to be too busy. So the books are not just my escape but friends I can count on.

    Reply
  56. Well, there’s obviously the escape aspect. Sometimes you just want to vanish into a world where the greatest tragedy is not getting vouchers to Almack’s and where you know that everything will end happily.
    But there’s something else about historical fiction, romance or not. It introduces us to people whose thoughts, attitudes, and experiences are nothing like our own and enables us to understand and appreciate them. With luck, and maybe a bit of effort, we can apply that understanding to the diverse people who inhabit our present world.

    Reply
  57. Well, there’s obviously the escape aspect. Sometimes you just want to vanish into a world where the greatest tragedy is not getting vouchers to Almack’s and where you know that everything will end happily.
    But there’s something else about historical fiction, romance or not. It introduces us to people whose thoughts, attitudes, and experiences are nothing like our own and enables us to understand and appreciate them. With luck, and maybe a bit of effort, we can apply that understanding to the diverse people who inhabit our present world.

    Reply
  58. Well, there’s obviously the escape aspect. Sometimes you just want to vanish into a world where the greatest tragedy is not getting vouchers to Almack’s and where you know that everything will end happily.
    But there’s something else about historical fiction, romance or not. It introduces us to people whose thoughts, attitudes, and experiences are nothing like our own and enables us to understand and appreciate them. With luck, and maybe a bit of effort, we can apply that understanding to the diverse people who inhabit our present world.

    Reply
  59. Well, there’s obviously the escape aspect. Sometimes you just want to vanish into a world where the greatest tragedy is not getting vouchers to Almack’s and where you know that everything will end happily.
    But there’s something else about historical fiction, romance or not. It introduces us to people whose thoughts, attitudes, and experiences are nothing like our own and enables us to understand and appreciate them. With luck, and maybe a bit of effort, we can apply that understanding to the diverse people who inhabit our present world.

    Reply
  60. Well, there’s obviously the escape aspect. Sometimes you just want to vanish into a world where the greatest tragedy is not getting vouchers to Almack’s and where you know that everything will end happily.
    But there’s something else about historical fiction, romance or not. It introduces us to people whose thoughts, attitudes, and experiences are nothing like our own and enables us to understand and appreciate them. With luck, and maybe a bit of effort, we can apply that understanding to the diverse people who inhabit our present world.

    Reply
  61. For the most part, I read for the happy ending; with a romance, that happy ending is guaranteed. I read many types of romance to celebrate love of all varieties and in all places and times.
    More power to all of you; long may you write!

    Reply
  62. For the most part, I read for the happy ending; with a romance, that happy ending is guaranteed. I read many types of romance to celebrate love of all varieties and in all places and times.
    More power to all of you; long may you write!

    Reply
  63. For the most part, I read for the happy ending; with a romance, that happy ending is guaranteed. I read many types of romance to celebrate love of all varieties and in all places and times.
    More power to all of you; long may you write!

    Reply
  64. For the most part, I read for the happy ending; with a romance, that happy ending is guaranteed. I read many types of romance to celebrate love of all varieties and in all places and times.
    More power to all of you; long may you write!

    Reply
  65. For the most part, I read for the happy ending; with a romance, that happy ending is guaranteed. I read many types of romance to celebrate love of all varieties and in all places and times.
    More power to all of you; long may you write!

    Reply
  66. When my first husband left me with three children, and a new (fascinating but time-consuming job) a co-worker (also a single parent) challenged me on my escapist reading (romance and science fiction). My response was “She who fights and runs away lives to fight another day” because as others have said the alternate viewpoint is refreshing. I am currently rereading Cyteen, an sf novel about pollitics and also Jo Beverley’s My Lady Notorious, also somewhat about politics. I HATE politics! But the strategies in the books, both future and past, are helping me think about the present in terms of postic action from the average citizen..

    Reply
  67. When my first husband left me with three children, and a new (fascinating but time-consuming job) a co-worker (also a single parent) challenged me on my escapist reading (romance and science fiction). My response was “She who fights and runs away lives to fight another day” because as others have said the alternate viewpoint is refreshing. I am currently rereading Cyteen, an sf novel about pollitics and also Jo Beverley’s My Lady Notorious, also somewhat about politics. I HATE politics! But the strategies in the books, both future and past, are helping me think about the present in terms of postic action from the average citizen..

