Wish List for Historical Romances

Avon Historical Romance Covers Julie Anne Long Anna Campbell Maya Rodale

Avon historical romance: including one of my Best Reads of 2014.

Avon, a major romance publisher, runs a Romance University blog, with lots of interesting articles about writing, publishing and all the things you’d expect from a blog about books.

However, I randomly came across a post titled: Avon Romance Editor Lucia Macro’s Wish List for Historical Romances and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

Now, I do receive many, many Avon historical romances for review. And I’ve really liked a lot of them. However, in romance reader circles, Avon’s historical romance line has a reputation for being… flimsy and very much about tossing historical accuracy out the window.

I don’t find this to be the case all the time (I am very fond of some Avon historical romances, and some of my favourite authors write for this publisher), but sometimes, yep, it is.

To summarise the points made in the post (but PLEASE read the original post, because obviously this is my brief interpretation!):

  1. *Don’t* write serious books.
  2. *Do* make your heroes obsessive cavemen.
  3. *Do* stick to old tropes and don’t try to do anything new.
  4. *Don’t* let your characters follow social rules of the era.

Annnd… is this not a list of all the things we’re constantly complaining about in historical romance?! Are there not endless articles such as this one and this one and this one where readers, writers, reviewers and bloggers are lamenting the fact historical romance is doing these exact things? And that it is ruining the genre?

I suppose I came away from this piece disappointed, but unsurprised. Because publishers are constantly being criticised for churning out wallpaper romances and turning readers off the genre entirely. So it shouldn’t really be a surprise that’s precisely the type of book they’re asking for.

An argument for authors doing their research…

Virgin River by Robyn Carr

I let my blog get (briefly) away from me again, because after all my family’s other recent dramas, we had another one just after 5pm on Saturday. I was sitting beside my father on the couch when he lost all the feeling in his left arm (and – because we’re all a little crazy – I thought he was joking at first). But things got worse, and it was very quickly obvious this was no joke.

After that, my mind went a little strange, and somehow Robyn Carr’s eerily similar scene in one of her Virgin River books popped into my head. While thinking, God, I hope the author did her research correctly, I did everything I remembered main character, Melinda, doing in a similar situation.

We got him to the hospital and – even though he’s still there because the incompetent nurses screwed up his tests – he is just about back to normal (as normal as he’s ever been!).

However, when things settled down a bit, the doctors wanted to know how I knew what to do.

I couldn’t really say, Uh, Virgin River taught me, could I?!

If there was ever an argument for authors doing their research, I think this is it! You might literally save someone’s life!

This follows on from my very wonderful (and soon to be reviewed) experience reading Kaylea Cross’ latest book. The level of research she does is simply staggering; I’m completely in awe of her!

Writing Injuries

Red Cross

I dislocated my knee on Sunday night. I mention this because it has really done a good job of highlighting something that drives me insane in books: the way a lot of authors write injuries.

At the same time I’ve been dealing with my knee, I’ve been reading a book that begins with the main character dislocating her shoulder. Our lives are running parallel as we both get over very similar injuries.

This isn’t the first time I’ve dislocated a joint, and – thanks to my super-bendy former ballet body – unfortunately I’m sure it won’t be the last.

So I consider myself a bit of an expert on joint dislocations.

The character in this book is spending many extra hours every day lying in bed and drugged up on prescription painkillers.

I have never been prescribed stronger painkillers for a dislocation, and an ache in a joint doesn’t mean you need to be bedridden!

The character did the clichéd “scream and faint” when the bone was put back into place. I’ve seen this in every book, television show and movie dealing with this injury.

It’s complete crap. The bone going back in place is the GOOD part. That’s when it STOPS hurting, not starts.

The character in this book had this injury weeks ago, and she’s still an invalid.

I don’t think so.

The character in this book is struggling to WALK because her SHOULDER hurts.

I dislocated my friggin’ KNEE a few days ago, and I’m walking reasonably well now!

Every dislocation is different, and I have had far worse experiences, but everything about this character’s injury is screaming “wrong” to me.

Now, I’m not wishing major illnesses and injuries on authors, and don’t think you have to experience everything before you write about it. However, if you’re going to damage your character in a way you don’t understand, it would probably be a good idea to at least send a few questions out to the online reading community and have a few people tell you about their experiences. These days, it’s really not hard to find out anything you want to know.

And if that was the personal experience of the injury you had to work with, may I be a little cheeky and suggest that maybe you’re a wimp and shouldn’t write your character that way… 🙂 🙂

Because the injury is taking up such a large part of the storyline of this book, I think I’m going to have to DNF it. It’s appalling timing for me to read the book, as I’m comparing myself to this wimpy woman and finding her very hard to respect!