So Julia Quinn killed the Regency. Click here for this opinion and the reasons why some readers don't like regencies anymore -not this reader but more on that later. I have heard this opinion making the rounds lately. Lots of people complaining that historicals aren't historical enough, that Regencies have gotten too generic/too fluffy/too lacking in uniqueness, etc., And I suppose, if I were a critic and analyzer of the genre and needed something to write about, I might be tempted to say these things too, just to have something to say. After all, I do have not one, but TWO advanced degrees. One a MA in English, one an MLS and if I know nothing in this world, I do know how to critically analyze literature. But I choose not to.
Why? I have too much fun reading romance. And I am a bit mystified as to why certain bloggers and reviewers have the idea historical romances need to be every bit as accurate as a history text book. They give high marks to books that contain alot of what they feel are very necessary historical detail and look frowningly upon books they deem too "wall-papery". Who are these people who want to learn history from a romance book? Why in the world would you want that? I am genuinely mystified and trying to not be snarky at all. I tried to read a very highly rated historical romance from a well known author the other day and had to put it down. I found the details too distracting. I wanted more attention paid to the relationships between the hero/heroine and less about the food and setting. Because this is what I read romance for. Also, while the author had done considerable research on the time period, she had not bothered to research human nature and the female character was more than a little over the top and ridiculous.
So here's how I read romance. For enjoyment. And I will be honest, I am a lazy reader. I want to be swept away. I want to not have to think. If you are writing about a war -I don't really want the war to be too real. Because real war kinda sucks, ya know? I don't ever want to feel as if the historical conflict will overwhelm the potential for happily ever after. And I sure as hell don't want to be constantly reading details about the war and the rifles and how far they marched and the battle tactics and the shininess or dullness of the brass buttons. Boring.
Maybe this is the reason I don't like Ante-Bellum romances anymore though they've kind of gone the way of the dinosaur and good riddance, as far as I am concerned. I know too much about the real historical details of slavery in the Deep South to ever be able to put on my rose-colored glasses and pretend to not see. When I was oh, about thirteen or so, I read a book wherein the heroine's best friend was a female African slave and the hero (I shit you not) was a ship owner and one of his ships was in the slave trade. I think the hero (such a Prince) even sold the female African slave or put her aboard the slaver and stood stoically by while the heroine cried. And, if I am remembering correctly, he did this after he had promised her he would never get into the slave trade. His action I think, was to prove his Alpha credentials or some such nonsense. As young and stupid as I was, I DID NOT BUY IT. Not because it was unrealistic because it was very realistic for the time period, but because it proved the hero was a complete jerk with no real regard for human life and not worthy of the heroine's love or a HEA. In other words, I did not want the hero to be a real cash strapped man, living in Pre-Civil War South. I wanted him to look the part and talk the part but behave like a twentieth century post Civil Rights era white man with all the correct sensibilities.
This is why reading real history is such a bummer. You just wouldn't want to live at anytime but 2010, once you know even a little about less enlightened times. You wanna know the number one cause of death for women before the twentieth century? Childbirth. The number two cause of death was fire. Seems that all those wonderful long skirts women had to wear back then were just perfect for catching any stray spark emanating from an open fire in the kitchen. Nothing sexy or romantic about this at all.
So why in the world do the critics and the analyzers lament the lack of accurate detail in their Regencies and Historicals? Too much real detail and quite honestly romance land becomes a place I wouldn't want to visit, let alone live in for three or four hours. Gah -the less detail sometimes, the better!
I read romance because I want ROMANCE. I want a sexy Alpha male (with big muscles and a big, you know) and a heroine who needs him and is strong, yet vulnerable in her own right. I want them to psychologically real and to talk to each in a way I can imagine real people talking. I want the conflicts to be real, yet solvable. And I want the setting and the history only if it contributes to the romance. If it doesn't, I couldn't care less. AND I want the hot sexxoring.
I can forgive just about anything in a romance, but the lack of romance. Which is why Julia Quinn has not ruined the Regency. As long as she gets the romance part of it right (and I think she does), she's fine by me.
So what about you? Do you like your historicals with as much detail as possible? Does lack of accuarate detail bother you? How much knowledge is too much?