Before Sweet Valley, Twilight and other YA (young adults) novels made girls swoon with their syrupy storylines, historical romances dominated the book scene. These are romance books, usually set in the 1700 or 1800s that always feature sweet yet brave heroines (most of the time either orphaned or with abusive step parents or frail mothers and fathers) on the brink of bankruptcy who meet tall, dark and handsome, yet arrogant and callous men who sweep them off their feet and make all their troubles disappear. That’s historical fiction for you, girls. Julia Quinn, Jude Deveraux, Diana Palmar, Johanna Lindsay. These are some of the big names in the world of romantic novels.
As far as storylines go, the best romantic novels are those that have edgy storylines yet full of mush and colorful characters. True love always defeats ill-intent and deception, and no matter how you argue about the loopholes of said romance novel, once the book’s done, once you flip to the last page, the duke and duchess live happily ever after, you can’t do anything about it. Reading historical romances is one of the best ways to escape the sometimes harsh and boring and uncontrollable realities of life. But aside from sheer entertainment (and a few giggles here and there), these romance novels also teach ahem, valuable lessons and real life truths, which ladies who love to pore over the pages of historical romances can apply in reality. No rolling of eyes, please.
1. Being feisty is a sure way to get you kissed
You know how feisty heroines always end up with those swoon-worthy men all because they stand up to them? Men love women who are not afraid to voice out their opinions, with a kick on the shin to boot. When one is feisty, she’s guaranteed to be kissed sooner or later because that’s the only way the guy can shut her up. Right or right? So it’s okay to show who’s boss from time to time by letting your i’m-a-woman-hear-me-roar side peek a little.
2. The Damsel-in-Distress tactic always work
While men love their women all brave and independent, still, they have that side which can never ignore or say no to the damsel-in-distress tactic. Men, thumping their chests for being the stronger sex (let’s give it to them this time) would never pass up on the chance to show their ladies that they can do everything and anything to and for them. The blonde, frail girl with hazel eyes, who gets beaten by her stepmom, or has lost all her fortune, or is arranged to be married to some old, smelly lord most often has the attention of the strong and rich earl just because she seem to need him more than the duchess who has it all. See what these historical novels are trying to say?
3. Men are scared of needles, or any treatment for that matter
The stronger sex, whether they admit it or not, can be sissies when faced with needles and other medicines that are used to treat huge gaping wounds. Remember how historical romance novelists would describe a muscular, popular-for-his-barbaric-ways viking would pale when he would see the big needles to be used to stitch his wounds? Or how he would flinch and ball his fists just so he wouldn’t cry out when the salve sizzles on top of his open flesh? So yeah, ladies, you may use this fact to your advantage. The men are on their weakest when they’re wounded.
4. Not all things are really what they seem.
These historical romance novels are not only full of sweet nothings and torrid kisses. Most of the time, the story revolves around warring factions, familial relations, heirlooms, wealth, etc. The excitement heavily relies on how the author can satisfactorily create twists to the stories. Like how the evil and indifferent uncle is not actually evil, he’s just trying to protect his niece by acting like he doesn’t care. Otherwise, the bad guys would go after her. Or how this quiet chambermaid who pops in at regular intervals in the story actually holds the key to knowing who the rightful heir of the throne is. Nobody just bothered with her. In real life, we tend to miss the big picture. Reading tons of these romantic fiction actually harnesses our analytical skills. It gets us thinking, what if this whole thing isn’t really what it seems? Go, don your corset and try to solve the puzzle of the missing cookie from the cookie jar.
5. The more gruff, the more tender
Don’t be fooled by a man’s arrogance, stubbornness and callousness. Underneath it all is a soft, tender and loving person who only surfaces when touched at the right places. Rawr! Historical novel heroes hide under all this machismo just so nobody challenges them. But when they’re finally with their lady loves, they all turn softy and caring and patient. In short, you girls out there just need to press the right buttons so your real-life heroes stop being…the typical men that they are when they are with their wolf pack and revert to their sweet-natured ways.
6. Big weddings always end up in a disaster
And you have the whole town as witnesses to this. Big weddings in historical novels spell trouble often as villains use this chance to attack, or ruin the affair for the protagonists. There’s too much mess and ruckus that nobody notices that group of ragged men who place themselves in strategic areas, ready to launch and bomb at anytime. In real life, big weddings are expensive and loud and always the venue where relatives who mutually don’t like each other wag their haughty and poisonous tongues, spreading gossip instead of good cheer. So listen. Skip the big wedding part. You work on the marriage anyway and not on the wedding.
7. Gossip is never a good thing
In every historical romantic novel, there’s that one or two annoying rumor-mongers who manage to talk their way into parties, and corner either the hero or heroine to tell them scandalous lies that almost always causes the temporary rift or break up. The readers get so pissed off at these envious and devious ladies that they would want to go inside the page and tear their hair out. Fantasy or reality, gossip is good for nothing. And it’s always better to confront the other person than to rely on whatever crap these gossipers feed you. And they’re not even as fab as these Upper East Siders.
8. Happy ever after only happens when you let it happen
And that means working your butt off to make the relationship work. See how these heroines, no matter how hard-headed and smart and aggressive they are, force themselves to be submissive to their men sometimes so they can get along. Or how these hunk of a hero allows himself to be the slave of his lady so she would be happy. Happy ever afters mean compromising and giving in, maybe not all the time, but during times that you have to. So if he asks you to stop shopping for a week, do it. Then ask him if you can borrow his swanky sports car for that week while he commutes.
Historical romance novels are perfect companions during those warm summer nights when you’re too broke to go out, as well as during cold winter days when it’s just perfect to sit by the fireplace. And now you know that aside from the feel-good vibes these books bring, they also teach readers significant lessons. You don’t even have to have a dictionary by your side as they’re easy-to-read and light and simply wonderful. So take the journey to the old Highlands where Scottish men abound and women with impossibly small waistlines welcome you.