Saturday, September 02, 2006

Introducing a new era: Rome

September marks the start of a new era for Harlequin Historical. It is the first time (since possibly the Dark Ages), they have published romances set in the Roman era. These are tales of sandals, swords and sex.

The first book to be published is The Gladiator's Honor by Michelle Styles, recent winner of Cataromance's Reviewers'Choice award for Best Mills and Boon Historical and is set in Rome in 65 BC. This month also sees the publication of Mills and Boon second Roman romance -- The Warlord's Mistress by Juliet Langton. This is set on Hadrian's Wall during the Roman occupation.

Harlequin Mills and Boon is committed to showcasing this exciting era. Debut author Lyn Randal's Warrior or Wife about a female gladarix during the reign of the Emperor Trajan. It will be published in Feb 07 and the editors are very excited about it.

Three more of Michelle Styles' books are in production: A Noble Captive (Mills and Boon Historicals Jan 07), Sold and Seduced (Mills and Boon Historicals Apr 07) and The Roman's Virgin Mistress (Mills and Boon Historicals July 07). The Harlequin Historical release dates are yet to be determined. All three take place during the 60s BC when Julius Caesar was a young man, and Roman society faced many changes and challenges.

Louise Allen is currently writing a book about the fall of Rome and Visigoths.

So why now? Was Harlequin influenced by the success of HBO Rome? The answer is no. Linda Fildew, the senior editor had long wanted to publish ancient civilization books, but no one had produced a book set in Rome that fulfilled Harlequin's promise of passionate romance in a vivid historical setting to its reader until Michelle Styles sumitted her manuscript in March 2004. When Gladiator's Honour was finally purchased in June 2005, neither Michelle nor Linda were aware of the production. But once the series was shown on the BBC last autumn, the entire historical editorial team and Michelle became fans!

Roman society was the first consumer society and the first republic to become a world super power. Romans enjoyed a higher standard of living than any other society until the mid-nineteenth century. They had indoor plumbing, good roads and mass produced goods. There was a high degree of literacy, and women were educated. However, they also had slavery and life was cheap. It was a world where the son of slave could be a senator and a senator, a slave.

While Romans were practical and pragmatic people and the vast majority of marriages were for polictical or business reasons, it should not be supposed that they were strangers to love. Human emotions have not changed through out the ages.

Some readers have mentioned the modern language. As in theory, these book are translated from Latin, the authors like other modern novelists writing about the period (Lindsey Davis, the best selling Roman mystery writer for example) have chosen to show slang in a modern context. Most Roman slang is difficult to translate or might cause a long and awkward explanation, and the meaning might be lost or more importantly the flow of the story. Thus, in order to give the flavor of the period, modern language has sometimes been used.

The authors and the editors of Harlequin Mills and Boon are tremendously excited to be adding a new era to the stable. It is an era of passion, high adventure and breath taking romance. An era of sandals, swords and sex and one we hope you love.


Marg said...

I am looking forward to getting hold of this book! A fresh era sounds great

Allison Littlehales said...

I've read both books here in the U.K and i can tell you they're great reads!

It's fantastic that M&B are offering such a wide spectrum of time periods. Long may it reign!

Nicole said...

Already bought the Styles book. Gotta show my support of different settings, after all!

Diane Perkins said...

I'm looking forward to this one, too, Michelle. I love the ancient Roman era.

Marie Bellevaux said...

Way to go. It is about time we saw some historicals set in ancient Rome...I'd love to see more unusual settings.

Michelle Styles said...

I know the HM&B historical team would love to find more historicals in an unusual setting...
Some of the problem has been getting strong mss that deliver on the HM&B historical promise to its readers.

Now hopewfully the readers will respond in sufficent numbers.. for the historical team to continue to follow their hunches.
Of course Regency does remain the backbone of the historical it is the most popular time period with readers on both sides of the Atlantic.