st. armands


Identifying historical romances set outside the British Isles or North America can be a bit of a chore. Here I’ve put together a batch of stories located in one of my favourite countries, France.

Asterisks denote romances set partially (*) or mostly/entirely (**) in continental France as defined by its current borders, including Provence, Languedoc, etc.. Standard warnings apply to some of the older titles. As for diversity, a regrettable consequence of being a little-used geographical setting is that diverse characters remain rare even as boundaries have expanded elsewhere in the genre.

Night Fires by Karen Harbaugh **. French Revolution. Vampires with a unique twist, redemption.

Whisper His Name by Elizabeth Thornton *. Regency. Heroine opens book business, scholarly hero has secret profession, light suspense.

A Wheel of Stars by Laura Gilmour Bennett **. Medieval / Timeslip. Templars, Cathars, Inquisition, troubadours.

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase *. Regency. Forced marriage, heroine-as-saviour, rakehell hero, clever repartee, perennial romance reader favourite.

The Last Arrow by Marsha Canham **. Medieval. Heroine is a skilled archer, swashbuckling adventure, Robin Hood & King John.

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig *. Regency / Contemporary. First in the Pink Carnation series. The dual narrative framework alternates between Eloise, a modern scholar researching “that demmed, elusive Pimpernel”, and British spies romping about in Napoleonic France.

Wicked Becomes You by Meredith Duran **. Victorian / Belle Époque. Jilted bride decides to ditch nice girl image, black sheep hero, road trip.

The Making of a Duchess by Shana Galen *. Georgian / First French Republic. First in a trilogy about French brothers. Governess, spies, rescue mission.

Storm Winds by Iris Johansen **. French Revolution. Dark suspense, graphic violence including rape (not involving h/h), class divide, Marie Antoinette.

Moonrise by Roberta Gayle **. Victorian / Second Empire. Art world, artist heroine, seafaring hero, poc h/h, Paris.

A Bed of Spices by Barbara Samuel **. Medieval. Forbidden love, Jewish hero, Christian heroine, hero is medical student, virgin hero (IIRC), Black Death.

Ruthless by Anne Stuart **. Georgian / Ancien Régime. First in the House of Rohan series. Rakehell hero, sexually abused heroine, bluestocking heroine, May-December.

The Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne **. French Revolution. Third in the Spymasters series – in which France is a recurring location - but chronologically the first. Secret identity, spies, suspense, sexually experienced heroine.

The Heart’s Wager by Gayle Wilson. Regency / Bourbon Restoration / The Hundred Days. Friends-to-lovers, physically scarred hero, heroine brought up in gambling den, spies.

King of the Castle by Victoria Holt **. Nineteenth century. Gothic. Heroine is an art restorer, château set amid vineyards, dead first wife, promiscuous hero.

Dance by Judy Cuevas (also known as Judith Ivory) **. Edwardian / Belle Époque. Independent heroine who produces and directs films; starchy, self-denying, head-of-the-family hero; heroine jilted hero’s brother. Their backstories are encountered in a connected book, Bliss. A third historical, Beast (as the title suggests, a Beauty and the Beast tale), takes place in France and on an ocean liner.

Don’t Tempt Me by Sylvia Day. Georgian / Ancien Régime. Fourth in the Georgian series. Erotic romance. Twin sisters, mistaken identity, spies, suspense, amnesia, rake hero.

Angélique, the Marquise of the Angels by Anne Golon **. 17th century. Not a standalone as the book finishes on a disconsolate cliffhanger and forms the first installment in an extended adventure romance series. Still, no list of historical romances set in France would be complete without this vintage classic. Long wildly popular in Europe, the Angélique series was known for its action-filled blend of intrigue, history, and lustiness, including pirates, slavery, and the court of the Sun King. In line with some earlier romances, expect a strongly heroine-centric storyline in which she (due to plot-spoiler circumstances) has more than one relationship yet recognises only one true love. If you enjoy Bertrice Small, Angélique may very well work for you. In addition, some of the books have been made into feature-length films, the first one twice (1960s and 2013).

A Midnight Dance by Lila DiPasqua **.17th century. Erotic romance. Loose retelling of Charles Perrault’s Cinderella, debt-ridden but resourceful heroine, childhood crush, privateer hero, acting troupe, deception, thievery, revenge.

The Protector by Madeline Hunter **. Medieval. Fifth in the Medieval series. Alpha heroine, warrior heroine, heroine prefers convent over marriage, alpha hero, honourable hero, sieges and battles, Black Death. I only recently discovered the story deals with Brittany, then an independent Duchy in the grip of succession struggles in which England and France aggressively meddled. Those familiar with my blog will probably not be surprised to learn that the Breton setting has made it shoot up to the top of my TBR. [ETA 11 Feb. 2017: Cannot disagree more with reviewers who’ve deemed the hero honourable. He’s an old school romance misogynist. The other major negative is the slut shaming and all other women being belittled unless they’re the heroine in another book by the author. Strong points include the fluid writing style, an interesting, smart, and capable heroine, and decent historical texture. Blood pressure warning re. said negatives. Hero: D (a few, small redeeming moments rescue him from an F). Heroine: A. Story: B.]

