Historical Romance — Second Titles

Historical Romance—Second Titles

cover imageTitle: The Daring Ladies of Lowell
Kate Alcott
Main Appeal Factors:
style/language very descriptive; moderate pacing
Romance Subgenre: Historical
Annotation/Thoughts: The author made me feel as though I were there in the mill with the workers and in the boarding house.  The first 20 – 30% is historical fiction. The romance doesn’t enter into the story until well into the story. I was fascinated by the entire book.

cover imageTitle:  Simply Perfect
Author: Mary Balogh
Main Appeal Factors: romantic, strong & likeable characters, entertaining
Romance Subgenre: Historical
Annotation/Thoughts: Simply Perfect is set in England during the Regency period. The heroine Claudia Martin is the headmistress of a school for girls. Claudia accepts that she has missed the chance for love and at thirty-five she knows that her life will revolve around her career. She is not interested in Joseph, the Marquess of Attingsborough who is a friend of one of the former teachers at Claudia’s school. Claudia who must bring two of her students to the country for employment as nannies, reluctantly accepts the Marquess offer to ride with him to the country. Claudia believes the Marquess is like most men with titles, irresponsible and unintelligent. But of course, Claudia is wrong. The Marquess is a handsome, responsible, and caring single father. Claudia – typical of romance heroines – is intelligent, strong but average in looks. But to Joseph she is beautiful. The two fall in love but they are from two different classes and Joseph is engaged to someone else. The story is moderately paced and there is not much detail of the time period. Sex is more than mild but not by much. The characters are very likeable and story entertaining.

cover imageTitle:  Devil’s Cub
Author: Georgette Heyer
Main Appeal Factors: Regency setting
Romance Subgenre: Historical
Annotation/Thoughts: The Devil’s Cub reflects the Regency time period including the different social orders.  The book begins with a shocking scene that displays the contempt of one of the main characters (Vidal) for some highway robbers who try to hold up his carriage.  The characters are referred to by their titles as well as their family names so it takes a little time to understand who is who.  After that, the pace is fairly steady and while not a slog, it is not as quick a read as The Duke and I.  The language is more in keeping with the time period than the language in The Duke and I.  However, while this book is a historical romance, it was also written in the 1930s so it historical in content as well as writing style. The romantic angle is somewhat downplayed when the two characters ruminate upon their situation.  Is Vidal marrying Mary because he loves her or because he is saving her reputation?  Why is Mary continually running away from Vidal when in fact she has been in love with him since the beginning of the book?  The storyline is not quite as transparent as The Duke and I. There is a bit of violence but there is no sex. There is the obligatory kiss at the end which although short finally brings Vidal and Mary together.

cover imageTitle: Night Hawk
Author: Beverly Jenkins
Main Appeal Factors: action, steamy love scenes, historical background, diversity
Romance Subgenre: Historical
Annotation/Thoughts: Somewhat over-the-top Western-themed romance with two biracial characters (hero is white Scottish/black of unspecified origin and heroine is African American/Native American). Both protagonists have a strong sense of morals and are likeable. Heroine has caused the death of a man while defending herself from his assault, and as a prisoner being transported to another town for her own safety while awaiting justice, ends up being escorted by the hero, a former outlaw/vigilante called the Preacher who is ready to give up his ways and settle down on his ranch. Both characters have complicated background stories that touch on real historical events, like abolition and the banishment of Native American tribes to reservations and have undergone experiences that have made them wary of love (hero) or sex (heroine), which are naturally overcome during the course of the novel.

cover imageTitle: Something Like Love
Author: Beverly Jenkins
Main Appeal Factors:  pace, frontier setting, African-American characters and perspective, hot sex scenes
Romance Subgenre: Historical
Annotation/Thoughts: Author Beverly Jenkins makes the train-robbing outlaw Neil July who appeared in The Taming of Jessi Rose the hero and heartthrob of this story about a feisty, independent young woman, Olivia who runs from an arranged marriage to the all-black Kansas town, Henry Adams (fictional, but modeled after the actual town of Nicodemus) in 1888. The story is fast-paced, with just enough historical detail to set the scene, along with tidbits of African-American history slipped in here and there. The sparks between outlaw Neil July and the upright, honorable Olivia are immediate when they first encounter each other during a train robbery and ignite into passion the next time their paths cross. Something Like Love could be suggested to any fan of hot Western romances. Although there are no sexy cowboys, there’s plenty of horseback riding, a sexy outlaw gang, and a rich, greedy villain.

Title:  Butterfly Swords
Author: Jeannie Lin
Main Appeal Factors: strong and attractive male and female leads, happy ending
Romance Subgenre: Historical
Annotation/Thoughts: This book, set in 700s China, tells the story of a princess rebelling against an arranged marriage with a little help from a “barbarian” (a white man, presumably from the Germanic tribes of the west) after she escapes the wedding procession. The author did a fairly good job of adding in historical tidbits into the action, so this book can appeal to those who like a bit more history in their romance. The hero and heroine are both strong warriors, and the heroine is definitely a modern thinker. Since this a modern novel, modern sensibilities are found throughout the book, especially at the end when, despite the conventions of the day, the couple get their happy ending. I had trouble suspending my disbelief, because it seems highly unlikely the emperor at that time would give his blessing to this highly unorthodox couple. But I can recommend it for the action and the moderately steamy sex scenes.

cover imageTitle:  No Good Duke Goes Unpunished
(Rules of Scoundrels 3)
Author: Sarah MacLean
Main Appeal Factors: steamy descriptions
Romance Subgenre: Historical
Annotation/Thoughts: While this is a Regency, much of it is set in a Gaming Hell with a No Holds Barred Fighting arena. Not your usual setting. It moves quickly with steamy descriptions — even when he is just putting a long glove on her arm. The main characters are driven by remorse; both of them have made a lot of mistakes. Both are also in danger. While there are the usual “he thought this, she thought that” sections, neither of their “voices” are very distinctively male or female. Part three of a series. One wants to know the stories of the other Gaming Hell owners.

cover imageTitle: The Beekeeper’s Daughter
Author: Santa Montefiore
Main Appeal Factors:  romantic story, character driven with well-developed characters, descriptive and engaging writing style
Romance Subgenre: Contemporary
Annotation/Thoughts: This story about a mother and daughter set in England and America is very romantic with beautifully detailed landscapes  enhancing the story. It is set in 1933 Walbridge, England and shifts forward in time to the fictional island of Tekanasset off the coast of Massachusetts. The characters, Rufus Lord Melville the Marquess of Penselwood and Grace, the daughter of the beekeeper who works for the estate, fall in love. Their affair is interrupted by class differences and and events beyond their control. The story shifts to 1973 in Massachusetts where Trixie, Grace’s daughter falls in love with future rock star and British Lord, Jasper Duncliffe, the son of Rufus. Class differences don’t matter in America until events beyond their control separate a second generation of lovers when Jasper returns to England to take control of Penselwood and marry a noblewoman. Trixie is left behind with her mother and father. Three years later Trixie is reunited on the beach at Tekanasset with her love Jasper and son Arthur named for her grandfather, the beekeeper. Jasper has realized that true love is more important to him than his noble marriage and the family is destined to live happily ever after.