Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tuesday Review: The Tattooed Duke

Maya Rodale is a new author to me, and I am always excited to pick up a new author in the hopes I will have a new romance author to glom. This week, I had the opportunity to read: THE TATTOOED DUKE, which is the third in the Working Girls series.

The Working Girls series lives up to its euphemistic name. Four young women are column writers for the most popular newspaper in town, The London Weekly. Of course, since it’s 1825, such a career (so to speak) is scandalous in the extreme, and the women are kept secret, though London knows there are women who work for the paper. Already we know we do not have our typical shy, retiring wallflower trope in the Regency (slightly after) setting. We have trailblazers.

This heroine, Eliza Fielding, is having a bit of writer’s block and knows her next column better work or Knightly, her boss, is going to fire her. She needs this job (the reason is not made exactly clear right away, but it is clear she’s not as well off as her other Writing Girls friends, who have married into the gentry or ton.) She is offered a position to research and write about a newly-back-in-town scandalous duke who is a well-known explorer, traveler, and heartbreaker. She immediately applies as his housemaid (since no one with sense would want to work for such a scandalous man and there are many positions available) and begins her research.

Then the snowball rolls down the hill.

Eliza writes a most delicious column; it is published; the duke is even more infamous—and things get better and worse. The duke—Sebastian, the Duke of Wycliff—is dying to get some money (he has none) and go back out adventuring to find the city of Timbuktu. Eliza’s columns get more popular—and she’s getting paid more and being taken more seriously as a writer; however, her columns are ruining the duke’s reputation, and soon he is out of the running for being eligible to head the expedition to find Timbuktu. She feels bad (she now likes him), so she writes another column—and as you imagine, it just keeps circling down the drain. Hell is paved with good intentions, as they say.

Meanwhile, there are a couple other characters available to keep our hero and heroine busy and wreck their lives. There is no rest for the wicked, and the duke and Eliza are not perfect people by any means. Also, it’s a well-known fact that when one part of your life starts to implode, the rest explodes with it. It does keep things very exciting and keeps you turning the page to see what will go wrong next.

All in all, Maya’s author voice is compelling and keeps the reader engaged, and the pacing of the story was such that it made for a quick read. However, hard-hearted stickler I am for historical plausibility and emotional depth of characters, the story fell short on those aspects for me.

So while this story didn’t work totally for me, that is not to say it would not work for other readers. If you enjoy historicals where the heroines are a bit more modern and more relatable to the modern world; if you like plot twists and reveals that make your jaw drop (mine did a few times in the story—it did keep me guessing); and you particularly like the trope of CEO and secretary (which is where I think Lord and housemaid fits), this book will probably be a funny, engaging read for you.

I did see a glimmer in a couple of the other characters in the story, the last Writing Girl writer, Annabelle, and Knightly, the owner of The London Weekly. She's in love with him, and he barely seems to acknowledge she exists--so while the Lord and housemaid trope did not work for me (mostly on a political level *LOL*) in this story, I am looking forward to reading other books by Ms. Rodale, checking out the previous Writing Girls and finding out if anything happens for Annabelle and Knightly.

So this week, let’s discuss: What are your favorite and least favorite tropes? Are you a stickler for historical plausibility or do feisty heroines mean more to you? Has anyone else read this book and has a different take? I’d love to hear from you!

53 comments:

Maureen said...

Well...actually sounds like a book I might like. I love accurate history in my historicals, but am often pissed at the accurate social strictures the women live under.

*shrugs!

Yeah, I know!

MsHellion said...

I will put your name in the drawing. If you win, I'll send you the book! :)

I like the accurate social strictures--and I prefer to see them thrive despite them rather than flout them and not get punished for it.

I think this is why I'm liking the Hunger Games now. Katniss is a forward thinker--she HATES the Capitol, the strictures put upon them, but can't flout them without being punished--so she flouts them in secret by hunting--and then at the end, when she forces 2 tribute winners (though at the time she doesn't think of it that way)--that is the kind of flouting I like.

And I hate modern thinking women heroines in historicals. (Mind you, I ironically prefer modern thinking heroes--because I prefer a hero who believes a woman can orgasm than believe society that believed women could not and should not--or they weren't ladylike.) Women who never think about repercussions of sex and possible pregnancy are called mothers...and it irks me it never crosses these gals minds! Or they blow it off! Hello! You're having a kid out of wedlock! How do you think you're going to live?