    Reply
  68. When my first husband left me with three children, and a new (fascinating but time-consuming job) a co-worker (also a single parent) challenged me on my escapist reading (romance and science fiction). My response was “She who fights and runs away lives to fight another day” because as others have said the alternate viewpoint is refreshing. I am currently rereading Cyteen, an sf novel about pollitics and also Jo Beverley’s My Lady Notorious, also somewhat about politics. I HATE politics! But the strategies in the books, both future and past, are helping me think about the present in terms of postic action from the average citizen..

    Reply
  69. When my first husband left me with three children, and a new (fascinating but time-consuming job) a co-worker (also a single parent) challenged me on my escapist reading (romance and science fiction). My response was “She who fights and runs away lives to fight another day” because as others have said the alternate viewpoint is refreshing. I am currently rereading Cyteen, an sf novel about pollitics and also Jo Beverley’s My Lady Notorious, also somewhat about politics. I HATE politics! But the strategies in the books, both future and past, are helping me think about the present in terms of postic action from the average citizen..

    Reply
  70. When my first husband left me with three children, and a new (fascinating but time-consuming job) a co-worker (also a single parent) challenged me on my escapist reading (romance and science fiction). My response was “She who fights and runs away lives to fight another day” because as others have said the alternate viewpoint is refreshing. I am currently rereading Cyteen, an sf novel about pollitics and also Jo Beverley’s My Lady Notorious, also somewhat about politics. I HATE politics! But the strategies in the books, both future and past, are helping me think about the present in terms of postic action from the average citizen..

    Reply
  71. Thank you, Alison! Yes, romance novels definitely fulfil more than one purpose. I love historical romance precisely for the reason you mention – the fact that you can learn some really interesting stuff in an accessible form. I love the idea of romance acting as a sort of aid to survival as well!

    Reply
  72. Thank you, Alison! Yes, romance novels definitely fulfil more than one purpose. I love historical romance precisely for the reason you mention – the fact that you can learn some really interesting stuff in an accessible form. I love the idea of romance acting as a sort of aid to survival as well!

    Reply
  73. Thank you, Alison! Yes, romance novels definitely fulfil more than one purpose. I love historical romance precisely for the reason you mention – the fact that you can learn some really interesting stuff in an accessible form. I love the idea of romance acting as a sort of aid to survival as well!

    Reply
  74. Thank you, Alison! Yes, romance novels definitely fulfil more than one purpose. I love historical romance precisely for the reason you mention – the fact that you can learn some really interesting stuff in an accessible form. I love the idea of romance acting as a sort of aid to survival as well!

    Reply
  75. Thank you, Alison! Yes, romance novels definitely fulfil more than one purpose. I love historical romance precisely for the reason you mention – the fact that you can learn some really interesting stuff in an accessible form. I love the idea of romance acting as a sort of aid to survival as well!

    Reply
  76. That’s such an interesting observation on science fiction, Linda. I read a lot of it too when I was younger and hadn’t really realized that the “missing women” were one of the factors that took me away from it as a genre. I think you sum up the appeal of the historical romance very well – the sense of familiarity and difference together, a fantasy but relatable.

    Reply
  77. That’s such an interesting observation on science fiction, Linda. I read a lot of it too when I was younger and hadn’t really realized that the “missing women” were one of the factors that took me away from it as a genre. I think you sum up the appeal of the historical romance very well – the sense of familiarity and difference together, a fantasy but relatable.

    Reply
  78. That’s such an interesting observation on science fiction, Linda. I read a lot of it too when I was younger and hadn’t really realized that the “missing women” were one of the factors that took me away from it as a genre. I think you sum up the appeal of the historical romance very well – the sense of familiarity and difference together, a fantasy but relatable.

    Reply
  79. That’s such an interesting observation on science fiction, Linda. I read a lot of it too when I was younger and hadn’t really realized that the “missing women” were one of the factors that took me away from it as a genre. I think you sum up the appeal of the historical romance very well – the sense of familiarity and difference together, a fantasy but relatable.

    Reply
  80. That’s such an interesting observation on science fiction, Linda. I read a lot of it too when I was younger and hadn’t really realized that the “missing women” were one of the factors that took me away from it as a genre. I think you sum up the appeal of the historical romance very well – the sense of familiarity and difference together, a fantasy but relatable.

