Blog Post: Writer Wednesday guest author Ilona Andrews and giveaway

From Thea:  Ilona Andrews is one of those wonderful authors that I have connected with through the magic of Twitter.  Initially we started talking because we both have Shit Tzus, which can be a challenge to get groomed properly.  I think very highly of her writing, adore her Kate Daniels series, and was very excited when she accepted my invitation to come visit this week.

This week she’s writing from the perspective of a reader as she talks wallpaper historicals.  She’s kindly offered a giveaway, and the details follow at the end of this post.


I write urban fantasy, some of it with a lot of romance elements, but I’m also a historical romance reader and I occasionally talk about books I’ve read.  That’s probably why this question landed in my email box.

“You recommend a lot of historic romances.  What’s your opinion on wallpaper historicals?”

For those of you who are not familiar with the term, a wallpaper historical is most often used to describe a romance novel that takes liberties with its historical setting.  It may feature anachronistic attitudes, wrong clothes for the time period, and other details that would not pass scrutiny by a historian.  For example The Mummy is a film version of a wallpaper historical.  It uses the ideas and details of Ancient and turn-of-the century Egypt, but it’s not historically accurate.

My answer is, depends on the historical.

The wallpaper historicals break into two broad categories: those that are poorly researched and those that are deliberately inaccurate.

Baby Jesus holding eyeglasses: deliberate or a mistake? You decide. Learn more at

 The poorly researched historicals are easy to spot.  They take themselves seriously, but get non-essential details wrong, such as having a Regency dandy flit about town in a gig (a single-horse cart used in the country) instead of a curricle (two-wheeled maneuverable urban carriage) or having a 12th century Scottish laird eating potatoes, which didn’t arrive to Europe until the late 15th century.  In real life, the Book of Mormon is perhaps the most well-known example of a narrative with many anachronisms.  When describing civilization of ancient America, it mentions domesticated horses and swine, wheat, silk, and chariots, none of which were introduced to the New World until the arrival of the Europeans.

I don’t care for the historicals that are poorly researched.  It’s just sloppy work.


The deliberately inaccurate historicals take purposeful liberties with their setting in the name of artistic license.   It could be argued that Loretta Chase’s latest series Dressmakers is anachronistic by design.  The first book, SILK FOR SEDUCTION, paired a dressmaker with a Duke and the second, SCANDAL WEARS SATIN, has a dressmaker heroine and an Earl.  Marriages between aristocracy and commoners did occur in that time period, but only under dire straits, as in the noble would have to be severely impoverished. A wealthy Duke would not marry a poor dressmaker.

I like deliberately inaccurate historicals.  I view them as a fantasy on a historical theme, because let’s face it, if I want to read a historically accurate novel, I will pick up Sharon Kay Pennman.  When I reach for a romance novel, I want fun.  I’m perfectly willing to let go of certain historical details, if it means I get my entertainment.  For example, I love Eloisa James’  Fairy Tales.  Are they 100% strictly historically accurate?  No.  It says “fairy tale” in the name of the series.  😀

I don’t believe this is an either/or issue.  The genre has plenty of room for both fun fairy tale historicals and  the very well researched, accurate to the smallest detail works such as Joanna Bourne’s series or Courtney Milan’s historical romances.  I believe Courtney actually pays out of pocket for a historical copyeditor, but please don’t quote me on that.

It can also be argued that if we were to demand that all romances adhere to historical accuracy to the smallest detail, people would stop reading them.  For example, it wasn’t uncommon for a Scottish Highland laird, so often used in the romances, to beat his wife with a belt or a stick for infractions.  In fact, it was considered to be beneficial to a woman to be beaten.  An unmarried woman was considered to be ancient by twenty.  I’m with Felicia Day on this when she says in one of her Goodreads reviews


There you go.  Yes, it’s historically accurate and I even did it in STEEL’S EDGE, when a slaver expresses regret that Charlotte is thirty, because if she was fifteen years younger, he’d get more money.  But I don’t want to feel like I’m an old hag either.  Furthermore, all those witty conversations and fun repartee we see in the historical romances of the 18th and 19th century is an anachronism in itself.  Here is Leo Tolstoy (whose father was a Count from one of the old Russian noble families) for you:

“The vicomte appreciated this silent praise and smiling gratefully prepared to continue, but just then Anna Pavlovna, who had kept a watchful eye on the young man who so alarmed her, noticed that he was talking too loudly and vehemently with the abbe, so she hurried to the rescue. Pierre had managed to start a conversation with the abbe about the balance of power, and the latter, evidently interested by the young man’s simple-minded eagerness, was explaining his pet theory. Both were talking and listening too eagerly and too naturally, which was why Anna Pavlovna disapproved.”

War and Peace

No lively discussion permitted.

You know what else is anachronistic in the current romance novels?  Hot sex. Not that sex didn’t exist – it did – but grabbing a heroine and dragging her off to seduce her somewhere on the balcony while the ball was going on?  Nope.  Most marriages were arranged, the interaction of males and females was strictly controlled among the upper class, and furthermore, it is highly likely that young people of that period weren’t savvy enough about sexual education to engage in some of the more adventurous things.

As a mother of teenage daughters in the age when sexual education materials are readily available, I can tell you that it is amazing what the kids do and don’t know.  They keep coming up with the weirdest nonsense, and when I tell them that they’re wrong, they run off to the internet to try to prove that they are right.  I finally bought a book on sexual education and now refer them to it.  Certainly there were some books that dealt with those topics – and here is an interesting blog post about them – but they were not readily available and not all of young nobles had parents or governesses who would take time to explain things or would even broach the subject.

Even now, with all of the information that is out there, poor Dan Savage has to travel to college campuses and explain to college students the basics of sexual education.  Let’s say you’re a sixteen year old girl, and you’ve spent your life learning etiquette and dancing and having almost no unsupervised interaction with young men of your age.  You don’t know what the sexual parts of male anatomy look like.  How would you react at the suggestion of performing oral sex?

