The standard definition of a romance has been undergoing some change lately, but the definition of romance has always been changing.
Right now, most of us see a romance as a love story between a man and a woman that contains a happy ending, with the heroine going off with Mr. Right. But that wasn’t always the case.
Centuries ago, people married for reasons other than love. They married for money, status or property, and love was something found outside marriage. The most famous romance in our literature, Romeo and Juliet, doesn’t have a happy ending, unless your idea of a good HEA is uniting in heaven.
Other forms of art reflected the belief that love was found outside marriage. Medieval troubadours traveled from castle to castle and sang about the joys of courtly love and romantic love. Art often depicted the clash between marriage and love, such as Tintoretto’s Venus and Mars Surprised by Vulcan (1545).
When did romance change, and why?
Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded (1740) by Samuel Richardson, is often mentioned as the first romance novel. The main point, however, was not that the title character had found love but that her persistent rejections of the so-called hero’s attentions finally got her the prize: marriage.
A less moralistic novel, and one that’s often cited as the best of the genre, is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813). Despite its somewhat archaic style, it’s one of the most popular novels in English Literature, and for very good reasons. It doesn’t preach the way Pamela does, but instead reflects the real concerns young women had during the Regency: marrying well and marrying for love, or at least respect. Although arranged marriages for the purpose of uniting property or increasing wealth were still a custom in our culture, the desirability of gaining a life with a partner founded on love rather than money was taking hold, and is reflected in the literature of the time.
Each era has produced literature that’s reflective of the time, and romance novels reflect their eras, too. As the love ideal took hold, more romances were written that reflect the joy of love rather than its discouraging end, and cautionary tales took back seat to entertainment.
As time went on, and as mores altered, romances became steadily more erotic. The Flame and the Flower (1972) by Kathleen Woodiwiss is viewed as the first modern romance novel, even though it’s a sequel to Petals on the River. Both are quite racy compared to, say, Austen, and reflect changed attitudes regarding sex before marriage.
Perhaps the greatest changes have occurred in the last few years. First came chick lit, in which the heroine’s goal is not finding Mr. Right but holing up with Mr. Right Now. Then writers of digital romance broke the hetero barrier and started writing LGBT romance, which doesn’t require the love story to be between a man and a woman. I’m reliably informed that the biggest consumers of M/M romance aren’t gay guys but hetero females. Go figure!
BLURB: Temptation in Tartan
Set in 1748, my book reflects the mores and customs of the time. Widowed noblewoman Lydia Swann Williston travels to faraway Scotland to enter an arranged marriage with Kieran Kilborn, laird of his clan. She did not expect love but acceded to the arrangement hoping she’d find joy in children.
She also did not expect to find herself married to a blood drinker in a clan full of vampires.
But, being a book written in the 21st century rather than the 18th, the book ends happily after 90K words of trials and tribulations.
Here’s what some reviewers have said about Temptation in Tartan, which occupied the #1 spot on ARE’s bestseller list (historical-other) and sat in the top five for a week. These are customer reviews from Amazon.
4.0 out of 5 stars Temptation in Tartan July 13, 2012
I really enjoyed this story.
4.0 out of 5 stars Description does not do it justice July 8, 2012
By Diane Farr
I am not normally a reader of "romantica" - but I like Highlanders and I like vampires, so I couldn't resist a book that managed to combine those elements… If you need something a bit thrilling to tide you over while you wait for the next season of Game of Thrones, this book may be for you.
5.0 out of 5 stars A new author to add to my list of favorite authors June 20, 2012
Temptation in Tartan is the first book I've read by Suz deMello. It won't be the last. The book is well written, easy to follow and easy to read… I would highly recommend the book and I hope that she plans another book to follow in this one’s stead.
Best-selling, award-winning author Sue Swift, a.k.a Suz deMello, has written over fifteen novels, plus several short stories and non-fiction articles. She writes in numerous genres including romance, mystery, paranormal, historical, contemporary comedy and erotica. She’s a freelance editor who’s worked for Total-E-Bound, Ai Press, Liquid Silver Books and Etopia Press. She also takes on private clients.
Her books have been favorably reviewed in PW, Kirkus and Booklist, attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.
A former trial attorney, she resides in northern California. Her passion is world travel, and she’s left the US over a dozen times, including stints working overseas for many months. Right now, she's working on her next manuscript and planning her next trip.
Her blog is at http://www.fearlessfastpacedfiction.com. Find her reading picks @ReadThis4fun on Twitter, and befriend her on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/SueSwift. Her sites are at http://www.sue-swift.com and http://www.suzdemello.com