Genre News – Interesting Articles – Historical Tidbits – Best Selling Books

Welcome to Historical Romance Books by Red Brick Media. It’s a place for readers and authors to gather and share their love of the genre.

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“The person, be it a gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” Jane Austen

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The Genre

A genre is a category of artistic composition such as writing. Historical romance is a popular genre that has been the mainstream of romance novels for many years. It’s a broad category of fiction set in various centuries, which was first popularized as early as the nineteenth century by Walter Scott who wrote such books as Ivanhoe.

In today’s modern era of writing, historical romance can be categorized from the ancient world up to 1950 (per Romance Writers of America). A few of the favorite time periods on bookshelves are:

  • Medieval Period
  • Viking Age
  • 17th Century
    • Scottish Highlands
    • England
    • European
  • American Eras
    • Colonial America
    • Civil War
    • Westerns
  • Georgian Era
  • Regency Era
  • Victorian England
  • Early 20th Century up to WW2
    • Edwardian
    • Roaring Twenties
    • 30’s and 40’s

During the 1970s, the genre took off and was affectionately known as the “bodice ripper” years, which led to mass-market paperbacks. Some of those books, I am happy to say, I read when I was in my twenties.

Kathleen Woodwiss’s historical romance, The Flame and the Flower, literally set the genre on fire, followed by steamy romance covers of domineering men and women melting at their touch. It was the time of Fabio, scantly dressed males, and women with dresses falling off their shoulders. Sexy couples jumped off the covers toward women who were starving for romance. The book covers were an art form from mainstream publishers.

Since that time, the genre has remained relatively the same until recently. The onset of the me-too movement has begun to change some weak-willed, easily seduced female characters into spunky and spirited ladies. In addition, the publishing world has called for more diversity in authors and stories, which is long overdue. Readers do not seem to mind these changes even though there may be a deviation from reality.

There are many well-known traditionally published authors in the twenty-first century, such as Mary Jo Putney, Lisa Kleypas, Eloisa James, Elizabeth Hoyt, Sabrina Jeffries, Tessa Dare, just to name a handful. In addition, there are quite a few independently published authors in the genre who are making a name for themselves on the Amazon best-selling charts.

Historical romance immerses readers into different centuries. They are a great way to learn and enjoy history, especially if it was not your favorite subject in school. I like to think it is a welcome change from contemporary romance and problems that we deal with day-to-day. It gives us an opportunity to live vicariously in other time periods, with different values, ways of courtship, and lifestyles.

Yes, authors do romanticize centuries that were fraught with their own challenges. Nevertheless, a knight in shining armor, a Scottish highlander, or a duke to sweep us off our feet and make ravishing love to us might be just what you need to get your mind off twenty-first-century challenges and recent woes.

Enjoy your next historical romance novel! Take your choice of a brawny Viking, kilted Highlander, English aristocrat, a handsome military man, or a cowboy on the wild west plains of America. It’s a world of romance, waiting just for you.

Historical Tidbits

Authors take particular care to romanticize centuries past.  Let’s face it, we have kings, queens, dukes, earls, lords, barons, and every other aristocratic title possible to give our heroes.   Our settings are in stately homes and castles.  Occasionally, you’ll find other interesting eras to read about including knights, Vikings, and pirates.   But what was life really like in centuries past?  If you’re interested, read a few of our historical tidbit articles below.  Life wasn’t always a peachy experience, and women often struggled to survive spinsterhood and even marriage.  If you’re interested in a bit of reality, these articles may be for you.   

Check back often for new ones!

Balls in the Victorian Era

Read about how to hold and attend a ball – 1872 Victorian Style. “Balls are the paradise of daughters, the purgatory of chaperons, and the pandemonium of paterfamilias.” They are a father’s nightmare because daughters need new dresses and the brougham won’t be available the night of the affair.

Dancing 1872 Style – The Waltz

The Habits of Good Society are quite clear regarding the waltz and how one should dance. Read the advice from a real author from 1872.

Parisian Morality

Prostitution was big business in the 19th Century.  Read about the lifestyle of how many women supported themselves during difficult times.

The Victorian Wedding

What was is like to get married during the Victorian era?  Did women wear white?


Arsenic was used in just about everything. It wasn’t only a poison of choice if you wanted to kill another person.  It was in the makeup that woman wore, in their dresses, and in their wallpaper.  Arsenic poisoning was a regular occurrence during the Victorian era.

Victorian Women

Fascinating reading about the lives of women in the Victorian era.  Read the accounts of women who lived in poverty, middle-class, or riches.

Breach of Promise of Marriage

Did a man break his engagement?  Was your heart broken in two?  In the 19th century, you could sue a man or woman for the breach of promise of marriage and receive compensation.  Read about the shattered hearts and stories.

Divorce Laws 19th Century

And they lived happily ever after.  Not!  Find out the laws regarding divorce in the 19th century.

Unmentionables and Undergarments

Author guest post exploring the delicate matters of personal hygiene – definitely a look at the unmentionables and undergarments.

Christmas Traditions

Guest Post about Regency Christmas Traditions – HOGMANAY BY SUSANA ELLIS

Kerfuffle in the King’s Bedroom by Grace Eliott

A guest post about the bedchamber of a king in Tudor times.

Knights in Shining Armor

A post exploring the intrigue of Knights.

Feminine Accomplishments

What does it take for a lady to be considered accomplished? Read about the requirements in 1872.

Victorian Cleanliness (1872 Style)

Poor personal habits by an individual who neglected his body was a sure sign of weak character.  A lady’s and man’s toilet routine was an important aspect in upper Victorian society.

The Ladies Toilet (1872 Style)

Another article from the Habits of Good Society giving its female readers tips on the ladies’ toilet.

Duels in Regency Romance

Duels can provide high drama in a romance novel! Here is an article from author Alexa Aston on the rules during the Regency Era.

The Clever Folds that Kept Letters Secret

“By folding and cutting letters in various clever patterns, people attempted to hide their correspondence from unwanted readers, and the “locks” came in myriad types.”

A Woman’s Place in History

Understanding the centuries-long struggle is essential to understanding true characterizations in historical fiction and romance. I remain firmly in the “portray women within the restrictions of their times’ camp. Otherwise, we’re simply creating 21st century women in costume.


Why Regency Romancy Still Reigns (Press This! CNN Style)

Every few years, the Austenites must feed. Netflix’s adaptation of “Persuasion” and the revival of the cult-favorite show “Sanditon” are the latest offerings to Jane Austen, whose memory must be regularly appeased by new odes to her groundbreaking romantic novels. Read More at CNN Style

Historical Reference Books

Here are a few recommended reads regarding the many eras of historical romance that you might enjoy.

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