In Search of the American Historical

Sometime late last month, Lisa Kleypas posed a very interesting question on the Squawkers’ blog. She asked:

What you you think about alternative time periods for romance novels? Do you like the comfort and familiarity of the Regency and Victorian periods to the exclusion of all other settings? Can American be an appealing backdrop for a historical romance too? If you could read a romance set in any place or time, what would you would wish for?

Several readers expressed a wish to see American historicals, like those set in the Old West, or turn-of-the-century New York, pre Civil War South Carolina (ala TV series North and South?), the roaring 20s (think The Great Gatsby). Other periods mentioned include 19th century India, WWI and WWII (although the latter is still too fresh in some of the nation’s mind, so maybe not such a good idea).

While I love Regency romance and historicals set in England, and sometimes Revolutionary France, I’ve found it quite challenging to find a good American Historical in my part of the world. So when I do get a hold of them, you can bet it makes my day – like Megan McKinney’s Moonlight Becomes Her.

Nope, I’m tired of another Pocahontas-que romance, moving though it may be. I think it would be interesting to hear of WWI from the American perspective. I mean, Waterloo has been done many times over, but I have yet to read a meaningful novel set in that time period. So much was happening on the other side of the ocean!! Another interesting period would be during the 1830s when Texas fought to be independent.

Else you think I’m such a bloodthirsty gal, with thoughts of nothing but war and strife, the Industrial Revolution c. 1700 to 1900 (latter period of the steam locomotive especially) would be another great setting. All those great inventions and life improving machinery – fertile ground for imagination to take flight, don’t you think?

So, what would be your ideal? Any authors or books to recommend?

Kristie suggests Til Dawn Tames the Night and she did a pretty good round-up on westerns (lemme look for the link… later).


9 thoughts on “In Search of the American Historical

  1. I think the one Cindy is referring to is Dream Fever and it’s set in New Zealand. If this is the one she is referring to, she’s right. It is a very, very good book too!.

  2. ag says:

    Wow, thanks for all the book recs. Many from new-to-me authors.

    Devonna, Kristie, Cindy, jennie — I’ll look out for those you mentioned.

    Mailyn — yeah, I wish there were more written about Asia, besides the Romance of the Three Kingdom.

  3. CindyS says:

    I have a tender spot for historicals set in Austrailia – something very intriguing about a penal colony. Have you read Candice Proctor’s A Night In Eden? It’s gritty and dark but such a great story.

    Oh, Katherine Sutcliffe had one set in Australia also and it’s one of my favourites – nuts, I can’t find the title over at Amazon and she doesn’t have a website. I’m worried now that my fav. book by her wasn’t set in Australia – unless she wrote two. I’m pretty sure the one I’m thinking of has the heroine arriving from England as a mail order bride but she actually fleeing England and has taken on another woman’s identity. She marries the hero and the rest of the story is dark and rich and glorious. I’ll keep looking if you haven’t read this and would be interested.


  4. Mailyn says:

    I’m not much of an AMerican historical lover. I much rather the novels be set in Europe. SOmewhere. Anywhere. LOL.

    Asia is another place I’d love to see but, sadly, most romance novels set in Asia fall into all sorts of stereotypes that have me cursing the author. LOL.

  5. Wendy Lindstrom wrote a wonderful series of books about four brothers set with a time setting just after the Civil War.
    I can’t say enough about how much I enjoy Pamela Clare’s historicals.
    Before Laura Lee Guhrke broke my heart and moved along with way too many other authors to merry old England and switched publishers, she wrote a couple of wonderful books, Breathless, set in early Georgia. Then there is Conor’s Way, one of my all time favourites.
    I just finished one by Linda Francis Lee I quite enjoyed set in early Boston. This is also part of a series about 3 brothers.
    So – it seems like early America, whether the west or more civilized east is a favourite setting for me.

  6. I love regencies, but sometimes I can o.d. on them and then I’ll want something completely different.

    I’m always recommending Sara Donati’s Into the Wilderness series–they’re set in upstate NY starting at the very end of the 1700s and into the War of 1812.

  7. I liked Lori Copeland’s historicals before she changed genres. Some of my favorites were Fool Me Once and the Promise trilogy. Diana Palmer, believe it or not, had a couple good historicals as well. Those are really the only good American historicals I can think of.

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