Historical romance. My obsession of 2014. I think this is a genre that you develop much higher expectations of the more you read (or at least, it is for me – I believe some people go the other way). The more you learn about history, the more accuracy you expect from your authors. The less tolerance you have for ridiculous anachronistic behaviour. I have an almost zero tolerance policy for non-British terminology in British-set books these days.
My wants for the genre are not all that different from a year ago.
- Fewer dukes. God, please give us fewer dukes in 2015! Many readers seem to be unaware of how rare a thing a Regency duke was, and exactly how prestigious one was. The Mr Darcys of the world weren’t setting foot in rooms with dukes, and yet nobody has a problem with Darcy! “Duke” is not shorthand for characterisation. Dukes are unnecessary. It’s like a Disney princess fantasy. If you insist on writing about dukes, please make his social position crucial to the story! It can be done.
- More care with accuracy. If you want to have your characters speaking in modern American English and acting with all the social freedom of a woman in twenty-first century London, then please write contemporary romance. Historical romance promises so many chances for conflict and drama because of the differences and because of the restrictions – particularly on women. Why not work with that tension instead of pretending it didn’t exist!
- Time periods and settings. A few years ago I got annoyed with people who said the Regency era is comforting to them, and that they read a lot of books set in that time and place because it’s familiar to them. I get it now. I’ll give Regency, Victorian or even earlier Georgian England a glance before I go to most other books. However, I still love variety, and would like to see more of it.
However I’d like to see books with these familiar settings come up with some new ideas. And by “new idea” I don’t mean that you make your duke a spy! In fact, Regency aristocrats working as secret spies – that’s a trope that needs to die a swift death. It’s the ultimate invitation for anachronistic behaviour.
In 2015 I want to see more creative approaches to familiar times and locations. I don’t want to have a giggle when reading blurbs that are just carbon copies of a dozen other books I’ve already looked at that day. I want authors to take as much care with British English as they do with getting forms of address correct. I don’t want women’s lives of the past scoffed at because they had different values and experiences. I don’t want to read about one more heroine who is considered “better” than her rivals because she refuses to learn how to sew!
I actually read some really great historical romances in 2014. So I guess I want authors to continue to inspire me this year. I’m really hoping my new favourite authors don’t disappear.