Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hanging out with Emily Bryan

I am pleased to be hosting Emily Bryan and her new novel, Vexing the Viscount.

Thanks for having me here today, Cheryl!

As readers, we all have our favorites and for me, it’s always been historical romance. Cheryl asked me to share what makes historicals so appealing.

The first romance I ever read was a historical—Kathleen Woodiwiss’s The Wolf and the Dove. Needless to say, I was hooked.

Now, I won’t denigrate any other subgenre. There are some fabulous stories being written in contemporary settings and in alternative realities, but historicals are the ultimate fictive dream. They hold a special place in my heart for a number of reasons.

1. A good historical takes me away. For sheer escapism, you can’t beat a historical romance. Anytime we read, we are trying on someone else’s life—different fashions, different diversions, different world view. With Vexing the Viscount, my readers get to gavotte in Daisy’s Venetian platform shoes without developing a single blister.

The world of the historical romance is a world gone by. I may visit London or Rome or Constantinople, but I cannot visit them as they were in the past. Reading a non-fiction history book will not transport me there. The sights, sounds, scents, the essence of those places can only be found in the pages of well-crafted fiction.

2. A good historical gives a history lesson without being pedantic. The first time I read MM Kaye’s The Far Pavilions, I felt I’d actually walked British India and understood a little of the clash of cultures and religions that still plague that part of the world.

The historical romance readership is so sophisticated; we authors cheat on the history at our peril. I once read an interview with a romance author (whose name I will not share) who said she loved writing historicals because anytime she didn’t know the details, she’d just make something up. Needless to say, she’s no longer writing historicals. Now, if you visit any historical romance writer’s website, you’re likely to find pages dedicated to the backstory, the history behind their books. (Check out my Courtesan’s Club at for the straight skinny on Georgian fashions, courtesans and Roman Britain.)

3. A good historical uses the exaggerated manners of the day to heighten the sensual tension. In other words, “Repressed sex is the best sex!” The longing in a glance, the enormous significance of a single touch, the powder keg of wanting ignited by a stolen kiss . . . by the time the hero and heroine get around to ‘doing the deed,’ they’ve already steamed up the pages with plenty of sexual tension.

4. A good historical has a dashing historical hero. He doesn’t fit into only one mold. He may be a foppish lord (Anybody remember The Scarlet Pimpernel?), a hard-working Master of the Horse (Hoyt’s The Leopard Prince), a disgraced military man (Cindy Holby’s Fallen or my own Pleasuring the Pirate) or a debauched rake (Take your pick. The rake has been done to death!). We love him in our fiction, but we might not date him if he called us up.

We tolerate behavior in a fictional rake that would have us curling our lip if he were trying to buy us an adult beverage at the local watering hole. I am hearing from some readers that they are tired of “man whores”—rakes who’ve been with so many women they’ve lost count. (That’s one of the reasons I made Lucian, my hero in Vexing the Viscount, a virgin at the beginning of the story. Don’t worry. He’s a quick study!)

The uber-testosteroned machismo of the historical hero, all that swashbuckling and swordplay, would have us rolling our eyes and running for cover if he were a man of the 21st century. The lord may be filthy rich, but his courtly manners might have us wondering about his sexual orientation if he were suddenly dropped into the next cubical. We may admire the self-made commoner hero, but the man does have a whiff of the stable swirling about him.

But we love the historical hero, whatever type he may be, because he always ends up slavishly devoted to the heroine.

And isn’t that the best fictive dream of all?

Ok, now it’s your turn. Why do YOU love to read historical romance?

Emily Bryan’s Vexing the Viscount is a February 24th release from Leisure Books. Buy Link

You can check out the book trailer here

Thanks to Emily Bryan. Everyone who comments today will be entered to win a copy of Vexing the Viscount. Check back tomorrow to see if you are a winner.


Carol L. said...

Hi Emily,
I have to say that following your 50 day Blog tour has given me so much knowledge into your writing process,your books and the beautiful Heroes and heroines of your stories . And for that I thank you. My anticipation in waiting to read VTV couldn't get any stronger. :)
I love reading Historicals "especially those written by talented Authors" because during the time I am reading them I am transported back to that year. I get to meet great heroes and heroines and pulled into their lives. It's exciting and refreshing. Thanks Emily for all the info you've given us, your readers.

Nynke said...

I like reading contemporary romance as well, but I love historical for many of the same reaons tou do, Emily. I like being transported into a different world (often one with lots of idyllic countryside and nature - that helps!), I like the heightened tension that comes from all those tight social rules - and unlike in contemporary romance, I never feel that the heroine is being narrow-minded or a bit of a chicken if she won't make love to her love interest early on - after all, there is no contraception and there is a real danger of ruining her life by doing that.

EmilyBryan said...

Hi Carol and Nynke! Thanks for stopping by.

To everyone else--I forgot to mention that I'm giving away a copy of VEXING THE VISCOUNT to someone who leaves a comment or question. My bad. Please let me know you were here so I can include you in the daily drawing!

lustyreader said...

