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June 6, 2017

3 Historical Romance Novels

by MK French

The genre of historical fiction encompasses a wide range of eras and sub-genres. Today, I'm focusing on the sub-genre of romance. The first one is set in more modern history of the 20th century while the next two go back to the 19th century. What era to do you like your historical novel set in?

Amazon affiliate links are used in this post. Free books were provided for an honest review.

The Hollywood Daughter by Kate Alcott

The Hollywood Daughter
March 2017; Doubleday; 9780385540636
ebook, audio, print (320 pages);
biographical, historical romance
Jesse Malloy's father was a public relations executive and nearly instrumental in helping to build Ingrid Bergman's popularity in the 1940's. It's a time of Hollywood glamour and glitz, and she has a stellar reputation. Ingrid is Jesse's favorite actress, and she looked up to Ingrid like a hero before she had a baby out of wedlock in 1950. In addition, the Catholic Church and McCarthyism in the period increased the tensions at home, making Jesse more aware of her parents as people, as well as their failings. Though she fled Hollywood for New York to attend college and then work for Newsweek, an anonymous invitation to attend the Academy Awards brings her back to examine her past.

I sympathized with Jesse and felt as though I went down memory lane with her. Her ideals were shattered as she grew up, and everything seemed to hinge on the scandal created by Ingrid's decision to be a person first and starlet last. The idealism didn't fade, necessarily, but it tarnished some of her memories. The book clearly describes New York of the 50's, and what Old Hollywood would have been like. It's such an interesting time to go through when ordinary people were persecuted and the paranoia was everywhere. I was glad that Jesse got a chance to revisit her old friends and school, and face all the memories she had been running from. There's no clear resolution at the end, but a sense of hopefulness is there. Now she knows what shaped her, and she's ready to move into the future. She's even ready to rebuild relationships that she thought she had lost when she left Hollywood for college and is confident that it can be done. That's the best possible result from a trip down memory lane.

Buy The Hollywood Daughter at Amazon

Once a Courtesan by Liana LeFay

Once a Courtesan
March 2017; Entangled Publishing
978-1544668581; ebook, print (350 pages)
historical romance
Jacqueline is the headmistress to a school meant to teach girls with questionable histories how to be ladies' maids in well to do London. She has anonymous donors helping her school, as well as finding the students and saving them from lives on the street. Her newest instructor, Will Danbury, is actually a constable in disguise. He had received word that the school was actually the front for a brothel, and he soon discovers the truth. Jacqueline has her own secrets, and it turns out that the past she had hidden is coming back for her.

Jacqueline is a strong woman that is plagued by nightmares of her traumatic past. Still, she had been able to carve out a new life for herself and prevent others from sharing the fate that she had. The romance is a slow burn, one that allows you to get to know her and Will, and really feel emotionally invested in them both. It really is a drawn out mystery, with plenty of tension as the characters race against the clock to save the girls at the school. It's a romance novel, so we get our hard-earned happily ever after, and it certainly fits all of the characters.

Buy Once a Courtesan at Amazon

An Unnatural Vice by K.J.Charles

June 2017; Loveswept
audio, ebook (220 pages)
 historical romance
Nathaniel Roy is a reporter and is currently interested in exposing mediums as frauds. The Seer of London, Justin Lazarus, is his first target. Unfortunately, Justin had done a reading for a woman looking for her lost twin children the year before, and these children are now being searched for by at least three different parties. In addition, Justin is Nathaniel's type, even as Nathaniel wants to ignore the attraction. The two are forced to work together to find the twins.

This is the second Sins of the Cities book, directly following up An Unseen Attraction. Even if you've never read the first book, events that are applicable to this book are told in such a way that you don't feel like it's an info dump. If you have read the first book, it backtracks and tells the last few chapters' worth of events from Nathaniel's point of view, then catapults forward as they try to find the rightful heirs of the Taillefer fortune.

Neither man is thinking of a future together, though it's not entirely because of the anti-homosexual atmosphere of the Victorian period. Nathaniel had lost his prior love to a freak accident years ago that he had never recovered from, Justin is cynical and thinks of everything as a trade or something to be bought. Being forced to spend time together in the country (such a fun trope in the Regency and Victorian romance novels) means they have to actually talk to one another and learn about each others' pasts, which only deepens the love they have for each other but are unwilling to name. The direct threat on their lives isn't at the end of the book, as it is in most novels, but is the reason why they hide in the country. The end is more of an emotional climax for them, giving it a settled and contemplative feeling.

Buy An Unnatural Vice at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

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