Another anachronism?  Happily Ever After.  HEA is perhaps the most important aspect of romance genre, and many readers, myself included, like epilogues when a happy couple is shown enjoying family life with their children.  Cold harsh reality: the historical Europe had lousy health care and atrociously high child mortality.  King Stephen of 12th century England, while not being a great king, loved his wife Matilda with all the passion of a proper romance hero.  She loved him back.  They had seven children.  Five survived to adulthood.  This is the King of England, who presumably had access to the best medical care of the times. When looking for escape,  I don’t want to read about dying babies.  🙁

In the end, it’s up to the the individual reader how much historical inaccuracies he or she can endure.  There are times when historical inaccuracies aggravate me and then there are times when I just want a love story with pretty dresses, hot nobles, and improbable adventures.  That’s the beauty of the romance genre – there is something for everyone.


Readers:  what are some of the historically inaccurate novels you’ve read and enjoyed, and why?

Answer for a chance to win copy of Gunmetal Magic.  Important note:  Gunmetal Magic comes out on July 31st, and this prize will be shipped when Ilona received her reader copies.

Giveaway ends on Friday July 13th, at 12 noon MDT.

117 Responses

  1. Diana says:

    I quite enjoyed Soulless by Gail Carriger. Supernatural, Preternatural, and all sorts of other craziness in a steampunk Victorian sort of setting. Very entertaining!

  2. Diane says:

    I don’t pay that much attention to detail I guess since I can’t think of any. I read Johanna Lindsay, Amanda Quick, Rosemary Rogers and a few others. But I;m quite satisfied with what I read.

  3. Dana W says:

    I really love Stephanie Laurens Cynster novels which aren’t historically accurate and I wouldn’t want them any other way ;). I mean Devil’s Bride? Perfect just the way it is without all those messy details!

  4. I like Lisa Kleypas’ novels with sassy heroines and class-defying love, hot sex, and HEA.

    I usually find the assertion that everything be accurate pretentious and self-important.

    Last week, someone took a short production of Shakespeare scenes to task because the student actors didn’t use British accents. Ignoring the facts that this was a free show where most of the players were business majors, I still found the criticism absurd. Which accents exactly should they have used in scenes where half the characters were pretending to be someone they weren’t?

  5. Hannah says:

    I like Amanda Quick and Julia Quinn novels. There was one, I can’t quite remember the name, but it was a highland book on the border of the highlands and lowlands. It was fairly accurate, but there were some anachronisms, the brogue was perhaps a little too Anglicised. All things that made it more readable and entertaining.

    For properly researched historical romance I read Georgette Heyer. She was a half Russian writer who wrote amazingly well researched novels that don’t overload you with detail and are really funny. No sex -in her day that would have been totally scandalous- but very well written, realistic (to a point) and romantic books. I believe she used to read letters written at the time to get a better feel of what the dialogue was like and what the clothing was.

    Sorry, I tend to wax lyrical about her since it was her books that really started me on the historical romances. She’s just my absolute favourite when it comes to historicals >_<

  6. Danielle West says:

    I love historicals and I do not usually get caught up in inaccurate points. I love a good story and since history was not one of my strong points in school, those details pretty much slide right past me. Like you said, I don’t want the Laird to beat the h. I don’t want the babies to die just because it is almost impossible for all of their children to have lived and been healthy. I like them passionate. I like that the sex scenes are not horribly awkward. One thing that really does bother me is when dialogue is obviously and blaringly modern and not right. I don’t ask for a lot when it comes to accuracy in history, but please do not use modern phrases that truly have no place in 16th century scotland. That can be annoying.

  7. Angela says:

    I really enjoyed Celeste Bradley’s Liar’s Club books. A renegade group of rogues and thieves in the service of the Crown – So much fun!

    Andrea Kane’s historicals, like The Gold Coin and The Silver Coin are some favorites as well. Even while reading them I knew that it was highly unlikely any of it would ever happen, and yet I love to go back and re-read them.

    Lynn Kurland’s historicals (which I LOVE) are purposefully inaccurate – but as they contain time-travel and ghosts I think that’s to be expected. 😉

    I enjoy both the “wallpaper” historicals and historically accurate historicals, so I try to grab what I’m actually in the mood for. Sometimes the anachronisms bother me more than others.

  8. DeeAnn says:

    I don’t get too hung up on the accuracy of the historical romances that I read. Unless the historical inaccuracy is blatant and superfluous to the story I probably don’t even notice. Some authors pick a time peroid and don’t worry too much about the details while others use historical details to enrich the story. I have read and enjoyed both kinds, but what I’m really reading for is the romance.

  9. BLit says:

    Georgette Heyer is one of my favourite authors, so obviously I like my historical romances on the frothy side – but very well written nonetheless. I like Amanda Quick as well. I’m not going to enjoy a book where the master of the house beats his wife, schtups the maid, and 4 of the 10 kids die. But that’s me 🙂

  10. KayeT says:

    Mostly I just let things wash by, but I do like and enjoy Janet Chapman’s books with the time travellers – hard to imagine men from 800 years ago adjusting so well in such a short time, but I have really enjoyed many of her different series.

  11. Rebe says:

    OMG, I totally spit my coffee all over the computer screen at the OLD HAG at 24 comment!!! So funny and sadly so true, especially now that I’m in my “early” 30s for the umpteenth time.

    Yes, a dose of reality is not part of my fun-time reading! I especially prefer wallpaper historicals when reading medievals, because honestly if I stop to think about all the bad hygiene (did they brush their teeth or bathe more than once a month?!?!?) the hero and heroine having sex would just skeeve me out. Love this post!!

  12. Jennifer says:

    Just read “Shattered Rainbows” by Mary Jo Putney. The hero survives some serious battle wounds (twice!) and has an experimental medical procedure and lives (when the odds, of course, of that happening were against him). But it would be short book if it followed the odds of the time.

    One thing I don’t mind being anachronistic in historical romances is hygiene. I am happy to pretend everyone smelled like rosemary and lavender, and were not sweaty, grimey and greasy (except, of course, for the villain).

