Historical Romance for the Modern Reader

The ideal modern romance (what every girl wants) entails attraction, dozens of dates, “hanging out” until you really know them, becoming their “best friend”, etc…etc… Often the process of making sure someone is the “right one”, or your “soul-mate”, takes years.

Sometime readers shake their heads that a romance can “happen” and the happy couple are ready to bind themselves together for the rest of their lives after only a few months…or weeks…or days! It’s as unbelievable as the heroine off  Disney’s “Enchanted” being sure of her “prince charming” and “true love” after only one day…or a brief meeting.


But what can I say? Expectations where different “back then”.

For the sake of ease, lets look at one era. Regency. Turning to our expert in the field, Jane Austen herself, what do we see? (Not counting Persuasion 😉 ) In Pride and Prejudice, Charlotte’s example probably rings pretty true. She knew almost nothing of Mr Collins, but he could provide a good life for her and seemed the logical choice. After only a few public meetings and a short interlude, she agreed to be his wife.Pride-and-Prejudice-1995-pride-and-prejudice-1995-6196003-207-208

But that wasn’t very romantic and she didn’t actually love him, so lets look at Jane instead.

Jane was truly in love with Mr. Bingley. But then, what wasn’t to love? And she’d had ample time to judge his character. Several social gatherings, and then all those days she was sick in his house (OK, that worked out better for Elisabeth than Jane). Unfortunately Bingley was compelled to leave for London and Jane didn’t see him much before he finally proposed. But that didn’t matter. She knew him to be a good man who would treat her kindly, provide well for her, and she was attracted to him.pnp-2

But let’s dig deeper here. What about Elisabeth. By far the pickiest of the sisters, so a good thing she had plenty of social gatherings to analyse Mr Darcy, a nice stay with the Bingleys to engage in the rigors of proper conversation (only she still didn’t like him), several meetings at his aunt’s (where it all fell apart), and then restoration during her short stay near Pemberley. It helped that he was wealthy and everyone (except Wickham) said such wonderful things about him. How could she not fall deeply and madly in love with him? The question remains, how much time did they really have with each other before they were decided? PnP 1

The purpose of this examination is not to induce you to change your expectations when seeking the one you plan to spend the rest of your life with (please make sure you love them, respect them, and are their best friend), but to point out that when reading a historical romance, while we will strive to make their falling in love fulfilling and realistic…they might rush into marriage a year or two quicker then you would have.

Though, I suppose there are still great parallels between the mail-order bride…and your internet sweetheart 😉