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Golden Era of Romance

[poll id="194"]

McVane has kindly thought up some poll ideas for me. (They are hard, you guys!).   I thought this topic was particularly apt given two things.   First, there are some readers who believe that the best of romance is in the past and that what is being published today is good but will never live up to the “classics”.   Second, because publishing is hurting (and because readers are buying more established authors than new authors), publishers are turning to old standbys, re-releasing and re-packaging books that they’ve already paid on advance on and are written by authors who are now considered a success.   To some extent, these repackaged books play on the nostalgia of a reader. I just received a copy of the trade paperback version of Black Silk by Judith Ivory and spent the evening petting it.

Do you think that there is a Golden Era of Romance?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

53 Comments

  1. Kalen Hughes
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 11:59:07

    I think that whenever you started reading romance* is going to be “the golden age” for you. It can't help but be. And that hallowed era will take on a super special luster if the type of books that hooked you are no longer being published (at least this seems to be very true for those readers I know who came to the genre via the Trad Regency).

    *Ok, not just reading, but reading and enjoying; cause my first brush with romance in the 80s (a Johanna Lindsey “rape her till she likes it” Viking book) sent me running away for a decade+.

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  2. RStewie
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 12:21:09

    I haz a sad. I can’t vote.

    But if I could!! I would vote for now. I think Romance is coming into it’s own, and the vastly huge selection of novels proves that. How many other genres do you see consistently releasing the volume that Romance does? SciFi/Fantasy, maybe. And I have to say that at least 1-2 books that suit my own particular taste are released monthly…SciFi/Fantasy can’t do that.

    Also, the Internet plays an important role in my belief that now is the best years of Romance’s life (although I reserve the right to change that to 2010s next year) because there are SO MANY great sites that are all about reading and enjoying, critiquing and reviewing Romance, that it’s great to be able to share my love of this genre with others of a like mind so easily.

    I’ve got a real optimistic view of where Romance is going; I love the development of Erotic Romance as it’s own genre, I love the enormous variety available: paranormal, rom-suspense, contemporary, historical, urban fantasy romance, etc etc etc., and I’m in general very happy to see that DA and other sites can consistently find new releases that are worth reading.

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  3. joanne
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 12:28:09

    publishers are turning to old standbys, re-releasing and re-packaging books

    and because publishers haven’t quite finished pissing off their customers they’re not putting reprint on the covers. I’ve just pre-ordered the Lori Foster book because the description I read didn’t have the titles – I already own both the originals. That would have been very annoying. Nora Roberts is the only author, that I know of, that has a ‘code’ for readers (her initials inside a design) so they know the books of hers that they are buying are new.

    Do you think that there is a Golden Era of Romance?

    The ‘good old days’ weren’t that great. Authors did not put out a book a month and the publishers of romance books were fewer and less diverse. The ones that existed weren’t releasing a gazillion books a year so the pickings were slim. Less chance of finding a crappy read but even less chance of finding an amazing new author.

    Short answer: For me— Today is the the Golden Era of romance books. I LOVE all the choices.

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  4. Sam
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 12:29:12

    1990s

    It had the diversity without the rape fantasy, the frigid heroines and careers are evil themes that I associate with the 80s. Novels are too much alike now.

    You only have to look at Harlequin Presents. The 90s were not about the Greek/Italian billionaires. (By the way what happened to the millionaires?) You had books about the working class and exotic settings other than Greece, Italy and Spain.

    Historical novels weren’t all about the Ton either. What happened to the Western, Vikings, Civil War, Pirate genre?

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  5. Moriah Jovan
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 12:31:39

    @Kalen Hughes:

    I think that whenever you started reading romance* is going to be “the golden age” for you.

    I agree with this.

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  6. Karen
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 12:32:03

    I started reading romance in the 1980′s, and even though I enjoyed Jude Deveraux, Julie Garwood, etc., for me the best books came in the mid-90′s. I think a lot of that has to do with trends. The romance genre goes through trends, and in the mid-90′s, angst was In. As an angst bunny, I was in my element – I could go to the bookstore and fill my basket to the top with heroes and heroines who were suffering and tortured. Bliss! Then the trend changed to light and funny and angst was Out. My friends who love funny romances were in heaven, while I had a harder time finding books I wanted to read. Then came paranormal – I know a lot of paranormal lovers who think now is the best time, because paranormal is so hot right now. Paranormal – eh, it doesn’t do much for me. So I have to look a little harder to find books that I want to read.

