Wednesday, August 17, 2005

As the historical turns

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.

‘til later


Alyssa said...

There are a number of authors on this list I haven't read. I still enjoy Mary Balogh and Julia Quinn. Never really got into Madeline Hunter.

Tara Marie said...

I have to agree with all of your assessments, but I still read Mary Balogh and I'm thankful the Bridgerton series is finally coming to an end, Julia Quinn needs to do something else. I'll add one more to your list--Joan Wolf, she wrote fabulous stories in the past, but her new historical is atrocious in comparison. Oh, well. We'll all be reading nothing but contemporary romantic suspense of comedies soon--just shoot me.

CindyS said...

I wanted to comment on this one sooner but I was in between work and home. On another tangent, I just caught the cover of Julia Ross' new book on your sidebar - gorgeous! I'm gonna have to figure out how to do that sometime.

I kinda gave up historicals a while back. I started one about 3 years ago now and by the second paragraph I was getting the twenty eight names the hero was known as. I dropped the book. I was done. I guess I burned out because historicals scared the beejeebers out of me. I am back now but only in small bits.

I like Julia Quinn - because I have never read her and I get to read the books in whatever order I want. Very, very disappointed in Colin's book, yetch. Lisa Kleypas - I am keeping Derek Craven on hold so far - I have to have a great book for those just in case moments. Never really read Balogh, Dodd was not to my taste - everyone talks about that scene but I tell you, I couldn't tell which way the heroine was facing most of the time. I mean, if she was facing in, the movements didn't make sense. Oh well, just me. Hunter's best are in my TBR pile.

I did want to say something quickly about this seriesitis (great word). Pubs and writers obviously love it because it means recognition (pubs don't have to pump it because it is plainly part of the series) and writers must love it for the money. What they are not getting is that there are only so many readers who will remain faithful to a poorly written series. Feehan is one author I never got but her fans are loyal, even when her books sound the same.

Okay, enough from me!

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