By Romance Author
Kelli A. Wilkins
Recently, a woman told me that she loved romances, but didn’t read historicals because they were boring. I replied, “Some of them might be, but not mine—far from it!” I’m not sure if I convinced her to try historicals, but our conversation got me wondering, why do some romance readers think historicals are dull?
Maybe they were turned off by boring history lessons in school, or they think nothing exciting happened in the days before electricity and the Internet. Perhaps they tried a historical romance ages ago and it was weighted down with hard-to-read language or endless “boring” details.
I write historical, gay, paranormal, and contemporary romances. People often ask me how I can switch genres so easily. “What’s the trick?” they want to know. Well, the trick is… there is none. Writing historical romances is pretty much like writing contemporaries. I use the same basic storytelling techniques—an interesting plot, sympathetic characters, and the right mix of backstory, setting, and details that draw readers into the story and keep them there.
Just because historical romances are set in time periods before cars and cell phones, that doesn’t (or shouldn’t) make them boring. There is plenty of action, adventure, intrigue, danger, comedy, and sensual love scenes. And these are the same elements that go into making a compelling contemporary romance.
The key to writing an appealing historical is to create characters who are engaging and lively. I don’t have “stuffy shirts” making long-winded speeches about politics, law, or anything not crucial to the storyline. You won’t find me (or my characters) giving anyone a history lesson!
I bring my historical romances “out of the history books” and into the everyday lives of my characters. I focus on how the hero and heroine meet, fall in love, overcome their obstacles and challenges, and eventually live happily-ever-after. And they are far from shy when it comes to having fun in the bedroom! The heat levels in my romances vary from mildly sensual to super-scorching hot—depending on the characters and their storylines.
Some of my heroines are virgins waiting to meet the love of their life (Michelle from Wilderness Bride), while others are curious and want to explore their sexuality (Katarina from The Dark Lord). Many of my heroines are far from virginal (Shauna from Dangerous Indenture) and aren’t shy about giving in to their desires, despite the so-called impropriety of the times. (Check out my historical/fantasy trilogy A Midsummer Night’s Delights, A Midwinter Night’s Delights, and Ultimate Night’s Delights for more on that. These erotic novellas gave readers who thought historicals were boring and stodgy a real shock!)
As I’m writing, I only include the historical details and descriptions that are integral to the story. I don’t bog down the plot with a step-by-step procedure for churning butter, or go into an endless description of how to unfasten a corset (unless it’s befuddling the hero who’s eager to remove it!). In a way, it’s “harder” to write historicals because of the amount of research involved, but I get to explore different time periods, characters, and settings—then let my imagination run free as I write.
For example, when I wrote Wilderness Bride, I researched mail order brides, different time periods in American history, Native Americans, fur trappers, traders, and more. Some of the interesting things I learned in my research I added into the storyline or weaved into the background, but I couldn’t use everything. It was important for me to convey the flavor of the time period while keeping the reader hooked and the plot moving.
Every romance genre has its fans. Some people like to read contemporary romances, others live for paranormals, and there are those who switch up genres and read anything that sounds appealing. I like writing historicals—but I also write contemporary, paranormal, fantasy, and gay romances, too. Why? Because I enjoy writing about interesting characters that fall in love, whenever and wherever that may be.
If you’ve never read historical romances, give them a try! You might just find yourself swept away to a long ago time period in a place far away…
Kelli A. Wilkins
Here are the descriptions and links to my two newest historical romances, Wilderness Bride and Dangerous Indenture.
A woman running from her past…straight into the arms of a wild stranger
In a moment of desperation, Kathleen Stanton flees her pampered life in Kingston, New York and ends up stranded in a small town in the Michigan Territory. Out of money and lacking a means of escape, she impersonates a handsome stranger’s mail-order bride. Kathleen calls herself Michelle and begins living a lie with her “husband,” Luther, in an isolated mountain cabin. She tells herself the arrangement is temporary until she can move on.
Luther can’t believe his luck when his beautiful blonde bride arrives, but something doesn’t feel right about his new wife. She has terrifying nightmares involving a man named Roger and is reluctant to talk about where she came from. But Luther is harboring a secret about his background and fears Michelle will abandon him if she learns the truth about him—and his family.
The couple tries to maintain their rocky relationship as they work to fight brutal townspeople and overcome harsh living conditions. When circumstances force Michelle to stay longer than she expected, she succumbs to her growing attraction and falls in love with Luther. But when they finally give in to their desires and agree to become a proper man and wife, a dark figure from Michelle’s past catches up with her, putting her and Luther in grave danger.
Amber Quill Press: http://www.amberquill.com/store/p/1941-Wilderness-Bride.aspx
Eager to escape her past in Ireland, Shauna Farrow signs on to become an indentured servant to Joshua Stewart, a wealthy man in Pennsylvania Colony.
But a life of servitude quickly turns to drudgery, and her hopes for starting over and creating a better life for herself are waning—until she meets her master’s roguish son, Ashton.
Shauna fights her growing attraction to Ashton, torn between propriety and acting on her emotions. But amidst their flirting, something dark stirs. Shauna soon discovers why no other servants will work for the strange Stewart family.
Stewart House has an unsavory reputation: a previous servant died there under mysterious circumstances. When another servant goes missing in the middle of the night, Shauna is convinced that a member of the family is responsible.
When Shauna’s investigation leads her too close to the truth, it’s up to Ashton to save her before time runs out.
Medallion Press: http://medallionmediagroup.com/books/dangerous-indenture/
ABOUT KELLI A. WILKINS
Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 90 short stories, seventeen romance novels (for Medallion Press and Amber Quill Press), and four non-fiction books. Her romances span many genres and heat levels. Kelli had two historical romances published in 2014: Wilderness Bride from Amber Quill Press: http://www.amberquill.com/store/p/1941-Wilderness-Bride.aspx) and Dangerous Indenture from Medallion Press: http://medallionmediagroup.com/books/dangerous-indenture/.
Kelli publishes a blog: (http://kelliwilkinsauthor.blogspot.com) filled with excerpts, interviews, writing prompts, and whatever else pops into her head. She also writes a monthly newsletter, Kelli’s Quill, and posts on Facebook and Twitter. Kelli invites readers to visit her website, http://www.KelliWilkins.com to learn more about all of her writings.
Catch up with Kelli on the Web:
Amber Quill Press Author page: http://www.amberquill.com/store/m/149-Kelli-A-Wilkins.aspx
Medallion Press Author Page: http://medallionmediagroup.com/author/kelli-wilkins/