I’m going to begin by enticing some of you to try a new genre.
6 reasons to fall in love with historical romance.
1) A refreshing change from email, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!
Historical fiction brings back the art of conversation and hand-written letters. There is no constant checking for updates on social media, no stalking friends via the internet. Words like catfish and ghosting have completely different meanings in a bygone era.
2) Lessons in history that don’t feel like the schoolroom.
Historical romance can give readers insights into the past in the same way as other categories of the history genre, even if the main theme of a book is the romance.
I’ve learnt about real historical characters, social etiquette, smuggling and the Scottish witch trials, to name just a few examples.
Modern life is fast paced, full of stress and worry. A well-written historical romance can transport you to another era and help you to forget about the outside world for a few hours. You can join characters in London ballrooms, country houses, foreign countries, or travel by horse-drawn coach and ocean steamer. Here are a few titles that I’ve escaped with:
For some readers the thought of a ‘Happy Ever After’ ending will have them running for the hills. However, for others the warm fuzzy feeling that you can get when you read a romance can be as healing as a strong cup of tea with two sugars. Reading about a couple who found love after adversity can be uplifting.
5) If you find a setting that you enjoy, you can stay for the series.
Who doesn’t love a series? If I discover an author that I like, I’m thrilled when I know they’ve written a series. Many authors offer book one of a series for free or at a reduced rate, which helps me to try an unfamiliar author, and once I’m hooked by a series I like meeting characters that I fell in love with when they appear again in later books.
6) You can appreciate romantic elements in other historical works.
I read quite a lot of historical romance and one point that stands out is that it needs to be believable. It has to fit the era and the actual romance, no matter what level of heat is used, it has got to be realistic. A good piece of romance can enhance an historical novel by helping to create passionate, layered characters that the reader wants to invest their time in. The books below had romance which supported the main themes:
Aaron Falk, a federal police officer, arrives in Kiewarra, a drought stricken rural town, for the funeral of his school friend. It has been twenty years since Aaron left. The heat is oppressive, the land dry as tinder and the people are angry about the effects of the drought on their lives.
This book has been on my TBR list for a while, so I was pleased to move it up to the top in readiness for this month’s challenge. What drew me in to the story most, was the vast dry land and how it moulded the lives of those who tried to survive in it.
It made me think about this next book, one I’ve yet to read but it has come highly recommended. My link is small-town life.
The Silent Kookaburra by Liza Perrat. Set in 1970s small-town Australia it centres on Tanya – an unhappy child, overweight, bullied at school and trying to cope with her mother who has been devastated by a series of miscarriages. Her father loves her, but he doesn’t cope either, seeking solace far too often in the local pub, and her grandmother, Nanna Purvis, is a hard woman, although her kindness shines through as the novel progresses.
Tanya’s life gets better when she meets an uncle she didn’t know she had. He tells her she’s beautiful and could be a model. Her family refuses to talk about him. But that’s okay, it’s their little secret.
Then one blistering summer day tragedy strikes, and the surrounding mystery and suspicion tear apart this fragile family web.
Family secrets keep my books linked as we move on with my next choice and one I’m sure you’ve all heard of.
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough. A saga spanning three generations of a family who survive in the harsh Australian outback. Mixed with it are the loves and losses of many of the characters, including a long and forbidden love for a beautiful Catholic priest.
If you can recall the story, there is a part of it that takes place in Queensland’s sugar cane plantations, and I thought about that when I chose my next book.
The story begins in Italy during 1920. Amelia is getting married but her brother stands in as proxy, because Amelia’s husband lives in Australia. Wishing to escape from the limitations of village life, Amelia agrees to set sail for Queensland as a mail order wife. Upon her arrival in Brisbane, Amelia is disappointed when Italo, her new husband, is not there to meet her. This is her first experience of being second-place to the mighty sugar cane crop. The author paints a great picture of the landscape and the hardships of the times. I thought the characters were well-written with a depth which made them believable.
The story was a memorable one, once more showing man’s fight for survival, in a land which still draws new comers. This brings me to my next book.
