What makes a truly great historical romance? It’s something that (as you can imagine) I think about almost continuously. What’s missing from this? What’s going to make it the best book my readers have ever read? What’s going to make it stick in their minds, stay on their bookshelf, be recommended to friends?
Some say it’s characters
A truly great character, a hero or heroine that stays with you after you’ve put the book down. Foibles and failures, dreams and dangers, surely taking your time over creating memorable characters has got to be the secret, right?
Others say it’s setting
Many readers prefer to stay within a particular time period, so you’ve got to be careful and see what the market is doing. Are readers loving Regency or medieval, is it cowboys or dukes, or has the alpha hero beat them all out?
It could even be a massive twist
Some readers like their romances to follow the same sort of pattern: a meet cute, a disagreement, growing to know each other, starting to fight feelings, a sudden shock which reveals emotions, and the happily ever after. Others want to see a twist, reveal, or shock right at the end.
If you ask me though, it’s all three and so much more. I personally love it when authors naturally bring historical details into the narrative without it feeling like I’m sitting in a lecture. Others like strong female secondary characters, or pets, or an element of mystery.