Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Tuesday Tidbits: A Bit of ROMANCE NOVEL History

If there is a romance gene, I’ve got it. I know romance novels haven’t always had the best reputation, but they are the hottest selling genre, with sales of over a billion dollars annually. So when did this love of romance novels begin?

Before Gutenberg invented the printing press, making romance novels more accessible to the masses, romance stories existed. The ancient Greeks had them as well as many other cultures. The ones that weren’t copied over and over by hand were told by word of mouth and acted out as plays, as were other types of stories. There is a list of over twenty ancient Greek romance novel titles, most are but mere fragments of the original stories. Only five of them have survived in a nearly completed state.

The Native Americans of Mackinac Island, Michigan have a tale about Arch Rock on the Island. 

An Indian maiden was tied to the rock by her father when he forbid her to marry the brave she was in love with. Her tears melted away the gigantic hole in the limestone rock, leaving the arch we see today. Her warrior rescued her and took her with him to his people. Though this story is used to explain a geological formation, it’s interesting that the Native Americans chose to use a romance theme to explain it.

The first recognized modern romance novel is considered to be Pamela or Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson in 1740. 

. . . and the first from the woman’s point of view. (Interesting that romance novels before this were from the man’s point of view or probably omniscient point of view.) It was one of the first best-sellers. Go romance!

Then in the early 1800s came Jane Austen and then Charlotte Brontë in the middle of the century. Romance novels became more popular after World War I. Walter Scott developed the popular mass-market version of the historical romance novels which is said to have begun in 1921 with the publication of The Black Moth.

Mills and Boon, British publishers, began publishing hardback romance novels in the 1930s, which were popular across England. In 1957, Harlequin Enterprises, a Canadian company, began releasing Mills and Boon’s category romances in North America. In the 1970s, Harlequin bought Mills and Boon and other companies published romance novels as well that were now being sold in mass-market stores and other places where women shopped like supermarkets.

I think of Grace Livingston Hill (1865-1847) as the forerunner to the current modern-day Inspirational romances, both category and stand-alone. She wrote over 100 novels and short stories. Her published works span from the 1870s until after her death in 1947. Her last novel, Mary Arden, was finished by her daughter Ruth and published in 1948.

Romance novels continued to change and adapt to the market and have continued to sell more and more copies. Romance novels have many, many sub-genres that contribute to the large number of sales. These vast sub-genres enable romance readers to find just the right fit for them.

This reader (and author) is happy romance novels are still going strong.


THIMBLES AND THREADS: 4 Love Stories Are Quilted Into Broken Lives

Love Stitched into Four Women’s Lives
Enjoy four historical romances that celebrate the arts of sewing and quilting. When four women put needle and thread to fabric, will their talents lead to love? #thimblesandthreadscollection
Click HERE to order yours today.
FREE Preview
“Bygones” by Mary Davis
Texas, 1884
Drawn to the new orphan boy in town, Tilly Rockford soon became the unfortunate victim of a lot of Orion Dunbar’s mischievous deeds in school. Can Tilly figure out how to truly forgive the one who made her childhood unbearable? Now she doesn’t even know she holds his heart. Can this deviant orphan-train boy turned man make up for the misdeeds of his youth and win Tilly’s heart before another man steals her away?

Other stories in this collection:
“The Bridal Shop” by Grace Hitchcock, “Mending Sarah’s Heart” by Suzanne Norquist, and “Binding Up Wounds” by Liz Tolsma

THE DAUGHTER'S PREDICAMENT (Book 2 in the Quilting Circle series)
FREE Preview
Can a patient love win her heart?

As Isabelle Atwood’s romance prospects are turning in her favor, a family scandal derails her dreams. While making a quilt for her own hope chest, Isabelle’s half-sister becomes pregnant out of wedlock and Isabelle--always the unfavored daughter--becomes the family sacrifice to save face. Despite gaining the attention of a handsome rancher, her parents are pressuring her to marry a man of their choosing to rescue her sister’s reputation. A third suitor waits silently in the wings, hoping for his own chance at love. Isabelle ends up with three marriage proposals, but this only further confuses her decision.

A handsome rancher, a stranger, and an unseen suitor are all waiting for an answer.  Isabelle loves her sister, but will she really allow herself to be manipulated into a marriage without love? Will Isabelle capitulate and marry the man her parents wish her to, or will she rebel and marry the man they don’t approve of? Or will the man leaving her secret love poems sweep her off her feet?

#ChristianRomance #HistoricalRomance #Romance

MARY DAVIS s a bestselling, award-winning novelist of over two dozen titles in both historical and contemporary themes. Her 2018 titles include; "Holly and Ivy" in A Bouquet of Brides Collection (January), Courting Her Amish Heart (March), The Widow’s Plight (July), Courting Her Secret Heart (September), “Zola’s Cross-Country Adventure” in The MISSAdventure Brides Collection (December), and Courting Her Prodigal Heart (January 2019). Coming in 2019, The Daughter's Predicament (May) and "Bygones" in Thimbles and Threads (July). She is a member of ACFW and active in critique groups.
Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of over thirty-five years and two cats. She has three adult children and two incredibly adorable grandchildren. Find her online at:

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