I was bored at work today – not much to do, half the staff off so I started pondering. When I first came back to romance reading, the historical was my bread and butter reads. I had no desire to read anything but historical – England only please. But I was a voracious reader and it wasn’t long before I exhausted most of the English set historical and began branching out into Medieval, Westerns, Colonials and stories set just before, during and after the Civil War. They were much easier to find back in the 90’s. Then I exhausted them and through Nora Roberts started consuming Contemporaries and Romantic Suspense through Elizabeth Lowell. But still, the English set historical was my first love and choice.
But over the years things have been slowly changing. My consumption of the historical has drastically gone down over the years; fewer every year, and my enjoyment of the contemporary and romantic suspense has gone up. Last year I read 33 Contemps and 23 RS but only 14 historical. And at least so far this year the trend seems to be continuing. In 2005, when I started tracking the number of books read, I read 32 historicals, 17 RS and 16 contemps. So you can see that it’s almost reversed itself in 5 years.
I’ve been wondering why this change around. I still love historical set in England and there are some authors I will continue to buy and to love in this genre. But as for trying new authors, not so much anymore in this area. Instead I’m more willing to try a new contemporary, RS or even paranormal author than a historical author. And I’ve come to a few reasons why this is
I’m older now than I was when I first came back to romance; older by about fifteen years or more. I just can’t relate to the angst that many a historical virgin 20 year old heroine goes through. As both sons have hit the 30 mark now (though amazingly I haven’t really aged) a woebegone heroine is getting further and further outside my relate zone. I’m one of those readers who really gets into characters and I don’t want to get into a very young miss anymore.
More and more I’m less drawn to a rich and titled hero. The dukes and the earls bore me. I just finished a wonderful little Western by Carina Press where the hero was a sheriff who wasn’t afraid to get dirty. Give me one of those types of heroes any day over a mamby pamby gent who gets his exercise in Gentleman Jackson or Jim (or wherever) boxing salon. I like a hero, who works for a living; who isn’t afraid of sweat and if he is going to fight with someone, I want it to mean something. While I haven’t filled out a lot of dating profiles *g* if I were, I would go for a blue collar work every single time over white collar. Ron was blue collar and that’s what I prefer.
I find the ‘entertainment’ aspect of historical a bore anymore. I don’t do the bar scene – and have not for a very long time now heh, heh. So the idea of a crowded ballroom gives me the willies. I’m getting more claustrophobic as the years go one so putting my feelings towards crowds into a book setting and I just can’t imagine the draw of the ball. Give me a good old fashioned barn dance after a good harvest any day. Or I’d rather see a ‘shoot ‘em up’ scene with terrorists – as long as it’s all fiction of course. I prefer the smaller towns you often read about in Contemporaries or the former military guy who is part of a group of ex-military who opened their own agency for the good of all. I even often prefer a good shape shifting wolf over a formerly pampered viscount who is also spying for the crown.
The lack of real angst in English set historical has also had an effect on me reading less of this genre. Where in the 90’s there was more drama, more variety, in current times the publishers seem to want to appeal to the broader audience who in some cases can have narrowed tastes. I’ve read on message boards where some readers don’t want their heroines to be experienced at all – thus the dreaded virgin widow. Also a great many readers prefer that the hero not have any kind of lustful feelings towards anyone but the heroine. I’ll be honest and say I prefer this myself, but it’s certainly not a deal breaker. I’ve read a few (older) historical where the hero was blatantly unfaithful and though I wasn’t pleased with the hero at all, at all, it wasn’t a deal breaker. But I think many of the NY publishers – one in particular, who shall remain nameless, try and avoid all controversy.
So while, as I said, there are some historical authors I will never give up and I still try new authors to the genre, historicals aren’t really the cupa they were a few years ago.
So, has anyone else gone through a similar transformation? Or are you still a dyed-in-the-wool historical reader? Do you read cross genres or just stick pretty much to one or two? Have your tastes changed over the years and if they have why do you think that is?