Historical vs Contemporary

Sweethome_final Since my latest contemporary SWEET HOME CAROLINA, hit the stands while I was on vacation, I’ve been asked to write about the differences in writing contemporary and historical romance.  I’m not entirely certain anyone has an interest in the topic, but I thought I ought to at least think about it for about five seconds.

The first thing that jumps out, of course, is the research. I have books stacked all around my desk and lined up on bookshelves nearby ready to be grabbed while I’m writing my historicals. Admittedly, I still have to do a lot of Googling since I can’t think of everything while ordering research books, and some tiny details just seem simpler to look up on the internet (the differences between porpoise and dolphin, anyone?). 

The contemporaries are another story entirely because they’re well…contemporary. Anything that’s happening right now isn’t likely to be in a research book written two years ago and published last year.  Daunting, how things change so rapidly!  I tend to write about areas in which I live, so researching setting is fun, and current events are in the local newspaper that I read every day.  In SWEET HOME CAROLINA, I picked up on the scenario of all the cotton mills and manufacturers in the Carolinas closing down because foreign exports made it impossible to keep prices down. Cotton has Wigmaker_1been a way of life in the south since the beginning of this country, and the industry and its lifestyle is disappearing faster than wig and hat makers.  I can’t resist my historical footnotes, sorry!

The most difficult part about writing contemporaries is coming up with genuine conflicts without commiting major crimes. <G> In historicals, we can easily set up marriages of convenience for poor orphaned or widowed heroines or dastardly distant relatives with the power to fling children into the streets. And a lady who has lost her reputation is scarcely a welcome candidate for marriage to a highly respectable duke. Translating these conflicts into contemporary romance might make for a hilarious story, but not a very realistic one. How many conflicts can you set up in today’s world that can’t be resolved by law or communication? Throw this heroine out of her house, will you? My lawyer will see about that!  My reputation isn’t good enough for you? Well let me just Google up your background! Take that, you cad.

So, in SWEET HOME CAROLINA, I had to come up with a jetsetting foreign prince (well, he’s from Europe and he’s rich) who is only in the Carolinas to make some money and get the heck back to his palace.  At least contemporary lords can work for a living!  And then I matched him up with a homebody whose only goal is to support her children after a nasty divorce and buy a house near her family, who live in the backwoods of nowhere.  True modern day conflicts tend to revolve around home, family, and work, unless I want to step into crime drama.

Cad Language is another biggy. Contemplate, if you will, the current versions of the word CAD. Just Google images and see what you get. When I first started writing historicals, my heavy duty background in English literature allowed me to write the kind of circular, descriptive sentences that were popular in the early days of historical romance.  Using sentences like “The rapscallion raced off with her purse of gold coins, only to be tripped by the gold-knobbed walking stick of Lord Hero” sounded historical. Even translating that sentence into contemporary English causes laughter.  How does one translate rapscallion? Rogue and knave come to mind, but they’re certainly not modern!  We just about have to use foul language to even come close to the same meaning in modern English.  In some ways, contemporary language is extremely limited compared to say, Regency.  But then, we have all the NEW words that have been added like bytes and nanoseconds and Blackberries and whatnot that I sometimes have to look up before using.  I know many authors litter their contemporaries with the current stock of curse words, but after about the fifth "m..f..er" or its counterparts, those words tend to lose their impact, and I just get annoyed.  I want the modern equivalent of rapscallion!

So, are there any contemporary romance readers here today? How do you feel about modern language and conflicts compared to historical ones? What kind of drama would you prefer to see in a contemporary that can’t be done in a historical, or vice versa?

And by the way, the snowstorm finally hit the midwest and apparently blanked out my mind, so sorry for posting so late today!

60 thoughts on “Historical vs Contemporary”

  1. I apologize if this is posted twice, but apparently the blog ate my first effort.
    I like contemporary novels if the characters are believable. Because I think that events in the outside world only serve to enlighten the reader on the internal conflicts of the characters, there are many modern topics which could be fruitful. As an example, there is the role of women in modern society and the conflict of home with work outside the home. You could feature a woman who wants nothing more than to make a loving home for her family but is forced to work by financial reverses, or a woman who is a professional but wants to stay home, or a woman who is staying home but is dying for lack of intellectual stimulation. These few occured off the top of my head. I’m sure there are a multitude of other variations.
    I agree about profanity losing its punch with overuse. It’s true that people commonly use more profanity today than would have been acceptable in the past, but I still think that if it appears in a story it should be sparingly used to make a point, not just to increase the word count. Perhaps that is my old-fashioned nostalgia for a time with gentler manners.