    Also, not to be size queen, but it does tend to crack me up that most historical romance heroes are always hovering around 6’2″. But if writers are staring at pictures of Richard Armitage, I suppose they are writing what they know 🙂

  13. Katherine says:

    I read Amanda Quick novels, and while some of her premises take a bit of liberty with historical fact, I still love them. Personally I’ll take a happy ending over 100% correct details any day. 🙂

  14. rosebrier says:

    I like Soulless. Give me historically inaccurate vampires and werewolves any day.

  15. Erin F says:

    I recently read Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, and while it’s still one of my favorite books of the year, I was super disappointed to find out that a certain composer, who is referenced throughout the whole book, never actually existed. I know it was a plot contract to make the whole story work and flow well, which it did, but the guy sounded awesome and I wanted to listen to all the music!
    Still one of my favorite books ever, though. It was such a gripping, heart-wrenching story and I wept like a baby through the whole thing, lol.

  16. Erin F says:

    Whoops, that should be *construct* not contract. stupid autocorret…

  17. Dolly says:

    I adore all Julie Garwood’s historical novels. I’ve read then till the covers fell off. Then I went a search to get my favorites in hardcover. Now, thanks to Kindle, I don’t have to worry about re-reading them over and over.
    My favorites are The Secret, The Bride and Ransom.

  18. Jessie says:

    Historical inaccuracies don’t bother me. I don’t read much historical, and when I do, I’m more in it for the story than the history. Also, I figure a truly accurate historical would be kind of sad, and I don’t want a sad romance.

    Tolstoy. ::shudder:: Anna Karenina is the first book I ever abandoned halfway through. I was young, probably 13ish, and I’m not sure why I thought it was a good idea to tackle it, but probably because it was a “classic.” I’m stubborn as a mule, but that book defeated me. Soundly. To this day I can’t bring myself to pick it up again.

    P.S. Please don’t enter me in the giveaway. Thanks!

  19. bn100 says:

    I can’t think of the title, but there was one where the couple got divorced and it was ok.

  20. Readsalot81 says:

    I discovered Jacquie D’alessandro last year only to find that she hasn’t put out a full length historical in years. (I’m not counting those novellas released last year! ) Major bummer as I’m a HUGE fan of her writing & stories.

    I can be finicky about dialogue sometimes.. and inserting modern jargon can yank me out of the story.. but other historical inaccuracies? I’m pretty forgiving in most cases.

  21. Xid Trebor says:

    Guy Gavriel Kay started writing epic fantasy, but then went into historic fantasy (or maybe alternate history) where you can tell he does a lot of research on countries and their history, but uses “facts” to create a “distorted” view. Very lush language and details and great characters.

    P.S. I LOVE ILONA!!! (& Gordon too)

  22. Courtney C says:

    I’ve read and enjoyed most of the aboved mentioned bestsellers – Stephanie Laurens, Celeste Bradley, Lisa Kleypas. My personal current favorite is Sabrina Jefferies where in her latest the heroine (wealthy and titled) marries the middle class magistrate.

  23. trixabelle says:

    OMG a MATH problem to sign in, y’all play harball!!!! ;-))

    I adore Amanda Quick (and her 2 alters Krentz and Castle), Stephanie Laurens, Sabrina Jeffries and Elizabeth Hoyt are also must buys. I usually have no idea if the noble is driving the right carriage or if the dress style is in vogue for the timeframe. I just LOVE a good bodice ripper with smexy hero, smart heroine and a HEA

    • thea says:

      LOL, I just had to reply… my website developer and I thought people would find the math thing much less annoying than those weird letters that are so hard to see. 🙂

  24. RY says:

    I do like accuracy in my Historical Fictions. Not on every single point, just the common obvious ones. The use of : Clock-Times, Casual physical intimacy/promiscuity, Word Coinage/Concepts before they were invented, Expletives and certain behaviors as Ilona Andrews mentioned, are what I tend to find jarring.

    I also think most current writers are scared of being more accurate with the marriage age of the historical females in their books, which would usually have been around 12-17 years, depending on the year/social circle/physical maturity of the individuals. And as Jennifer said, stuck on the 6′ plus height of the males (and I would also add, the bulging muscles).

    I think the Historicals by : Carla Kelly, Dinah Dean, Lavyrle Spencer, Laura Matthews, Shelly Thacker, Patricia Rice, Tina St. John, Paula Marshall, Anne Gracie, Pamela Morsi, Margaret Moore, Glynnis Campbell, Elisabeth Fairchild, Dorothy Garlock, Linda Francis Lee, Suzanne Robinson, Barbara Metzger, Coral Smith Saxe, Tamara Leigh, Elizabeth Lowell, Jennifer Blake, Catherine Coulter, Jodi Thomas, Kristin Hannah, Karen Ranney, Jaclyn Reding, Mary Jo Putney are generally good reading. The inaccuracies don’t hit-you-on-the-face, more like flows with the story.

    Some of Karyn Monk, Lynn Kurland, Mary Reed McCall, Madeline Hunter, Miranda Jarrett, Betina Krahn, Julie Beard, Loretta Chase, Elaine Coffman, Christina Dodd, Carola Dunn, Teresa Medeiros, Susan Spencer Paul, Julia Quinn, Patricia Potter, Elizabeth Rolls, Deborah Simmons, Ana Seymour, Sylvie Sommerfield, Susan Wiggs’ Historicals are also accurate enough to be enjoyable.

    But, you know, I’ve always wondered how well all those time traveling characters from cities, cope with outhouses/garderobes without high flush-toilets. And they always end up with people who have non-stinky breath and body and no lice. Another point I’ve wondered about is, how easily the old-time males in most of these books accept the previous amorous experiences of the time-traveling females, who haven’t been married. If the writers did their research properly, they’d know how strange that is.

    Having said all that, I hope Julie Garwood writes more historicals real soon !

  25. Smileygirl3090 says:

    Lamentably I would be hard pressed to spot historical inaccuracies, they’d have to mention zips or something similarly obvious for me to pause and think “hang on a minute…”. Besides most of the books I own that could be classified as ‘historical’ are steampunk and delightfully fanciful anyway, for example the Parasol Protectorate and Iron Seas series. I do sometimes pick up an interesting historical romance on a whim from the library and have picked up a few good ‘uns usually pertaining to feisty bluestockings and their (mis?)adventures but regrettably no particular authors or titles currently spring to mind.

