Guest Post: Accuracy in Historical Romance: How Important Is It, Really?

This week I have a special guest! Desiree is sharing some of her thoughts on historical romance and especially adaptions like the new Bridgerton series. Read on!

Between the recently released Bridgerton adaptation on Netflix and rereading some of my old favorite books while home for the holidays, historical romance has been on my mind lately — and with it, the eternal question of accuracy’s role in such stories. This was exacerbated when, while looking up reviews for some of those favorites, I noticed a common theme: complaints of historical inaccuracy, a few of which were substantial and fair, but most of which concerned things like what guests might drink at a ball, suitable mourning practices in a given era, etc.

I’m no historian, so maybe I’ll just never just understand how apparently distressing it is to read historical romance and know that something about it is incorrect. Yet I can’t help but feel that if you approach this genre with the accuracy-first mindset, combing each book for inconsistencies so you can excoriate the author in a review, you must not be very fun at parties — and, more crucially, you’re missing the point of such stories. After all, the essence of romance is escapism, and zeroing in on this kind of minutiae is the opposite of that! Even if you ultimately find the book spotless, you’re still making it almost impossible for yourself to enjoy it.

I suppose there’s an argument to be made that historical inaccuracies take the reader out of the story, effectively hindering that escapism — and to an extent, that’s true. As I said, some of the complaints I saw in reviews were fair: a heroine being unrealistically naïve about what to expect from her suitor, for example, or a ridiculous wedding ceremony in which the vicar simply subs one groom for another at the last second, like a restaurant offering Pepsi in lieu of Coke.

But these are much bigger components of a story than, say, the preferred fashions or dancing conventions of upper-middle-class women in the Regency era. They directly impact the plot or characterization, whereas the smaller details I’ve mentioned here should, at worst, throw readers off for a few moments… and only the most historically versed readers at that.

Yes, it’s always impressive when historical romance has clearly been researched extensively and includes highly specific details. But for me, this is much more of a bonus than a necessity. Most of us readers don’t consume historical romance — or indeed, any sort of historical fiction — for the factual rigor. So long as the major elements are consistent and not distracting, we should all be able to get on with the stories.

This has certainly proven true of recent period pieces like The Crown and The Queen’s Gambit; a few inaccuracies have not prevented them from being massively praised, both in mainstream public opinion and critical reviews. To which I say, why can’t we give historical romance that same benefit of the doubt?


Desiree Villena is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors with the world’s best self-publishing resources and professionals. In her spare time, Desiree enjoys reading contemporary fiction and historical romance, writing short stories, and analyzing literature into the ground.

Guest Blog: Unwrapping a Rogue

unwrappingarogueUnwrap your next historical hero in this Regency romance boxset created especially for Christmas!
Including brand new and exclusive content from USA Today and Bestselling authors as well as much-loved Christmas titles, find yourself lost in a world of snow, scandalous kisses, and sexy heroes.
 