Sin said...

If I'm gonna read historical I want it to be as historically correct as possible. Not to say that I don't want a fiesty heroine, but stick within the constraints of the time period. She won't be running around without a chaperone (sneaking away is so much fun) and she won't be having sex without thinking of the severe consequences. In those days women sought to marry and marry well. Nothing wrong with that. Those were the times.

Scapegoat said...

Have to admit I'm probably the lone Pirate who really doesn't care that much about historical accuracy. In fact, the only times it really bothers me are when the characters don't engage me enough and that makes my mind wander to things like "Would she really have been able to do that?"

For tropes - I do love the brother's best friend the heroine secretly loved as a little girl. Some of these are enemies to friends, some friends to enemies. LOL.

I find that stories where the h/h have some sort of past or slim memory of each other, good or bad, seems to appeal to me. Maybe it makes the falling in love quickly more plausible?

MsHellion said...

I did see this today on Facebook: http://twonerdyhistorygirls.blogspot.com/2012/03/what-woman-blacksmith-wore-c-1775.html

For some reason this didn't bother me as much as the woman journalist. (I think I have a very sleazy view of newspapers, to be quite honest.) Also I don't believe a silversmith or blacksmith would marry a duke, which is what the journalist girl did at the end.

I think it's the lack of status of some of these women--I know this is a Cinderella tale, but they're not telling the Cinderella story properly. She has to be so good, so pure, that she overcomes her poverty status. *LOL* Heroines by definition aren't that good or pure. *LOL* So they don't get Prince Charming...

I'm not feeling very romantic today. My apologies.

MsHellion said...

I find that stories where the h/h have some sort of past or slim memory of each other, good or bad, seems to appeal to me. Maybe it makes the falling in love quickly more plausible?

Yes, I adore those kinds of books, Scape--even if we can't agree on the historical scope. *LOL* My favorite of this version is Jill Barnett's DREAMING. Letty was such a dear; and Richard was such a broken ass...but it all worked out well in the end. :)

irisheyes said...

I love that you're reviewing every week, Hellie! It's a fun addition to the ship.

I think we've established in the past that I'm pretty much on the same page as you when it comes to women in historicals. My biggest pet peave is women in historicals acting like a 21st century gal. I get that there were trailblazers and strong women in history but there are ways to show strong, free thinking women without throwing out all of the conventions of the time they were living in. I think of Maggie Smith's character on Downton Abbey now when I think of strong historical women. She definitely knows her own mind but gets her way without breaking the rules of the day.

I'm finding that I can fall in love with any trope out there if the writing is good enough. I do however jump at childhood friends to lovers (even better if one of them was bff's with a sibling) and wallflower and the rake tropes. I like when the heroine believes her whole life that she's nothing special and she snags the most popular guy in town! (Can we all tell what type of teen experience I had?! LOL)

MsHellion said...

Thanks, Irish!! Next week is a Scottish book. :) I've been enjoying doing the reviews...and the freebies might be gone soon, so I'll get to review books that were new to me, but aren't necessarily new to anyone else. :)

Yes, I mean The Hunger Games...or things of that ilk.

YES! I was totally thinking of Maggie Smith's characters. A strong woman who knows her own mind, but gets her way without breaking the norms. (Or like the characters in Cranford. It's hilarious the crap they find scandalous--and yet they have to persevere over their society and conscience to accomplish "radical" things!

Had the same teen experience...and I'm all about that trope! *LOL*

TerriOsburn said...

I do have issues with historical accuracy, but on many things I'm not educated enough to notice the inaccuracy. :) And in many situation, the premise is totally plausible because the author did her research and found one or two examples.

That's where it gets tricky. Being able to say, "But this obscure real live person did that!" is all well and good, but if me as a general reader who knows the "general" rules and not the "obscure" exceptions is reading, I'm not likely to buy in.

It's that fine line historical authors have to walk. I have no problem saying I wouldn't be able to do it. To go with the word you know is accurate but that you also know the reader will believe inaccurate. It's a tough call!

TerriOsburn said...

Forget to mention tropes I like. Well, I'm at home thanks to allergies but the pooch is whining at the door. I'll be back!

MsHellion said...