    Romance has a lot of variety, and I’ve been able to find books from the 1970′s into the 2000′s that made me happy. But there have been times when it’s been hard to find the books I enjoy the most. (The problem of being a picky reader!) That’s when I’m grateful I have a large TBR that’s full of older books from the Era of the Tortured Hero.

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  7. Diana
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 12:32:56

    I didn’t vote because I couldn’t figure out a way to make my vote say this: I feel like right now, in the 2000s, we have more choices, more amazing writers, and more respect for the genre than ever before. On the other hand, some of the best books romance books I’ve ever read, particularly historicals, were written during the particular ‘golden eras’ of individual writers, which may have happened in the 1980s or 1990s.

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  8. rebyj
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 12:43:15

    I’ve been reading romance since 1976 and I choose the 2000′s with no hesitation. When I began reading my choices were limited to what the local bookmobile or school library carried. Your way of searching for books was the card catalogue or librarians helpful suggestions. Word of mouth was pretty much non exsistent in rural areas.

    Now, there are 400 or so published a MONTH now? The internet allows you to search for your personal tastes and also allows readers to speak up about their likes. Authors and publishers have access to readers comments and respond by offering more and more variety to accomodate the consumers wants. We also have easy access to romances published in the past and easy to find recommendations of the shining stars of older publications.

    Romance is branching out to all sorts of story lines, h/h ages, heat levels, length, formats etc. You can order from 100′s of book stores and 1000′s of individual book sellers.

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  9. ldb
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 12:46:59

    @Kalen Hughes:

    I started in this decade and this is my least favorite decade of books, so I guess I kindly disagree.

    The only thing for sure for me is that the golden age has past. More often then not I’ll search an older book then pick up a new one. For many authors who I want to read I’ll try their backlist and stop after 2002 because I have had too many disapointing 00s expericances.

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  10. MaryK
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 12:50:39

    Do you think that there is a Golden Era of Romance?

    Not really. I think everyone’s golden era is going to vary depending on their taste. I could say Laura Kinsale is the best, no one can write as well, and there’d be five people who’ll disagree.

    Also, I think Romance continues to evolve and adapt as new “best” writers emerge. I could say Mary Stewart is the best, but as much as I love her writing I don’t want to read only her over and over for the rest of my life. I also want to read Lisa Marie Rice, Charlaine Harris, Susan Napier, Patricia Briggs, Nalini Singh, etc. I think “golden” writing depends more on the individual writer than the era they’re in.

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  11. Jill Sorenson
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 13:06:35

    I started reading category romance in the 80s, and discovered most of my favorite authors in the 90s, but I think the 00s have been the best because of the internet. Blogging opened up a whole new world for me and introduced authors I’d never have found otherwise. But I think it’s impossible to judge/label an era while you’re still in it.

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  12. Janine
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 13:51:28

    @Kalen Hughes:

    I disagree also. I started reading romance in the early 1980s but my favorite decade by far is the 1990s. Historicals are my favorite subgenre and the 1990s are when Laura Kinsale, Judith Ivory, Patricia Gaffney and Mary Jo Putney wrote most of their historicals. Mary Balogh was writing her fabulous trad regencies at that time, too. And I could name many other authors whose books from that decade I have enjoyed. It was a true Golden Era IMO, much stronger than the 1980s or the early 2000s, although I think we are starting to see a resurgence now.

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  13. TerryS
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 14:06:39

    No, I don’t think there is a Golden Era of Romance.

    I do have authors from each of those eras as well as even earlier eras whose works are unequaled and unforgettable. They are the ones whose books made it to my keeper shelf for rereading when I’ve been fortunate enough to own their books. The books stay on the keeper shelf by standing the test of time.

    Choices, though, are another story. Without a doubt the 2000′s win hands down for choice.

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  14. DS
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 14:31:34

    I started reading in the 70′s but was scarred by the Sweet Savage Love and all its imitators. Then a friend in the early 90′s introduced me to romance current then. (I’m not counting my love of Georgette Heyer, the good gothic novels of an earlier period or other books that might be shoehorned into the genre romance category but wasn’t actually written as a genre romance).

