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Friday, May 13, 2011


Historical Facts… A Balancing Act

As an avid reader of historical romance, the experience I crave when opening a new book is for the author to sweep me away into a bygone world. I long to see the horse drawn carriages rattling down a dusty road… hear the rustle of heavy petticoats… and be immersed in the life, emotions and trials of the characters within that time. As a historical romance author I strive to create that same effect for my readers. In short I want to sweep my readers away…

That being my goal, it goes without saying that I was thrilled after receiving this review for my debut novel Without Regret, My Love:

Jilted by her fiancé, Marissa is done with men until fate steps in and she finds that Craig Langston may be more man than she can resist.

Marissa is a high energy independent career woman of the 21st century who finds herself on a collision course with destiny when she is thrown 144 years into the past. Confederate Officer Dr. Craig Langston is an enticing man that any woman would long to fall in love with, and now Marissa is torn between rampant desire, for the man ignites her very soul, and a longing to return home.

Can she find it within herself to embrace a new life in the arms of her Confederate officer or will more sinister forces intervene before she can discover what may be the greatest love of all time?

—I was seriously impressed by Ms. Blue's ability to sweep me into the past with Marissa. All her angst, anxiety, and heart kept me rooting for her and Craig from page one. A beautiful story of love, hope, faith and knowing of the heart and certainly one that deserves a 'You Gotta Read". - Reviewed By: Brynna Curry,

One of the most difficult hurdles for historical authors is how to create this effect with every novel! A question that I have been asked (and asked myself) numerous times is—

“How much historical fact and detail is needed when the primary focus of a romance novel is the unfolding relationship between hero and heroine?”

Well, here are a few thoughts and techniques I have accumulated on the subject:

• In the romance genre, absolute historical accuracy is not a must because the love story and developing character relationship is core to the story (or so I’ve been told). However, inaccuracies can turn a reader off very quickly no matter how a plot cooks. On the same note bogging a reader in a historical monologue can have the same effect. The key to creating a vivid world without hindering the love story is… balance.

• Finding said balance can be tricky and the method I use goes something like this.

o Research the time period, country, politics, stigmas and lifestyle of your novel from who the president (or prime minister) is to what people commonly ate for breakfast or did for fun. This allows you to develop a true understanding of what your characters may experience, do, or feel! This in turn tunes you into what your characters will say or do in response to events within the story and place them in situations appropriate to the time. This allows for historical accuracy without a wealth of factual detail.

o Character dialogue is a great way to insert small historical facts. For example referring to Napoleon Bonaparte as “The French Menace” in a Regency England era novel. This is simple and fills out the historical costume of your story.

o Putting your characters in the midst of a historical event such as the bombing of Charleston, SC during the American Civil War can be a useful tool in not only adding to the effect of historical accuracy but in creating conflict for your story.
Now I turn the floor over to you! What keynotes and thoughts do you have for creating an accurate historical romance novel?

Thanks so much to LASR for having me to guest blog today. As always it is a pleasure!

Now Enjoy this excerpt from Without Regret, My Love.

Happy Reading,


They stood so close she could feel the heat resonating from his body, and tingles danced across her skin as he kissed the delicate skin at the corner of her mouth. Her lips felt warm, ready. “It’s true,” she whispered, closing her eyes as he kissed the other corner of her mouth. “There are times when I feel completely overwhelmed by life. I need a place like this.” She tilted her neck as he pressed his lips down the gentle slope of her throat. His fingers lightly ran up and down her spine until she shivered. “Thank you for sharing your special place with me.”
Lifting her into his arms, Craig gazed into the ebony pools of her eyes. “There is so much more I want to share with you,” he said. “You feel so good in my arms. No, you feel...perfect.”

To his delight, she breathed, “Kiss me,” and twined her fingers through his hair.
He did, keeping his touch soft, tender, inviting.

He felt her tremble.

Cradling her against him, he settled her back into the soft bed of tall grass, pressing his mouth more insistently against hers. Her lips were made of the most pliable velvet, and he drank in the sweetness of them. Her hair was smoother than silk and it tickled his face. Her skin was pale like fresh cream and he caressed it. Her eyes, oh those eyes, like warm liquid pools of the nighttime sky, they could pull him into oblivion if he wasn’t careful. He didn’t want to be careful. He just wanted Marissa…

Feel free visit me at I love to hear from readers and other authors. To learn more about Without Regret, My Love from Champagne books visit my website or

A registered nurse by night, Melissa battles the stresses of life and illness by enjoying uplifting tales of love and romance. A firm believer in true love united with an enduring fascination with history has prompted her pursuit of romance writing. She lives in beautiful Big Sky Country Montana with her husband and children.

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Melissa Blue said...

Alright! Blogger is up and running again.

Thanks so much to LASR for having me today.


Stacey said...

Your points are good ones, Melissa. Assuring that the style of clothing the characters wear is appropriate to the year the story takes place is another way of creating accuracy in a historical novel, i.e., be sure denim jeans had been invented before putting the cowboy hero in them. Also, language is extremely important. Modern words cannot be used in a historical (unless there are extenuating circumstances such as a character time traveling). On the flip side, an author should write using the language of the time period, as well as include phrases that reflect the setting, i.e, a regency might include the word cheeky, while a western heroine might claim to have a "bee in her bonnet" when she comes up with an idea. These simple tips will create accuracy in a historical novel.
Multi-published author of western romance

Marie Higgins said...

Great subject, Melissa. I know when I read a historical romance, if I can't feel like I'm in that era, then I close the book and never pick it up again. It doesn't matter if there's a good plot or not. If it's a historical - it had better read like one!! Description is a must. Language for that time period is a must! And manners for that time period MUST be followed.

You are a great writer, Melissa. Keep it up!


Allison Knight said...

I kinda disagree on the bit about being accurate. If I have to deviate from what really happened, I'll add an author's note. I've heard of authors who got it wrong and paid the price.

I love reading historical romances as much for the history as the romance and try hard to duplicate what the world was like in the time period I'm writing. It gets kinda hard going back to the middle ages. (grinning) But that's what authors' note are for.

Melissa Blue said...

Marie and Stacey, Great tips! Thanks for stopping by.

Allison, I agree with you completely! Authors create people, places, situations and events. That's why it's called fiction and that's part of what makes it so much fun! Heck, some authors create their own battles and wars. Making it real and believable is all part of the balancing act that authors have to perform. An author's note is a great way to disclose events or situations that deviate from known history. Definately something to keep in mind. Thank you so much for the thoughts!


Rosemary Gemmell said...

Good post, Melissa - and a great review. I like authenticity in language, manners and dress when reading (or writing) historicals. But it's not always that easy!

Melissa Blue said...

So true, Rosemary!

Jude Johnson said...

Congratulations on the lovely review, Melissa. I am a history nut, have been since childhood. I love delving into the little-know fusses of a day, such as why wearing white was a sign of wealth, or why people were so suspicious of indoor plumbing...(the exploding toilets may have been a factor!)

For me, I love learning history from a well-researched novel. As an author, I find that if I can't use a real place, changing the name to a fictional one allows me some leeway. If I'm not sure of a detail that I don't care to research - such as a make/model of a pistol used - I'll simply use generic terms. The action and flavor of the time is more vital to my mind. And indeed, Allison, I've been told readers truly appreciate those author notes about what was real and what is not.


Angelica Hart and Zi said...

Great excerpts! You're right, when we read we want to be immediately drawn into the era, and you have done that well. Thanks for sharing.