Last month, I attended the Romance Writers of America National Conference in Orlando. What a wonderful opportunity to meet authors, editors, and agents and learn to improve my craft and navigate the market. The current market was a major topic of discussion - aside from the rapid changes in the publishing industry as a whole, the subject of popular eras and settings seemed to pop up everywhere. So, here's my question: which eras are your favorites and why?
Let's start with my favorite time period, the years 1861 - 1899. In America, these were the years of the Civil War, Reconstruction, major Western expansion, and the Gilded Age. My two historical romances with The Wild Rose Press, Destiny and Angel in My Arms (coming in November) are both set during the Civil War. I've had terrific feedback from lovers of Civil War romance happy to find a novel with a Civil War setting during this time in publishing. Once popular fixtures of romance, novels set during the years of Lincoln's Presidency are rather hard to come by. I'm perplexed as to the reasons for this apparent aversion publishers have toward Civil War romance...for that matter, toward just about any romance set in America. Have readers truly turned away from American-set historicals? What are your thoughts?
During the years 1861 - 1899, Queen Victoria had a firm and steady grip on her throne. The Victorian age was one of great progress in England, Europe, and America. I have to confess a preference for Victorian-era romances over the beloved Regency romances. Perhaps it's because women were coming into their own, able to explore roles forbidden in earlier history. Even though Victorian women didn't enjoy the freedom to break through barriers that women do today, women of that era made unprecedented strides toward their rights and their status as citizens. In addition, technological advances led to the potential for extensive travel and exciting adventures, while the Victorian sensibility in clothing, architecture, and furnishings was elegant and elaborate. Victorian-era clothing for women was exquisite and feminine, while Victorian architecture (Gilded Age in the United States) produced structures revered for their beauty and unique charm.
Medieval history holds an appeal all its own. Rugged warriors and brave heroines, fighting for a cause, bound by loyalty and love - these are the stuff of legends.
What eras and settings hold the most appeal to you? Have you ever ventured out of your romance comfort zone and read a book with an unusual setting or set during a time period that you usually don't enjoy? What are some books set during historical eras that you'd highly recommend. I'd love to see your thoughts!