One of the issues I’m struggling with now is how to bring realism to historical romance while still keeping the romance thriving. As a reader, nothing will make me put down a book faster than an author who glosses over some of the grittier and more unpleasant parts of history. We’ve all read those books where the hero was the only one who held an unpopular view amongst his social equals but somehow didn’t suffer economically or socially for it. Or how about a book set in the Middle Ages in a tiny corner of the world where women’s lib was alive and well. It just rings false and leaves the story lacking. I prefer the books that show how the characters really struggle with these issues and overcome them in the end. After all, the characters are all products of their environment.

As writers, we face the problem of including this realism while making sure the romance moves right along. For romance to work well, readers have to find some way to identify with the protagonists and believe in their romance from the beginning. So the hero who believes a woman’s place is in the kitchen and should only speak when spoken to…well, he may be real but not very romantic. The heroine who knows her place and only speaks when spoken to would be a little boring. While the heroine who is overly rebellious wouldn’t be very relatable either.

The trick, for me, has been to find balance. It just comes down to creating real characters with real problems.