  26. Susan E. says:

    “Wallpaper historical” – a new term for me, but it does describe the books I like to read. Stephanie Laurens, Lisa Kleypas, Eloisa James and Julia Quinn are some of the authors I love. Strict historical accuracy isn’t necessary, because really, who wants to read about dying children and gangrene or smallpox? Give me a hot and sexy hero, a sassy and smart heroine (not historically accurate :D) and an engaging storyline any day.

  27. JenM says:

    Ilona, I LOVE your books! Okay, had to get that squee out of the way. As for historicals, I really don’t mind if they are inaccurate or if it seems like characters with 20th century sensibilities are inhabiting a 19th century romance as is pretty common in books by favorites of mine like Julia Quinn or Eloisa James. However, I hate when they get the obvious stuff wrong like forms of address. Just from reading many Regencies over the years, I know when someone should be Your Grace vs. Your Lordship vs. Sir, and when a woman is entitled to be address as “Lady So and So”, so those kinds of mistakes really annoy me.

  28. Spaz says:

    What a great post! I am somewhat new to the historically inaccurate genre, and I loved Not Wicked Enough by Carolyn Jewel! Thank you for the opp to win Gunmetal Magic, cuz ermahgerrrd!!

  29. lia says:

    I’m honestly not much of a romance novel reader, but I used to like historical fiction as a kid because of all the historical information that they provided in the story. At least, I enjoyed them until I realized many of them were inaccurate. Now, when I come across the occasional historical romance I pretend it’s fantasy, instead of set in a time in the past. It’s easier to overlook details that way (not that I’m aware of most of the details, like the difference between a rig and a curricle!) I’ve definitely been turned off from some historical romances because of anachronisms – the whole innocent/naive/sheltered girl magically being sexually unafraid and proficient is probably the one that gets me the most. But normal romance novels do that one as well, it’s not restricted to historical romances.

    To answer the question (yay, giveaway!), the most recent historical romance novel that I remember reading and liking is Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels (which was read based on a recommendation from Ilona), and while I’m sure there were historical inaccuracies in it, I can’t seem to remember any off hand… perhaps the “overly” spunky heroine?

  30. VampAngel says:

    I really enjoyed Sarah MacLean’s Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake and the two sequels, Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord and Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart. They aren’t historically accurate but they are so much fun!

    Thanks for having the giveaway!

  31. Melanie says:

    I don’t read a huge number of historical novels and I do read usually have some form of paranormal aspect to them. This makes these not historical in truth, but I don’t mind having some historical facts mixed on with my paranormal reads. I will also say, that my history is not great, so I’m not sure how much is always inaccurate. When I’m reading, I want the story to be the most important thing. I don’t care if all the facts aren’t right. I mean, don’t say that the Titanic finished the journey or anything, just get it mostly right and I’m not concerned. I rarely go back and check to see if the author’s history notes are correct.

  32. Noel says:

    I like the Lisa Kleypas historicals. The women are smart, the men are hot and the story lines are fun.

  33. Kaetrin says:

    You mean those scenes in Stephanie Lauren’s A Secret Love where Gabriel and Alathea were getting it on in little side rooms at various balls and routs weren’t true! Say it isn’t so!!

    I’m with you – some historical accuracy is important and I don’t like lazy but I don’t want to read about not bathing and fleas and infant mortality either. Hot sexxoring in the alcoves is much more fun. 😀

    hankts AT internode DOT on DOT net

  34. Tiffany says:

    I really enjoy reading historical romances! Typically (hopefully) I am really involved in the story and the small inaccuracies float by unnoticed. 😉 so excited for Gunmetal Magic!!

  35. dragongirl46 says:

    I have to say I have read some horrible historical romances, But I have also enjoyed some of them as well, the most recent of which is an Ilona Andrews recommendation of Beauty Tames the Beast by Eloisa James

  36. JessS says:

    I don’t usually notice if they’re innaccurate, but I think if I did it would rather bother me. But then again, it’s not like I expect historical romances to be really accurate or always well written in the first place.

  37. DM Moore says:

    Gosh, if your going to be nitty gritty about it, I’ve never read an accurate historical romance. My first historical was “The Black Lyon” by Jude Deveraux, which I still adore, after which I quickly found Johanna Lindsey and went from there. If a romance novel were truly historically accurate I really don’t think I would enjoy it, people today just wouldn’t be able to really understand their way of life.

  38. shahin says:

    I agree with Thea, much better doing the math than those finnicky letters. Like many readers I started off with historicals, anyone read Katherine Woodwiss? Read and loved Georgette Heyer, Old Shades & Devil’s Cub are favourites. Do I care if many books are historically inaccurate – not really as long they are a good bodice ripper. And hey with the introduction of Steam Punk, the books just get more adventurous and interesting. if you want historically accurate read a Jean Plaidy.

  39. Annylem says:

    I’ll second the Julia Quinn and Stephanie Laurens nods. Love those. No they aren’t completely accurate but who cares, the stories are great!

    Ilona I’m so glad you posted over here because now I know Thea has a blog I need to stalk.

  40. MeganG says:

    The entire Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carringer. Awesome.

  41. Jessica says:

    I have read Eloise Jame’s novels after Ilona Andrews recommended them on her blog and really enjoyed it 🙂

  42. Lauren says:

    I like to read more accurate historical books usually…I get annoyed when they are grossly inaccurate. But also understand the appeal of escapism!

  43. Suzana says:

    Desiree by Annemarie Selinko.
    Great love story, nowhere near what historians say.

  44. Denisetwin says:

    I will overlook quite a few inaccuracies if the story is written and plotted well and the characters are believable and engaging. If any of those are thin, the inaccuracies prove glaring. Great post!

  45. Holly Denghel says:

    Well said!!! I read to escape every day life. There are happy endings in real life, but there’s also a lot of terrible things that we read about or see on TV. If I’m reading for pure enjoyment, I want entertaining books with interesting characters and witty dialogue, and I want them to be happy in the end. That’s why I love the Andrews’ books. Kate has had to deal with terrible stuff, but she gets her prince charming in the end. Well, maybe not always so charming, but he’s perfect for her.