True, Terri! I do realize authors do do research--and they've found a neat "loophole" to women and the norm, and then we all "react" that wasn't the norm. Which we all agree it's not. They're writing about the "exception"--but what do you do when EVERY book you read is about the exception to the rule? Maybe that's what I'm tired of. It's not the modern day thinker busting out against the norms, it's the lack of comparable books where there are smart women playing within the rules and thriving.

I wish to see MORE conflict from society--I think that's where a lot of the wallpaper stuff actually comes in. There seems to be a few villains here and there, but was everyone that accepting, really? I see having your handful of girlfriends be accepting, but I don't know about you, but even among my handful there are DISSENTERS. Those who are quick to call me when I'm going against the norms. Mind you, they were quicker to do it when we were younger and we wanted to fit in more, feared judging.

The older we get, the more relaxed we are. Here I keep reading about 20 something heroines who have it all together. That's not really fair is it? I didn't have it together when I was 20. I don't have it together NOW--but I don't want her that relaxed about it. I want her stressed out and suffering and worried about public opinion, damnit! *LOL*

Maureen said...

It's not that I want a woman to act like a modern woman...but I want to see more resistance to societal norms. And more of a sense of sisterhood.

I totally am with you on the sex means babies thing and seems to me a modern/historical character would be very, very, very aware of that! Instead of stupid.

Stupid irks me.

Maggie Smith on DA rocks and feels like a historically accurate character with modern abilities. Maybe that is what I miss...modern abilities to adapt? Not just bend with the wind...

As for tropes? Second chances, naturally! While saving the world from villains...

TerriOsburn said...

We should point out the Dowager Duchess is living only 100 years ago. Less at the end of the last season. With Regency, we're talking TWO hundred years ago. Big difference. Though Regency was a little freer (freeer?) than Victorian times. Which is ironic since women started to actually have careers in Victorian times.

I do understand the struggle of choosing societal issues as the obstacle to overcome. Then HOW do you overcome them?! If you establish that you're going to stick strictly to the times, then you can't really break the rules to get the HEA. You have to find a "work around" so to speak, or somehow convince the reader your couple can live HEA outside of the society they've known.

Writing is hard enough in any genre. I totally understand the desire NOT to make it even harder. LOL!

MsHellion said...

Victorian times had a growing middle class that allowed for more careers for women. I mean, yes, it's true that women have ALWAYS been in the workforce, but they don't go around marrying the duke. Some of my prejudice comes from that, even though I'm born American and should have no class distinctions. *LOL*

It's enough of a stretch for me to have all these wealthy, titled men marrying for love or falling in love with their wives--because marriages are primarily for wealth and power, not love. Love and marriage is another Victorian principle (starting, I think, with Queen Victoria)--so I don't mind one hurdle or two in the story of incredulity. I don't like EVERYTHING to incredulous.

Oh, she's a maid...but she's literate...and she loves the duke because they were brought up together as children...and now she finds out she has an uncle and he died and left her 50,000 pounds...and now she's an heiress and everyone wants to marry her, including the duke--except she wants him to want her more than for her money!

No.

It comes back to the heroes thing...and what constitutes POWER. We have to have powerful heroes; and anymore, it's not enough there is a self-made rich hero who marries a maid and gives her a HEA, it has to be a rich, possibly-self-made DUKE who does it. I don't buy it.

TerriOsburn said...

Hellie said: Oh, she's a maid...but she's literate...and she loves the duke because they were brought up together as children...and now she finds out she has an uncle and he died and left her 50,000 pounds...and now she's an heiress and everyone wants to marry her, including the duke--except she wants him to want her more than for her money!

I'm the opposite. I'd read that in a heartbeat. In fact, I'm sure I have. LOL! This is ROMANCE! If you don't want to read about people falling in love, then read Historical Fiction. LOL! Or Contemporaries or do what you've been doing, stick with YA.

And they aren't all Dukes these days. Plenty of Earls and Viscounts are getting the girl too.

Scapegoat said...

I'm with Terri - I would have actually picked that one up in a heartbeat with that as the back cover copy! LOL

MsHellion said...

*LOL* Of course. I won't read the "Lord and the Housemaid" period. I find it icky. It's like the CEO and the secretary for me. Wrong power levels. I think that's why I was so mad when that little thing went on Downton Abbey. *LOL*

And the rest of the "an uncle dies and now she's rich and worthy" reminds me of Dickens. *LOL* I don't like the concept money gives you equal status with titles. I mean, sure it's true, but I don't like it. *LOL*

So you're right...I'll just keep reading YA fiction...or contemps.