    Anyway, things that really annoyed me about books I read in the 1990s was 1) anachronisms; 2) repetitive, boring sex; 3) strait jacketed stories– one woman-one man, STSTL virgins, all Regency all the time, and gotta nail down that happy ending with an epilogue that included kids, pets, any other relatives and/or friends who had been in any previous books.

    I’m still a lot of these still exist, it’s just easier to ignore them. So, I guess this current era is as golden as it gets so far.

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  15. Jennifer Spiller
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 14:37:19

    I say now, because we get the new stuff and can still read the old stuff. Backlists are Heaven.

    There’s a trade paperback of Black Silk? Drooling commences now.

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  16. Lori
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 14:53:50

    I agree that the past wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Time is just a really fabulous editor. After a few years we forget all the mediocre books and all but the most hilariously awful of the bad books and only remember the good ones.

    I think that if people actually looked back at lists of all the books published each year, or even just the top X% best sellers instead of simply relying on their memory or their keeper shelves they would realize that the olden days just weren’t all that.

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  17. AQ
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 15:28:19

    I didn’t vote because I overthought the question and then couldn’t decide.

    But I think the follow-up question should be what era are most of your keepers from. Ya know, create some type of personal keeper list like SB Candy and figure out the original date copyright date and see how that compares to the golden era of romance results.

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  18. Caligi
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 15:38:42

    While you can’t beat the variety and volume of the 2000s, nearly all of my favorite romances are actually from the 90s. FWIW, I started reading romance only last year.

    What makes a golden era? If it’s quality, then I’d say it was the 90s. If it’s variety and popularity, then it’s right now.

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  19. Tee
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 15:40:22

    Agree with TerryS. There is no golden era of romance. As she said, there are great authors from each of those time periods and that’s absolutely correct, IMO.

    Lori said that time is a fabulous editor, helping us to remember mostly the good stories and forgetting the bad ones. That’s true, too, I think. When I’ve re-read the few that I do occasionally, I’m surprised how many of them don’t measure up to my recall.

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  20. Kate Pearce
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 15:42:42

    I think there is a golden seam of romance novels that run through all those decades, and those authors and books will always be remembered and loved. I like the way we are now with so many diverse choices and the classics to look back on and reread.

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  21. JenD
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 15:53:01

    I didn’t vote because I don’t think we’ve hit the Golden Age yet, if we ever will.

    A Golden Age implies that it was the pinnacle and nothing else will compare or be as moving, as relevent as marvelous again. For a Golden Age to happen, there must be a fall to compare the gold to. Romance will never fall because it is so fluid, adaptable and relevent to any age or cultural movement.

    There might be instead, Golden Ages of each author when they were at the peak of their craft- some authors will never ‘reach’ that peak because they will never fade.

    A man in his 40′s still wearing his letter jacket and talking about ‘The Glory Days’ is sad and lonely. I don’t think Romance is sitting in her prom gown thirty years later dreaming about The Best Time Of Her Life. She’s got too much to do!

    Romance cried for a few days over losing the Prom Queen title. She picked herself up, teased her hair high and went to Orange Julius. Then she gathered her friends and danced around the dining room table while drinking margaritas. Tomorrow she’s off to slay vampires, find the perfect pair of kick-ass boots and find her happily ever after.

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  22. Kalen Hughes
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 15:57:03

    I agree that the past wasn't all it's cracked up to be. Time is just a really fabulous editor. After a few years we forget all the mediocre books and all but the most hilariously awful of the bad books and only remember the good ones.

    Very true.

    I'm not counting my love of Georgette Heyer, the good gothic novels of an earlier period or other books that might be shoehorned into the genre romance category but wasn't actually written as a genre romance

    I didn’t vote, because for me the *true* heyday was the 30s & 40s when Heyer was publishing. But then those are the books that brought me to romance (albeit in the 90s).

    I started in this decade and this is my least favorite decade of books, so I guess I kindly disagree.

    The only thing for sure for me is that the golden age has past. More often then not I'll search an older book then pick up a new one. For many authors who I want to read I'll try their backlist and stop after 2002 because I have had too many disapointing 00s expericances.

