By Sharon Page
I write sensual Regency historical romance. Even if you haven't read historical romance, you are probably familiar with them if you've read or seen Pride and Prejudice.
The funny thing about genres: most of the time people are pronouncing the historical romance is 'dead'. But authors of the genre are routinely hitting bestseller lists. Some debut historical romance authors are getting six-figure deals.
I think I know why. It's not for the fantasy of gowns, jewels, and elegant houses (though a bevy of servants sounds like a handy idea). I think it's because, in historicals, authors get to write about those fun things like arranged marriages, scandals, amnesia, and those plots sound more plausible in the time period of the 19th century than the 21 st.
I went 'daring' in the book I just finished, Engaged in Sin. My heroine is a prostitute from a brothel, on the run because she has been wrongfully accused of murder. She needs a place to hide and she learns about a handsome duke, blinded in war. The duke's friend believes he needs a lover to cheer him up and help him heal. She pretends to be the courtesan hired by the friend, and she stubbornly tries to seduce the duke, who want to be left alone.
Some of my critique partners insisted I shouldn't write this heroine. A courtesan was okay, but making the heroine a prostitute was too much of a risk. But I loved the idea of a courageous woman determined to seduce a reluctant man because she is actively trying to save herself. I took the chance and my editor loved it. Historicals have changed with the times.
Here are some of the historical romances I've found daring:
Anna Campbell's Untouched. A hero held prisoner, and a heroine who must seduce him or else.
Sherry Thomas' Private Arrangements. A late Victorian romance with the premise that the heroine wants a divorce from her husband since they have lived apart for a decade. He'll agree only if she give him an heir first.
Jo Beverley. My favorite author for daring historical romance. Her book My Lady Notorious opened my eyes to just how sensual a historical could be.
Mary Balogh's A Precious Jewel. The heroine is a prostitute in the brothel of her former governess and the hero is her client.
What about you? Do you read historical romance? Do you have favorite 'daring' books--stories that have pushed boundaries for you?
Sharon Page is the USA Today bestselling author of historical romance for Dell books and erotic romance for Kensington Publishing.