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Do you read one particular time period – or do you read quite widely across all periods?

This question came up recently on Kboards, the site for Kindle authors, and I’m curious to know the answer.

At the moment, Amazon lumps all historical romances into one category. Since there is such a vast range of historical settings, from ancient civilisations to 20th century, it can be hard to find books that appeal to your particular tastes if you are more selective about what you read.

It’s particularly interesting that such a large genre is lumped together, when more niche books, like military romance, time-travel romance, holiday-themed romance and sports romance (I kid you not!) have their own categories.

What do you think? Do you think Amazon should create searchable sub-categories for different historical settings or time periods?

If you feel strongly about this, either as a reader or an author, you can add your voice to the call to Amazon here. Click on the yellow ‘Contact us’ button, log in, then click on ‘Something Else’, select ‘More non-order questions’ from the drop down list, then ‘Give Amazon Feedback’ then ‘Opportunities for Improvement.’ Type your email to them and hit send.

I know it sounds complicated but it is easier than it sounds – though Amazon don’t make contacting them easy!

Just out of interest: I’ve heard that Barnes & Noble have 17 sub-categories for historical romance!

 

Here’s a sneak peek into Prohibited Passion, which will be released on Amazon on 1st May. Jazz, Prohibition, and a trans-Atlantic cruise liner form the backdrop for this 1920s romance.

* * *

“It’s a raid!” someone yelled.

The music crashed to a stop, and suddenly people were everywhere, running in all directions and shoving around her.

Colin grabbed her hand and pulled her across the dance floor, to the back of the club behind the podium.

“My stole!” she cried, but the din swallowed her voice.

Then she saw a door that hadn’t been there before, where a concealed panel had slid open in the back wall. Jenny followed Colin through the door, hanging onto his hand so as not to get separated from him in the push of the crowd. Casting one last look back at the club, its dazzling lights still shimmering off every surface, she saw that the waiters had begun to hammer wall panels over the bar, concealing the liquor behind a fake façade. Then she was borne away down another long, dingy corridor and out into the cool, crisp air of an unlit alley at the back of the building.

They followed the crowd into a side street. The wails of police sirens at the front of the building was louder here. She drew a shaky breath of relief, adrenalin coursing through her and making her blood pump and her head clear. And that was when she remembered Tom. Where was he? Had he got out in time? Or had the police found him?

Surely as the owner of the night club, he could not hope to escape unscathed?

“This way.” Colin tucked her arm through his and they headed away from the club at a brisk pace, towards Fifth Avenue where they melted into the late evening crowd.

Tom had made no move. And she hadn’t needed to make a choice.

All the action happens over on my other blog. So if you’ve stumbled here looking for Rae Summers or Romy Sommer, pop on over to www.romysommer.com and say ‘hi’. Or feel free to browse my Rae books in the right sidebar.

Best wishes to all my blog readers for the new year. I wish you all prosperity and joy in 2012, and may all your dreams come true.

I wasn’t going to dignify this article or this one with a comment, but since a local Afrikaans newspaper has also picked up and headlined the story, I’ve decided to weigh in on the debate with my two cents.

These aren’t the first articles of their kind, and since the press has a long history of writing blatantly incorrect, sensationalist stories about romance novels (such as this laughable cheap pot shot) it’s unlikely to be the last.

The debate will continue to rage for years to come, I’m sure, on whether watching violent films makes viewers turn violent, or reading romance turns people … well, romantic. (I notice crime novels don’t get blamed for sending people into lives of crime, but that’s another story!)

But it’s not this issue that has me up on my soap box today, but rather the underlying issue as I see it: that in our contemporary, supposedly enlightened, society, women who expect their real life heroes to aspire to some sort of ideal are ‘irrational’ or ‘dangerously unbalanced’.

It has become the norm in society for people not to take responsibility for their own actions. So we blame romance novels for the breakdown of marriages instead of admitting we might have failed. We blame unrealistic expectations for the fact that women value themselves highly enough to want to be treated well. I somehow doubt that it’s the romance readers themselves saying their marriages broke apart because of what they read. More likely the disgruntled husband who doesn’t want to admit that his wife left him because he’s a drunken layabout.

I strongly believe that women should have high expectations of their husbands, just as men should have high expectations of their wives.

Marriage should be the place where we bring out the best in ourselves, not the worst. Our marriage partner should be the one person in the world we treat better than everyone else, not worse. And romance novels can teach us this. They set the benchmark of what we should aspire to, not a physical ideal (after all, those cover models often don’t truly represent the characters inside the books!) but rather the values of a love so deep and enduring that it is worth striving for.

I will continue to proudly read, and write, romantic fiction, because I believe in a world in which women are taught to value themselves enough that they do not settle for less than they deserve. And for a world in which women who do so are not ‘unrealistic’ but rather the vast majority. I can guarantee it’ll be a much happier world, and one filled with love and romance. Can you think of anything better?

Incidentally, if you’re wondering what a romance writer really does look like, check out this brilliant response by Julie Cohen.

And thanks to Lorraine Minx for pointing me to this interesting rebuttal.

I’ve known of Sergei Diaghilev, master of the famed Ballets Russes, since I was a girl, but it was only when I researched this post that I discovered he was so much more than just a ballet icon. He was an impresario in the truest meaning of the word, the Cameron Mackintosh of his day.

More than that, he was a man who brought all the artistic disciplines together: art, music, dance, drama. He was a man who pushed boundaries. His collaborations with composer Igor Stravinsky, ballet master Leonide Massine and designer Leon Bakst changed the face of the ballet, if not all stage performances.

Sergei was raised in a wealthy, cultured home, (the family’s wealth coming mostly from vodka distilleries). The heaviest influence during his adolescence was his artistic stepmother. He studied music and singing in St Petersburg, but when it became evident he would not have a successful career in music, he moved instead into management at the Imperial Theatres, under Prince Sergei Volkonsky. However, he challenged the authorities and after the turn of the century he was discharged and branched out on his own.

His first excursion to Paris was in 1906, and he returned several times in the following years with different performances and exhibitions. In 1909 he was invited back to Paris and the Ballets Russes was launched. Included among the company’s first performers were Anna Pavlova, Tamara Karsavina and Vaslav Nijinsky.

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Diaghilev remained in Western Europe and never returned to his homeland. His career, however, continued to ascend. His reputation was as a stern, demanding taskmaster, but his legacy lives on to this day.

He died in Venice in 1929, at the end of that glorious decade he so epitomizes, the Roaring Twenties.

If you are interested in reading further, Amazon has dozens of books about Sergei Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes.

I’m not talking about music or Oxford’s rowing team, I’m talking my mood.

My laptop has crashed rather spectacularly (second crash in two years!) so I am now internet-less, document-less, and if it weren’t for my trusty Nokia cell phone I’d also be email-less. So my apologies if I’m not around for a while.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying life the way it was in those halcyon days before we lived online. I’m catching up on sleep, reading real books and smelling the roses. Have fun in my absence.

 

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