[Note from Frolic: We’re so excited to welcome author Harper St. George to the site today. She’s sharing her love of historical romance with us. Take it away, Harper!]
My life-long love of romance novels started in the sixth grade. My best friend found her older sister’s secret stash of romances and borrowed one. She would read a chapter every night and tell me what happened the next day at school. I lived that book vicariously through her. In case you’re wondering, it was a historical western about a woman traveling west alone and the man she met along the way who was determined to make her turn back for her own good. Of course, he fails spectacularly because the heroine does exactly what she wants anyway and then makes him fall in love with her.
I couldn’t believe there were books like this in the world! I mean, a book about people falling in love? Not an adventure book where there’s also a little bit of romance, but a book all about a couple falling in love and how it happens. A book where a couple go on adventures together, overcome obstacles, and the woman gets to decide her happily ever after! It didn’t take me long to figure out that there were tons of books like this waiting for me to read them. Through the years I’ve enjoyed contemporary, paranormal, YA, and fantasy romance, but I always come back to historical romance. It’s my first love and my happy place.
In no particular order, here are five things that keep bringing me back to historical romance.
1. The romantic tension
My absolute favorite part of any romance is the tension between the protagonists. I live for the will they or won’t they friction, the delicious banter that erupts when they can’t admit what they really want, and the sizzling glances when words just won’t do.
Historical romance features all of these, because often there are societal or family pressures built right into the time period that work to keep our couple apart. They can’t acknowledge how they feel for each other, so we get to see it come out in other ways. The burning glances from across a ballroom, the barely there touch of fingertips, and the yummy hand flexes that mean he really wants to grab her. Yes, please, I need all the repressed longing!
2. The strong heroines
The one thing that grabbed me in the first historical romances I read were the strong heroines. You can find female characters with agency in most m/f romances—that’s why romance is such an amazing genre—but historicals explore this a little bit deeper. These women lived in times when women couldn’t vote, had no representation in government, and often weren’t allowed to hold jobs. Women in historical romance overcome extreme obstacles to find their happily ever after, and to do that, they need men who support them. I particularly love the current trend in historical romance that often includes feminist themes and heroines trying to make a difference in the world around them, from suffragists to scientists, while also falling in love.
3. The heroes
It’s no surprise to anyone who has read my books that I love a good alpha hero. I’ve written Viking warriors, outlaw heroes, and noblemen. I wouldn’t describe all of them as alpha (I love a good beta hero as well) but historical romance is where the alpha hero thrives.
I think sometimes these heroes can get a bad reputation as being dark and domineering. I don’t think that’s always the case and he doesn’t have to be an alphahole. At his heart, he’s a take charge type of guy who knows how to get the job done. He’s a leader and keeps his feelings close to his chest. Sometimes he can be larger-than-life which is why you can often find him lurking in historical romance as a duke, the owner of a gaming hell, or a laird. Ultimately, he works well in historicals because he pairs well with a heroine who is trying to forge her own way, and as readers we get to watch all the sparks as they collide on their way to a happily ever after.
I love the lush and rich tapestry we get to play with in historical romance. I’m currently writing books set in Gilded Age New York and Victorian England. In my humble opinion, this is the epitome of ballroom extravagance. Money was no object to some of the real-life people who lived during this era, which pushed the market for high fashion.
House of Worth was established during this time and is one of the first modern design houses. Worth’s designs were sought after by every lady of fashion and could cost up to $10,000. One of his most famous designs is the infamous Electric Light dress worn by Alice Vanderbilt in 1883. It was hand-stitched with silver and gold thread and outfitted with a battery-operated light.
5. The escapism
I know I said I was listing these in no particular order, but this one might be the most important reason I love historical romance. I love opening a book and escaping into the pages of a new world. I love that moment when I get sucked into a story and can forget whatever stressful situation I had to face that day. This is easier for me to find in a historical setting than a contemporary one because, well, it is a different world. I live for that feeling of being swept away into another time where the good guys always win, and the villains get their due. Historical romance can be like a fairy tale in that way, especially because you always get a happily ever after.
About the Author:
Harper St. George lives in the Atlanta area with her family. Her current series, The Gilded Age Heiresses, is inspired by Gilded Age families from New York who married into the English aristocracy for social standing and acceptance. To learn more about her books and fascinating historical tidbits follow her on Instagram @harperstgeorge.
The Devil and the Heiress by Harper St. George, out June 29!
Sparks fly when a runaway heiress bargains with a devilish rogue to escape a marriage of convenience.
No one would guess that beneath Violet Crenshaw’s ladylike demeanor lies the heart of a rebel. American heiresses looking to secure English lords must be on their best behavior, but Violet has other plans. She intends to flee London and the marriage her parents have arranged to become a published author–if only the wickedly handsome earl who inspired her most outrageously sinful character didn’t insist on coming with her.
Christian Halston, Earl of Leigh, has a scheme of his own: escort the surprisingly spirited dollar princess north and use every delicious moment in close quarters to convince Violet to marry him. Christian needs an heiress to rebuild his Scottish estate but the more time he spends with Violet, the more he realizes what he really needs is her–by his side, near his heart, in his bed.
Though Christian’s burning glances offer unholy temptation, Violet has no intention of surrendering herself or her newfound freedom in a permanent deal with the devil. It’s going to take more than pretty words to prove this fortune hunter’s love is true….