Where do you go when you seek the emotional depth and passion of romance and the highly-textured historical detail of historical fiction? What if you aren’t interested in Tudor princesses maneuvering through cutthroat courts or Regency rakes seducing their way through the ton? How do you find novels that focus on the heroine’s journey through love, adventure, and history, but end with a definite and solid romance genre-style HEA?
Many times, these books are classified as women’s historical fiction, or in the UK, as romantic novels/sagas, but I’m clamoring for a definite genre: Romantic Historical Fiction, or Upmarket Historical Romance.
They can be in first person or in third person. They can be narrated by multiple character POVs, just the female protagonist’s, or dual POVs for the female and male protagonists. They can span years or decades, or take place in a short period of time. They can be full of adventure, mystery, or action, or quietly, sensitively domestic. There can be on page sex–explicit or euphemistic–or gently sensual. Many are, for the most part, set in the 20th century–a time of war, great change, independence, technological advances, and adventure–so I am a bit biased, but settings prior to the 1900s also work. What they all share is a strong emphasis on exploring the heroine’s growth against the backdrop of a changing world, a fully-realized and important historical setting, and a delicious and satisfying romance.
A list of titles I consider exemplary of this emerging genre:
A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
Jasmine Nights by Julia Gregson
The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn
Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson
The Ambassador’s Daughter by Pam Jenoff
The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott
Fallen Beauty by Erika Robuck
The Russian Concubine & The Girl From Junchow by Kate Furnivall
Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole
The Last Time I Saw Paris by Lynn Sheene
A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn
The Typewriter Girl by Alison Atlee
The Summerset Abbey trilogy by T.J. Brown
Renegades of the Revolution series by Donna Thorland
Anything by Simone St. James
Migrations of the Heart series by Piper Huguley
And of course, Moi!