    Reply
  2. I apologize if this is posted twice, but apparently the blog ate my first effort.
    I like contemporary novels if the characters are believable. Because I think that events in the outside world only serve to enlighten the reader on the internal conflicts of the characters, there are many modern topics which could be fruitful. As an example, there is the role of women in modern society and the conflict of home with work outside the home. You could feature a woman who wants nothing more than to make a loving home for her family but is forced to work by financial reverses, or a woman who is a professional but wants to stay home, or a woman who is staying home but is dying for lack of intellectual stimulation. These few occured off the top of my head. I’m sure there are a multitude of other variations.
    I agree about profanity losing its punch with overuse. It’s true that people commonly use more profanity today than would have been acceptable in the past, but I still think that if it appears in a story it should be sparingly used to make a point, not just to increase the word count. Perhaps that is my old-fashioned nostalgia for a time with gentler manners.

    Reply
  3. I apologize if this is posted twice, but apparently the blog ate my first effort.
    I like contemporary novels if the characters are believable. Because I think that events in the outside world only serve to enlighten the reader on the internal conflicts of the characters, there are many modern topics which could be fruitful. As an example, there is the role of women in modern society and the conflict of home with work outside the home. You could feature a woman who wants nothing more than to make a loving home for her family but is forced to work by financial reverses, or a woman who is a professional but wants to stay home, or a woman who is staying home but is dying for lack of intellectual stimulation. These few occured off the top of my head. I’m sure there are a multitude of other variations.
    I agree about profanity losing its punch with overuse. It’s true that people commonly use more profanity today than would have been acceptable in the past, but I still think that if it appears in a story it should be sparingly used to make a point, not just to increase the word count. Perhaps that is my old-fashioned nostalgia for a time with gentler manners.

    Reply
  4. I apologize if this is posted twice, but apparently the blog ate my first effort.
    I like contemporary novels if the characters are believable. Because I think that events in the outside world only serve to enlighten the reader on the internal conflicts of the characters, there are many modern topics which could be fruitful. As an example, there is the role of women in modern society and the conflict of home with work outside the home. You could feature a woman who wants nothing more than to make a loving home for her family but is forced to work by financial reverses, or a woman who is a professional but wants to stay home, or a woman who is staying home but is dying for lack of intellectual stimulation. These few occured off the top of my head. I’m sure there are a multitude of other variations.
    I agree about profanity losing its punch with overuse. It’s true that people commonly use more profanity today than would have been acceptable in the past, but I still think that if it appears in a story it should be sparingly used to make a point, not just to increase the word count. Perhaps that is my old-fashioned nostalgia for a time with gentler manners.

    Reply
  5. I tend to read more contemporary romance than historical romance, mainly because I’ve found it best not to read in my genre, especially when I’m in the early to middle stages of a book. I get bored quickly with overuse of the F-word, for the same reason I get bored with it in music, movies, etc. Hello, doesn’t anyone know any other adjectives, adverbs, and nouns? Because of the difficulties of creating believable conflict, I think contemporaries may demand an especially high level of attention to characters and their various relationships. One of the queens of this approach is Jennifer Crusie: She creates these marvelous communities, and the conflict arises out of personalities, prejudices, familial relationships, etc.

    Reply
  6. I tend to read more contemporary romance than historical romance, mainly because I’ve found it best not to read in my genre, especially when I’m in the early to middle stages of a book. I get bored quickly with overuse of the F-word, for the same reason I get bored with it in music, movies, etc. Hello, doesn’t anyone know any other adjectives, adverbs, and nouns? Because of the difficulties of creating believable conflict, I think contemporaries may demand an especially high level of attention to characters and their various relationships. One of the queens of this approach is Jennifer Crusie: She creates these marvelous communities, and the conflict arises out of personalities, prejudices, familial relationships, etc.

    Reply
  7. I tend to read more contemporary romance than historical romance, mainly because I’ve found it best not to read in my genre, especially when I’m in the early to middle stages of a book. I get bored quickly with overuse of the F-word, for the same reason I get bored with it in music, movies, etc. Hello, doesn’t anyone know any other adjectives, adverbs, and nouns? Because of the difficulties of creating believable conflict, I think contemporaries may demand an especially high level of attention to characters and their various relationships. One of the queens of this approach is Jennifer Crusie: She creates these marvelous communities, and the conflict arises out of personalities, prejudices, familial relationships, etc.