  46. Liz C says:

    As long as the story is good I don’t tend to mind historical inaccuracies, I also tend to prefer historicals with a humurous side, I like seeing the heroine “bite” back with her wit as it were. Naming a few I also like Elisa James (thanks Ilona), Lisa Kleypas and Loretta Chase amongst others 🙂 (too many to name)

  47. Anne says:

    First a question to Thea: I notice the unusual spelling ;- ) you used for your dog’s breed. Was that deliberate because you were having a bad dog day or did you just spell it phonetically? Having three cats, I know about bad pet days and how I love them to pieces, but every once in a while they do something which makes me say bad words.

    Back to the post, my knowledge of history is so poor, I wouldn’t really know if I was reading something that was wholly inaccurate. Truthfully, as long as the story is fun and interesting, I don’t care. I love Lisa Kleypas’ and Stephanie Lauren’s historicals. Someone mentioned Gail Carriger’s series which I enjoy too, but definitely don’t expect it to be factual as it’s a steampunk paranormal series, but I could be wrong on the non-steampunk elements.

    • thea says:

      Hi Anne! LOL, thanks for bringing the unusual spelling to my attention – it’s totally a typo. Since I usually make jokes about my “Shit Zoo” who is a very funny, loving little brat of a dog, that spelling must have just come naturally when I was preparing the blog post. 🙂

  48. Argantel says:

    Elizabeth Rolls is one of my favourite historical romance authors. I read this genre for light hearted entertainment, so I really don’t care about historical accuracy. 😉

  49. Heather says:

    I read (or use to) read a lot of historical romances. Favorite ours that come to mind are Lynsdey Sands, Stephanie Laurens, Amanda Quick, Julia Garwood, Julia Quinn, and Johanna Lindsey. I also like Jenna Maclaine, but since she writes about witches and vampires, probably not worried about the facts. That said, as long as the story is good and the mistakes not glaring I probably miss them. I just love the story.
    Also can’t wait for Gunmetal Magic to hit stands. Countdown already started for me 🙂

    • Heather says:

      Oh, I also wanted to say I have never tried Eloise James but after reading all the post about her, definitely going to look her up.

  50. Lee Jordan says:

    I am a big Sherry Thomas and Lauren Willig fan and just started on Meljean Brooks. I too love Gail Carriger. Also Phillipa Ballentine. I don’t need super accuracy but it does annoy me when authors clearly have done no historical research whatsoever. The setting should add flavor and context not just be a painted cardboard backdrop.

  51. Probably Soulless. It was an okay book for me, but it wasn’t the historical stuff that bothered me. Just a little too much romance and not enough plot to suit my tastes.

    Love Ilona Andrews work!!!

  52. Liz Semkiu says:

    I read Silk is for Seduction as a recommendation from one of Ilona’s blog posts and loved it! Looking forward to Satin is for Scandal. I love Janet Chapman’s Highlander series and Amanda Quick. I guess I don’t get hung up on the historical details too much. I just want a fun story with great characters! Looking forward to Gunmetal Magic!

  53. Lesley D says:

    Some of my favorite historical novels are Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia Gray Mysteries and Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha. I think these books do very well in terms of historical accuracy, but I’m not a stickler for that kind of thing. Often times the historical details enhance the story, making it feel more real, but, like you said, sometimes deviating from history enhances the story too. For example, Lady Julia’s modern sensibilities make her a more likable and relatable character even though that’s not the way a woman of that time period would normal think. Great post!

  54. donnas says:

    I like accuracy in historical fiction. But I have to admit that unless its something completely crazy and hard to believe I wouldnt know if it was truly accurate or not.

  55. Saroja says:

    Lisa Kleypas is one of my favorite authors ever (as well as Ilona Andrews :-D). However I don’t notice the historical inaccuracies – unless they’re glaringly obvious – because I just want to enjoy the book. Plus I know in the back of the my mind that it historical romance has to be inaccurate in some ways because life was much more restrictive, especially for women.

  56. Katie says:

    I’m not sure about wallpaper historicals, but I have greatly enjoyed the Roselynde Chronicles – a series first published in the 70’s by Roberta Gellis. They are well researched and take place in medieval England. While they touch on some of the tragedies of the time, these issues are felt by supporting characters. I highly recommend this series as they have all aspects imaginable – intrigue, fashion, great hot romance, royalty, war, castle life, even the Christian Crusades. I think the series has seven books in all.
    Now, as far as being an old maid at age 24, I have to tell you that my best friend got married when I was 25. At her wedding reception her grandmother grabbed me by the hand and pulled me across the room to met an eligible young man. She introduced me as her granddaughter’s “spinster friend”. Very demoralizing – LOL!

  57. Angel says:

    My introduction to historical romance was Julie Garwood’s Honor’s Splendour and I adored it – read and reread so many times. In retrospect, while there were historically accurate events depicted in the story, I have a hard time believing the attitudes / behaviour / conversations were in any way realistic. However, that is the joy of fiction and escapist entertainment. 😉

    I have since some to love books by Jennifer Ashley – particularly Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie. The hero, the youngest brother of a duke, shows symptoms of Asperger’s. While the effects of the condition are shown accurately, obviously no one knew what this was at the time so his interaction with the other characters who don’t understand are sometimes heartbreaking. It’s a completely and absolutely wonderful story but the hero would likely have never made it out of the mental institution in real life.

    Books by Stephanie Laurens, Lisa Kleypas Julia Quinn, some but not all of Johanna Lindsey (Gentle Rogue and other Malory novels – pirates and aristocracy, oh my!) are also very entertaining. While I enjoy the books – particularly the witty conversation – I do not believe them to be particularly accurate when it comes to how the characters interact and the behaviors they engage in. Then again, I don’t care – that’s not why I read them 🙂

  58. Tracy Wickman says:

    I really don’t pay attention. I am reading fiction,and it is the author’s world. But when I see mistakes in by daughter’s history books. It drives me crazy!