TerriOsburn said...

You just said you want them to stick with what was true in the times and in those times, money was power.

Now that I think about it, still holds true today. LOL!

Scape - If one of us ever decides to write a historical, we need to write that one. Though we can't give away the "surprise inheritance" in the back cover blurb. That would spoil the fun!

MsHellion said...

And the reasons I wouldn't have picked that up--

1.) Maids don't marry dukes
2.) Maids aren't literate
3.) Servant children aren't raised with masters' children--and normally those kids would be sent off to school by the time they were old enough to make an impression anyway
4.) Uncle is too convenient--and more likely he'd leave the money to a MALE heir anyway, or a male heir would try to wrestle it from her
5.) New money stinks almost as much as poverty--so her acceptance in society would be rocky at best

MsHellion said...

I agree it's true and holds true today...but I'm more apt to read the book where the man is bloody rich and titled...and then marries some disinherited third daughter spinster who has nothing. The equal power would have to come from something else.

I know it's an equal power problem that's trying to be resolved, but I don't like it always being resolved with more money.

MsHellion said...

Have at it, guys! Though be forewarned when I review it here, I'll probably go, "Not historically accurate, but a good romp anyway." *LOL*

TerriOsburn said...

1.) Maids do marry dukes if they turn out to be heiresses.
2.) Even some slaves in the late 1700s were taught to read. That's not totally unheard of.
3.) I'd believe the children could find a way to get to know each other. Kids were dismissed with a lot of time to wander when no one bother to think, "Now where is that boy?"
4.) Plenty of laws around anything. (See obscure research references made above.)
5.) But acceptance would come, regardless.

Works for me. :) (I'm loving this discussion!)

Scapegoat said...

I love how literal Hellie is about her historicals but this is romance writing - the land of fantasies! :)

I do get where you are coming from Hellie but to me it's all about the author's skill to make me forget all the society/story constraints and cheer the h/h on anyway.

MsHellion said...

Fine. But it needs to be ADDRESSED in the book as some of the issues. I hate it when it's accepted as no big freaking deal and that's the way it naturally was when it wasn't!

MsHellion said...

See I think the "land of fantasies" thinking is a bit of a copout. It saves you the WORK of having to address these problems and conflicts in the story--and you end up making up a conflict that has to do with spies and the freedom of England! *LOL*

I think this is boiling down to that I find the social ambiguities and such INTERESTING (which is why I think the movie Cranford is hysterical), but perhaps the average romance reader doesn't find society's flaws or hypocrisies that interesting at all. In that case, I want books for the society people...and books for the "action" side.

Jane Austen--a society writer! Everyone wants to write like Jane Austen, how many of them actually do? I've never seen a spy or a maid running off with a duke in any of her books!

MsHellion said...

Yes, this Devil's Advocate thing is rather entertaining.

P. Kirby said...

My fave trope would be friends to lovers.

For the most part, given my very limited knowledge of things historical (except horses), I wouldn't know historical accuracy if it hopped on the table and did a little dance. Unless the heroine is wearing, uh, jeans and a t-shirt in a Regency novel (Regency, is that the right word?), inaccuracies slide right by me.

I like my heroines to agitate against the system, as it it were. But...even I find it odd when the heroine seems to be breaking all the rules without any consequences. For instance, I recently read a romance novel set in, uh, something like the 1100s in Scotland. Anyway, the heroine was some kind of warrior woman and a princess. It made for a kind of fun heroine, but...at the same time, there was never any acknowledgment that this wasn't exactly the typical role for a woman of the time. (The novel had an assortment of other problems, including the surprise hymen trope, but the heroine's anachronistic role was the worst.)

MsHellion said...

I know this is odd, but I'd be more apt to believe in a warrior princess in 1100s Scotland. Esp if she was the only child born to the king...of course, why she wasn't immediately married as a baby to someone is a surprise, but I think I could actually dig up a few instances of women who were warrior princesses in Scotland.

Can someone name me a single maid who ever married a duke?

MsHellion said...

BTW, I hate surprise hymen tropes. Really? Is this 1970?

TerriOsburn said...