    Reply
  8. I tend to read more contemporary romance than historical romance, mainly because I’ve found it best not to read in my genre, especially when I’m in the early to middle stages of a book. I get bored quickly with overuse of the F-word, for the same reason I get bored with it in music, movies, etc. Hello, doesn’t anyone know any other adjectives, adverbs, and nouns? Because of the difficulties of creating believable conflict, I think contemporaries may demand an especially high level of attention to characters and their various relationships. One of the queens of this approach is Jennifer Crusie: She creates these marvelous communities, and the conflict arises out of personalities, prejudices, familial relationships, etc.

    Reply
  9. I don’t read a lot of contemps, but I’m starting to read more of them for the same reason that Loretta pointed out. The ones that work for me have deeply character-driven conflicts, but then this is true for the historicals I love, too. LOL! I really love Jennifer Skully’s contemps (SEX AND THE SERIEL KILLER), and of course, the afore mentioned Jennifer Crusie.

    Reply
  10. I don’t read a lot of contemps, but I’m starting to read more of them for the same reason that Loretta pointed out. The ones that work for me have deeply character-driven conflicts, but then this is true for the historicals I love, too. LOL! I really love Jennifer Skully’s contemps (SEX AND THE SERIEL KILLER), and of course, the afore mentioned Jennifer Crusie.

    Reply
  11. I don’t read a lot of contemps, but I’m starting to read more of them for the same reason that Loretta pointed out. The ones that work for me have deeply character-driven conflicts, but then this is true for the historicals I love, too. LOL! I really love Jennifer Skully’s contemps (SEX AND THE SERIEL KILLER), and of course, the afore mentioned Jennifer Crusie.

    Reply
  12. I don’t read a lot of contemps, but I’m starting to read more of them for the same reason that Loretta pointed out. The ones that work for me have deeply character-driven conflicts, but then this is true for the historicals I love, too. LOL! I really love Jennifer Skully’s contemps (SEX AND THE SERIEL KILLER), and of course, the afore mentioned Jennifer Crusie.

    Reply
  13. I’m pretty much an equal opportunity reader ~ about half and half between Historicals and Contemporaries. Sometimes I may read a whole slough of historicals, then need a break and move on to contemps.
    For the most part, family oriented conflicts & resolutions are the most fun to read ’cause it’s something that I can relate to better, and I do also enjoy Romantic suspense. Although there are books with a criminal element that I enjoy too ~ Suzanne Enoch and her contemporary series is one example. There’s also a fine blend of humour and edgy conflict; like Jennifer Crusie and Lori Foster.
    The variety that’s available is what keeps me reading a book or so a day.
    And I strongly agree with the use of foul language; I lose interest pretty quickly in a book where there is less dialouge than profanity because the story isn’t going to go anywhere.

    Reply
  14. I’m pretty much an equal opportunity reader ~ about half and half between Historicals and Contemporaries. Sometimes I may read a whole slough of historicals, then need a break and move on to contemps.
    For the most part, family oriented conflicts & resolutions are the most fun to read ’cause it’s something that I can relate to better, and I do also enjoy Romantic suspense. Although there are books with a criminal element that I enjoy too ~ Suzanne Enoch and her contemporary series is one example. There’s also a fine blend of humour and edgy conflict; like Jennifer Crusie and Lori Foster.
    The variety that’s available is what keeps me reading a book or so a day.
    And I strongly agree with the use of foul language; I lose interest pretty quickly in a book where there is less dialouge than profanity because the story isn’t going to go anywhere.

    Reply
  15. I’m pretty much an equal opportunity reader ~ about half and half between Historicals and Contemporaries. Sometimes I may read a whole slough of historicals, then need a break and move on to contemps.
    For the most part, family oriented conflicts & resolutions are the most fun to read ’cause it’s something that I can relate to better, and I do also enjoy Romantic suspense. Although there are books with a criminal element that I enjoy too ~ Suzanne Enoch and her contemporary series is one example. There’s also a fine blend of humour and edgy conflict; like Jennifer Crusie and Lori Foster.
    The variety that’s available is what keeps me reading a book or so a day.
    And I strongly agree with the use of foul language; I lose interest pretty quickly in a book where there is less dialouge than profanity because the story isn’t going to go anywhere.

    Reply
  16. I’m pretty much an equal opportunity reader ~ about half and half between Historicals and Contemporaries. Sometimes I may read a whole slough of historicals, then need a break and move on to contemps.
    For the most part, family oriented conflicts & resolutions are the most fun to read ’cause it’s something that I can relate to better, and I do also enjoy Romantic suspense. Although there are books with a criminal element that I enjoy too ~ Suzanne Enoch and her contemporary series is one example. There’s also a fine blend of humour and edgy conflict; like Jennifer Crusie and Lori Foster.
    The variety that’s available is what keeps me reading a book or so a day.
    And I strongly agree with the use of foul language; I lose interest pretty quickly in a book where there is less dialouge than profanity because the story isn’t going to go anywhere.

