Saturday, May 28, 2016

Romance Starter Kits - Historical

One of the most popular genres in romance is Historical... and it's kind of unavoidable :) Trust me, I tried! However, when all your friends are gushing about some well-known, popular historical romance authors, you wonder... and you start by reading one book, then a second, a third. Next thing you know, you have a list of go-to historical romance authors :)

Like everything else, romance genre popularity is cyclic. I feel that at the moment, historical romance is down... I have no doubt it'll eventually reach the top again. In the meantime, it did leave us with many good recommendations :)

Oh, by the way, I'm a regency historical reader... That's why all of my picks are from that sub-category ^_^;

Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas
The Ideal Wife by Mary Balogh
And Then He Kissed Her by Laura Lee Guhrke
My Wicked Little Lies by Victoria Alexander
The Accidental Wedding by Anne Gracie

Lisa Kleypas and Mary Balogh are two big names in historical romance and should be included in every starter kit in my opinion. It's also interesting to see the contrast of their writings which probably stems, in part, from the publishers they are with. I find Avon to be a bit more permissive and probably why Ms Kleypas' style is a bit more fluid. Ms Balogh's style is more restrictive and in my mind, portrays the time period a bit better. Anyway, Devil in Winter is a great book and was part of a hero duel back in the blogging days :) Funnily, Ms Kleypas' next book, Devil in Spring, will be featuring the son of Devil in Winter's couple as its hero :) As for The Ideal Wife, it's one of my favorite books by Ms Balogh. It was first published in 1991 and I read it in 2011 and enjoyed it a lot. I said earlier that Ms Balogh's style was more restrictive. It's also timeless which probably explains her long and steady writing career :) One of the few authors that consistently published her historical books without fail.

I'm a huge fan of Laura Lee Guhrke and that's because I find her books to be different from the typical regency historical romance. She tends to set her stories in the 1890s-1900s... that time period where everything is on the cusp of change. Where the nobility has to adapt to new realities, where the "normal" people are having more opportunities, etc. And that's why I chose And Then He Kissed Her.

My Wicked Little Lies by Victoria Alexander features a happily married couple, something you don't often encounter from the first pages of a historical romance. It has great banter and also, features spies in a different light :)

The Accidental Wedding by Anne Gracie is another favorite of mine. The hero is a nobleman and for once, upstanding. Not a scoundrel or a rake. Heroine has backbone and is independent. Also, you need to enjoy kids because she's the guardian of her 4 half-siblings. Again, the feel and storyline are refreshing compared to most regency historical romance.

Books/Authors I considered:

Loretta Chase - I'm just not a huge fan of hers like many are. She wrote some books that could be considered as classic when it comes to historical romance... but I feel her career has been waning a bit ^_^; So I chose Ms Balogh instead.
Lorraine Heath - One of my favorite historical authors and on my auto-buy list. I left her off from this starter kit mainly because I was already featuring two authors from Avon and I wanted a bit of variety in the starter kit.
Caroline Linden - She's my up and coming historical romance author. Weird to say that from someone who's been published for 11 years, but while I enjoy her writing and books a lot, I feel she hasn't written THE book that will mark her career yet. I'm looking forward to it :) Also, another author from Avon.

Your thoughts? :)


  1. I probably would have included a Lorraine Heath title - but a western (because OF COURSE!). Always to Remember is the book I think everyone should read and while it was reissued by Avon I believe it was first published by Berkley.

    I would also include Laura Lee Guhrke but ugh! I don't know which title! I love, love, love Breathless but it's outrageously priced in digital and I'm still working my way through her backlist. I'd probably go with To Dream Again. So hard to choose....

  2. I'd include one of the older Julie Garwoods in mine - perhaps dated, but all my copies are dog-eared. I really liked Eloisa James's Desperate Duchesses books, but I know they get mixed reviews...

  3. Wendy - Yeah, I probably should have included one of Lorraine Heath's westerns. Just didn't think about it, oups ^_^; But so glad to hear that you'd have Lorraine Heath and Laura Lee Guhrke on your list!! And look at that, two books that I've actually read. Another option for LLG would be Connor's Way.

    Li - I never read Julie Garwood's historicals. Then again, Li, they're historicals, so how dated can they be? :P

    Yep, I'm in the mixed reviews pile for Eloisa James. Some books were great, others... she's just not on my go-to list.

    I'm surprised nobody mentioned Julia Quinn. I considered it, but I don't know... her books are cute, but not stand-out. I think The Bridgerton series was so acclaimed because every book was so consistently good. She didn't really have highs or lows with that series.

  4. Ha! I meant the hero/heroine dynamic may feel slightly dated in Garwood's historicals.

    I considered suggesting Quinn's Bridgerton books as well, but yeah... maybe for someone looking for light funny historicals? Haven't loved her more recent books either.

  5. Oh! I love your choices: I would choose: The Secret Pearl by Mary Balogh, and would include Morning Glory or Years by Lavyrle Spencer, Courting Miss Hattie by Pamela Morsi -- (Classic Americana). Wendy already mentioned Always to Remember by Heath. As for Guhrke, Conor's Way is my favorite.

    I love that you chose Devil in Winter by Kleypas -- for me it's a toss up, but Dreaming of You has a definite edge there. LOL! It's all about taste.

  6. The only one I've read is devil in winter. I would choose, lord of scoundrels, the duke and I, The wedding and..... dreaming of you.

  7. I'll add some authors since it would be hard to pick books - too many to choose from. Just about anything by Maggie Osborne, Susanna Kearsley, Pamela Clare, Elizabeth Hoyt, Jennifer Ashley, Tessa Dare... I'll stop now. :)

  8. Li - LOL. Probably, but as I said, it's historical... so I think it'd still be popular :)

    As for Julia Quinn, I feel the same way! They're a bit on the fluffy side... and personally, if you consider each Bridgerton's book individually, they're nice, but nothing you'd rave about... except perhaps the 4th book with Colin and Penelope... The series is better as a whole.

    Hilcia - Nod nod. Yeah, I'm missing historical books that are not regency ^_^; As I said, not my strength. Those are really good suggestions you have there, Hils, spanning the whole array of historical romance.

    Devil in Winter all the way for me! :P

    Isabel - Those are nice choice, Izzy... The only one I don't recognize is The Wedding. Who's the author?

    Leslie - LOL, this was a hard category to chose from ^_^; It all comes down to favorite authors usually :P

  9. I think if historical comes back it won't be so regency focused. It'll be a different time period.

    I haven't read the Ideal Wife. And I would have included Julie Garwood. :P

  10. Ames - I'm picky... and I like comfort. Can't imagine not reading regency ^_^;

    Yeah, I thought people would have older authors on their list of this kit... but since I started reading historical late... I think you can also see a shift in historical romance. Regency is probably the most popular subcategory; hence, publishing houses pushed their authors towards it.