To be clear, I'm not trying to convert you. I just find it interesting what works for some readers and doesn't for others.

Also, the writer has to keep all the questions you're asking in her head while writing. She has to know, "The reader is going to ask this so how am I going to convince her it works?" And that is where the "addressed" issue comes in. Yes, these things should definitely be addressed and explained.

But Scape is right, this is fiction and fantasy. In the end, we're not reading about Dukes and CEOs, maids and heiresses, we're reading about people. People falling in love. WHAT they are doesn't mind so much as WHO they are and how they fall in love. I want to go for the ride, but as you say, for many readers, that ride better have a toe in reality to make the brain stay buckled in.

Marnee Bailey said...

You're getting some great books to review, huh? *jealous*

This one sounds great. I love the idea of the Working Girls series but I haven't had a chance to read these books yet. So, maybe I should.

As to historical accuracy.... Personally, I don't have a problem suspending belief for historical accuracy. If it's marketed as romance, it's romance first, historical second, IMHO. Readers sometimes get rabid about this stuff but I think folks should stick to historical nonfiction if they're that bothered or just historical fiction. I care mostly about the romance. If it's date or something blatant, like it's Regency and they are fighting in the Revolutionary War, ok, rip the author apart. Or if they mix up laws or whatever, then that's bad. But if it's something like a maid being literate, I have no issues. After all, probably some maids were, same as probably some aristocratic children weren't. It wasn't the norm, I know but there are always exceptions, I think.

And things like kids spending time together? I'm sure it might have happened. Is it the rule? Probably not. Would ever virginal miss have had the courage to stand up to social mores or followed her heart, no. But we're writing and reading about those who are stronger, more interesting than the average.

Though, of course, many disagree with me. :) All sorts of room for all positions, I think.

Good review, Hells!

P. Kirby said...

It wasn’t so much that she was the warrior princess–“maiden” to be precise, because, how else would the hero have the opportunity to be surprised by that sneaky hymen; "Whoopsie, how did that get there?" Sure, throughout history, there have been times when women in patriarchal societies have strapped on armor and ran about stabbing folks with pointy objects. But they are notable because it was a bit of an anachronism. Again, don’t know much about history, but I know that by and large, women didn’t go to war all that much in 1100s Scotland. They were fer makin’ babies and sewin’ tapestries and whatnot. I think, had this been campy, in the vein of Princess Bride and the like, the story wouldn’t have needed to acknowledge the strangeness of her role (and her sisters, they were all warriors). But I'm probably picking on this detail because, by and large, it wasn't a very good book.

Maureen said...

I'm wondering if there would be a diff between a historical romance and a romantic historical...

It always seems that the first descriptive is given precedence with the plot romps. Is the history an important part of the plot, or just the setting? Does the romance occur despite real historical norms? Because of real historical norms?

Interesting discussion. It's like with the sisters story that Eloisa wrote. I really enjoyed them...still wanted to strangle the sisters in the last book for not telling the youngest ANYTHING about how sex works. Yes, it was historically accurate, but it BUGGED me to no end!

I mean, hell...didn't sisters talk to each other back then? Giggle and support and help each other?

*shakes head

Really, really, really bugged me.

MsHellion said...

All the girls were warriors? I think that might have done it in for me. *LOL*

This is a slippery slope. :)

MsHellion said...

Terri, that might be my problem! I don't think of dukes or CEOs as people! (Kinda like Gingrinch doesn't think of poor people as people...but the opposite, you know.)

But the key is to make me fall in love with the characters I forget about the anachronistic, and this one just didn't happen to do that. Many do. I love Mary Balogh's duke in Slightly Dangerous. Best duke ever in my opinion.

MsHellion said...

Marnee, I agree, singly you can find examples--but it's when all the single examples are lumped into the same person it makes me crazy. It's a distraction. If it's well written, I'll read it. If your character development is a bit shabby and I'm more distracted by the historical nitwit stuff than your story--that's the real problem, I suppose.

I've been meaning to put more pirates on these lists. I'm down as a contact, I think, but I can put you down as a contact for Tuesday Reviews and you'll probably get more books. Clearly you're more easy going and into story vs accuracy-probability.

Marnee Bailey said...

Mo - It always seems that the first descriptive is given precedence with the plot romps. Is the history an important part of the plot, or just the setting? Does the romance occur despite real historical norms? Because of real historical norms?