    Reply
  17. The difficulty with conflicts is one of the reasons that I only wrote three contemporaries before decidind that historicals suited me better! A lot of the women’s-life-conflicts–work vs. home, female friendship groups, etc, edge more into women’s fiction.
    It’s easier to be romantic if the conflict is between the hero and heroine. If the heroine is in conflict with her life style, it’s a different beast. Which is why romantic suspense is in some ways easier–dead bodies and lethal threats do create narrative drive!
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  18. The difficulty with conflicts is one of the reasons that I only wrote three contemporaries before decidind that historicals suited me better! A lot of the women’s-life-conflicts–work vs. home, female friendship groups, etc, edge more into women’s fiction.
    It’s easier to be romantic if the conflict is between the hero and heroine. If the heroine is in conflict with her life style, it’s a different beast. Which is why romantic suspense is in some ways easier–dead bodies and lethal threats do create narrative drive!
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  19. The difficulty with conflicts is one of the reasons that I only wrote three contemporaries before decidind that historicals suited me better! A lot of the women’s-life-conflicts–work vs. home, female friendship groups, etc, edge more into women’s fiction.
    It’s easier to be romantic if the conflict is between the hero and heroine. If the heroine is in conflict with her life style, it’s a different beast. Which is why romantic suspense is in some ways easier–dead bodies and lethal threats do create narrative drive!
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  20. The difficulty with conflicts is one of the reasons that I only wrote three contemporaries before decidind that historicals suited me better! A lot of the women’s-life-conflicts–work vs. home, female friendship groups, etc, edge more into women’s fiction.
    It’s easier to be romantic if the conflict is between the hero and heroine. If the heroine is in conflict with her life style, it’s a different beast. Which is why romantic suspense is in some ways easier–dead bodies and lethal threats do create narrative drive!
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  21. I read almost exclusively historicals (that wasn’t always the case because I started with contemporaries) but a contemporary will grab me if it has no suspense intrigue and the h/h had a past and one of them is still a tad bitter about how they parted. The conflict from the past has to be believable valid to the present.

    Reply
  22. I read almost exclusively historicals (that wasn’t always the case because I started with contemporaries) but a contemporary will grab me if it has no suspense intrigue and the h/h had a past and one of them is still a tad bitter about how they parted. The conflict from the past has to be believable valid to the present.

    Reply
  23. I read almost exclusively historicals (that wasn’t always the case because I started with contemporaries) but a contemporary will grab me if it has no suspense intrigue and the h/h had a past and one of them is still a tad bitter about how they parted. The conflict from the past has to be believable valid to the present.

    Reply
  24. I read almost exclusively historicals (that wasn’t always the case because I started with contemporaries) but a contemporary will grab me if it has no suspense intrigue and the h/h had a past and one of them is still a tad bitter about how they parted. The conflict from the past has to be believable valid to the present.

    Reply
  25. Oh, cool, MJ has a far more precise answer than I could have given! I tend to obfuscate the problem. “G” I can create tons of internal conflicts in my characters, especially if I want to draw on angst, but creating a reason why a h/h can’t marry in contemps? Even differences in religion don’t matter as much these days.
    I agree that Crusie is in a league of her own, and so is Susan Elizabeth Phillips. And Nora. There are some superb contemporary romance writers out there who pull off this conflict trick in their own magical ways. But they’re a lot different than the orphaned gamin determined to follow the hero into Waterloo! I’m not saying one is better than the other, just different.
    And then we get to paranormals…

    Reply
  26. Oh, cool, MJ has a far more precise answer than I could have given! I tend to obfuscate the problem. “G” I can create tons of internal conflicts in my characters, especially if I want to draw on angst, but creating a reason why a h/h can’t marry in contemps? Even differences in religion don’t matter as much these days.
    I agree that Crusie is in a league of her own, and so is Susan Elizabeth Phillips. And Nora. There are some superb contemporary romance writers out there who pull off this conflict trick in their own magical ways. But they’re a lot different than the orphaned gamin determined to follow the hero into Waterloo! I’m not saying one is better than the other, just different.
    And then we get to paranormals…