The Treasure Keeper by Shana Abé *. Georgian / Ancien Régime. Fourth in the Drakón series. Dragon shapeshifters, hero-in-pursuit, disabled hero, heroine betrothed to someone else, the-trouble-with-ghosts.

The Champion by Elizabeth Chadwick * (?). Medieval. Tournaments, separated lovers, miscarriage, court of King John. This is a romance that pulls toward romantic historical fiction (Chadwick later transitioned to biographical historical fiction).

Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart **. Since nearly seventy years have passed since its original publication, I’m now classifying this vintage Gothic romance, written and set in the 1950s, as a historical romance. Cinderella, governess, child-in-peril, hero who may or may not be a villain. Also set in France are Thunder on the Right, Stewart’s first effort and a very purple gothic (though published second), and Madam, Will You Talk, a taut, atmospheric romantic suspense in which the heroine’s superb driving ability plays a central role.

Maiden of Fire by Deborah Johns **. Medieval. Templars, Cathars, Inquisition, heroine with a secret mission, scribe heroine, hero belongs to enemy force, forbidden love.

The Prince of Midnight by Laura Kinsale *. Georgian / Ancien Régime. Friends-to-lovers, cross-dressing heroine, angry heroine, recluse hero, disabled hero, hero-in-pursuit, pet wolf, revenge. And yes, that’s Fabio on the original cover.

A Lady’s Secret by Jo Beverley *. Georgian / Ancien Régime. Malloren series but works as a standalone. Road trip, heroine in peril, kind and fun-loving hero, heroine born out of wedlock, famous but secret father, competent and adventurous heroine, scene stealing Papillon.

Surrender to a Stranger by Karyn Monk **. French Revolution. Rescue missions, commoner hero is spy, noblewoman heroine is betrothed to someone else, adventure, suspense, revenge. (Note that Goodreads and Amazon synopses are messed up, conflating two unrelated novels. For example, the hero’s name is Armand St. James, not Damien Powell.)

Rake Most Likely to Rebel by Bronwyn Scott **. Regency / July Monarchy. Fencing, secret identity, blackmail, cross-dressing heroine, heroine expert at her profession, duteous hero expected to marry someone else, hero not a rake despite book title.

  • Armand: I want to kiss her!
  • Me, the mun: The last time you said that, it led to you getting beaten within an inch of your life, your sister sending a family to the guillotine, you joining a spy league, you getting thrown into jail, and finally your sister committing treason to save your sorry ass. Do you know what I'm saying?
  • Armand: ... Kissing is just the START of the adventure?!


replied to your post:

“portabellogna replied to your post: I don’t…”


(As a sidenote- good liquid watercolors and real pressed watercolor paper has ruined me for all cheap supplies and I can’t go back and it is Terrible but they are So Nice)

I KNOW im only kept from using them out of fear. I have this REALLY NICE st armand paper from montreal that i looove painting on because it has nice texture and doesn’t warp too much at all- but every time I’ve used it has been to make a gift for a friend so i haven’t kept any of it for myself yet ToT (the only thing so far that doesnt get along with it is derwent studio pencils but tbh ive had trouble getting them to get along with Anything.)

i have some Really Nice Danielle Smith watercolours (come to think of it all the stuff i’m afraid to use were gifts to me and i only use them when making gifts for other people… is this… guilt) and some student staedtler paints i got myself two years ago and most of the tubes in the latter set are still unopened because im like ‘i should use up all my crayola’ ‘i should use up my set from high school’ etc etc. i’ve got this bad habit of wandering over to all the schmincke paints every time i go to the store and just… looking at them… then at the prices… then back to them… then at the prices… and literally last time a staff member came over to ask if we needed anything we just replied ‘more money’.

lately i’ve been making a point to use up the cheap junk that i got in old art sets as a kid but i can’t get the effects i know i should be able to get with it so I cry a lot and persevere. should just be practicing colour theory or something with them i guess.

  • Armand: There are *at least* three secret passageways in Blakeney Manor that I know about.
  • Armand: -can't find a vase anywhere-
  • Armand: -doesn't know what drawer the spatulas are in-
  • Armand: -lost track of how many greyhounds Marguerite has-
  • Armand: But there are *at least* three secret passages in Blakeney Manor that I know about.
Notes on the League: HC and RP Plotting Info

The Life and Exploits of the Scarlet Pimpernel, a fictional biography of Percy Blakeney published in 1938, named the nineteen members of the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel.[6]

  • The original nine League or founder members who formed the party on 2 August 1792: Sir Andrew Ffoulkes (second in command), Lord Anthony Dewhurst, Lord Edward Hastings, Lord John Bathurst, Lord Stowmarries, Sir Edward Mackenzie, Sir Philip Glynde, Lord Saint Denys, and Sir Richard Galveston.
  • Ten members enrolled in January 1793: Sir Jeremiah Wallescourt, Lord Kulmstead, Lord George Fanshawe, Anthony Holte, John Hastings (Lord Edward’s cousin), Lord Everingham, Sir George Vigor, Bart, The Honorable St John Devinne, Michael Barstow of York, and Armand St Just (Marguerite’s brother).
  • Marguerite, Lady Blakeney, is also named as a member of the League in the book Mam'zelle Guillotine, but it is not known when she was formally enrolled.