The Tides Between is a young adult historical fiction novel. Set in 1841 it is about Bridie and her family who are emigrating to Australia from London. The story takes place on The Lady Sophia, a ship bound for Port Phillip near Melbourne. Fifteen year old Bridie, her pregnant mother and her step-father travel in steerage (low cost travel for the poor), where they meet others looking forward to a new life down under.
Bridie’s father died less than a year ago; her family believe Australia will offer new opportunities for employment and a better life than the one they lived in London. But Bridie is frightened and sad about how easily they can leave the memories of their old life behind. Others on the boat are also hoping to escape the past; Welsh couple Rhys and Sian have their own secrets. Natural storytellers, they offer Bridie friendship and understand the stories her father once shared.
It was a book full of hope with brave people heading to the unknown. Which brings me to my next choice, a book with more of a recent setting, but still in Australia.
Red Dirt is the tale of three young travellers who have gone to Australia to escape the Irish recession. They are full of hope, wanting to experience a better life, but reality throws obstacles in their way. Plus they face temptations and events which cause acts of desperation.
That desperation follows some of the characters found between the pages of my last book. Men, women and children sent to Australia as punishment for crimes they had committed.
A non-fiction book, it covers the eighty year period from 1787 to 1868 when 168 000 convicts from Britain and Ireland were sent to Australia. This is a collection of tales about those transported; their reasons for transportation, their journeys and whether they died, survived or thrived in the harsh environment.
If you would like to take part, the starter book for June (Posting June 1st) is Murmur by Will Eaves
Fed up of New Year’s resolutions involving diets and exercise abandoned on January 2nd, Judith is attempting to be good. For one whole year.
She embarked on a mission to do one good deed every day. Some called it a social experiment. At times she called it madness.
Juggling family, friends and a variety of neighbours in the small Northumberland village she calls home, she recounts the ups, downs, moments of doubt and sheer bloody hard work of doing good.
From the small – babysitting a friend’s child, clearing up her neighbour’s dead mice and feeding her friendship cake Herman the German, to the slightly larger – trying to raise 10,000 for charity with her Jam Jar Army and teaching a severely handicapped child to write – she describes what she learns along the way: that no good deed is too small and that being good makes you happy. Well, most of the time. AmazonUk | AmazonUS
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
The women of the Waverley family — whether they like it or not — are heirs to an unusual legacy, one that grows in a fenced plot behind their Queen Anne home on Pendland Street in Bascom, North Carolina. There, an apple tree bearing fruit of magical properties looms over a garden filled with herbs and edible flowers that possess the power to affect in curious ways anyone who eats them.
For nearly a decade, 34-year-old Claire Waverley, at peace with her family inheritance, has lived in the house alone, embracing the spirit of the grandmother who raised her, ruing her mother’s unfortunate destiny and seemingly unconcerned about the fate of her rebellious sister, Sydney, who freed herself long ago from their small town’s constraints. Using her grandmother’s mystical culinary traditions, Claire has built a successful catering business — and a carefully controlled, utterly predictable life — upon the family’s peculiar gift for making life-altering delicacies: lilac jelly to engender humility, for instance, or rose geranium wine to call up fond memories. AmazonUK | AmazonUS
I Can Do It by Louise L Hay
Louise explains that every thought you think and every word you speak is an affirmation. Even your self-talk, your internal dialogue, is a stream of affirmations. You’re affirming and creating your life experiences with every word and thought. Your beliefs are merely habitual thinking patterns that you learned as a child, and many of them work very well for you. But other beliefs may be limiting your ability to create the very things you say you want. You need to pay attention to your thoughts so that you can begin to eliminate the ones creating experiences that you don’t want. AmazonUk | AmazonUS
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
In the rugged Australian Outback, three generations of Clearys live through joy and sadness, bitter defeat and magnificent triumph – driven by their dreams, sustained by remarkable strength of character… and torn by dark passions, violence and a scandalous family legacy of forbidden love.
It is a poignant love story, a powerful epic of struggle and sacrifice, a celebration of individuality and spirit. Most of all, it is the story of the Clearys’ only daughter, Meggie, who can never possess the man she so desperately adores – Ralph de Bricassart. Ralph will rise from parish priest to the inner circles of the Vatican… but his passion for Meggie will follow him all the days of his life. AmazonUK | AmazonUS
My Wolf And Me by India R Adams
Their love was innocent.
