Welcome to Under the Covers historical week! It’s a week where we catch the historical romance fever and try and show you why we love this genre. I know when I first contemplated reading some historical I was a little embarrassed, I mean it’s a genre only old ladies read right? Oh how wrong I was! Historical romance is a rich and diverse genre that can be light and fun or dark and thought provoking with every shade in between. Which, is why we like to take one week a year to really appreciate it.
This year, I got to thinking about all the time periods that the banner “Historical Romance” covers, from medieval times to the 20’s, it covers a vast amount of time, and each time period is almost a sub genre all by itself. So, this week I am going to take you through some of my favourite time periods and settings and give you a little bit of historical detail as well as my experiences and recommendations. I plan to cover: Westerns, Victorian & Steampunk, Scottish and Regency. To start us off, we are in the British Empire..so welcome to the Victorian Era.
The Victorian era, as you may have guessed from the name, is the years in which Queen Victoria ruled. Her reign was from 1837-1901, this time period coincides with the American Old West; however, the culture was very different. The Victorian era is characterised by its strict adherence to morality, not even the pianos were allowed to show their ankles. Alongside this there was an increasing interest in mysticism and the occult, a titillating night of Victorian entertainment could very well involve a seance.
Queen Victoria’s reign became known as Britain’s Golden Age, as the national income per person rose by half, all ushered in by industrialisation, the relative peace in Europe and the absence of any large health epidemics. The ranks of the middle class rapidly grew and began to define themselves having a massive effect on culture and society in general. Of course, although you could be a very rich and successful business man, you still wouldn’t be considered quite as good as a aristocrat, with important government positions being occupied by the estate owning gentry. But, Queen Victoria’s rule, for the most part, was marked by great prosperity for British Empire.
Of course, it has its dark sides, due to the massive population boom poverty was rife and child labour is notorious in this period, with children as young as 4 being put to work to help out their families.
There are so many things about the Victorian era that could be mentioned, both about British society itself and the introduction of industrialisation, the architecture, the railway and important people in history such as William Gladstone, Benjamin Disraeli and about the life and time of Queen Victoria and the royal family. Then there are the famous writers of the time: Charles Dickens, William Thackeray, the Bronte sisters and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to name a few.
One of the literary conventions I love that was inspired by the Victorian era is Steampunk.We get asked quite frequently what exactly steampunk is so here is a handy definition from Dictionary.com:
a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy featuring advanced machines and other technology based on steam power of the 19th century and taking place in a recognizable historical period or a fantasy world.
London Steampunk series
by Bec McMaster
The Wallflowers series
by Lisa Kleypas
Iron Seas series
by Meljean Brook
I thought I would leave this post with one last Steampunk recommendation. Iron Seas by Meljean Brook, a series that just gets better and better as you read it. Although each book in this series is an individual romance, this series is also crammed with lots of adventure and action as well. It’s also a little bit sexy and bound to get your pulse racing for more reason than one.
What are your favourite Victorian era romances, do you have any Steampunk recommendations for us?
Annnnnd I will stop myself there, before I start waxing lyrical about my love of historical romance and fantasy as well; no one needs to know about my elf fantasies. As you can tell, I adore and day dream about most romance genres, and my three big loves are 1) reading about romance 2) writing about romance and 3) talking about romance with my gals. Which, is why I love Under the Covers so much, I get all my bookish needs satisfied and don’t get judged when I talk about my favourite characters like they are real people. Which they are right?