    Reply
  81. Books are very constant friends, aren’t they, Karen. It’s beautiful that we can rely on them and that they can transport us to other times and places.

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  82. Books are very constant friends, aren’t they, Karen. It’s beautiful that we can rely on them and that they can transport us to other times and places.

    Reply
  83. Books are very constant friends, aren’t they, Karen. It’s beautiful that we can rely on them and that they can transport us to other times and places.

    Reply
  84. Books are very constant friends, aren’t they, Karen. It’s beautiful that we can rely on them and that they can transport us to other times and places.

    Reply
  85. Books are very constant friends, aren’t they, Karen. It’s beautiful that we can rely on them and that they can transport us to other times and places.

    Reply
  86. That’s such good point, Lil, about historical fiction providing examples of difference and teaching us ways of relating to it. Really there is no end to the benefits of reading!

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  87. That’s such good point, Lil, about historical fiction providing examples of difference and teaching us ways of relating to it. Really there is no end to the benefits of reading!

    Reply
  88. That’s such good point, Lil, about historical fiction providing examples of difference and teaching us ways of relating to it. Really there is no end to the benefits of reading!

    Reply
  89. That’s such good point, Lil, about historical fiction providing examples of difference and teaching us ways of relating to it. Really there is no end to the benefits of reading!

    Reply
  90. That’s such good point, Lil, about historical fiction providing examples of difference and teaching us ways of relating to it. Really there is no end to the benefits of reading!

    Reply
  91. Thank you, Kareni! I do firmly believe that the happy and/or hopeful ending is profoundly important and people who scoff at it either don’t know what they are missing or are dismissing something that might benefit their wellbeing!

    Reply
  92. Thank you, Kareni! I do firmly believe that the happy and/or hopeful ending is profoundly important and people who scoff at it either don’t know what they are missing or are dismissing something that might benefit their wellbeing!

    Reply
  93. Thank you, Kareni! I do firmly believe that the happy and/or hopeful ending is profoundly important and people who scoff at it either don’t know what they are missing or are dismissing something that might benefit their wellbeing!

    Reply
  94. Thank you, Kareni! I do firmly believe that the happy and/or hopeful ending is profoundly important and people who scoff at it either don’t know what they are missing or are dismissing something that might benefit their wellbeing!

    Reply
  95. Thank you, Kareni! I do firmly believe that the happy and/or hopeful ending is profoundly important and people who scoff at it either don’t know what they are missing or are dismissing something that might benefit their wellbeing!

    Reply
  96. Fascinating, Sue. It’s so true that books of all different sorts of genre can give us a perspective on current affairs. That’s really thought-provoking.

    Reply
  97. Fascinating, Sue. It’s so true that books of all different sorts of genre can give us a perspective on current affairs. That’s really thought-provoking.

    Reply
  98. Fascinating, Sue. It’s so true that books of all different sorts of genre can give us a perspective on current affairs. That’s really thought-provoking.

    Reply
  99. Fascinating, Sue. It’s so true that books of all different sorts of genre can give us a perspective on current affairs. That’s really thought-provoking.

    Reply
  100. Fascinating, Sue. It’s so true that books of all different sorts of genre can give us a perspective on current affairs. That’s really thought-provoking.

    Reply
  101. I think we look to historical romance, not as simply as escape from the frightening and sometimes horrifying world we live in, but as a way to return to it and to ourselves.
    Because romance, historical and not, is not only a matter of values and content, but of the structure of an imagined world where time itself is spacious, cyclical, and generous, and where change is possible because there’s world enough and time for second chances.
    Whereas in the world outside our windows, our best bids for change fail for the simple want of “time to work it all out.” (The words are Susan Sontag’s, from “The Volcano Lover.”) But in romance, that amplitude, that forgiving redundancy of time exists: Mr. Darcy proposes again; a rich white man admits of past error, how radical is that?.
    Which helps us to remember that, even outside our windows, change sometimes does happen (though so brutally and wastefully that we often don’t like to look at it). And which is why I return to romance, to gently bring me back to that possibility, and to trace the root of my own beginnings in a brave and good heroine’s endings.