Their friendship was pure.
Their fear was real.
Their danger was true.
When little Marlena is left to care for an abandoned wolf pup, her parents see their irrevocable bond, and this humble family embarks on an adventure trying to care for the needs of a rapidly growing wolf, and the needs of their headstrong daughter. The comical complications of such a venture only darken when Marlena, now a high school student, witnesses her wolf shift… into a young man.
Secrets and the pure hatred from a man out for revenge take Marlena, her family and her wolf on a heartbreaking journey of devastating loss, captivity, and ultimate sacrifices.
This love story will haunt you well after you finally set this book down. AmazonUk | AmazonUS
The Clan Of The Cave Bear by Jean M Auel
This novel of awesome beauty and power is a moving saga about people, relationships, and the boundaries of love. Through Jean M. Auel’s magnificent storytelling we are taken back to the dawn of modern humans, and with a girl named Ayla we are swept up in the harsh and beautiful Ice Age world they shared with the ones who called themselves the Clan of the Cave Bear.
A natural disaster leaves the young girl wandering alone in an unfamiliar and dangerous land until she is found by a woman of the Clan, people very different from her own kind. To them, blond, blue-eyed Ayla looks peculiar and ugly–she is one of the Others, those who have moved into their ancient homeland; but Iza cannot leave the girl to die and takes her with them. Iza and Creb, the old Mog-ur, grow to love her, and as Ayla learns the ways of the Clan and Iza’s way of healing, most come to accept her. But the brutal and proud youth who is destined to become their next leader sees her differences as a threat to his authority. He develops a deep and abiding hatred for the strange girl of the Others who lives in their midst, and is determined to get his revenge. AmazonUK | AmazonUS
The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart
Fifth century Britain is a country of chaos and division after the Roman withdrawal. This is the world of young Merlin, the illegitimate child of a South Wales princess who will not reveal to her son his father’s true identity. Yet Merlin is an extraordinary child, aware at the earliest age that he possesses a great natural gift – the Sight. Against a background of invasion and imprisonment, wars and conquest, Merlin emerges into manhood, and accepts his dramatic role in the New Beginning – the coming of King Arthur. AmazonUK | AmazonUS
Dissolution ( Matthew Shardlake #1) by C.J. Samson
Dissolution is the first in the phenomenal Shardlake series by bestselling author, C. J. Sansom, followed by Dark Fire, Sovereign, Revelation, Heartstone and Lamentation.
It is 1537, a time of revolution that sees the greatest changes in England since 1066
Henry VIII has proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church and the country is waking up to savage new laws, rigged trials and the greatest network of informers ever seen. Under the order of Thomas Cromwell, a team of commissioners is sent through the country to investigate the monasteries. There can only be one outcome: the monasteries are to be dissolved.
But on the Sussex coast, at the monastery of Scarnsea, events have spiralled out of control. Cromwell’s Commissioner Robin Singleton, has been found dead, his head severed from his body. His horrific murder is accompanied by equally sinister acts of sacrilege – a black cockerel sacrificed on the altar, and the disappearance of Scarnsea’s Great Relic.
Dr Matthew Shardlake, lawyer and long-time supporter of Reform, has been sent by Cromwell into this atmosphere of treachery and death. But Shardlake’s investigation soon forces him to question everything he hears, and everything that he intrinsically believes . AmazonUK | AmazonUS
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Be prepared to meet three unforgettable women:
Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.
Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.
Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.
Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.
In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women — mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends — view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t. AmazonUK | AmazonUS
The Other Side And Back by Sylvia Browne
This lively and empowering book of wisdom and healing comes from New York Times bestselling author and psychic Sylvia Browne. It offers an unprecedented and comprehensive look at how the afterlife affects us in this life. Discover: astonishing insights into our everyday contact with guides and angels; the truth about hauntings, and why we should not be afraid; how psychics can solve missing persons cases and even murders; how psychic energy can keep us healthy and improve our relationships; why we should not fear death or ageing; the afterlife, and how we can all maintain contact with our loved ones; reincarnation, and how we can all discover our past lives; Easy exercises to promote healing, discover past lives, improve relationships, contact loved ones, create joy and much more; must-read predictions for the 21st century. AmazonUK | AmazonUS