    I find this really interesting. If you started reading romance in the oughts, but you don’t like books being published, what brought you to the genre? What made you a fan, and what keeps you coming back?

    Do you think there has been a sea-change in the genre that you’re just not happy with? For example, a lot of the Trad Regency fans I know are not happy with the trend in historicals for hot, hotter and scorching sex (and they don't always want to buy Inspies to get sweet).

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  23. Janet W
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 16:20:47

    1990s … altho, like Kalen said, that may be when I started. Except it wasn’t. I didn’t start reading romances with a capital “R” until the early 2000s. I went to AAR (All About Romance — still the be all and end all for hughly comprehensive reviews of every romance other there) and just started working my way through the Desert Island Keepers.

    I already adored Heyer — have all her books already but except for Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, a few odd ball books I’m crazy — the Bride of Emersham by Leslie Lance and hardest to find, House of Scorpio by Pat Wallace, I didn’t “know” the genre at all.

    So to answer the poll, I went to my keeper shelves and randomly pulled two fave re-read-oftens: My Lady Notorious by Jo Beverley and To Have and To Hold by Patricia Gaffney. Checked the pub dates: 1990s.

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  24. Sue T
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 16:25:47

    It had the diversity without the rape fantasy, the frigid heroines and careers are evil themes that I associate with the 80s. Novels are too much alike now.

    So true and that’s why I voted for the 1990s. I’m so tired of vampires. Remember when LoveSpell put out those lovely futuristics? Sure, the writing, when read now, isn’t the same but wow, talk about the stories themselves and the authors’ imaginations. And the sexual tension! Wow! Without this whole reliance on throwing characters into bed and the whole dreaded soul mate or weremate/light to his darkness thing, the romances were well, romances.

    I guess I long for the return of the futuristic and the farewell to the sex as a story verus the beautiful thing that happens when two people truly fall in love. Sigh. Time to go back to my keepers from that era!

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  25. Kalen Hughes
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 16:31:52

    I went to AAR (All About Romance -’ still the be all and end all for hughly comprehensive reviews of every romance other there*) and just started working my way through the Desert Island Keepers.

    Which sort of back up what Lori said about time being a great editor . . .

    *except that they tend to give Ds to books that I LOVE (such as Pam Rosenthal's RITA nominated The Slightest Provocation) and before I learned better I was deceived into putting out good money for any number of books they raved about only to discover they were historically anachronistic piles of “meh”. I guess my taste and theirs just don't jive.

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  26. Evangeline
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 16:45:51

    Even though I didn’t begin reading until 2000, I’ve found myself scouring used book stores, old reviews on AAR and RR@TH, and ebay for older romances. I voted for the 1990s and the “Golden Age” primarily because of the extreme variety of settings and the fact that the genre retained the best features of the 1980s (big, fat juicy plots) while sloughing off the worst (rape, gross power imbalances, etc). Now, I would consider the 1980s to be the “Golden Age” of the Regency, because most of the authors writing single-titles today (and many now obscure) wrote awesome, romantic and sensual traditional Regencies that make me sigh over what the Regency Historical has come to today.

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  27. library addict
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 16:48:33

    I voted for the 1990s. I started reading romance earlier, but many of the books on my keeper shelf are from the 1990s.

    I also think the 1990s are when categories were at the peak. I still have my auto-buy authors who write categories. And I try new-to-me authors and occasionally come across a keeper. But many of the ones I read now are either DNF or not up to keeper status. For every category book I enjoy there are 2 or 3 or more that I don't. Makes me sad. I miss the old Silhouette Intimate Moments line and Loveswept. Of course many of those were from the 80s :P I think the shorter length often times hurts the books in the new Silhouette Romantic Suspense line. A far greater percentage of my books now are single title releases, while in the 1990s it was about a 50/50 split.

    As others have said I do think there's been an incredible selection of books to choose from in the 2000s. And I have discovered many wonderful authors so far this century :P So, it would be my second choice.

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  28. Michelle
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 17:20:26

    Kind of a tangent. But with all the reprints, why not reprint a book in high demand-like The Windflower?

