There’s been a lot of talk among fellow romance readers lately about how hard it is to get into historicals these days. I know where they are coming from. Except for a few notable exceptions such as A Season to be Sinful by Jo Goodman and Passion by Lisa Valdez, I’ve been having a bit of a struggle with this genre too. While once the staple of my reading cupboard, they just don’t “do it for me” for the most part anymore. I have dropped so many former autobuy authors it’s very depressing.
Madeline Hunter exemplifies malaise that has hit historicals. She burst onto the scene a few years ago with some most excellent medievals. By Arrangement, her first book, was about a merchant who wanted to marry a titled heroine. Her writing was rich, vivid, detailed and I thought “Wow”. This was followed up in very short order with By Possession. And if readers thought the first one was different, she hadn’t even gotten started yet. In By Possession, Ms. Hunter broke even more barriers. The hero was a lord and the heroine was a serf. How cool was that? Again, her talent amazed me. By Design followed the same kind of path, the heroine a young noblewoman who had her home stolen and the hero, a craftsman. These are all very good books, which I recommend highly as well as her other medievals that followed. But then something happened to this wonderfully promising author. She switched to historicals and sank to the depths of mediocrity as far as I’m concerned. Because I hate giving up on an author, I continued to read her books but was not impressed – at all. The only one I can say I enjoyed was The Romantic and that was strictly because she created such a wonderful hero. As for her latest, I couldn’t even finish it. This from an author who started out so promising. ‘Tis truly sad
Celeste Bradley is another author I thought showed great promise with her first couple of books. But now she seems to have a severe case of seriesitis. Spy (yawn) book after spy(yawn) after spy(yawn). Way too much of the been there done that. It’s not that her writing isn’t good – but it all blends together so I can’t tell one book from the other.
Christina Dodd was a not to be missed author for me years ago. A Well Pleasured Lady and A Well Pleasured Man – controversial and delicious. I loved them. Her medievals were pretty damn good too. So what happened to her? I stopped reading her books midway through the governess books and haven’t been the least bit tempted to try any since. Bland, bland, bland, safe, safe, safe = boring, boring, boring. She’s off the list.
Jane Feather is another author who lost it as far as I’m concerned. I read all her V books years ago and she became an autobuy but I don’t know, something happened somewhere along the line.
And then there’s Mary Balogh. Ah, Mary, Mary, Mary. I find it so hard to accept that the author of such books as Thief of Dreams, Longing, The Secret Pearl is the same author who’s writing today. I know there are some who still really love her work, but sadly I’m not one of them. I began losing interest with her in A Summer to Remember. I still bought her though until midway through the Slightly series, then dropped her like a led balloon. The dreaded seriesitis had felled another author. This is the same disease that took Julia Quinn.
So there we have five authors that used to be autobuys for me that I’ve lost. It’s almost to the point where I pick up my still-on-my-list of historical autobuy authors with some trepidation. Gaelen Foley is still doing it for me – on and off that is. As is Liz Carlyle, I haven’t had any problems with her books although I almost send up a little ‘please let this be good’ before I start. Jo Goodman doesn’t worry me at all. She is one of the few authors who keeps getting better and better with each new book. (Thought I would end on a positive note)
So for those readers who are having a hard time getting into historicals, I can feel your pain. I’m experiencing the same thing.