Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 90 short stories, 18 romance novels (for Medallion Press and Amber Quill Press), and 4 non-fiction books. Her romances span many genres and heat levels. Kelli had two historical romances published in spring 2014: Wilderness Bride from Amber Quill Press and Dangerous Indenture from Medallion Press. Her third gay romance, A Secret Match, will be released on August 31. Get a sneak peek here.
Kelli publishes a blog filled with excerpts, interviews, writing prompts, and whatever else pops into her head. She also writes a monthly newsletter, Kelli's Quill, and posts on Facebook and Twitter. Kelli invites readers to visit her website, to learn more about all of her writings.
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Historical Romances with a Modern Twist
By Romance Author Kelli A. Wilkins
Take a minute and consider these romance plots:
A father is desperate to find a suitable husband for his wild daughter, but she rejects all her suitors and wants the one man she can’t have.
An outcast is persecuted by the people in her small town and relies on a handsome stranger to help her escape.
Disowned by his well-to-do family, a spoiled socialite is forced to find a job and make his own way in the world. He falls in love with a sweet shop girl and suffers heartache as he sees how the “other half” lives.
A young woman leaves everything behind to start a new job far from home. She tries to solve a murder as she falls in love with her employer’s son.
A wealthy husband and wife invite couples to their country home for a weekend of sex games and wanton fun.
Sound like interesting books? Would it surprise you to learn that they are all plots from my historical romances? (In order, they are: A Most Unusual Princess, The Viking’s Witch, The Pauper Prince, Dangerous Indenture, and A Midsummer Night’s Delights.)
Some people think historical romances are boring “old fashioned” stories about royalty, dukes, castles, and historical battles. Not my books! With a few plot and character modifications, any of my historical romances could take place in modern times. Princesses could become spoiled actresses, singers, or reality show stars. Imagine the pampered prince as a high-paid arrogant actor who is destined for a fall from grace.
I bring my historical romances “out of the history books” and into the everyday lives of my characters. I focus on the lives of people and how they meet, fall in love, overcome their obstacles and challenges, and eventually live happily-ever-after. That’s the same process for creating contemporary romances—the only difference is that the historicals take place hundreds of years ago.
I’m not afraid to “break the mold” with my historicals. The settings, plots, and characters I create are far from typical. My female characters are not helpless heroines—if anything, they give the heroes a run for their money! These women aren’t wearing frilly dresses and hosting tea parties while waiting to find the perfect man. In most cases, they’re too busy trying to keep themselves alive or fighting against perceived notions of how a “proper” woman should behave to look for a husband. And if they do find a man they want to be with, they are only willing to accept love on their terms. Michelle from Wilderness Bride and Shauna from Dangerous Indenture are two examples. These strong women have struck out on their own in a man’s world and would be right at home in a contemporary romance novel.
When I sit down to write a historical, I make sure the characters are interesting and lively. I don’t have “stuffy shirts” making long-winded speeches about politics, law, or anything not crucial to the storyline. You won’t find me (or my characters) giving anyone a history lesson! Just because historical romances are set in time periods before cars, the Internet, and cell phones, that doesn’t make them boring. There is plenty of action, adventure, intrigue, danger, comedy, and depending on the heat level, sensual love scenes.
Romances and forbidden love affairs aren’t new. Throughout history, people have loved and lusted after each other, regardless of social, political, or so-called “moral” rules. Hundreds of years ago there were plenty of “sordid” affairs going on behind closed doors. People were having sex, but it wasn’t mentioned openly or discussed in “proper” social circles.
I thought about this “forbidden” subject and decided to write a romance that addressed that “taboo”. It became the theme in my historical/fantasy trilogy: A Midsummer Night’s Delights, A Midwinter Night’s Delights, and Ultimate Night’s Delights. In these stories, a respectable man in high society is basically running an invitation-only sex club for swingers. (As you can imagine, these novellas gave readers who thought historicals were old fashioned and boring a real shock!)
Every romance genre has its fans. Some people like to read contemporary romances, others live for paranormals, and there are those who switch up genres and read anything that sounds appealing. I like writing historicals—but I also write contemporary, paranormal, fantasy, and gay romances, too. Why? Because I enjoy writing great romances about interesting characters that fall in love, wherever and whenever that may be.
So, if you’ve always thought historical romances were boring – why not try a few? You might be surprised!
Kelli A. Wilkins