Here’s the thing…
Romantic clichés come under two headings: what the uninformed THINK romance stories are about, and what they EXPECT romance stories to be about.
The THINK part is easy, and pretty much goes across all romance genres: ripping bodices, sex, handsome men, sex, flawless heroines, sex, exotic settings, sex, fantastic fashions, sex, and then ~ there’s the sex. And always guaranteed is the Happily Ever After, cheesy or not.
The EXPECT part gets a little narrower, especially when it comes to Historical Romance (which happens to be what I write). Here, you get the Regency period (which, I don’t write) with British words like “Ton” spoken by rakish dukes, innocent would-be duchesses, nasty earls, and grasping uncles. Think Jane Austin on steroids.
Or, you have countless kilted warriors (which, I don’t write either): tall, muscular Scots with long red hair, impervious to cold and rain, swashing around with their longswords (pun intended) and dropping the T from the end of “Not” with their thick brogues, calling everyone “lassie.”
Catch any clichés there? *wink*
The reality is that there ARE stories that fit these clichés. Good ones, even. They are popular in part because they are familiar and comfortable ~ and what many of us cut our romance-reading teeth on. After all,
America was very heavily populated by immigrants
fleeing from, or being thrown out of, England,
Scotland and . We
speak (mostly) the same language, and generally have the same cultural values. Ireland
But there are a lot of us who have broken away from this mold, and taken our historicals from the Bronze Age through World War II. We also moved them out of
England and in the
process, placing our characters on other continents and in less-well-known cultures.
Places not as familiar to the average American reader. Scotland
What an uphill battle this has proved to be! Who knew? Not every reader is willing to step out and try something different. Those who do, however, are reaping interesting and imaginative rewards by the pageful. Dark-eyed Indian Rajas from Mumbai, powdered and beautifully coifed Geishas from
muscular Roman soldiers building a wall. Japan
Though I cannot prove any Norwegian ancestors directly, my DNA is “100% Northern European” ~ and with four grandparents with English, Scots, Irish, and German surnames I figure I am most definitely Viking spawn. As if the Scots and German weren’t enough, throw in some Norse and I can be a bit stubborn. No, really.
So, dang it, I am going to succeed with my Norwegian heroes. Big, blond, buff and beautiful, with eyes the color of seawater, and the blood of their Viking ancestors flowing through their veins.
Can you feel it?
It’s time to buck a few clichés. Go on, swim upstream. You’ll see ~ the water is wonderful.