    Reply
  27. Oh, cool, MJ has a far more precise answer than I could have given! I tend to obfuscate the problem. “G” I can create tons of internal conflicts in my characters, especially if I want to draw on angst, but creating a reason why a h/h can’t marry in contemps? Even differences in religion don’t matter as much these days.
    I agree that Crusie is in a league of her own, and so is Susan Elizabeth Phillips. And Nora. There are some superb contemporary romance writers out there who pull off this conflict trick in their own magical ways. But they’re a lot different than the orphaned gamin determined to follow the hero into Waterloo! I’m not saying one is better than the other, just different.
    And then we get to paranormals…

    Reply
  28. Oh, cool, MJ has a far more precise answer than I could have given! I tend to obfuscate the problem. “G” I can create tons of internal conflicts in my characters, especially if I want to draw on angst, but creating a reason why a h/h can’t marry in contemps? Even differences in religion don’t matter as much these days.
    I agree that Crusie is in a league of her own, and so is Susan Elizabeth Phillips. And Nora. There are some superb contemporary romance writers out there who pull off this conflict trick in their own magical ways. But they’re a lot different than the orphaned gamin determined to follow the hero into Waterloo! I’m not saying one is better than the other, just different.
    And then we get to paranormals…

    Reply
  29. I’ve always liked historicals better, and find it very hard to get “into” contemporaries. I think part of the problem does lie in the conflicts: so many of conflicts for modern fictional women are the same ones that my real-life friends are facing, and that just doesn’t make for escapism to me. Same with the serial killers in romantic suspense….too close to CNN for fun.
    On the whole, if I’m going to read fiction with a contemporary setting, it’s going to be straight fiction, not romance. Reading romance while writing romance gets to be too much like a busman’s holiday.
    OTOH, I’ll read anything that has Jenny Crusie’s name on it.*g*

    Reply
  30. I’ve always liked historicals better, and find it very hard to get “into” contemporaries. I think part of the problem does lie in the conflicts: so many of conflicts for modern fictional women are the same ones that my real-life friends are facing, and that just doesn’t make for escapism to me. Same with the serial killers in romantic suspense….too close to CNN for fun.
    On the whole, if I’m going to read fiction with a contemporary setting, it’s going to be straight fiction, not romance. Reading romance while writing romance gets to be too much like a busman’s holiday.
    OTOH, I’ll read anything that has Jenny Crusie’s name on it.*g*

    Reply
  31. I’ve always liked historicals better, and find it very hard to get “into” contemporaries. I think part of the problem does lie in the conflicts: so many of conflicts for modern fictional women are the same ones that my real-life friends are facing, and that just doesn’t make for escapism to me. Same with the serial killers in romantic suspense….too close to CNN for fun.
    On the whole, if I’m going to read fiction with a contemporary setting, it’s going to be straight fiction, not romance. Reading romance while writing romance gets to be too much like a busman’s holiday.
    OTOH, I’ll read anything that has Jenny Crusie’s name on it.*g*

    Reply
  32. I’ve always liked historicals better, and find it very hard to get “into” contemporaries. I think part of the problem does lie in the conflicts: so many of conflicts for modern fictional women are the same ones that my real-life friends are facing, and that just doesn’t make for escapism to me. Same with the serial killers in romantic suspense….too close to CNN for fun.
    On the whole, if I’m going to read fiction with a contemporary setting, it’s going to be straight fiction, not romance. Reading romance while writing romance gets to be too much like a busman’s holiday.
    OTOH, I’ll read anything that has Jenny Crusie’s name on it.*g*

    Reply
  33. I don’t claim this is remotely reasonable or logical, but I have a harder time suspending disbelief and losing myself in the story with contemporary fiction of any genre but paranormal.
    When historical fiction is quiet, subtle, and domestic, I think, “So that’s what everyday life was like in 1807! How fascinating!” When contemporary fiction meets that description, I yawn. I live an ordinary 2007 life. Why would I want to read about one?
    When historical fiction is sweeping, epic, and even a bit over-the-top, I’m swept up in the adventure, convincing myself that I too could’ve done all those exciting, cool things, had I lived back then (ignoring for the duration of the read the degree to which my adventurous life might have been hampered by my gender and lack of blue blood). But put all that in a contemporary, and I think, “Oh, PLEASE. I live in this world, and it’s just not like this.”
    Like I said, not logical at all. Just my reader gut reactions. I think 90% of who I am as a reader and writer can be explained by the fact that the books I read to tatters as a child were the Little House and Narnia series.
    Of course, I have my exceptions. Jennifer Crusie, for one, and I’ve always enjoyed Kathleen Eagle. Outside of romance, I could read Clyde Edgerton over and over again–if there’s an author out there with a more authentic Southern voice, I’ve yet to find him or her.

