René Penn

Author wannabe. Blogger. Follow me.

Leave a comment

6 Terms from Historical Romance Novels for Thee to Speaketh

Who needs slang? Historical romance novels, especially regency-era books, are known for their formal, clever turns-of-phrase.


Here are some terms to incorporate into your everyday lingo.

  • Bloody

I’m cheating a bit with this term, since it’s used in present-day speech. But unfortunately, it just hasn’t caught on here in America. Bloody shame.

“Anyway, with his position, her having moved up and out of the protection of the screen, and what with the angle of the mirror, he was looking right at a pair of devilish long legs. Bloody gorgeous, they were.” The Proposition, Judith Ivory

  • Drat it

A good alternative for those who don’t like to curse.

“She lifted her head, having no doubt heard the approach of his horse, and he recognized her. Mrs…Working? Looking? Darling? Weeding? Drat it, he could not recall her name.” Only Enchanting, Mary Balogh

  • Missish

Say this word five times fast. Go!

“She did not want a relationship. She wanted only…well, she must learn to use the word. The Duke had always used it in her hearing, and she was not missish.” A Secret Affair, Mary Balogh

  • Bottle-headed chub

Simply being called bottle-headed or a chub is bad enough. But to combine the two–I shudder to think!

“To be honest, the mere thought of the wedding makes me feel slightly mad. I could bear the rank—though it isn’t my cup of tea, to say the least—if he weren’t such a little, beardy-weird bottle-headed chub.” The Duke Is Mine, Eloisa James

RELATED: Forget the cardigan. Here are 9 historical-romance-inspired items (not) to wear to work instead.

  • Hell’s teeth

If Hell were a person, I really wouldn’t want to encounter its teeth. They’re probably fiery hot, sharp and extremely crooked.

“Hell’s teeth, Georgie!” He exploded. “You’re my wife! You’ll sleep where you slept last night! Where you belong – in my bed, of course!” The Prodigal Bride, Elizabeth Rolls

  • Whither

I’ve heard of hither and thither. But there’s also a whither? Use all three in one sentence for bonus points.

His face took on a broad grin. “Margery, the day improves. Whither do we ride?” Mist Over PendleRobert Neill

I took a couple of these quotes from a more serious article (unlike mine), that includes general tips for writing authentic historical romance dialogue.

I’d like to add to this list, because this is just a wee needle in a giant haystack. Any suggestions?

Photo by Alexander Solodukhin on Unsplash

Leave a comment

What I Learned from Colleen Coble’s The Lightkeeper’s Ball

As I get more dedicated to my writing, I’ve grown more strategic about my reading. I would usually pick up whatever looked interesting, what I was in the mood to read, or what was the “in” book. Though, I must admit, I’ve always been late to the party when it comes to the “in” books. andrew-charney-207202

Now I, usually, try to pick books that I can teach me something. Here’s why I picked The Lightkeeper’s Ball—a historical-romance-mystery-Christian novel by Colleen Coble—and what I learned from it.

Why I chose it.

I confess, I stumbled upon The Lightkeeper’s Ball while looking for a new book by Alyssa Cole. Unfortunately, Cole wasn’t on the shelf. But Coble was nearby–Cole, Coble, alphabetically, you can see how close they were on the library racks.

The cover caught my eye. It shows the back of a woman wearing a beautiful, long ruby-red ballgown, clearly from the early 20th century. Because my historical-romance novel also includes a ball scene and a ball gown, I thought this could be good “research.” I read the book jacket…

What is The Lightkeeper’s Ball about?

Miss Olivia Stewart, a daughter of one of the country’s creme de la creme families, goes from New York to California to discover the truth behind her sister’s alleged suicide. She calls herself Lady Devonworth (her rarely used given title) to hide her identity while she tries to find out if her sister was, in fact, murdered. She suspects that her sister’s handsome, rich fiance has something to do with it, but she can’t fight the attraction she feels toward him. How did her sister die? Was he involved? Will her true identity come forward before she figures out the mystery?

You’ll have to read it yourself to find out. But I can tell you this…

Why the book chose me.

It follows the a stranger comes to town story concept, which is what I am using for my novel. I was curious to know how Coble treated it, and I felt good about how I’ve handled it with my WIP.

The book also includes a double-identity—with Olivia Stewart calling herself Lady Devonworth in this “new world”—a device I use in my book, too. I was curious to see how Coble would unveil the heroine’s true identity.

I also noticed the alternating points-of-view between the heroine and her love interest, the hero. Then I thought about many of the other historical romance books that I’ve read. There’s a pattern; they all have both points-of-view. And what about my WIP, which is also historical romance? Nope, I was not doing it. Major flaw.

What I learned as a writer.