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  29. Jennie
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 17:59:35

    Historicals are my favorite subgenre and the 1990s are when Laura Kinsale, Judith Ivory, Patricia Gaffney and Mary Jo Putney wrote most of their historicals. Mary Balogh was writing her fabulous trad regencies at that time, too. And I could name many other authors whose books from that decade I have enjoyed. It was a true Golden Era IMO, much stronger than the 1980s or the early 2000s, although I think we are starting to see a resurgence now.

    Okay, I was going to comment, but this comment from Janine pretty much goes double for me, so I’ll just say ITA.

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  30. Janet W
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 18:18:54

    And speaking of reprinting, Jo Beverley’s Regencies and Mary Balogh’s Regencies are being reprinted. There are so many other there though, that aren’t — Wolf, Metzger — the list is endless. Thankfully, most OOP Regencies are not beyond belief expensive altho certainly many are!

    p.s. “Hughly”? What the heck was I thinking (above)? I mean to say “hugely”. Huge apologies :D

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  31. Ashley Ladd
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 19:03:07

    I love the variety we have today.

    When I first started reading romance, they were all set in exotic locations overseas and the heroes were always foreign men. The setting was never in the US and the hero was never an American.

    Although I still very much love books set in other countries as well as other worlds, I also enjoy reading stories about different places and people in my own country.

    There are still a lot of talented authors with wonderful stories to tell. It’ll be a shame if we don’t get to read them because the same ones are being recycled.

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  32. LizC
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 19:06:24

    I think that whenever you started reading romance* is going to be “the golden age” for you.

    Not for me. I started reading romance in the early 90s but started with my mom’s romances from the late 70s and 80s and while I have a fondness for some of the books I read then I can’t think of a single one I want to reread. Most of the romance novels I have as keepers were written in the last 10 years. Jenny Crusie and Loretta Chase are exceptions in that I love their 90s stuff as well but for the most part most of my auto-buy authors are authors who didn’t start publishing until this decade.

    If pushed I would say the Golden Era, for me at least, is from the mid-90s to now.

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  33. Gennita Low
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 22:07:02

    Around the late 80s when romance books featured male POVs, things opened up for me as a reader. Then the early 90s brought romantic suspense–deadly dark edgy heros that spun my writerly juices. Lots of experimentation around the mid-90s. This ten year period brought
    1) male POV and male sexual tension

    2) paranormal to the forefront

    3) mixed genres as in Anita Blake (horror) and oh, I don’t know, the beginning of vampire-in-romance series like the Feehan Carpathians

    4) SEALs and other spec. ops were starting to trend (b4 it was all Vietnam war vets with scarry past)

    5) we have all the great authors still in categories writing for so many different lines; I still salivate remembering buying all ten or twelve series books every month from HQ and Loveswept because there was a certain Nora or a certain Linda or a certain Anne S. or a Brockmann or a Kaufmann or a Forster or I. Johannsen or K. Hooper…the list of authors who are now single title authors are too many to list…out that month, and,

    6) sex scenes instead of fade-to-black ;-).

    This ten year period, to me, is the foundation of all the great genre-mixes we have today.

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  34. medumb
    Aug 14, 2009 @ 23:05:53

    I guess that it is subjective.. but I think now is the golden time for me. Yeah the nineties opened the genre up, but we are reaping the benefits now and I got suckered back into the genre around the 2001 mark.

    I still have nightmares about some of the books I read when younger from the 70s, 80s and early 90s. lol

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  35. ag
    Aug 15, 2009 @ 01:41:18

    I was torn between the 1990s and the 2000s, but voted for the latter in the end, for the amazing variety and new discoveries made in the current era.

    I couldn’t quite identify with the romances of the 80s, as I couldn’t stand the way heroines were portrayed in romance then. The mid-90s was when I started enjoying romance again, with Julia Quinn, Lisa Kleypas, who are still my faves to this day. The 2000s is also when I discovered Madeline Hunter, Eloisa James, and a few other notable new authors then who have since gone on to greater success.

    The other reason why 2000s is the golden era to me would be the many new Fantasy authors discovered this period. It’s been a wonderful 9 years of discovery and exploring so far, and I look forward to what other new adventures reading will take me to.

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  36. (Jān)
    Aug 15, 2009 @ 04:06:09

    The ‘good old days' weren't that great. Authors did not put out a book a month and the publishers of romance books were fewer and less diverse. The ones that existed weren't releasing a gazillion books a year so the pickings were slim. Less chance of finding a crappy read but even less chance of finding an amazing new author.