One of my biggest challenges writing historicals is that we're writing with post-modernistic values and our a readers read with their own post-modern framework. For ex, there is a lot of, "oh it's so frustrating that she's treated that way because she's a woman" when you read historical romance, I think. How the heroine deals with those circumstances contributes to how we see her, then. If she just rolls over when she's faced with a "patriarchal society" roadblock, she would annoy us. If she married who she was supposed to or she shut her mouth while the men were talking, she'd make us nuts. But she'd be historically accurate. In fact, if she went along with society, she probably would have been praised for being a good girl back then. There's a fine line to walk there, then, ya know?

MsHellion said...

Mo, no, they most likely didn't! 50 years ago you would have sex education discussions be problematic...so I don't understand why readers get so annoyed about it 200 years ago!

BUT if you grew up in a big family (10+ siblings) with loving parents, I would suspect a kid stumbling up on more information than they'd normally know. Surely walking in on your parents doing it didn't just happen in the 20th century+. But you might be left out of the loop even if you knew mechanics...so then you're like, "What does it feel like?" And I don't know many people who want or can answer that. That's usually a conversation changer.

Marnee Bailey said...

Hells - LOL! It's not just history that I'm easy going. I'm the same about para and about futuristic. Setting and stuff is a wash for me. Now character inconsistency? I can be a nasty biotch there. Or when they have sex in the first chapter after just meeting because they were stuck by a bad case of the lusts? GRRrrr.... We all have our reading pet peeves. LOL

Maureen said...

Yup! I totally get this...which is why historically accurate historical characters would probably, and often do, drive me batty. It's not like I expect them to curse like a pirate - unless they are a pirate - or speed date from bed to bed... But resist the norm??? I don't know, behave in a proper manner but secretly work to subvert the norm...

As I said, I wanted to reach into the pages of the Eloisa book and strangle her sisters.

I could never write historically accurate anything! Another thing that bugs me though...the rivers that flow the wrong way, etc. Geography shouldn't be a challenge!

Unless you're like me and you simple steal from one island to make another island bigger...but I'm not writing historically accurate anything!

*dizzy now

MsHellion said...

I agree--the one who shuts up is annoying. What I want is the Society to actually be a conflict. If she doesn't shut up, I want to see Society react as it's supposed to. I want to see how she overcomes it.

MsHellion said...

I don't know, behave in a proper manner but secretly work to subvert the norm...

So you want the characters to behave like you? Just to let you know...you're not that secret about it!

MsHellion said...

Or when they have sex in the first chapter after just meeting because they were stuck by a bad case of the lusts?

This annoys me.

I do want to give the writer kudos for NOT having the characters sleep by page 30. She did draw it out and it made sense where it happened...

Maureen said...

I make no secret of working to subvert the norm...

With reading...I want a character with spunk! The book I just finished with the woman whose father ran the newspaper, started out spunky and then just...went flat. As I said, it turned into an inspirational story. And if I'd known that, then fine...but I felt...tricked.

I have no doubt the character was historically accurate...but I didn't care and pushed through to finish the story because...well, I'm not sure why. I think I kept waiting for the spunk to wake up. Didn't. Won't read her again.

MsHellion said...

See, I'm not sure about that--but I don't guess I have the problem with religious issues in my historicals as you do. Being we're not reading about Tibetian monks or anything...you're reading about 1800s historical setting, during a time period that we're about to go through another religious revival--so religion is huge. Remaining true to God above your wants is huge. Remaining in your place because that is what God, the Bible, and your church tells you--that's huge. So if your heroine still managed to marry the guy and get a HEA--she had spunk enough.

I think this like your sex talk. Just because you wish it hadn't been so, doesn't mean it wasn't.

MsHellion said...

That aside, if it wasn't a "religious issue" but had been something else--like say the first chapter was completely historically accurate and true to form--and then the rest of the book was a complete farce--I would be pissed and feel tricked.

So I'm sorry you feel tricked...you shouldn't have to finish that book.

I was just arguing that people who consider what God thinks or whatnot aren't exactly spunky.