How to Marry a Rake in Ten Days by Samantha Holt
 
The years had added the slightest touch of grey to his hair at the temples. Though he must have shaved in the morning, stubble was beginning to show on his jaw and upper lip. Something about that roughness made her want to reach out and stroke it. Lines crinkled the corners of his eyes. Not a lot but enough that his intense eyes were softened. And his lashes…dear Lord a man should never have such thick, long lashes. It was thoroughly unfair to the fairer sex.
“I always watched you,” he told her in a low voice, the timbre of it spearing deep inside her and making her feel warm and all twisted up inside.
She knew that. But she wouldn’t admit as much. A lady shouldn’t be aware of these things. However, he likely didn’t realise that she understood the reasons behind his stares. He probably had little clue that she even knew he was responsible for Robert’s change of heart.
“I never noticed.”
The lift of one brow told her he didn’t believe her. “I watched you dance. Watched you flirt. Watched you laugh.”
“A lady does not flirt.”
“You did.”
“Well, I have changed.”
His gaze met hers. “I noticed. A pity.”
Angelina eyed him. A pity? Here was the man who had so thoroughly disapproved of her behaviour that he had warned his all too impressionable friend away from her and now he was claiming that he liked that behaviour.
Though she supposed such behaviour was favourable in a conquest but not in a wife.
There was no chance she would be a conquest. She was here for a marriage.
“I have grown up, Benedict, that is all.”
His lips curved. “You have grown up in many ways.” He glanced over her figure. “The years have done you many favours, Angie. However, I’m not sure you are all that different.”
“I am,” she insisted. “I’m nothing like I was when we knew each other.”
Benedict released the curl and tilted his head to view her. “Well, we have ten days together. I’m certain it will become clear whether you have or not.”
“That sounds almost like a challenge, my lord.” She cursed the words once they were out. Those were the words of impulsive, silly Angie. Even the addition of his title had been used with every intention of being daring instead of polite.
He lifted a shoulder. “Perhaps.” He leaned forward and took her hand in his. She eyed their gloved fingers meeting and tried to force her arm to retreat but she had gone boneless at his touch. He eased his palm into hers and held her hand.
“A challenge would certainly make this rather dry party a little more interesting, do you not think?”
She was too busy gaping at their linked hands to even agree with him.
Or tell him no. She already had one challenge to worry about, she didn’t need another.
“We have ten days together. Let me prove to you that you are not changed. That the Angie I knew still resides behind those stiff manners.”
“Why on earth would I agree to such a thing?”
“To prove me wrong.” He lifted her hand up toward his mouth and brushed it over her knuckles.
“I have no need to prove it.”
“Are you scared?”
She raised her chin. “Never!”
He released a flash of a grin. “Ah, there she is.”
“Damn you, Benedict.”
His grin widened. “And again.”
She puffed out her cheeks, feeling how hot and red they were. This was all going so wrong. How was she meant to act like a lady when he was so infuriating? She should probably start thinking about a new job already. She’d never persuade Oliver they’d do well together if this continued.
Angelina tugged away her hand and shook her head. “You won’t win, Benedict. I can assure you of that. Now it is not appropriate for us to be alone together so I shall bid you good afternoon. Will you tell the marquess that I am suffering with a headache and I shall join them for dinner?”
“Of course, my lady.” He offered a mockingly formal bow and Angelina just knew he had no intention of giving up his idea of scandalising her.
 
She shook her head again. As if he could scandalise her further. 

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Should we Pay for Guest Posts?

Now, I’m aware that this is probably quite an interesting subject for many of you out there, and I really welcome your comments and thoughts! Paying for guest blogs is something that has been on my mind a lot recently, and so I thought I would share them with you.

I have had many different – although all talented – authors guest blogging here on my blog, and it has been a truly wonderful experience. They have brought their experience and their views on writing, which has often really challenged my own. Guest blogs are a perfect chance to get a snapshot of another writing style, and an indication of whether or not I would love their books (hint: yes). They have often hosted me on their blog in a similar way, and it has been a great way for both of us to connect with different authors.

But on websites such as Fiverr it is possible to pay someone to host your guest blog. Now, don’t get me wrong: I myself write on Fiverr, and find it a brilliant place to network and connect with great clients. But for some reason, guest blogging has caught my eye several times over the last week.

I have never charged anyone to appear on this blog. I don’t even think that the idea of asking for money even entered my mind when I began offering the chance to other writers.

However, it is certainly a brilliant marketing trick to get the word out, especially of a new book. After all, what better than to find a blog that is read by thousands of people? There are even niche blogs that are specifically about new releases. Surely putting a guest post on there, even if it cost you $5, would be totally worth it if you could reach an entirely different audience?

Well, I’ll certainly never be asking anyone for any pennies if they want to contribute to my blog. But I do not think that I would necessarily turn down the chance to have my guest blog on a different blog, a really popular one – even if I had to pay for it. After all, the initial investment could certainly gain me a huge following. It may be something that I do when I am promoting the sequel to my first book Conquests – that is, if I ever finish it!

What do you think? Have you ever paid for a guest blog to be featured on a blog – or would you never consider it worth paying for?