The historical romance

Publication year

From the introduction to the volume:

As she moves chronologically from the foundational Regency and Georgian-set works of Georgette Heyer and Barbara Cartland to the more highly sexualized American historical romances of the 1970s and 1980s to the diverse innovations found in twenty-first-century historical romance, Ficke outlines recurring and emerging themes in scholarship on this work: its treatment of sexualities and desires; its function as a form of alternative (queer, feminist, etc.) historiography; its history of othering Black, Asian, Arab, and Native characters and corresponding efforts by authors of color to resist this practice; and its confrontations with the question of whether some historical periods and contexts cannot or should not feature in the happy-ending context of the romance novel. (13-14)


It isn’t impossible to write historical romance set during slavery (as is discussed later in this chapter), but Belgrave’s example highlights the extent to which traditional historical romance stories rely upon limited, sanitized settings or the erasure of dehumanizing political and economic systems.
A more recent example of this issue is the discussion surrounding Kate Breslin’s inspirational historical romance For Such a Time (2014), “a riff on the Old Testament’s Book of Esther” which describes a romance between a Nazi camp commander at Theresienstadt and a female Jewish prisoner (Flood). This book was nominated for a Romance Writers of America RITA award in 2015, prompting serious questions from the romance-reading and -writing community about the limits of what can, or should be viewed as “romantic.” (124)