So I’ve been thinking about this blog post for about a month, because it kind of threw some of my past actions into sharp relief - and not in a way that I was proud of.
You see, this is a fantastic romance novel. It’s emotional, it’s nuanced, it’s rich and textured, it’s lush, it’s happy…
…it’s familiar. In many ways, it’s even stereotypical. There’s a lot here that readers will recognise, and a lot of traditions that have been built upon. The heroine is gorgeous - inside and out. She’s also feisty. The hero is big, burly, and scarred - inside and out. He’s also gruff. The heroine has another suitor; the hero is jealous and suspicious. There’s a big misunderstanding. And eventually the healing power of love means a happy-ever-after ending.
I loved it. Every minute of it. It’s the kind of novel that reminds me why I cut my teeth on historical romance, and why it’s the subgenre I return to most often, and love most ardently.
But interestingly, I didn’t know how to write a good review of it. Because - and here’s the part where I kind of got a bit of a harsh home truth about myself - I realised that the books I really rave about are those that go beyond the traditions. The innovative books that go somewhere new and different. The ones that can, to use that horrible snobbish language that I tend to rail about,transcend their genre.Those are the books I thrust on other people; they make up most of my conversion pack.
But they aren’t the books that fill my stomach. They’re the delicate treats that you always remember, but not the bread that nourishes my day-to-day life.
And thus, was I outed as a snob. Within my own genre. And lo, I am ashamed.
So take this as step one of my penance. Mad About The Earl, by Christina Brooke is exactly the kind of romance novel I adore. It has everything I wanted - the things I didn’t recognise Ineeded - with a growing secondary romance to boot.
Mad About the Earl is a solid romance that stands on the shoulders of giants while reminding us where we came from. It celebrates the traditions, but is not way stale. The characters are familiar, but in that exciting way that you know you’re going to be friends with someone from the first time you meet - a recognition of a kindred spirit. But mostly, it’s that mix of refreshing and comfortable that is a hallmark of the romance genre, and the reason readers keep coming back.
And it was the kick in the pants I needed to start celebrating all the things about romance - not just the stuff I felt I could ‘sell’.
Christina Brooke was the first author in the southern hemisphere to win the coveted Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award, writing as Christine Wells. She has released novels under both Christine Wells and Christina Brooke. Her website is here: http://www.christina-brooke.com/ and you can buy Mad About The Earl here.