  59. Juliane says:

    I’ve been reading so-called wallpaper historicals since college when I accidentally blundered into a minor in medieval history on my way to a Masters in Computer Engineering and that was so long ago you might as well call it the Dark Ages. My opinion, too much historical accuracy as Ilona stated makes for often times dull or even horrifying reading. Back in the 80’s Roberta Gellis even admitted to changing certain things in her afterwards to make her stories more palatable but she was one of the best researched and historical accurate books during that period. Today we have many writers who strive for to honor the past but back then she was a shining light for me.

  60. Christina says:

    Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series 🙂

  61. whitewolfreads says:

    I recently enjoyed The Agency series by Y. S. Lee. It’s a YA series that features women spies in Victorian England. I’ve also been enjoying a lot of steampunk as of late (if that counts).

  62. Lege Artis says:

    Great post, Ilona!
    I’m fan of Elizabeth Hoyt, Courtney Milan, Meredith Duran and Joanna Bourne. They are auto-buy for me… Joanna blew me away with her details, her Paris description is so good you can tell she lived there. Love her… Elizabeth Hoyt have unusual heroes and unusual stories for HR and there is no book she wrote I didn’t like. Courtney’s book Unraveled has hero- Smite who is a magistrate. You don’t get that a lot in HR, but what I love is how Courtney makes his job a a big part of his life, his attitude towards it and doubts. All of her books are great, but this one is in my top 3. Meredith Duran has great writing style and a way to drag you into story…

  63. TaraR says:

    Stephanie Laurens’ Cynster Series.

  64. Tasha says:

    I love Teresa Medeiros and Eloisa James. Both write such great books (but not sure if Ms. Medeiros is a wallpaper historical, but some of it strikes me as inaccurate at times).

  65. Lynn Everett says:

    I like Amanda Quick and Gail Carriger, I started reading Georgette Heyer’s regency romances in the 70s and they are still old favorites.

  66. Margaret says:

    Roberta Gellis. Great story lines, character development and historical accuracy. I like her two medieval series; one takes place during the reign of King Stephen and the second is a series of mysteries and the setting is a brothel. Don’t read if all you’re expecting is sex scenes.

  67. Deecee says:

    I can’t remember the title, but one of Virginia Henley’s books a long time ago (one of the one word titles) had a WTF moment for me that completely threw me out of the book. I’ve loved her stories for years, but this one had such a flamingly bad error that I couldn’t get pas it (and I can overlook almost anything).

  68. I don’t read factual histories so I couldn’t tell whether the history in the fiction I was reading was accurate or not! 😀

  69. Kerry says:

    I read historicals, but I honestly try not to find the mistakes – I am all about the HEA 🙂 BTW I absolutely LOVE Kate Daniels and Curran – tons of love for that man..lion..hmm…And to Thea – Drago is..well.. a dragon – sexy..yum…I have to reread it again now..LOL

  70. Keira says:

    I love Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander novels, and I sure as hell am glad that none of the heroes beat their wives!

  71. Pam P says:

    It’s fiction so I’m not looking for the accuracy, rather entertainment, a good romance with engaging characters and love those with the witty dialog. So many authors mentioned here I love. Julie Anne Long is another favorite of mine. I remember the first of hers I read, Beauty and the Spy, had some slang in the dialog here and there that seemed more modern, but who cared reading such an entertaining story. I want the interesting characters and romance primarily.

  72. Erika says:

    I love reading historical fantasy novels, like those written by Elizabeth C Bunce (A Curse as Dark as Gold) and Jennifer Donnelly (Revolution). I like the “other worldly” feel to my historical romance.

  73. Emera says:

    I loved the whole Highlander’s series! I enjoyed it because of the character’s in general, and how it seemed to poke fun at the time period a little bit. (Thank goodness of no hitting wives though!)

  74. Nicole says:

    Love your writing, and cannot wait for the new book to drop. Like most of the other comments I read the historical romance for well the escape and don’t mind much if the facts are ‘off’, but too much leeway and well it is distrubing. My fav historical author is Julie Garwood and I do so hope she continues to write more historicals. Have picked up my first Eloisa James book and plan to read it soon – thanks for the recommendation.

  75. Mary Ruth says:

    I like the Mercedes Lackey Elemental Masters set. I tend to prefer magic and such mixed with my historical romance. I also liked Patricia Wrede’s Mairlon the Magician. OK I like anything by Patricia Wrede. I am currently waiting for the 3rd in her western series to come out. Her books are YA.

  76. Serena says:

    Julia Quinn springs to mind – as amazing as the Bridgertons are, it’s not exactly a historically accurate setting. Thanks for the giveaway!


  77. Joanne says:

    I enjoy reading all types of books, it only bothers me if the writer thinks they are writing a serious book and then gets it wrong.

  78. Amanda Grinstead says:

    This is a fascinating and well-written piece. I must admit that I don’t always pay attention to the finer points when it comes to a novel’s historical accuracy. For example, what type of carriage they’re using, but I definitely appreciate the time and effort that authors put in to researching the histories, cultures and locations that they write about. I can’t really name a specific example of novels that are historically inaccurate but I can speak to my love of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series for its attention to detail. I reveled in the more authentic experiences she created for her characters.

  79. Barb says:

    I’ve been reading historicals for 45 years and hadn’t realized there was a subset of “wallpaper”. Anyways I read for the story so only glaring innaccuracies will usually jar me out of my mindset. I’ve read most of the authors mentioned above but when I want accuracy and storytelling I look to Dorothy Dunnett. I’ve also enjoyed Roberta Gellis’ historicals though how accurate they are is debatable. Also I should mention Jo Beverly as another favorite who deliberately alters some aspects of history to reach a modern audience but with such flare. Looking forward to Gunmetal Magic. I have it on pre-order.

  80. Stephanie M says:

    I like Johanna Lindsay books. I am not too picky about historical accuracy in books. If the information takes away from the story line I might get a little annoyed. Usually the details add some information to the storyline, but I focus more on the relationship between the characters.