    Reply
  34. I don’t claim this is remotely reasonable or logical, but I have a harder time suspending disbelief and losing myself in the story with contemporary fiction of any genre but paranormal.
    When historical fiction is quiet, subtle, and domestic, I think, “So that’s what everyday life was like in 1807! How fascinating!” When contemporary fiction meets that description, I yawn. I live an ordinary 2007 life. Why would I want to read about one?
    When historical fiction is sweeping, epic, and even a bit over-the-top, I’m swept up in the adventure, convincing myself that I too could’ve done all those exciting, cool things, had I lived back then (ignoring for the duration of the read the degree to which my adventurous life might have been hampered by my gender and lack of blue blood). But put all that in a contemporary, and I think, “Oh, PLEASE. I live in this world, and it’s just not like this.”
    Like I said, not logical at all. Just my reader gut reactions. I think 90% of who I am as a reader and writer can be explained by the fact that the books I read to tatters as a child were the Little House and Narnia series.
    Of course, I have my exceptions. Jennifer Crusie, for one, and I’ve always enjoyed Kathleen Eagle. Outside of romance, I could read Clyde Edgerton over and over again–if there’s an author out there with a more authentic Southern voice, I’ve yet to find him or her.

    Reply
  35. I don’t claim this is remotely reasonable or logical, but I have a harder time suspending disbelief and losing myself in the story with contemporary fiction of any genre but paranormal.
    When historical fiction is quiet, subtle, and domestic, I think, “So that’s what everyday life was like in 1807! How fascinating!” When contemporary fiction meets that description, I yawn. I live an ordinary 2007 life. Why would I want to read about one?
    When historical fiction is sweeping, epic, and even a bit over-the-top, I’m swept up in the adventure, convincing myself that I too could’ve done all those exciting, cool things, had I lived back then (ignoring for the duration of the read the degree to which my adventurous life might have been hampered by my gender and lack of blue blood). But put all that in a contemporary, and I think, “Oh, PLEASE. I live in this world, and it’s just not like this.”
    Like I said, not logical at all. Just my reader gut reactions. I think 90% of who I am as a reader and writer can be explained by the fact that the books I read to tatters as a child were the Little House and Narnia series.
    Of course, I have my exceptions. Jennifer Crusie, for one, and I’ve always enjoyed Kathleen Eagle. Outside of romance, I could read Clyde Edgerton over and over again–if there’s an author out there with a more authentic Southern voice, I’ve yet to find him or her.

    Reply
  36. I don’t claim this is remotely reasonable or logical, but I have a harder time suspending disbelief and losing myself in the story with contemporary fiction of any genre but paranormal.
    When historical fiction is quiet, subtle, and domestic, I think, “So that’s what everyday life was like in 1807! How fascinating!” When contemporary fiction meets that description, I yawn. I live an ordinary 2007 life. Why would I want to read about one?
    When historical fiction is sweeping, epic, and even a bit over-the-top, I’m swept up in the adventure, convincing myself that I too could’ve done all those exciting, cool things, had I lived back then (ignoring for the duration of the read the degree to which my adventurous life might have been hampered by my gender and lack of blue blood). But put all that in a contemporary, and I think, “Oh, PLEASE. I live in this world, and it’s just not like this.”
    Like I said, not logical at all. Just my reader gut reactions. I think 90% of who I am as a reader and writer can be explained by the fact that the books I read to tatters as a child were the Little House and Narnia series.
    Of course, I have my exceptions. Jennifer Crusie, for one, and I’ve always enjoyed Kathleen Eagle. Outside of romance, I could read Clyde Edgerton over and over again–if there’s an author out there with a more authentic Southern voice, I’ve yet to find him or her.

    Reply
  37. Totally understand, Susan! to do “epic” in contemporary, it almost has to be suspense.
    But I can buy into dialogue and good characterization in any genre, which I think is why Crusie is such a favorite here.
    I used to only read historicals, but I was slowly seduced by the witty dialogue in contemps long, long ago.

    Reply
  38. Totally understand, Susan! to do “epic” in contemporary, it almost has to be suspense.
    But I can buy into dialogue and good characterization in any genre, which I think is why Crusie is such a favorite here.
    I used to only read historicals, but I was slowly seduced by the witty dialogue in contemps long, long ago.