    You’re joking, right? An author putting out a book a month is not a good thing. Releasing a gazillion books a year isn’t a sign of more quality offerings.

    I’d have to say the 90s as well. I’ve been compiling a list of my top romances, and re-reading them, so as to set aside any that were just nostalgic favorites. The only one I’ve discarded has been from 2001. The majority are from the 90s (though I do have a few older and newer ones I haven’t got to yet). Romance was hitting its stride in the 90s and attracting some wildly talented writers. Publishers were still allowing original plots with meat to them. The trad Regency romance was in its best decade (though the 80s were great for it as well).

    But, I see a trend back toward these golden days now. I think that we may be heading into another golden age to be honest. There was a horrible dip in the early 2000′s when so few good books came out that I pretty much left romance. But now I’m being enticed back by some wonderful writers who’ve appeared the last couple of years. The 2010′s might be the best decade yet.

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  37. GrowlyCub
    Aug 15, 2009 @ 05:32:18

    I believe where folks see the ‘Golden Age’ depends on their personal reading preferences. I voted 90s and I didn’t even need to think or look on my shelves to know that my most favorite books and authors are from that period, although I would qualify it by saying early 90s only and I would include late 80s.

    I started in the early 80s and I’ve read pretty widely into the past and I stopped reading new romance completely in the late 90s and into mid-2000 because there just wasn’t anything out there that I wasn’t totally disenchanted with – RS everywhere :(. Or better said I gave up in the late 90s and missed a bunch of authors and books, which I’ve now fortunately found! Backlist heaven. grin

    As somebody who loves angst and detests humor, chick lit, RS and paranormal, the late 90s and into now haven’t been very good times for me and I’m absolutely convinced that the increased output schedule and the current word count restrictions are making many newly released books less than what they could be (the newer Chase titles come to mind).

    I’ve found some new-to-me authors in the last couple of years, but the books that resonate with me the deepest are their late 80s and early 90s releases, not their current offerings (Balogh, Chase, Beverley). I have also come across some new and new(er) authors and again it’s the books that remind of earlier writing times and styles that work best for me (Broken Wing, Scandal).

    I can’t wait for the paranormal craze to finally fade away and I’ve seen some resurgence of interest by publishers in Regency (although I think the times for the ‘sweet’ reads are over, which doesn’t bother me personally, but I know there are readers who prefer the ‘fade to black’ when it comes to the bedroom) and historical overall, which makes me happy. I just wish they’d stop touting the ‘tight writing/plotting’ mantra which is really making the majority of currently released books lacking because they just aren’t as fleshed out as they need to be. It gets the publishers fewer pages to print, but I’m getting really disenchanted with these books that I just *know* could have been A reads for my keeper shelf if they had just bothered to write the whole story instead of the ‘oops, gotta wrap up in 20 pages’ we are getting so frequently right now.

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  38. joanne
    Aug 15, 2009 @ 07:51:22

    You're joking, right? An author putting out a book a month is not a good thing. Releasing a gazillion books a year isn't a sign of more quality offerings.

    Yes, I was joking and thank you, I do realize that quantity does not necessarily mean quality.
    I was merely trying to say that we weren’t getting as many books in the 70′s & 80′s. Obviously I should have just said that rather than make light of such a serious subject.

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  39. (Jān)
    Aug 15, 2009 @ 09:32:03

    Sorry joanne, but there are enough people who believe things like that and say them here that I had no idea if you were one of them.

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  40. Sandy D.
    Aug 15, 2009 @ 10:59:39

    Oh, I disagree with “when you started” as the golden age – I started in the late 70′s, and am so much happier today than any time in the past. Part of the reason, for me, is that the internet (blogs & reviews) make it easier for me to find romance I really love, instead of finding it by accident.

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  41. willaful
    Aug 15, 2009 @ 11:18:25

    I’ve only been reading romance for 2-3 years and I also vote for the ’90s. For categories especially. And I don’t think reprints of Ivory are an appeal to nostalgia, even if others are. She’s simply one of the best romance writers who’s ever written and everyone should have access to her works.

