Posted by Gwen Hernandez
Like a piece of French bread and a sip of water at a wine tasting, sometimes I need to slip in a little “palate cleanser” between romantic suspense reads. For this I usually curl up with a good historical romance.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my military/bodyguard/spy/law enforcement stories. I write them. But sometimes I need a change of pace. Give me a little Lisa Kleypas, Kieran Kramer, or Tessa Dare to pull me into a world of innocent heroines and social constraints that would never work in a contemporary RS novel.
That said, one of my favorite escapes is a book that combines the world of intrigue in a historical setting. And one of the masters of the historical romantic suspense is Joanna Bourne.
Actually, Bourne is just a master writer, period. I would pay to read her grocery list.
One reason is that her words flow like poetry, painting a picture or creating a feeling without pulling the reader out of the story.
“One cannot put the fruit back on the tree. One cannot unbreak the egg. She could not, not ever again for all of eternity, unknow what she knew of his body. Someday, when she was old, she would take this knowledge out as if it were a letter she had treasured. By then, the pain would be thin and crackly, like old paper.”
“Fear seeped from the mortar of the houses, from the cobbles of the streets. It was like coming again to the home of an old grandmother, with each visit finding her a little weaker, a little more mad.”
Her plots are surprising and well-designed without being confusing, and her characters are so real I still wonder what they’re doing now.
Bourne’s books are set in France and England in the decades after the French revolution of 1789, essentially the same period as the popular Regency romances, but with a different historical slant. She brings together spies for both nations as enemies, reluctant conspirators, and wary lovers.
One of the things I enjoy about historical books is the chance to experience a slice of history while being entertained. Bourne does her research, and it shows without being too heavy-handed.
Her book The Forbidden Rose (Berkeley Sensation, 2010)—from which I took the excerpts in this post—takes place entirely in France during the reign of Robespierre, when political alliances changed with the wind, and one might face beheading for any number of sins, real or imagined.
A fascinating and scary time to be in France.
Historical romantic suspense is what I turn to when I want something a little different, and I think Joanna Bourne—who needs to hurry up and write more books, please!—is one of the best authors in that realm.
What subcategories of romantic suspense do you enjoy, and which authors are your favorites in that group?
Like your intrigue with a historical bent? Check out the upcoming release from Kiss & Thrill’s own Manda Collins!
Wine glasses: SLICES OF BREAD AND TWO GLASSE © Kostas Tsipos | Dreamstime.com
Cobblestones in Paris and Versailles Gardens: © Gwen Hernandez