Thursday, April 19, 2018

How We Got to Where We Are Today: Modern Historical Romance Over the Last Several Decades, a Recommended Reading List for the Uninitiated


Sometimes when I talk to fellow readers of historical romance, or even authors, and I mention a name from the past, an author who helped shape the genre, like Kathleen Woodiwiss or Rosemary Rogers, I get a blank stare in return. It occurred to me that as lovers of a genre it might be helpful to read some of the classics to see where we’ve come from and to enjoy the greats who have contributed so much to the craft.

I’m not going as far back as Ivanhoe or Jane Eyre. Except for four novels of note in earlier decades, I’m starting in the 1970s when the bedroom door was flung open never to close again. And while I may not have included your favorite author, by reading the romances on this list, you’ll have a good idea of our beginnings and what so many wonderful authors have done for the genre. Think of it as a Recommended Reading List for the Uninitiated in modern historical romance.

So, here’s the list of those I recommend, a sampling meant to give you a picture of how the genre has developed. Some may require you to shop online for a used book though many are available as ebooks. Most are novels I’ve rated 5 stars, so I promise you won’t be bored. 

Included because of their significance… and to show you what was out there early

·               The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer (1950)
·               Bride of the MacHugh by Jan Cox Speas (1954)
·               Sleep in the Woods by Dorothy Eden (1960)
·               Bond of Blood by Roberta Gellis (1965)

The 1970s: The Pioneering Years

·               The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss (1972)
·               The Wicked Marquis by Barbara Cartland (1973)
·               Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers (1974)
·               Love’s Tender Fury by Jennifer Wilde (aka Tom Huff) (1976)
·               Moonstruck Madness by Laurie McBain (1977)
·               Caroline by Cynthia Wright (1977)
·               Love’s Wild Desire by Jennifer Blake (1977)
·               The Kadin by Bertrice Small (1978)
·               A Pirate’s Love by Johanna Lindsey (1978)
·               Bonds of Love by Lisa Gregory (1978)

The 1980s: The Explosive Years

·               Lady Vixen by Shirlee Busbee (1980)
·               Skye O’Malley by Bertrice Small (1981)
·               Devil’s Embrace by Catherine Coulter (1982)
·               The Silver Devil by Teresa Denys (1984)
·               Rose of Rapture by Rebecca Brandewyne (1984)
·               Stormfire by Christine Monson (1984)
·               The Windflower by Laura London (aka Sharon & Tom Curtis) (1984)
·               Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught (1985)
·               The Wind and the Sea by Marsha Canham (1986)
·               Mountain Mistress by Nadine Crenshaw (1987)
·               The Hawk and the Dove by Virginia Henley (1988)
·               Capture the Sun by Shirl Henke (1988)
·               Nightwylde by Kimberleigh Caitlin (1988) Re-published as Black Falcon’s Lady
·               Sweet Savage Eden by Heather Graham (1989)
·               Heartstorm by Elizabeth Stuart (1989)

The 1990s: The Developing Years

·               Dark Fires by Brenda Joyce (1991)
·               The Wind Dancer by Irish Johansen (1991)
·               Flowers From the Storm by Laura Kinsale (1992)
·               Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (1992)
·               Untamed by Elizabeth Lowell (1993)
·               Princess of Fire by Shannon Drake (aka Heather Graham) (1994)
·               Lady of the Glen by Jennifer Roberson (1996)
·               The Passions of Emma by Penelope Williamson (1997)
·               Night in Eden by Candice Proctor (1997)
·               Kilgannon by Kathleen Givens (1999)

The 2000s: The “Standing On The Shoulders of Giants” Years

·               By Possession by Madeline Hunter (2000)
·               The Captain of All Pleasures by Kresley Cole (2003)
·               Laird of the Mist by Paula Quinn (2007)
·               Broken Wing by Judith James (2008)
·               My Lord and Spymaster by Joanna Bourne (2008)
·               The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran (2008)
·               Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold by Ellen O’Connell (2010)
·               Pieces of Sky by Kaki Warner (2011)

9 comments:

  1. I have read a few of these. I also have 6 of them now.k

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  2. What about barbara carthland

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  3. I have read most of the 70's and 80's. Even names my youngest daughter after the heroine in one of Kathleen Woodiwiss books. These are books that I have kept and read again and again. Some I have added to my Kindle because arthritic hands have an easier time of it and I can adjust the font. I am surprised that Fern Michaels and the writer of the Calder series isn't on this list. But maybe it is and I just can't remember her name at the moment. Anyway, thanks to all of them for paving the way!

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    1. As I understand it, Fern Michaels writes women's fiction not historical romance. But, in any event, I admit it's not a comprehensive list.

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  4. The one name you should have included was Julie Garwood. She was awesome.

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    1. I have read a half dozen of her novels, Anonymous, but I couldn't get past the improbable events in her plots.

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  5. Diana Gabaldon insists that her books are not romance. I for one would not have any interest in her books at all if they did not have romance.

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    1. You made me smile. I so agree with you. It is definitely a romance, a saga, yes, but also a romance. And you are right. We came for the love story.

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