I was introduced to the wonderful world of historical romance at the age of twelve. A friend was babysitting on a Friday night and invited me to go with her. I never babysat myself, not because I don’t like kids (in fact, I have three of my own now), but because I worked at the stables where we kept our horses and didn’t have a lot of free time. My friend casually chatted away as the twin six-year-old boys entertained themselves by jumping off of the bar counter into a cardboard box. I hovered nervously, expecting to make a 911 call at any moment.
But it wasn’t until we put the boys to bed that the evening got really interesting. My friend glanced around nervously, then tip-toed to the bookshelves in the living room and waved me over. “There’s something you need to see,” she said in a stage whisper, again glancing around the room as if she was about to share a state secret and the Soviets might crash through the windows at any moment (it was 1984). She whipped a book off the shelf and held it against her, scanning the room one more time before quickly slipping it to me. The book was The Storm and the Splendor by Jennifer Blake, and it was my first historical romance.
By 1980s standards, the cover wasn’t even that bad. Both the hero and heroine were fully clothed, and the background featured a ship on the ocean. The tagline on the cover read, “Born for love, she was an emperor’s favorite, a tyrant’s concubine, and a prisoner of brazen desire…” “Holy cow! All that in one book?” I said to my friend. She nodded. “You gotta read it.” So I did.
Of course, the sex was quite scandalous, but that wasn’t what made me stay up all night to finish the book. It was the way the story made me experience another time and place for the first time. I was in the seventh grade, so of course I had already studied history, but I had never been able to envision what it was like to be in a particular place at a particular time. That’s what I love most about historical romance—I become the heroine, share her hopes, her feelings, her experiences. I struggled for air while she waited for her stays to be loosened; I choked down nausea as she hid in her cabin on the ship; and most of all, I fell desperately in love with her hero.
So, why am I sharing this story with you? Because today, in conjunction with the time change, the authors of the Historical Romance Network are Falling Back in Time with Historical Romance and you are invited! To join the fun, post a picture of you reading a favorite historical romance on any social media site and use the hash tag #FallBackinTime. Creativity and fun creating the images is encouraged. To make it even more exciting, several prizes are being offered, including a $50 Amazon gift card from Entangled Publishing to one randomly selected reader who posts a photo today using the hash tag #FallBackinTime.
In case you’re still not sure about doing this, here are some sample pictures from Entangled’s Scandalous authors. If we can do it, you can, too.
Since I could no more choose a favorite historical romance than I could chose my favorite child, I decided to take my selfie with the book that introduced me to the genre.
Victoria Holt was my first historical love. The Bride of Pendorric was the first book I read of hers and I totally fell in love. It had everything. I already loved history (I’m not sure how old I was…somewhere between 10 and 12) with the gorgeous fashions, royal intrigue, castles, amazing settings, and larger than life characters. Victoria Holt’s stories fed that love. Set in the past with lords and ladies, spooky manor houses, wind-swept moors and absolute sigh-worthy romance, I couldn’t get enough. There was also danger and mystery and just enough “bumps in the night” to intrigue me without totally scaring me to death. I was hooked. Completely. I now have every book written by Victoria Holt and have re-read them more times than I can count. I’m working on collecting the books she wrote under her other 7 names, particularly Phillipa Carr and Jean Plaidy (which focus on the royal families and are seriously excellent books). Her real name is Eleanor Burford Hibbert and if you haven’t read any of her work, I’d very highly recommend it!
I have two all time favorite books, The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen Woodiwiss and Dream of Me by Josie Litton. Today, I’m sharing some book love for The Wolf and the Dove because it was my first-ever “big girl” romance. Oh, I’d read sweet Barbara Cartland’s and lots of Harlequin romances, but The Wolf and the Dove was big time. Historical romance got its hooks in me and I’ve been a fan ever since. And you know what’s funny? The hero from The Wolf and the Dove is “Wulfgar” and the hero in Dream of Me is “Wolf.” Must be something about those top of the food chain men that gets me. The first name of my Viking hero in Norse Jewel is the same last name as the hero in Dream of Me (Hakan in Norse Jewel and Wolf Hakonson in Dream of Me).
The reason A Rose in Winter is my favorite historical romance is because this is the book that got me hooked on the romance genre. When I was seventeen, a friend showed me an excerpt of the book in a magazine, and weirdly enough, I found it in a pile of my books my aunt had given my mom. I read it, and LOVED it. Soon I’d read all of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s books and went searching for new authors. Eventually, I couldn’t resist writing stories of my own, and it all started with this book.
My favorite historical romance of all time is One Perfect Rose by Mary Jo Putney. I discovered Mary Jo in an anthology, went looking for her other works and found this gem of a Regency. It had it all – dashing hero brought to the brink of death, sassy heroine, family secrets, even a touch of the supernatural and I was hooked. Historical romance authors can not only make you laugh, cry, rage, and need a cold drink, but transport you back in time and vividly bring the past to life. That’s why I love to read and write it. Historical Romance forever!
My two favorite romances (since I could not choose between them) are Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase and Venetia by Georgette Heyer. Both of these books feature a hero who is a seemingly unredeemable reprobate and the one smart and tenacious woman who can see the real man beneath the mask. These two beautifully written books evoke every emotion that I desire in a romance, and are my quintessential comfort reads.
Now it’s your turn. Go forth and share your favorite historical romances.
For more information about the event, visit the Historical Romance Network Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/512905705479257/
Interesting how many of us choose the classics. My selfie will be with Judith McNaught’s “A Kingdom of Dreams” though I read “A Rose In Winter” at least once a year and remember staying awake one Christmas night long ago to devour it cover to cover.
Thanks for stopping by, Jill. “A Rose in Winter” is one of my favorites, but I’ve never read “A Kingdom of Dreams.” I’ve added it to my TBR list. I’m looking forward to seeing all the selfies tomorrow and finding lots of new books to read.