    Reply
  39. Totally understand, Susan! to do “epic” in contemporary, it almost has to be suspense.
    But I can buy into dialogue and good characterization in any genre, which I think is why Crusie is such a favorite here.
    I used to only read historicals, but I was slowly seduced by the witty dialogue in contemps long, long ago.

    Reply
  40. Totally understand, Susan! to do “epic” in contemporary, it almost has to be suspense.
    But I can buy into dialogue and good characterization in any genre, which I think is why Crusie is such a favorite here.
    I used to only read historicals, but I was slowly seduced by the witty dialogue in contemps long, long ago.

    Reply
  41. Pat, I loved Small Town Girl. Carolina Girl is sitting at the top of my TBR pile. I try to mix up my romance genres, although my favorites remain historicals and I read far many more of them. I’ve got about a dozen unread books, and they’re evenly split right now between contemp and historical, which surprises me.
    I’m coming off of a paranormal streak (of 2 books in a row, lol)and have just started a historical set in the Regency period. I agree with those who have said there is more “escapism” in historicals. Somehow I can accept a handsome lord and his bluestocking virgin more easily than a millionaire executive and his secretary.
    And we are due to have a blizzard— 2 feet of snow tomorrow!

    Reply
  42. Pat, I loved Small Town Girl. Carolina Girl is sitting at the top of my TBR pile. I try to mix up my romance genres, although my favorites remain historicals and I read far many more of them. I’ve got about a dozen unread books, and they’re evenly split right now between contemp and historical, which surprises me.
    I’m coming off of a paranormal streak (of 2 books in a row, lol)and have just started a historical set in the Regency period. I agree with those who have said there is more “escapism” in historicals. Somehow I can accept a handsome lord and his bluestocking virgin more easily than a millionaire executive and his secretary.
    And we are due to have a blizzard— 2 feet of snow tomorrow!

    Reply
  43. Pat, I loved Small Town Girl. Carolina Girl is sitting at the top of my TBR pile. I try to mix up my romance genres, although my favorites remain historicals and I read far many more of them. I’ve got about a dozen unread books, and they’re evenly split right now between contemp and historical, which surprises me.
    I’m coming off of a paranormal streak (of 2 books in a row, lol)and have just started a historical set in the Regency period. I agree with those who have said there is more “escapism” in historicals. Somehow I can accept a handsome lord and his bluestocking virgin more easily than a millionaire executive and his secretary.
    And we are due to have a blizzard— 2 feet of snow tomorrow!

    Reply
  44. Pat, I loved Small Town Girl. Carolina Girl is sitting at the top of my TBR pile. I try to mix up my romance genres, although my favorites remain historicals and I read far many more of them. I’ve got about a dozen unread books, and they’re evenly split right now between contemp and historical, which surprises me.
    I’m coming off of a paranormal streak (of 2 books in a row, lol)and have just started a historical set in the Regency period. I agree with those who have said there is more “escapism” in historicals. Somehow I can accept a handsome lord and his bluestocking virgin more easily than a millionaire executive and his secretary.
    And we are due to have a blizzard— 2 feet of snow tomorrow!

    Reply
  45. Hi Pat,
    I racked my brain today trying to think of ANY book I have read in the past year with a contemporary setting–of any genre. I didn’t have much success I’m afraid. After historical romance, I tend to reach for histories and biographies! The only one I can think of offhand is NancyKay Shapiro’s book “What Love Means to You People”–quite a good book but you have to look for it in the “gay and lesbian” aisle at Borders because the main characters are a gay couple–and that one I read because I knew the author in college.
    Sometimes I browse contemporary romances at the bookstore but I always seem to put them back on the shelf. I think some of it has to do with the “Calgon, take me away” factor and the contemporary setting just isn’t escapist enough. I LOVED Susan W’s comment above about suspension of disbelief being easier in historicals and I think that’s true for me. No doubt some of it also has to do with sexuality and my discomfort with the casual speed at which contemporary characters (in books AND movies, BTW) seem to tumble in and out of bed. The raunchy talk bothers me too.
    All that said, I’m taking notes on your recommendations here and may be trying a Jenny Crusie or a contemporary Pat Rice one of these days!
    Stay warm and safe, all you Midwest Wenches and Wenchlings.
    Melinda