  81. Melanie says:

    I would say Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series (yay Lady Whistledown!) is one of my favorite wallpaper historical series. Lots of escapist, HEA inaccuracies; no idea about things like food, clothing, vehicle, etc. accuracy but her heroines are strong of character and her heroes amazingly easy-going, and everyone is incredibly healthy and hygienic for the time. Also a fan of Amanda Quick and Teresa Medeiros. For fantasy books that read an awful lot like wallpaper historicals – just add magic! – I adore Robin McKinley’s two beauty and the beast retellings, as well as her Robin Hood; also, Patricia C. Wrede’s Mairelon the Magician duo and her letter game books starting with The Enchanted Chocolate Pot.

  82. Rebecca B says:

    I like The Wild Wulfs of London series by Ronda Thompson. I don’t think she is finishing the series though….

  83. priscilla.curtains says:

    It’s pretty much the wallpaper historical for me altogether. The books Connie Willis wrote (sci-fi) about time travel, most notably The Domesday Book, really brought that point home when she described the regret that the heroine had that she had not had her nose cauterized so that she couldn’t smell. Started me thinking about bad breath and BO in past times. And, yes, times were sordid in those days, as Thomas Hobbes said, “Nasty, brutish and short.” Children died, men were not what we would appreciate, women died in childbirth regularly, and had little control over their lives, and our most cherished values were barely a glimmer on the horizon. I think my enjoyment of the wallpaper historical is an example the Marie Antoinette shepherdess; it is an environment carefully constructed for me, mostly free of the contamination of real life’s vicissitudes while leading me through a carefully constructed tale with an alpha male made carefully palatable to me, a heroine made carefully for me to identify with and root for, a villain to overcome, and after hardship, sacrifice and toil, a HEA. I very much adore the writings of hard working and clever writers who give me this escape from my real life and the times we are in. I view writing as hard work; words having weight like weights, and the effort that goes in to plot, characterization, dialogue and research just floors me. I am in awe of good writing; it is a high art. A tale well told is an achievement, whether it is romance, sci-fi or Tolstoy, DIckens, or Melville. Creation is what makes us human. It is that spark that makes us, whether by word or by note or by pencil.
    Well, that was serious.
    My favorites are Loretta Chase, Leigh Michaels, Sabrina Jeffries, Candica Hern, and Eloise James in the wallpaper historical, Meljean Brook, Ilona Andrews, Thea Harrison, Majorie Liu, GA Aiken (and Shelley Laurentson), and Kim Harrison in PNR, and JD Robb just for the future romance genre.
    Thank you for this post. I hadn’t thought about it much, but it got me to thinking, and I appreciate it.

  84. CS says:

    I read historicall fiction for pleasure — so some of the inaccuracies are fine….. but then that one passage appears where you go huh WTF????? Thar really spoils the book. Enjoy both Lauren Willig & Loretta Chase; also of course Georgete Heyer — so nice that they are reprinting her books.

  85. Mayo Davison says:

    I haven’t read many novels that involved a warped history. I don’t mind either way, if a book is good and the history is warped for the author purposeI don’t mind as long as it’s good.

  86. Karen Monings Highlander series. But I love them anyway. I don’t want to read about read Highlanders anyway, I want the sexy nice ones.


  87. Biki says:

    I love Lynsdey Sands, Julia Garwood, and Johanna Lindsey although I can’t really give any specific book that was historically inaccurate.

  88. Kim P says:

    I really enjoyed Leigh Michaels, Sabrina Jeffries, and many of those books because there’s a good nature to it. I some times wish I could live in a time like that, although I do love their clothing and how it can make you look great.

  89. Ukyo says:

    Julie Garwood’s The Gift is one of my absolute favorite books. In many ways it’s the traditional HEA but I loved the writing and the story is always able to bring a smile to my face. I think it’s the bit of piracy and the incorrigible rakes that makes me go back to historicals

  90. Stephanie S says:

    I love all the steampunk novels that have been filling shelves lately. Highly inaccurate but very enjoyable. 🙂 I also love the cheesy scottish romance novels mentioned in Ilona’s blog post. It wouldn’t be as much fun if there wasn’t a happily ever after and lots of steamy scenes in between.

  91. Cassie Lindsay says:

    I really Loved the Iron Duke by Meljean Brook, the Steampunk twist is totally awesome.

  92. kitkat9000 says:

    For years I disdained the entire romance genre because it was “formulaic”. Then one night while working an unusually slow shift, I ran out of reading material and still had 5+ hours left. The only thing I could find was The Prize by Julie Garwood. In desperation I picked it up and began reading. Did she get all of the details concerning the Norman Conquest right? No. But she did write an extremely interesting and engaging story full of humor which led me, quite happily to her other historicals. (In fact, I liked it so much, that I went looking for it that afternoon.) To this day, that is my favorite Garwood book. I so wish she would write more historicals- I don’t read her contemporary work, just don’t care for it.
    I also enjoy reading Deanna Raybourn, Elizabeth Hoyt, Loretta Chase, Julia Quinn, Teresa Medeiros, Eloisa James, Sarah MacLean & Grace Burrowes.
    Thanks for the chance to win Gunmetal Magic. I just finished rereading the series. Again. Favorite author.
    Oh, and I, too, have been publicly decried as a spinster. Happened to me at my grandmother’s viewing when one of her old biddy friends introduced herself. When she noticed my left hand was bare, she called me a spinster. She thought me too pretty to be a wallflower (so she said) and then asked what was wrong with me that I was still single. Surprisingly enough I didn’t ream her a new one, though I will admit to informing her that this was the 21st century. Don’t think it made a difference.

  93. Lynn K says:

    Interesting post. I won’t know if they are historically accurate or not because I’ve never studied the history in great detail so whatever knowledge I have is rather superficial. But I really liked the books by Loretta Chase and Eloisa James. I’ve read most of them. 🙂

  94. Bill G says:

    I enjoy the “Arcane Society” novels of Amanda Quick (Jayne Ann Krentz).
    I like the way the lady writes, and the inaccuracies don’t bother me. Since it’s full of people with psychic powers, why should I worry about history?

  95. Steph says:

    I really liked Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander series, I really enjoyed reading about the characters and those alpha males sure can’t go wrong! I also read a Georgette Heyer book many years back and really enjoyed it, more than I thought I would, which was a nice surprise.

