Historical romance is all the rage now, thanks to the runaway popularity of the Netflix adaptation of Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series. And what’s not to love? For me, apart from the extremely swoon-worthy Duke of Hastings, I was head-over-heels for the costumes and seeing the settings come to life, especially ones I’ve written about like the fireworks at Vauxhall or Gunter’s. Seeing that on screen was magical. I’ve always loved historical romance, devouring Judith McNaught, Julie Garwood, and Jude Devereux when I probably should have been studying, and those books nurtured a seed that has flourished over the years.
Writing historical romance as an author started out as a fun project for me and my really good friend and critique partner, Angie Morgan. We were both young adult fiction writers, but adored our historical romances. We started a Google doc after joking around about dashing dukes, virile viscounts, and manly marquesses, and we started penning a story. We had no outline, just an idea, and we didn’t divide the work, we just wrote. After the story started to take shape (a Robin Hood retelling), we realized that we might actually have a novel. We finished the book, and My Rogue, My Ruin was born. Our agents ended up selling that series to Entangled Publishing, which turned into a four-book regency series, The Lords of Essex, and a three book spin-off Scottish highlander series, Tartans & Titans.
Then came The Beast of Beswick, which was a solo project. That one was so fun to write and I’m completely in love with the mash-up pitch for the series: Fairytales meets Shakespeare. The first book was pitched as Beauty and the Beast meets The Taming of the Shrew, and the second, The Rakehell of Roth, is Sleeping Beauty meets As You Like It. In Sleeping Beauty, you have Aurora who is pricked by a needle and sent into a magical slumber. In a metaphorical sense, my heroine marries her prince but is banished to the country for several years. With the help of her three best friends (aka her fairies), she decides to go get her man. The Shakespearean elements come into play with the girl-in-disguise, hidden identity element, as well as the double romances of the major characters. As you can guess, I had such a fabulous time writing this story!
In this book, not only did I get to dream up an irreverent and secret regency “Dear Abby” periodical, but I also was able to celebrate powerful women with agency who went after what they wanted as well as write about a delicious second-chance, frenemies-to-lovers relationship between my plucky heroine and her skittish marquess. Abandoned by her knight in slightly tarnished armor, my heroine is stuck in misery-ever-after, and after three years of loneliness, she has had enough. But while my flawed hero is intrigued by his wife, he holds himself apart for her sake…and his. Let’s just say that getting these two to their HEA was a wild, smexy ride, full of ups, downs, secrets, and shenanigans, but it was so worth it!
One of my favorite things about historical romance is being able to write resilient, independent heroines within the constraints of the time period, especially ones that connect with modern audiences. It’s a balance. Men were expected to honor duty, but that didn’t mean they didn’t have dreams of their own. Women were treated like property, but that didn’t mean they had to like it. The truth is women have been breaking barriers since the dawn of time. Like my heroines, they’re not going to stop because a man tells them to or because society dictates certain rules have to be followed. Clever women bend the rules to get what they want.
Confession…I didn’t love history in high school (I was really bad at it), but I ended up minoring in Western European History in college. In my stories, I try to be authentic to the era, whether it’s regency or Victorian, and I do quite a bit of research to make sure I’m accurate. However, as a romance lover myself, while I love all the little historical details that bring breadth and nuance to the story, I’m also all about romantic tension, gratifying intimacy, and the final clinch of that HEA. My job as a writer is to take you on a journey that brings you to an emotionally satisfying outcome. If I can make you laugh or strum your heartstrings a little along the way, that’s just a bonus.
Happy reading! xoxo