I researched points-of-view for romance novels. Many sources, including this one, cited that it’s common to include both points-of-view from the heroine and her hero. In fact, it’s expected by readers.

This is where I started gnashing teeth.

Three-fourth of my first draft was already written, and it was now seemed about as good as milk toast with my heroine’s singular point-of-view. After teeth-gnashing for two hours, I finally came to terms with the fact that I needed to face this big elephant. But how? Instead of going back and adding in completely new scenes, I decided to adjust some of the previously written scenes to come from the point-of-view of Lord Ethan (my novel’s hero). This will make my rewrite process a little more complicated, but I guess that’s why it’s called “rewrite.” For all new scenes that I hadn’t written yet, I would make sure that I included both points-of-view.

I’m just glad I figured out this big issue now rather than later.

RELATED: Here’s what I learned from Gail Carriger’s novel Soulless.

Have you read anything by Coble, or any other author, that helped give you insight with your own work?


1 Comment

9 Historical-Romance-Inspired Items (Not) to Wear to Your Next Staff Meeting

What would happen if you wore a regency-era accessory or piece of clothing in today’s workplace? It would make things more interesting, wouldn’t it? You would be the talk of your team, department, floor, or heck, maybe even the whole company. You could suddenly be catapulted from “Jill in Accounting” to “Jill in Accounting Who Wore the Cool Vintage Dress.” You’d have more swagger. The day-to-day stress would roll off your satin-puffed shoulders. Here are some regency-era, historical-romance inspired clothing items that you should wear or bring to work “ASAP.”


Any man who wears a tailcoat and accompanying waistcoat will look like a leader. It’s even better if you stick one hand inside the jacket, Napoleon-style. Very distinguished.

This small circular-shaped piece of glass can be held over the eye, and is ideal for peering at objects–or even people. If someone in the meeting says something that doesn’t make sense, the quizzing glass will aptly convey your need for clarity.

When a lady is bored, she should open a colorful fan, sigh heavily and cool herself. It will also be helpful during any heated discussions and moments of tension at a staff meeting.

  • A lady’s corset, a.k.a. stays

If you’re the type to feign sick, stays will help your strategy. The vice grip around your ribcage will hinder your breathing and possibly change your facial coloring. These symptoms will evoke sympathy from your colleagues and manager, who will quickly advise you to go home.

Wearing gloves will make it harder to type on a keyboard and to handle documents. They also come in handy for germaphobes.

This underskirt has the potential to balloon the lower-half of a lady’s dress to unseemly proportions. That garment, along with an authentic ballgown and the use of grand gestures, would show a commanding presence. A petticoat would also make it difficult to sit in a chair, at which time you could ask the building maintenance crew to bring in your chaise.

Though these are quite fashionable for women nowadays, riding boots on a man would be a standout. Colleagues will ask if you’ve taken up some sort of equestrian sport or bought a horse. You could answer yes to both, since either one would be impressive.

What other items should I add to this list?



Leave a comment

Seven Black Authors Who Write Historical Romance

I am currently writing a historical romance novel, which means that I love to read historical romance novels, too. One day, I went to the Google machine in search of historical romance novels with black or African American characters—or historical romance novels written by black authors. The list is small. (Sad face.) Here’s what I found, in case you’re also looking for books in this niche market.


Beverly Jenkins

  • Ms. Beverly is like the Aretha Franklin of black historical romance. With about 50 books sold, she definitely deserves R-E-S-P-E-C-T. And like Aretha, she’s left an imprint on individuals of all cultural backgrounds. In 2017, she was awarded the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award by the Romance Writers of America.

Kianna Alexander

  • Ms. Alexander writes historical (let’s talk about California in the 1880s), as well as contemporary romance. And she shouts out the Twitter hashtags #WeNeedDiverseRomance and #WOCinRomance, which are both worth checking out.

Roberta Gayle

  • Ms. Gayle’s books must be amazing, because her novel Sunrise and Shadows is on sale on for $2,003.98. (Huh?) Well, at least the shipping is free.

Patricia Vaughn

  • The novel Murmur of Rain, by Patricia Vaughn, is about a musician set in Paris in the 1890s. Oh la la…

Gay G. Gunn

  • One of Gunn’s novels, Nowhere to Run, captures a love story during slavery times in America.

AlTonya Washington

  • Ms. Washington is best known for her contemporary and erotica novels, but she has also penned two historical novels. She received Romantic Times Magazine’s Reviewers Choice Award in 2012.

Alyssa Cole

  • Let Us Dream was nominated for Best Romance Novella by the Romance Writers of America (RITA’s Award nominee). Besides historical romance, Ms. Cole also writes contemporary romance and sci-fi.

What do you think of the novelists on this list? Please help me expand it. Which authors have I missed?


Photo by Henri Meilhac on Unsplash