    Reply
  46. Hi Pat,
    I racked my brain today trying to think of ANY book I have read in the past year with a contemporary setting–of any genre. I didn’t have much success I’m afraid. After historical romance, I tend to reach for histories and biographies! The only one I can think of offhand is NancyKay Shapiro’s book “What Love Means to You People”–quite a good book but you have to look for it in the “gay and lesbian” aisle at Borders because the main characters are a gay couple–and that one I read because I knew the author in college.
    Sometimes I browse contemporary romances at the bookstore but I always seem to put them back on the shelf. I think some of it has to do with the “Calgon, take me away” factor and the contemporary setting just isn’t escapist enough. I LOVED Susan W’s comment above about suspension of disbelief being easier in historicals and I think that’s true for me. No doubt some of it also has to do with sexuality and my discomfort with the casual speed at which contemporary characters (in books AND movies, BTW) seem to tumble in and out of bed. The raunchy talk bothers me too.
    All that said, I’m taking notes on your recommendations here and may be trying a Jenny Crusie or a contemporary Pat Rice one of these days!
    Stay warm and safe, all you Midwest Wenches and Wenchlings.
    Melinda

    Reply
  47. Hi Pat,
    I racked my brain today trying to think of ANY book I have read in the past year with a contemporary setting–of any genre. I didn’t have much success I’m afraid. After historical romance, I tend to reach for histories and biographies! The only one I can think of offhand is NancyKay Shapiro’s book “What Love Means to You People”–quite a good book but you have to look for it in the “gay and lesbian” aisle at Borders because the main characters are a gay couple–and that one I read because I knew the author in college.
    Sometimes I browse contemporary romances at the bookstore but I always seem to put them back on the shelf. I think some of it has to do with the “Calgon, take me away” factor and the contemporary setting just isn’t escapist enough. I LOVED Susan W’s comment above about suspension of disbelief being easier in historicals and I think that’s true for me. No doubt some of it also has to do with sexuality and my discomfort with the casual speed at which contemporary characters (in books AND movies, BTW) seem to tumble in and out of bed. The raunchy talk bothers me too.
    All that said, I’m taking notes on your recommendations here and may be trying a Jenny Crusie or a contemporary Pat Rice one of these days!
    Stay warm and safe, all you Midwest Wenches and Wenchlings.
    Melinda

    Reply
  48. Hi Pat,
    I racked my brain today trying to think of ANY book I have read in the past year with a contemporary setting–of any genre. I didn’t have much success I’m afraid. After historical romance, I tend to reach for histories and biographies! The only one I can think of offhand is NancyKay Shapiro’s book “What Love Means to You People”–quite a good book but you have to look for it in the “gay and lesbian” aisle at Borders because the main characters are a gay couple–and that one I read because I knew the author in college.
    Sometimes I browse contemporary romances at the bookstore but I always seem to put them back on the shelf. I think some of it has to do with the “Calgon, take me away” factor and the contemporary setting just isn’t escapist enough. I LOVED Susan W’s comment above about suspension of disbelief being easier in historicals and I think that’s true for me. No doubt some of it also has to do with sexuality and my discomfort with the casual speed at which contemporary characters (in books AND movies, BTW) seem to tumble in and out of bed. The raunchy talk bothers me too.
    All that said, I’m taking notes on your recommendations here and may be trying a Jenny Crusie or a contemporary Pat Rice one of these days!
    Stay warm and safe, all you Midwest Wenches and Wenchlings.
    Melinda

    Reply
  49. Hello,
    As concerning me, I do like both genre but not for the same reasons. I read Historicals to dream, to feel comfortable, to find beautiful clothes, kind manners… Well, something completly different. Turning to Contemporaries, I especially like “Mainstream”. Books with lots of emotions, moving situations,conflicts… Just notice that I read more contemporaries in winter… Don’t know why ?

    Reply
  50. Hello,
    As concerning me, I do like both genre but not for the same reasons. I read Historicals to dream, to feel comfortable, to find beautiful clothes, kind manners… Well, something completly different. Turning to Contemporaries, I especially like “Mainstream”. Books with lots of emotions, moving situations,conflicts… Just notice that I read more contemporaries in winter… Don’t know why ?

    Reply
  51. Hello,
    As concerning me, I do like both genre but not for the same reasons. I read Historicals to dream, to feel comfortable, to find beautiful clothes, kind manners… Well, something completly different. Turning to Contemporaries, I especially like “Mainstream”. Books with lots of emotions, moving situations,conflicts… Just notice that I read more contemporaries in winter… Don’t know why ?

    Reply
  52. Hello,
    As concerning me, I do like both genre but not for the same reasons. I read Historicals to dream, to feel comfortable, to find beautiful clothes, kind manners… Well, something completly different. Turning to Contemporaries, I especially like “Mainstream”. Books with lots of emotions, moving situations,conflicts… Just notice that I read more contemporaries in winter… Don’t know why ?

    Reply

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