I would love to be entered in the give-away, I am on the lookout for newly released historical fiction! Thanks!

EmilyBryan said...

Ok, Lustyreader. (Love that you're so self-aware!) Consider yourself entered.

Babyblue22 said...

Hey Emily,
My favorite is historical romances also, I just love being transported to a different time and place.

EmilyBryan said...

Me too, Afshan. And until they actually develop a timemachine, books are the only way to get there!

Rachel said...

I totally agree with the sexual tension being so much more in historical romances. I have recently become a fan of contemporaries, too, but with our more liberal lifestyles, the 'deed' seems rushed into. What's wrong with a bit of anticipation and longing? You can find that in a historical romance!
Great blog and I echo Carol L in saying that following your Blog Tour has given me more insight, as well!
Your devoted Tourista
Rachel :-D

Karen in TN said...

A lot depends on the author - as you say, ignoring historical events completely often fails, but so does embracing all the stereotypes of that period. Not all women were totally helpless or powerless (although they often had to be quite clever at maintaining what power they had).

EmilyBryan said...

Rachel--Did you see that you were the winner yesterday?

Karen in TN--I love to use historical events in my stories. In Vexing the Viscount, the stock market crash of 1720 known as the South Sea Bubble is still wreaking havoc among the nobility.

My heroine Daisy is a virgin, but as her Great Aunt Isabella says, "Innocence and ignorance need not forever clasp hands." She's curious and dying for an adventure worthy of the name at the opening of the story.

evenstar said...

I prefer historicals (and some fantasy also) mainly because I'm interested in that time period and lifestyle, though of course having a good story/author makes them even better.

Julie Robinson said...

Hi Emily,

Exactly! 'A good historical takes me away.' Who needs Calgon?!

And reading an historical romance helps me retain the info better than just reading it from a reference book. My husband has a minor in history and prides himself on knowing the facts. He is amazed sometimes that I know of some little historical tidbit from reading a romance novel.

Despite women's lib and the current social trend of emasculating the male, I think women, in general, are drawn to the alpha male, Which is the reason military and law enforcement heroes are so popular in contemporary romances; by their very choice in profession, they are alpha in nature.

The Scarlet Pimpernel is one of my favorite movies. Needless to say, I am thoroughly enjoying Distracting the Duchess, which I am in the middle of right now.


aromagik said...

Everything you said, and more! I especially agree with your statement: “Repressed sex is the best sex!” For whatever reason, it just feels extra delicious when the characters bust free of society's constraints and... well... get busy! *g*

I like other subgenres too, but I adore a well-written historical.


Virginia said...

I read historical because I can travel back in time and visit about anywhere in the world. I also get to go to ball and wear beautiful gowns of the past. You just can't beat a good historical. We also learn about our past.

Sue A. said...

I’m still following along on the tour. Life got in the way. I don’t know how you do it Emily and find time to write too!

Nynke said...

I love that bit about time machines! I often think of how cool it would be if they existed, and how I could then go back to the middle ages and speak and research Middle English in real life - but then I think I'd have to pose as a nun and possibly act rather meekly in order not to get burned as a witch or something :-S. So on the whole, living in this day and age and reading historical romances is much better!


EmilyBryan said...

Evenstar--I too enjoy a good fantasy. They have the same "take me away" quality as a historical and sometimes the fantasy world has a historical feel itself--just someone else's history.

Have you tried CL Wilson's Fading Lands series? Yummy.

Julie--So glad you're enjoying my Duchess. When I was research for DISTRACTING THE DUCHESS, I was appalled by the legal status of married women and fascinated by the comparative freedom enjoyed by widows. So of course, our heroine Artemesia has already buried her elderly duke.

Aromagik-Last night I watched THE AGE OF INNOCENCE for the first time. That entire story is about repressed desire. When Daniel Day Lewis slowly unbuttoned Michelle Pfeiffer's glove and kissed her wrist. . . OMGosh! Yes!

Virginia, Sue & Nynke--Lovely to see you all.

Yes, historicals allow us to wallow in the delicious bits of history, fashion, alpha males, ets. . . and ignore the unpleasant parts. Ridiculous restrains on women and a good dose of cholera will ruin your whole day.

EmilyBryan said...

Thank you for having me here today, Cheryl! And thanks for your glowing review of VEXING THE VISCOUNT.

My DH has worked his morning magic once again (and this time I'm not just talking about his coffee!) and chosen our daily winner: LUSTYREADER! Please contact me through

For everyone else, the blog tour goes on and with it another chance to win a VEXING THE VISCOUNT. Today, I'm at FreshFiction ! Hope to see you there.

lustyreader said...

I won?! Fabulous! Thank you Emily and Cheryl, I can't wait to read Vexing The Viscount!

Cheryl said...

Thanks to everyone for stopping by. Thank you to Emily for making my blog a stop on her tour.

Congrats to Lustyreader. Enjoy the book

naida said...

Fun post! Vexing the Viscount sounds very good. I do agree; "A good historical has a dashing historical hero".
I love to read historical romance because it takes you to a different time and place, its a great escape.

congrats to lustyreader!

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