Guest Post from Amara Royce:
Asian Protagonists in Historical Romance
There’s been a lot of talk recently about the need for diverse books, and I couldn’t agree more that diversity in fiction, in all genres, is a very good thing! I think it’s a challenge to write some diverse characters into Regency and Victorian historical romances in particular because they are, by their nature, usually focused on Britain and Europe. A Japanese character like Hanako, the heroine of ALWAYS A STRANGER, would be exceedingly rare in Regency and Victorian Britain because Japan was closed to foreign trade (except with the Dutch) until 1854, when the US basically intimidated the Asian country to opening its ports. (But that’s a story for another time.) This challenge of placing diverse characters in such a common historical romance setting is daunting, but important, I think, for considering how much has changed in the world but also how much hasn’t.
Generally, in today’s world, interracial romance is no big deal. It’s common. It’s normal. It’s beautiful. Still, online commentary reacting to a 2013 Cheerios commercial featuring an interracial family made clear that there’s still a long way to go in terms of diversity and acceptance. So I’m encouraged by romances, historical and otherwise, that address intercultural relationships. For example, I love how Meredith Duran handled her half-Indian hero in DUKE OF SHADOWS, shedding light on his complex political situation as well as his personal struggles and demons. I love Mary Jo Putney’s THE CHINA BRIDE and the internal and external struggles of the primary couple. These and other interracial historical romances demonstrate the potential conflicts and equally potential growth of cross-cultural interaction, romantic and otherwise. It’s precisely the encounters between cultures and how those interactions deepen that keeps me turning pages long after my bedtime.
ALWAYS A STRANGER builds on this by taking aim at common depictions of Asian women. In broad strokes, there are some common images of what Asian women are like, and Skyler, the hero of ALWAYS A STRANGER, starts out the novel with a vivid picture of exactly that. As the novel progresses and gets to know Hanako, he struggles to figure out what’s real and what’s not. At the same time, she has to figure out whether to trust him with who she really is. Ultimately, their struggles for truth and for trust are, I think, at the core of all relationships.
Always a Stranger
By: Amara Royce
Releasing May 15th, 2014
When two worlds collide, anything is possible. . .
An international affair, London's Great Exhibition has taken the city by storm. As its newest Royal Commissioner, Lord Skyler Ridgemont must ensure the performers are properly contracted. Among them is the delicate and graceful Hanako Sumaki. Draped in vivid silk robes, Hanako's exotic Japanese fan dance captivates Skyler--and he longs to learn more about her. . .
But Hanako's enigmatic employer keeps his exquisite charge very close. The consummate artist, she shows the handsome nobleman many faces, but never her true heart, which holds a desperate secret. When Skyler learns the real reason Hanako has been brought to London, he will risk his entire world to win her trust--and save her from losing both body and soul. It's a feat that will require the type of courage only love can give. . .
Amara Royce writes historical romances that combine her passion for 19th-century literature and history with her addiction to happily ever afters.
She earned a PhD in English, specializing in 19th-century British literature, from Lehigh University and a Master's degree in English from Villanova University, and she now teaches English literature and composition at a community college in Pennsylvania.
When she isn't writing, she's either grading papers or reveling in her own happily ever after with her remarkably patient family. You can find her at .
(Two Digital Copies of ALWAYS A STRANGER or $20.00 Amazon or B&N Gift Card)
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