Before we started this blog, I very rarely read anything other than historical romance. And of that, I almost never read anything other than Regency romance with a smattering of Highlander and Victorian mixed in when I “couldn’t find” any “suitable” Regency books. This wasn’t my focus when I studied history, but early 20th Century Communist romance isn’t really thick on the ground. It’s somewhat surprising that this was my focus of study, considering that I became a history major with a desire to pursue a PhD specifically because of my love of historical romance. (Gotta love radicalism, though!)
With the advent of the blog, I wanted to branch out and try new things. Also Ingrid, Holly and I never considered writing an exclusively historical romance blog, so a lack of diverse content would make for a relatively uninteresting information hub. Yes, we all have our preferences, but we do try to push ourselves. Now that I’m more open to trying new things, I’ve discovered that I enjoy many different subgenres, but right now I’m probably reading more contemporary romance than anything else. Yeah, powerful dukes are still super hot, but there are some aspects of contemporary romance that I don’t see so much in historical Romancelandia.
There are aspects of these sub-genres that seem to be driven by the temporal setting, e.g. protagonists occupations, technology, social customs, etc. But it’s not like the 21st century flipped some switch and suddenly there were emotionally intelligent, sensitive men. Or people who identify as LGBTQIA+. Or feminists. Or, like, people – the whole messy lot of us. As I read, I seem to be seeing some entrenched generic verisimilitude, and I think we should examine that. Do these trends actually exist? And why do they exist? Or at the very least, why do we think they do?
So let’s explore trends in the two biggest romance sub-genres as I continue to dig deeper into the genre. First up: Heroes! Historical vs. Contemporary