P. Kirby said...

Not that I'm actually disagreeing with you MsHellion, but I'm kind of with Maureen on not wanting to read a book (modern book, anyway) where the protagonist's viewpoints are 100% historically accurate. For all my whinging about the warrior princess, upthread, I'm pretty tolerant of historical inaccuracies, especially characters whose approach to things is somewhat modern. I mean, racism was once perfectly acceptable. But I'm unlikely to glom onto a heroine or hero who holds racist views. Similarly, while many women in Victorian times went to their wedding bed without a clue what was going to happen, I'd rather a heroine who had at least a vague understanding of Tab A in Slot B. May not be historically accurate, but it appeals to my modern sensibilities.

In my experience inspirational romance (or any religious fiction), is preachy. In general, I think that's a [sub]genre requirement: that the storyline in some way glorify god. If that's your cuppa, great, but definitely not for this heathen.

MsHellion said...

*LOL* No, I'm not much into inspirational fiction (maybe very very occasionally and so long as no bible verses are quoted), what I like about religion and beliefs as conflict is that I believe it's a very real conflict. It even is so for me in this modern day and age. So I prefer historical women having a brush with going to church--since they did--or if they practice witchcraft, it's part of your character and part of the story. That sort of thing would make them a bit different than the average character.

You're right about the racism thing. Probably why I can't read civil war fiction now if I can even find it. Everyone is pro-abolition and everyone is PC, when you know that wasn't the norm.

Just like you don't really read romances with wife-beating. You know it exists...but it's not why you're reading the fiction. Again this is the fantasy territory.

I *get* the need for escape. I guess some of it is nothing we write is particularly probable because we weren't there. We don't know for sure. But is it remotely PLAUSIBLE. I have a higher bar set for my plausibility than the average reader, I suppose. I am a skeptic. *LOL* History is a part of setting, setting is a part of character, character is everything.

History was too interesting to me in college, there were too many interesting people...you're leaving out opportunities for character growth when everyone arrives already PC, urbane and cultured and sophisticated, full of pop psychology understandings of everyone around them.

I know this stuff is just brain candy...but sometimes I feel like I'm actually rotting my brain. *LOL*

MsHellion said...

P.S. I am also a heathen.

MsHellion said...

Probably should clarify about the Civil War remark, I don't read it because I don't find anything romantic about the period. If everyone is PC and polite, I think, "What a load of crap, why are they romanticizing this period!?" and if they're "true to the period", I think, "What a bunch of #*(&*%#$*(#!" the whole time and don't enjoy the read.

I want something balanced. Elizabeth Hoyt to me is a balanced historical romance writer. Eloisa James is usually balanced in her writing. I believe a lot of things in Lisa Kleypas' historicals...and so far, I've really enjoyed Caroline Linden's and Sarah MacLean's books (though the latter probably pushes some edges of probability with me.)

TerriOsburn said...

Add me to the heathen list. I grew up reading Civil War Romances and don't remember now if anything bothered me. I mean, Gone With The Wind is a classic and there's nothing PC about it. (I realize no HEA sets this just outside of Romance, but it's close enough.)

No idea if it would bother me now. I've tried to pick up some older books, from the 80s and 90s, and can't get past the head hopping. Something I wouldn't even have noticed back when I was reading these books as a teen.

Chance issue with her book sounds more like a character being inconsistent. She could have been spunky then turned pansy without the religious element, so I'd say that's a character issue.

And I have to admit, I'd never buy the warrior princess, but that's just me.

MsHellion said...

I don't think there was anyone overly "racist" in the southern set novels (other than the obvious--they owned slaves) but there was certainly no hero/heroine awareness (on the whole, unless the character was from the North) that slavery is not a great thing. Shouldn't be done...And typically everyone was won over to the Northern POV...

It's just one of those things you don't really write about any longer.

I agree character inconsistency is the true crime here. *LOL* Basically making character fit your plot rather than the other way around.

No matter who is not reading and why--the thing is that the biggest rule broken is not keeping your reader's attention. You can do just about anything so long as you don't lose the reader's attention. Being compelling is even more important than being historically accurate. Even I can admit that.

Maureen said...

It was the inconsistency that bugged me. I liked the heroine in the first 1/4 of the book and then...not so much. Even her bible quoting fit the situation she was in, but from a bare mention of the bible to quoting it all the time? Nope, just lost me...

Not even church going, just bible speaking a lot... It was all set around a factual historical riot in Louisville, TN... but I felt like it all became an excuse to quote bible at me.