Monday, June 23, 2014

Historical Romances Are Far From Old Fashioned



Hi everyone,

Take a minute and consider these romance plots:

A father is desperate to find a suitable husband for his wild daughter, but she rejects all her suitors and wants the one man she can’t have.

An outcast is persecuted by the people in her small town and relies on a handsome stranger to help her escape.

Disowned by his well-to-do family, a spoiled socialite is forced to find a job and make his own way in the world. He falls in love with a sweet shop girl and suffers heartache as he sees how the “other half” lives.

A young woman leaves everything behind to start a new job far from home. She tries to solve a murder as she falls in love with her employer’s son.

A wealthy husband and wife invite couples to their country home for a weekend of sex games and wanton fun.

Sound like interesting books? Would it surprise you to learn that they are all plots from my historical romances? (In order, they are: A Most Unusual Princess, The Viking’s Witch, A Most Unfortunate Prince, Dangerous Indenture, and Midsummer Night’s Delights.)

Some people think historical romances are boring “old fashioned” stories about royalty, dukes, castles, and historical battles. But with a few plot and character modifications, any of my historicals could take place in modern times. Princesses could become spoiled actresses, singers, or reality show stars. Imagine the pampered prince as a high-paid arrogant actor who is destined for a fall from grace.

I like to bring my historical romances “out of the history books” and into the everyday lives of my characters. My stories aren’t weighted down with heavy discussions about politics or war. Instead, I focus on the lives of people and how they meet, fall in love, overcome their obstacles and challenges, and eventually live happily-ever-after.

Back in the day, not everyone was a noble lord or lady who lived in a castle and attended fancy balls. There were plenty of “regular people” (considered by some to be lower class or peasants) with stories to tell, lives to live, and love to share. 

My female characters are far from the “helpless heroines” who graced the pages of historicals years ago. These women aren’t wearing frilly dresses and hosting tea parties while waiting to find the perfect man. In most cases, they’re too busy trying to keep themselves alive or fighting against perceived notions of how a “proper” woman should behave to look for a husband. And if they do find a man they want to be with, they are only willing to accept love on their terms. Claudette from A Most Unfortunate Prince and Shauna from Dangerous Indenture are two examples. These strong women would be right at home in a contemporary romance novel.

When I sit down to write a historical (and I’ve written a dozen of them), I never know where the characters will take me. Each book starts out from a different place. Sometimes I’ll know the plot before I meet the characters (as in The Viking’s Witch and The Dark Lord) and other times I’ll know everything about the characters and then have to work with them to uncover the plot.

But no matter how the plot unfolds, I always make sure the characters are interesting and lively. I don’t have “stuffy shirts” making long-winded speeches about politics, law, or anything not crucial to the storyline. You won’t find me (or my characters) giving anyone a history lesson! Just because historical romances are set in time periods before cars, the Internet, and cell phones, that doesn’t make them boring. There is plenty of action, adventure, intrigue, danger, comedy, and depending on the heat level, sensual love scenes.

Romances and forbidden love affairs aren’t new. Throughout history, people have loved and lusted after each other, regardless of social, political, or so-called “moral” rules. Hundreds of years ago there were plenty of “sordid” affairs going on behind closed doors. People were having sex, but it wasn’t mentioned openly or discussed in “proper” social circles. 

I thought about this “forbidden” subject and decided to write a romance that addressed that “taboo”. It became the theme in my historical/fantasy trilogy:  Midsummer Night’s Delights, Midwinter Night’s Delights, and Ultimate Night’s Delights. In these stories, a respectable man in high society is basically running an invitation-only sex club for swingers. (As you can imagine, these novellas gave readers who thought historicals were old fashioned and boring a real shock!)

Every romance genre has its fans. Some people like to read contemporary romances, others live for paranormals, and there are those who switch up genres and read anything that sounds appealing. I like writing historicals—but I also write contemporary, paranormal, fantasy, and gay romances, too. Why? Because I enjoy writing great romances about interesting characters that fall in love, wherever and whenever that may be.

Happy Reading,
Kelli A. Wilkins



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