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  42. ReacherFan
    Aug 15, 2009 @ 11:18:54

    I’ve read romance off and on for decades. I think each period has something to recommend it, but over all now is best. I do like paranormal – it blends my love of fantasy novels with romance, the women taking take charge – not leaning on a man or looking to be taken care of, there’s far more variety – historicals are still strong, but now your choice goes beyond Contemporary or historical as it used to, and writers can have a sense of humor, and romantic suspense has finally come into its own – although SEAL’s are too ubiquitous.

    On the down side right now – too many books equal books that often need polish to make them gems, so everything from storylines to syntax are a bit rougher than they used to be. Too many series, especially paranormal – it’s gotten old, just tell a complete story in ONE book and stop dragging the romance out over endless books. Too much sexual ‘punishment’ – ick. Too many books with poorly drawn characters and too many books that read like a ‘write by the numbers’ equivalent of a paint-by-the-numbers – unoriginal and boring. There’s a lot more chaff and a lot less wheat. Publishers are idiots and I despise those reprints, but acknowledge there is a new generation of readers that otherwise wouldn’t get to read some good books. I think a lot of writers had better characters in the past when they were original than they do now as they follow the paranormal pack. Too many books substitute sex for story.

    No question, I have sentimental attachment to some early books, but itis hard to beat books like Kathrine and The Winthrop Woman – and yes, those were reprints when I read them. But I also have sentimental attachment for a lot of science fiction and fantasy. :-)

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  43. Elise Logan
    Aug 15, 2009 @ 13:03:23

    I don’t think there’s a Golden Age, per se. I voted 1990′s simply by virtue of the loosening of traditional constraints – not just in the bedroom, but also in terms of genre flexibility. With Johanna Lindsay’s Warrior’s Woman and the onset of LoveSpell, I think a good bit of the strict convention began to fall to the wayside. That really caught hold in the 2000′s, but it began earlier.

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  44. tracyleann
    Aug 15, 2009 @ 13:20:34

    For historicals, I definitely find more intriguing and exciting authors now than ever before. (Though there are a handful from the 90s, 80s, and even 70s–Francine Rivers before she went Chrisctian Fic–that I still go back to). Yet most of my favorites are more recent.

    For contemporary, other than Jennifer Crusie, I would say the 1990s. And my favorite by her, Crazy for You, was published in 2000…

    Now, if you are talking “category” romance, then it is DEFINITELY the 1990s (and maybe a little late 80s). I really miss the Harlequin books of yore; I can rarely finish any of the new ones.

    I just have to make everything overly complicated, don’t I?

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  45. ldb
    Aug 15, 2009 @ 13:43:28

    @Kalen Hughes:

    Well I started reading in the mid 2000s my first books was a Diana Palmer, which was an old catagory the only reason I read it was because of a movie which was based on it. I then found SEO and read one of her older books that was reissued and revamped in 2000s. I started reading mostly new stuff then, and didn’t go out of my way to find anything not readily available in stores, I ventured into chick lit adn read mostly contemps. But once I got my hands on some older LH I was ruined and then I read JL and I was ruined for historicals. I started finding older JD and JM and realized that the best books they wrote were before the 2000s or early 2000s. After this I also realized I was a lot less anxious to read newer authors because the books just felt a lot more light and shallow. So basicly once I started reading books written outside the generation I started in I no longer enjoyed those books/
    As for your other question about why. It’s not a matter of trad regencys or sweet books, but size and depth. I want books which have a lot of action and more plots that are important to the story then just the love story. Older books seem less rushed and less superficieal, while books being released today seem to scratch the surface of whats gonig on and not get further, it’s also all about the love story and there’s usually just another plot thrown in which is so unimportant I don’t care about it, and which doesn’t enhance the love story. So I’ve given up, and I woulkdn’t blame an author for it either, I feel bad for authors it seems like there are so many more rules and guidlines, more difficult page counts and they need to write more books. WHile I’ve seen a ot of people say 2000s are it for the amount of books getting released, that is the mian reason I think it is not, yeah there are more books being put out, but each book coming out is less polished and original because of the amount of time to research it, plot it,write it and edit it.

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  46. ldb
    Aug 15, 2009 @ 13:48:27

    @tracyleann:

    I am curious who you would consider a more intrigueing author writing historicals today, as I think the exact opposit of historcials compared to 20 years ago.