  96. Maryam says:

    I enjoy Amanda Quick, Gail Carriger, Eloisa James. I agree with Ilona’s point. If a ‘historical’ is well written and written with intention rather than carelessness, I will enjoy and devour the story. I am not knowledgeable enough in history to pick out poorly researched background, but I will forgive what I do notice if it is well written and engaging. I have found scant research is often paired with less enjoyable writing.

  97. Rochelle Muller says:

    This is such a coincidence. I just finished with “Scandal Wears Satin (The Dressmakers #2)
    by Loretta Chase” a few hours ago.
    I loved it, because: It’s witty, it has a strong & smart female lead. It was funny, emotional & adventurous.
    The historical incorrect part is probably: even though she’s a virgin, she had no qualms about undressing in front of an earl.

    I learned something new today: “wallpaper historicals”.

  98. Nuitblanché says:

    In most historical fiction, it usually irritates me to see period inaccuracies. However, when the tone of the book is projecting pure, fun entertainment through its well written phrasing or satirical view of historical events, I find myself enjoying it greatly.
    I do want to look at Karen Monings “Highlander” series just to see if i would like it.

  99. Elisabeth Jaeger says:

    I have read a huge number of historical romances, most recently ‘A Kiss at Midnight’ on Ilona’s recommendation – loved it! 🙂 For me, as long as it isn’t glaringly obvious, I don’t care about historical accuracy, I just want the story to make sense, the characters to be at least likeable, and the book to be fun &/or entertaining to read.

  100. Léa Rose says:

    I quite enjoyed Eloisa James, Stephanie Laurens, Zoe Archer (blades of the rose series), I have read real historical stories…and while they are interesting, they are also more of a downer, especially if you’re a female reading them XD

    Cheers to Ilona for the giveaway 🙂

  101. Ruby says:

    The Bad Baron’s Daughter by Laura London is a perfect example. The hero finds the heroine in a gin shop, agrees to buy her for his mistress, can’t go through with the deed so he bunks her with his mistress, she gets shot and the hero brings her to his family home. A more unlikely series of event that led to marriage in Regency England I cannot imagine.

  102. Kate says:

    My first historical romance was Shanna by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss and fell in love with the genre. I gobbled up everything from KEW, Julie Garwood, Jude Devereaux, Johanna Lindsey, Brenda Joyce, Jill Barnett, Sandra Hill, Dara Joy, Elizabeth Lowell, Jean Plaidy (The Plantagent Saga especially), and Amanda Quick. And thanks to Ilona, I’ve found Loretta Chase and Eloisa James. I read voraciously. I also read for the HEA. If there are some historical discrepencies, they don’t bother me very much (unless they are really glaring). If I want fact, I’ll read a history book (which I do sometimes). My philosophy is read what makes you happy, just don’t go into a historical romance expecting historical fact. Happy Reading!!

  103. Kathy says:

    Laura Kinsale to me is the best for a real FEEL and attention to historical accuracy without losing the fun, romance, sex!, and above all humor and fun. For example, one hero suffers a stroke, in nursed by a Quaker miss, recovers, and all acknowledge he would NEVER marry her — but does of course. Or even better, Midsummer Magic, where our heroine is compromised by the hero but refuses his obligatory offer of marriage so she can invent her flying machine. Yet it still rings of-the-time for me at least! But then, I don’t know the difference between a curricle and a gig….

  104. I’m not much of a historical romance reader. I used to be in my teens, because that is what my Mother read and I read her books after she was done.

    I don’t remember thinking to much about the historical errors as long as the book was good. Which luckily my mom had good taste in authors.

    I don’t have much time to read anymore, but when I do, I tend to stick with you Ilona and a few other authors that are keepers. 😀

  105. sooz says:

    I don’t know much about the history in which I read the historicals… I tend to view them as jumping off points of interest. Really, I just want to read people flaunting convention and finding HEAs. I know that the life span wasn’t much, most people didn’t have all their teeth and they probably smelled bad. I will forgo all sense of reason to enjoy a book. Much in the same way that I have justified sugar as a vegetable!

  106. JulietPhan says:

    I am a huge fan of Amanda Quick, and I know there are probably some inacurracies in the historical context, especially when it came to how the aristocrat treated the working class.

  107. Erin says:

    The first and second books of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I stopped reading after the third one, but I know some people who are rabid about the entire series. I read those first two many years ago, but I remember my mother and I were huge fans.

  108. KimZ says:

    I cut my teeth on Georgette Heyer too, and rediscovered Regency Romances a few years ago. I have to have a HEA and I don’t mind sex in context; however, too many inaccuracies, modern dialogues and ridiculous situations ruin the ambience for me. Some of my favorites are Carla Kelly’s Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand and Mary Balogh’s Lady with a Black Umbrella (hysterical).

    For pure pleasure reading that carries me far, far away, give me steampunk or woodpunk. I love Meljean Brook’s Iron Duke, Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate, and Susan Sizemore’s Memory of Morning.

  109. Dingo Baby says:

    You know, inaccuracies bother me on a sliding scale of my like/dislike of the storyline and the characters. If I’m liking the story or the characters, inaccuracies are hardly noticeable. If I don’t like them then the inaccuracies are very glaringly obvious.

  110. Sere says:

    I don’ care about inaccuracies when they are obviously an author’s choice, but it’s actually very fastidious when it’s clearly a lack of attention. When I read Angels and Demons by Dan Brown I laughed my head off by the absurd “Italian” dialogues! How it’s possible that they didn’t find a soul to check out a couple of lines??! This is not an historical inaccuracy but the effect is the same.

  111. AHC says:

    When the writing is captivating, I am not too concerned about the historical accuracy of the content. I read to be mentally whisked away on an adventure, so I am more than happy to overlook a few artistic liberties in an otherwise good book.

  112. I too adored Eloisa James’ WHEN BEAUTY TAMED THE BEAST which was not at all accurate but so much fun. Can’t say I mind inaccuracies too much unless the author beats you over the head with them.

    Can I just say I love this post? Especially the bit when you quote WAR & PEACE? You are my hero.