So @rosario001 may join me in my historical reading challenge. Who else is in? One historical a month in 2014?
— DearAuthor (@dearauthor) December 19, 2013
Some time last year I noticed that I was in the midst of Historical Romance slump. The genre that once had been my favorite comfort (having been raised watching the A&E P &P and reading Austen), was no longer very interesting to me. I tend toward being a binge reader, so I am actually quite used to burning through genres and sub-genres, reading way too many of one kind of book and ruining myself for it for a long while. I have rarely been able to revive an interest in a genre I have abandoned after binging, after all there is always some new kind of genre to explore.
My favorite historical rom writers had been Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh and Julia Quinn whose extensive back-lists were available on my library's Overdrive collection when I first started reading romance. One of the first signs of my slump was my disinterest in their newer novels. I read and enjoyed the work of Nicola Cornick, Eloisa James, Anna Cowan, Christina Dodd, Madeline Hunter, Grace Burrowes, Cecelia Grant, Tessa Dare, Amanda Quick, Courtney Milan, Sherry Thomas, Sarah Maclean, Anne Stuart, Miranda Neville & Sophia Nash. While I enjoyed these authors books I found that just couldn't bear to read about another ball or Rake after over-indulging in the sub-genre. I had stumbled through too many novels by lesser authors, ingested to feed my historical romance dependency and they had ruined me for good books. I was just plain tired of lady's maids, phaetons, and gleaming Hessians. Before long the very themes and settings that first attracted me, bored me. New books by once trusted authors failed to inspire my interest, and I found myself skimming books I knew were perfectly nice, but I just wasn't in the mood for anymore. Before I quite realized it, contemporary romance had edged almost all historicals off my kindle. While once I would read a dozen historicals a month, I had a hard time remembering the last one I read and enjoyed.
So last December I signed up for DearAuthor's "One Historical a Month" challenge. At the start of every month we check in with each other and report our positive and negative attempts at rekindling our interest in Historicals. I made an effort to read historicals by authors I hadn't read before, rather than counting toward my goal new installments in series I was still enjoying (Courtney Milan's The Brothers Sinister & Maclean's Rules of Scoundrels). I was challenged to push to beyond Regency, Victorian & Medieval Romances, to try book set in different eras and countries. By forcing myself to try new things I hoped to find something to remind me why I used to find such comfort and amusement in the genre.
Through the challenge I found myself taking a chance on settings I would have not explored in the past. Through the challenge I found myself reading Edie Harris' western "Wild Burn" & Jenn Bennett's Bitter Spirits, a historical PNR set in 1920's San Fransisco. I also finally got around to reading Jeannie Lin's Lotus Palace set in China during the Tang dynasty. These books were little treasures that reminded me I could still enjoy the right historical romance if they book was good enough, but they didn't revive my interest in the sub-genre as whole because they were unusual rather than typical.
But it wasn't till this tweet,
that I found myself diving into a new-t0-me Victorian era series with enthusiasm. I had read Jennifer Ashley's PNR books, and found them fun but not life-changing. However "Madness of Ian MacKenzie" was just as wonderful and different as Elisabeth Lane had promised. Ian was a very different kind of hero, and not just because he is autistic and Beth was delightful. I loved that she had loved her first husband so well, and that the poor vicar had been such a good man. I also loved that she didn't feel a like modern woman in period dress.
After reading it, I did what I hadn't done in more than year, immediately read a second historical, then a third. I've read about half the series now, and I am waiting for copies of the others to become available from the library. But most significantly my interest in historical romance is no longer limited to just the MacKenzie and McBride series, but it has prompted me to finally get around to reading several historical romance ARCs that had been languishing in my TBR.
My issues with historical romance as a whole remain, but I am in the mood for them again. Anyone else prone to slumps like mine? What genres and sub-genres have you burned out on? Do you have genre-slump-breaking book to recommend?