    Reply
  102. I think we look to historical romance, not as simply as escape from the frightening and sometimes horrifying world we live in, but as a way to return to it and to ourselves.
    Because romance, historical and not, is not only a matter of values and content, but of the structure of an imagined world where time itself is spacious, cyclical, and generous, and where change is possible because there’s world enough and time for second chances.
    Whereas in the world outside our windows, our best bids for change fail for the simple want of “time to work it all out.” (The words are Susan Sontag’s, from “The Volcano Lover.”) But in romance, that amplitude, that forgiving redundancy of time exists: Mr. Darcy proposes again; a rich white man admits of past error, how radical is that?.
    Which helps us to remember that, even outside our windows, change sometimes does happen (though so brutally and wastefully that we often don’t like to look at it). And which is why I return to romance, to gently bring me back to that possibility, and to trace the root of my own beginnings in a brave and good heroine’s endings.

    Reply
  103. I think we look to historical romance, not as simply as escape from the frightening and sometimes horrifying world we live in, but as a way to return to it and to ourselves.
    Because romance, historical and not, is not only a matter of values and content, but of the structure of an imagined world where time itself is spacious, cyclical, and generous, and where change is possible because there’s world enough and time for second chances.
    Whereas in the world outside our windows, our best bids for change fail for the simple want of “time to work it all out.” (The words are Susan Sontag’s, from “The Volcano Lover.”) But in romance, that amplitude, that forgiving redundancy of time exists: Mr. Darcy proposes again; a rich white man admits of past error, how radical is that?.
    Which helps us to remember that, even outside our windows, change sometimes does happen (though so brutally and wastefully that we often don’t like to look at it). And which is why I return to romance, to gently bring me back to that possibility, and to trace the root of my own beginnings in a brave and good heroine’s endings.

    Reply
  104. I think we look to historical romance, not as simply as escape from the frightening and sometimes horrifying world we live in, but as a way to return to it and to ourselves.
    Because romance, historical and not, is not only a matter of values and content, but of the structure of an imagined world where time itself is spacious, cyclical, and generous, and where change is possible because there’s world enough and time for second chances.
    Whereas in the world outside our windows, our best bids for change fail for the simple want of “time to work it all out.” (The words are Susan Sontag’s, from “The Volcano Lover.”) But in romance, that amplitude, that forgiving redundancy of time exists: Mr. Darcy proposes again; a rich white man admits of past error, how radical is that?.
    Which helps us to remember that, even outside our windows, change sometimes does happen (though so brutally and wastefully that we often don’t like to look at it). And which is why I return to romance, to gently bring me back to that possibility, and to trace the root of my own beginnings in a brave and good heroine’s endings.

    Reply
  105. I think we look to historical romance, not as simply as escape from the frightening and sometimes horrifying world we live in, but as a way to return to it and to ourselves.
    Because romance, historical and not, is not only a matter of values and content, but of the structure of an imagined world where time itself is spacious, cyclical, and generous, and where change is possible because there’s world enough and time for second chances.
    Whereas in the world outside our windows, our best bids for change fail for the simple want of “time to work it all out.” (The words are Susan Sontag’s, from “The Volcano Lover.”) But in romance, that amplitude, that forgiving redundancy of time exists: Mr. Darcy proposes again; a rich white man admits of past error, how radical is that?.
    Which helps us to remember that, even outside our windows, change sometimes does happen (though so brutally and wastefully that we often don’t like to look at it). And which is why I return to romance, to gently bring me back to that possibility, and to trace the root of my own beginnings in a brave and good heroine’s endings.

    Reply
  106. Thank you very much for the thought-provoking comments, Pam. Second chances. Yes. And time to put right past wrongs. That in itself brings hope.

    Reply
  107. Thank you very much for the thought-provoking comments, Pam. Second chances. Yes. And time to put right past wrongs. That in itself brings hope.

    Reply
  108. Thank you very much for the thought-provoking comments, Pam. Second chances. Yes. And time to put right past wrongs. That in itself brings hope.

    Reply
  109. Thank you very much for the thought-provoking comments, Pam. Second chances. Yes. And time to put right past wrongs. That in itself brings hope.

    Reply
  110. Thank you very much for the thought-provoking comments, Pam. Second chances. Yes. And time to put right past wrongs. That in itself brings hope.

    Reply

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