A Scandalous Affair: Old West Syle

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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. For my second post though we are skipping across the pond and going on a visit to the Old American West.

Historical Background

When I looked up the definition and time this covers it shocked me what a huge stretch of time this was, from 1803-1912 and the geographical location, anything west of the Mississippi River. This is quite imprecise though and when I was researching, it seems that it’s one of those things that Historian’s like to argue over, but this seemed about right. So many things happened over this period! Here are a few things that come to mind:

1803: The Louisiana Purchase – The US decides to go on a bit of a shopping spree and buys what was then called La Louisane from the French Republic for the hefty prize of $15 Million.

1806: Lewis and Clarke return from their expedition.

1821: Mexico becomes independent from Spain

1836: Arkansas becomes the 25th State

1850: Pinkerton Detective Agency is formed

1858: Minnesota is admitted as the 32nd State

1859: Oregon is admitted as the 33rd State

1862: The Homestead Act is signed by Abraham Lincoln

1866: Jesse James robs his first bank

1871: William Cody aka Buffalo Bill is awarded the Medal of Honor

1873: “The gun that won the west” the Colt sing action army revolver is first manufactured

1881: Billy the Kid is shot and killed

And these are just a few things I picked out from events in America, plenty of other things were happening, all helping to shape the world we see today. But, these weren’t easy times to live through, life was hard and we don’t have the conveniences that we see today, it was a brutal and often lawless place to live. And times would be especially hard if you weren’t a white man; women, African Americans, Native Americans…anything that marked you as different was not well tolerated.

But, I can’t mention Westerns without talking about Native Americans. The tale of the Native Americans is a sad one and reading about it made my heart hurt a little, it seems Europeans brought a lot of death to the indigenous peoples of America, from disease, to the efforts to “civilise” the population. I’m not going to go into it, it’s a long violent and torrid tale and I am no expert on it, needless to say; it ain’t pretty.

The Romance

Times may have been hard, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a fantastic setting for a romance, love flourishes in the hardest of places, and it doesn’t become much more difficult than the American Old West. For this reason we have a whole range of romances, exploring romances between two different cultures, marriages of convenience, star crossed lovers, although Westerns are a sub-genre of another sub-genre there is a huge variety of what to read.  I love it, the atmosphere of a barely civilised western town, or the toil and bustle of a ranch and heroes that range from gorgeous outlaw, handsome Native Americans to a rugged rancher.

Recommendations;;

There are so many fantastic books in this genre! Here are a few books and series that I have enjoyed:

Wyoming series
by Johanna Lindsey

I admit, it has been a while since I have read this series, but I had to mention the author and the series that first got me reading Western historical romance. I am wary of rereading them however, most of Johanna Lindsey’s books are complete 80’s bodice rippers (mainly because they were written in the 80’s!), and I am afraid they will lose that sparkle of nostalgia if I give them a go again. However, I had to recommend them, even as I type this, I have a big smile on my face remembering them!

Various
by Ellen O’Connell

Ellen O’Connell is a little know gem, unless of course you have read some of my previous posts, as she writes the most amazing western historical romances. Which, is why I couldn’t narrow it down to one…so I am just showing you my favourite three. Her books are emotional journeys with some unusual characters that you can’t help but fall in love with. I would say if you pick up any of my recommendations today, make it an Ellen O’Connell.

For all my Ellen O’Connell reviews to help you decide which one to pick, click this sentence!

Hell’s Eight series
by Sarah McCarty

If you like your romance a little saucy, then you need to come and meet the Hell’s Eight boys. This series is an erotic western historical romance, which means that it is sexy guys in cowboy hats doing wicked wicked things to their heroines. All the heroes are a little rough around the ages, which I why I lust- I mean love them so much. So if you are in the mood to get in the the mood then look no further than Hell’s Eight.

For all my Sarah McCarty reviews, including Hell’s Eight, click on this sentence. 

What is it you like about Westerns? Do you have any recommendations for us?

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Amy R

Most of the historicals I’ve read are sent in England, France and Scotland.

Elizabeth

I may have to read sarah mccarty’s …I have enjoyed pamela clare’s mackinnon’s rangers

Sue G.

I love historical stories but I don’t read many western types.

Timitra

Thanks for the recs!