Why historical romance?

What got me interested in writing historical romance was reading history – mostly historical novels, some of which were romances and some weren’t. It started out with children’s books, especially those written for older children or young adults. Eagle of the Ninth single

One of my much-loved authors during childhood was Rosemary Sutcliff. Some favorite books by Sutcliff were The Eagle of the Ninth (the movie The Eagle, which came out in 2011, was based on this book), The Silver Branch, and The Lantern Bearers. These stories all take place in Roman Britain. I adore these books. They bring those long ago times to vivid life.

Another favorite children’s book–which I read as an adult–is The Ramsay Scallop by Frances Temple. It takes place in the late 13th century during a pilgrimage, and is about a young betrothed couple getting to know and appreciate one another. It’s a moving story with lots of wonderful historical color.  Ramsay Scallop

Moving forward to the 16th century, another wonderful story by Rosemary Sutcliff is The Armourer’s House, which takes place in Tudor London. There’s a romantic aspect to this story which is very sweet.Armourer's House


Also in Tudor times, The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope is a fantasy in which Princess Elizabeth featuresPerilous Gard as a secondary character.

Another children’s book which I read as an adult is Hobberdy Dick by Katharine Briggs, which takes place in England during the time of Oliver Cromwell. One of the main characters is a hobgoblin, but this doesn’t detract from the very real portrait of those troubled times. (I have a great fondness for fairy folk in historicals. I have even written a few into my own stories!)

Hobberdy Dick

How about you? What led you to read (or write) historical romance? Tell us about your favorites.

As for the trivia question, in what century does The Ramsay Scallop take place?



Follow Barbara Monajem:

Barbara Monajem started writing at eight years old. She has wandered from children’s fantasy through mystery to paranormal and historical romance. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.

25 Responses

    • Barbara Monajem

      I’ve never heard of Shadow Castle before. Thanks for the recommendation! 🙂

    • Barbara Monajem

      Hi, Sandra! It was awesome to talk to you. I’m so glad you came to sit beside me. 🙂

  1. Barbara Monajem

    Thanks, Ella. I could go on and on about great historical novels. (And probably will in other blogs.:))

  2. Brita Addams

    For me, reading history of any kind is a passion, so writing historical romance seemed a natural fit for me. I too love my dukes and marquesses, and immerse myself in stories filled with larger than life characters all the time. I Just wrote a piece on give me a hero for The Novel Approach, where I talk about the irresistible romance novel hero. I suppose my love of historical romance comes from the fact that we are inundated with real life all the time, give me something out of my imagining. Great article, Barbara. I really enjoyed it.

    • Barbara Monajem

      That’s one of my reasons for writing history — it takes me away from everyday life. I often put magic or paranormal elements in stories for the same reason. Thanks for coming by, Brita. 🙂

  3. bethtrissel

    I really enjoyed your post, Barbara, and feel much the same way. A children’s or YA historical I like is Catherine, Called Birdy. It’s set during the Middle Ages.

    • Barbara Monajem

      Hi, Beth! Yes, I’ve read Catherine, Called Birdy — a wonderful story. Karen Cushman has written another couple of great stories about the Middle Ages — The Midwife’s Apprentice and Matilda Bone.

  4. Joanna Moreno

    Wonderful recommendations. As for me, I’ve always been intrigued by World History and Social Studies. How human interactions came to be and our development as a society. Not only that but Mythology has always been a kind of magical and interesting subject and the more I read of one culture I wanted to read of another, and then another and thus, kept expanding my curiosity. Of course as I grew older I realized they were things that also spiked my interested (ahem, boys and such he he) and well, romance and spice needed to be added to the mix. Besides, Historical Romance takes me to that place where we are no more but we can travel with our minds and imagination. Anywhere in the world.

    • Barbara Monajem

      Hi, Joanna. Totally agreed — mythology is a fascinating subject. I have a book of Norse mythology which I hope to read one day. I’ve read some Native American myths, too. So much to learn, so little time!

  5. Evangeline Holland

    I adored The Ramsay Scallop when I read it as a kid, and still do to this day! Glad to see someone else loves it too. TRS, as well as Ann Rinaldi’s historicals, Little House on the Prairie, Caddie Woodlawn, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, and–oddly enough–the Sweet Valley Sagas, fostered my love for historical fiction. I got away from it when I was a teenager (I was heavy into romantic supernatural dramas on TV like Buffy and Roswell), but when I returned to the fold as an adult, it was like reuniting with an old friend. I might not read or write straight historical romance anymore (I’m a romance/women’s hisfic hybrid), but it will always be the backbone of my love affair with literature.

    • Barbara Monajem

      How lovely to find someone else who loved The Ramsay Scallop. 🙂 I have also read Little House on the Prairie, but none of the others you mention — will have a look!

  6. piperhuguley

    Like Evangeline, I was a big fan of Little House on the Prairie and other historical works as a child (I particularly liked the “If you lived in..” series of books. So informative.) In the past few years, I began to be frustrated with the shrinking representation of African Americans in a positive way in the romance market and began to write historical romance on my own. It may not have a “large” audience, but I want to put some different images out there and I feel that writing these historicals will help me do that.

    • Barbara Monajem

      That’s an awesome ambition, Piper. You’re writing what’s in your heart, and what could be more important than that? Not only that, we all need positive thoughts and images. The more I write, the more I want to make sure I’m saying something positive in every story.

  7. Lana Williams

    You’re bringing up wonderful memories, Barbara! I enjoyed Little House in the Big Woods and the rest of the series. Both of my sons read Crispin, The Cross of Lead, in school and now enjoy reading other historicals as well. Love that!

    • Barbara Monajem

      Hi, Lana. I haven’t read Crispin, the Cross of Lead — will look it up!

  8. sjmn60

    Barbara, one of my all time favorite children’s historicals was Calico Captive. Don’t remember the name, but I was all of 8 yrs old when I read it, and I still remember it. Had to do with a young girl who was taken captive by, I think it was Huron Indians. They called her ‘Corn Tassel’ because of her hair.
    Very much enjoyed this post. (Màiri Norris)

    • Barbara Monajem

      Hi, Màiri. Calico Captive sounds very familiar… Aha! I was thinking about that very book the other day, remembering that the girl went to Montreal (a place I once lived which is dear to me in many ways), and I couldn’t remember the title. Thanks!!

  9. Josie

    Great, informative post, Barbara. I don’t have any historical novels to share, but I appreciate the recommendations.

    • Barbara Monajem

      Thanks for stopping by, Josie. I’ll be doing more blogs like this — it’s always fun to share one’s favorite reads. 🙂