Today I learned that my Victorian era-set romance, The Worth of a Kiss, won the historical category in the NEORWA (Northeast Ohio’s Romance Writers of America) Cleveland Rocks Romance contest. Beyond being thrilled to win the first contest I’ve ever entered, I am excited to have won with a historical romance entry set during the late 19th century. Though I love Regency romance, it’s always been the Victorian era that called to me as a writer.
Personally, I blame my elementary school. For several years in row, they would gather us in the gymnasiumon the last day of the school year, turn down the lights, and spin reels of Oliver!, the 1968 film adaptation of Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist. Like everyone else, I whined, groaned, and barely paid attention as the film began. But then, slowly, subtly, I fell in love—with the clothes, the setting, the grit and grime, and the complicated struggles of Victorian Londoners. Those scenes of the slum where Fagan lived with the beautiful dome of St Paul’s in the background were forever burned into my young, impressionable brain.
It’s no wonder, then, that when I write stories, I often see my characters inhabiting a darker, Dickensian Victorian London. And, yes, I always want to include lords and ladies, but also those of the working class, the less than proper, and the self-made men and women who struggled amidst grit and grime and the unprecedented technological and social changes of the era to thrive.
Two of my favorite historical romance authors, CourtneyMilan and Laura Lee Guhrke, set their stories during the Victorian era. Both do a wonderful job of bringing the period to life and joining old money aristocrats with new money heroes and heroines.
Two current television series, Copper and Ripper Street, also highlight the Victorians. Copper is set in the mean streets of New York City following the Civil War, and Ripper Street focuses on London’s East End and Whitechapel following the Jack the Ripper murders in the 1880s. If you crave a taste of the fashions and social and political issues of the mid to late 19th century, these two series will satisfy your desire.
I am thrilled to watch and read anything related to the Victorians. Most of all, I love writing about the time of Queen Victoria’s reign and seeing how my characters react to the ever changing era. It’s sweet to win a writing contest in the historical category, but it’s even sweeter to know that I can do it while writing about the period of history I love.
If you read historical romance, what historical setting do you prefer?