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  47. Nifty
    Aug 16, 2009 @ 17:54:16

    I started reading romance in the mid-80s, but by far my favorite books are from the 90s. Most of the books on my keeper shelf are from 1987-1998, I’d say. Particularly with respect to historicals, I found the novels to be detailed, well-researched, authentic-feeling with respect to characters and settings, and laden with delicious sexual tension. Sadly, I find most of today’s historicals to be or have none of those things — which explains why I don’t read much historical romance today. Even in the case of (historical) authors who used to be amongst my favorites, their style of writing and content of books has changed dramatically since the 90s, and by and large they have lost me as a reader.

    In the 2000s, my increasing dissatisfaction with meatless but oversexed romances moved me away from romance, and I started reading more urban fantasy and digging into my keeper shelves. The “new to me” authors I’ve fallen in love with in this decade have been Nalini Singh (paranormal romance), Patty Briggs (urban fantasy and fantasy), Anne Bishop (dark fantasy), JK Rowling (YA Fantasy), and….nope. That’s about it. There are a few other authors I’ve discovered and read with some regularity, but I don’t pant for their books. Or if I DID pant for their books — as with JR Ward’s BDB series or Brockmann’s SEALs — the obsession soon faded.

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  48. kimber an
    Aug 17, 2009 @ 07:51:34

    I think whoever said it depends on when you became interested in Romance novels is right. I have to vote for the 2000s because nothing interested me before that.

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  49. Romance Through The Ages | Monkey Bear Reviews
    Aug 18, 2009 @ 05:13:22

    [...] a poll up at Dear Author asking readers to vote on which decade they consider to be the Golden Era of [...]

  50. tracyleann
    Aug 18, 2009 @ 11:11:55

    by ldb August 15th, 2009 at 1:48 pm Reply to this comment

    @tracyleann:

    I am curious who you would consider a more intrigueing author writing historicals today, as I think the exact opposit of historcials compared to 20 years ago.

    I just think the quality of the the writing by “new” authors like Meredith Duran, Sherry Thomas, and Tessa Dare is so exciting right now. I also found Jennifer Ashley’s latest very intriguing. Even if I don’t always LOVE the book (reunion romances aren’t my cup of tea, so ST books haven’t been my favorite–so far), I still appreciate the intelligent yet accessible writing and characters who seem more dimensional. Of course, this may be colored by the fact that most of the 80s/90s historical romances I read as a teen were my aunt’s cast offs (many of them Lovespell or Zebra romances).

    I am perfectly willing to admit that I might not have read the “right” older books. Although, in my defense, I have tried some of those revered and beloved authors that are frequently referred to on sites like this, and they have been hit or miss with me: Laura Kinsale (sorry, I tried two of them and they just didn’t grab me–seemed like too much work), Judith McNaught (LOVE Kingdom of Dreams and really liked Once and Always, but all the others I’ve tried have been wallbangers for me), Johanna Lindsey (don’t even get me started on some of those…), Loretta Chase (LOVED Lion’s Daughter and really enjoyed LoS, but haven’t finished any of the others), etc.

    Still, as I said there are some “older” romances that I discovered and LOVED. I loved almost all of Teresa Medeiros’s 90s books (her last few, not so much), and I did go through a definite Amanda Quick phase in college (late 90s), till it started to seem like I was reading the same book over and over.

    So… Maybe I have just been more selective in my reading in the last few years, and proportionately the 2000s romances are coming off the better for it?

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  51. Michelle
    Aug 20, 2009 @ 12:24:43

    I definitely think there was a golden age of category – late 80′s to mid to late 90′s. Basically, before there was a large, single-title, contemporary romance market, the only place all those super-talented, contemporary, romantic storytellers could publish was category. I tend to think of the 90′s as a golden age for historical romance as well, but I do think that many of the points raised against that above have merit.

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  52. Ponderings on the Golden Era: Perspectives of a Seasoned Nerd and a Nerdy Novice | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary
    Aug 25, 2009 @ 04:01:23

    [...] Reading through the comments on the Dear Author Golden Era poll, they seem to reflect the split in the voting between the 1990s and the 2000s. Those who chose the [...]

  53. coach
    Feb 05, 2011 @ 21:26:05

    Good article,i like it

    ReplyReply

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