History as Written by the Victorias: Tessa Dare on Love in a Bygone Era

Posted by Hayley on September 19, 2017


A former librarian and lifelong book lover, Tessa Dare is a bestselling author and the two-time recipient of the Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA award. Her new book, The Duchess Deal, sweeps readers away to Regency-era England, where fiery Emma Gladstone accepts a truly bizarre marriage proposal from the brooding Duke of Ashbury. Goodreads asked Dare to share her thoughts on the timeless appeal of historical romance.


Like many romance readers, I fell in love with the genre when I was a teenager. I cut my teeth on Jane Austen and Julie Garwood—and went on to devour every long-ago-and-somewhere-else romance novel my suburban public library had to offer. Somewhere along the way, my notions of romance became inextricably linked with corsets and carriages, kilts and cravats. Historical romance was not only my jam, but my conserves and blancmange, too.


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Historical romance perches on the fulcrum between the "once upon a time" of fairy tales and the struggles of a modern age. Picking up one of my favorite Julia Quinn, Loretta Chase, or Laura Kinsale novels offers just enough fantasy that I feel transported to another place and time while also including characters and relationships that resonate as real.

In a historical romance, chivalry is not only not lost—it's practically a profession! Love letters are written with quill and ink, while modern romances are negotiated in emojis. And the clothes! Oh, the clothes. All those buttons and laces and petticoats. Historical romance is, in a word, swoon-y.

But my absolute favorite thing about historical romance isn't the swoons. It's the subversiveness.

Romance is largely written by women, for women—and it puts women at the center of the story. When I think back to my beginnings as a romance reader, my high school curriculum was The Scarlet Letter, Madame Bovary, and Hamlet. Masterworks of literature, all three, but the women don't fare well. It came as a profound relief to stumble upon these novels in which the heroines pursued goals, fell in love, and took ownership of their sexuality—without being shunned, drowned, or poisoned with handfuls of arsenic for it! What a revelation.

A happy, fulfilled woman shouldn't be an elusive unicorn wandering the dense thickets of historical fiction. They say history is written by the victors? Well, historical romance lets the Victorias have their say. Women in all eras have worked, loved, resisted, persisted, and survived…to live happily ever after.

That's what I love to write and read, and it's what I personally intend to do, with all regards to Ophelia.


Tessa Dare's The Duchess Deal hit bookshelves on August 22. Add it to your Want to Read shelf here.

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Comments Showing 1-9 of 9 (9 new)

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message 1: by Trishh (new)

Trishh I LOVE Jane Austen and have read many of the authors noted, and yes, part of me is filled with romance and love! but I also note how lgtb romance is missing and it makes me sad as a hopeless romantic bisexual reader :( but like they say: you want to see it? make it!
cant wait for more


message 2: by Regencyfan93 (new)

Regencyfan93 Trishh wrote: "but I also note how lgtb romance is missing and it makes me sad as a hopeless romant..."

For Regency m/m romance, you might try The Gentleman and the Rogue or anything else by Bonnie Dee, Devon Summer for Victorian m/m romance A Private Gentleman. I am not familiar with f/f authors, so have nothing to recommend, though I am sure they are out there.


message 3: by Rlygirl (new)

Rlygirl Great thoughts here! Thanks for sharing!


message 4: by Shannon (new)

Shannon I say!
<3


message 5: by Alex (new)

Alex Loz hay libros y buenos libros , este es genial , soy un fotografo de san luis potosi mexico el cual quedo encantado con su trabajo los invito a ver mi galeria


message 6: by Courtnie (new)

Courtnie GREAT POST!


message 7: by Lucy (new)

Lucy Regencyfan93 wrote: "Trishh wrote: "but I also note how lgtb romance is missing and it makes me sad as a hopeless romant..."

For Regency m/m romance, you might try The Gentleman and the Rogue or anythin..."


What about Sarah Waters? She's pretty amazing!


message 8: by Lexxi Kitty (last edited Oct 06, 2017 12:49PM) (new)

Lexxi Kitty Trishh wrote: "I LOVE Jane Austen and have read many of the authors noted, and yes, part of me is filled with romance and love! but I also note how lgtb romance is missing and it makes me sad as a hopeless romant..."

F/F
16th Century
Shiver her Timbers by Alex Westmore

18th Century
The Sublime and Spirited Voyage of Originial Sin by Colette Moody - ~1702
Gay Pride and Prejudice by Kate Christie - 1797

19th Century
Crossing the Wide Forever by Missouri Vaun
Backwards to Oregon by Jae

steampunk
Romancing the Inventor by Gail Carriger

20th Century
1906
Shaken to the Core by Jae

1920s
Fragile Wings by Rebecca S. Buck

1930s
The Seduction of Moxie by Colette Moody
Whiskey Sunrise by Missouri Vaun

1940s
In the Company of Women by Kate Christie

1950s
late 1940s to early 1950s:
The Lavender List by Meg Harrington

M/M
20th Century
Death Goes Overboard by David S. Pederson (romance elements but probably not actually a capital R Romance).


Elizabeth ♛Smart Girls Love Trashy Books♛ Lexxi Kitty wrote: "Trishh wrote: "I LOVE Jane Austen and have read many of the authors noted, and yes, part of me is filled with romance and love! but I also note how lgtb romance is missing and it makes me sad as a ..."

Wow, really thorough list, I need to look into some of these!


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