That said - for RP purposes - I’d like to talk about what the League looks like in relation to Marguerite. I generally assume that Marguerite is, in fact, a member of the League after the events of the first novel, which, incidentally, is the only novel I take into immediate consideration in my RPs. (Unless, of course, we talk about my willingness to call the 1982 film canon and, thus, adopt elements of Eldorado. But that’s just quibbling). I assume that even though Andrew Ffoulkes maintains his position as Percy’s second-in-command, Marguerite is about as equally influential as Andrew, though not officially. She certainly has some kind of sway over Percy and Armand very both that Andrew does not. I imagine that she is just as willing and able to render espionage services to the League as any man and, in fact, takes up sword fighting - among other things - to further her usefulness. She is not content to stay behind, wringing her hands in worry. I also imagine that she heads the female allies of the League including (but not limited to) wives and sisters of members of the League who have been deemed useful and trustworthy enough to be made privy to activities of the League. In some AUs, I even imagine her starting a proper “Lady League” of lady spies who work for the Pimpernel’s cause. 

If I am RPing with another canon character who disagrees with any of this, we can discuss it. However, this is my baseline for my post-canon verse, modern verse, historical verses, and urban fantasy verse. 

Now… if you play a character (OC or crossover canon) who would make sense as a member of the League and you’re interested in writing them as such, talk to me before you make that assumption! It is imperative in canon that the League be kept small.  I hesitate to add members to the League, since keeping it a relatively small operation is crucial to its success and prestige, however, I think it can be done if the plot calls for it. It simply demands plotting. Alternatively, we can swap out a canon member of the League for your character. The members of the League that I refuse to replace are Ffoulkes, Dewhurst, Hastings, and Armand. (And, of course, Percy, but you weren’t really suggesting swapping him out, were you?) The others are pretty interchangeable as far as I’m concerned. Perhaps this is due largely to ignorance on my part, but those I have stated are not interchangeable are characterized in the novel and film adaptations I’m familiar with. 

If you play a character (OC or crossover canon) who would make sense as the wife/sister/etc. of a member of the League, the only characters I am not willing to swap out are Suzanne Ffoulkes (nee de Tournay) and - of course - Marguerite (but you wouldn’t ask me to swap out my character, right?). I don’t generally consider the other League members’ family and love interests as important enough to stress over. This includes Armand’s love interest (Louise in the 1982 film; Jeanne in Eldorado), since I am open to a different sister-in-law for Marguerite however if no one in our verse is being courted by him or is married to him, I might assume one of these characters (who are technically the same character with different names because That’s Hollywood For You) is Marguerite’s sister-in-law. Plot with me about whether your girl knows about the League! Revelation scenes can be fun! Dramatic irony is a gift! Characters being bad ass lady spies together is the key to my heart

All of this holds true across my verses. The one (current) exception is my urban fantasy/fae verse, where the League or its equivalent is probably even bigger and more global, headed by Percy and Marguerite with equality, allied with Armand’s descendants (Spoiler: Armand has been dead for like, 200+ years because he was human), and even more secret from outsiders because it would reveal the existence of supernatural creatures to humans and that’s dangerous. Everything else? Pretty true across the board. 

Again, this is all also only true in verses in which I am NPCing the canon characters of TSP. If I am RPing with other canons, I am amenable to change and to plotting.

If you have any questions, please hit me up!

4 horror authors on the difference between terror and horror
  • Terry Heller: Terror is the fear that harm will come to oneself. Horror is the emotion one feels in anticipating and witnessing harm coming to others for whom one cares.
  • Philip Van Doren Stern: Unlike fear, which can be of long duration, horror is necessarily climactic in effect. The mind can stand only so much, then its protecting agencies quickly come to their rescue and benumb the nerves. Thus it will be seen that horror transcends fear and is even more powerful.
  • Ann Radcliffe: Terror and Horror are so far opposite that the first expands the soul, and awakens the faculties to a high degree of life; the other contracts, freezes and nearly annihilates them.
  • Barton Levi St. Armand: Terror expands the soul outward; it leads us to or engulfs us in the sublime, the immense, the cosmic. We are, as it were, lost in the ocean of fear or plunged directly into it, drowning of our dread. What we lose is the sense of self. That feeling of ‘awe’ which traditionally accompanies intimations of the sublime, links terror with experiences that are basically religious in nature [...] horror is equally annihilating, but from a dramatically different direction. Horror overtakes the soul from the inside; consciousness shrinks or withers form within, and the self is not flung into the exterior ocean of awe but sinks in its own bloodstream, choked by the alien salts of its inescapable pre-vertebrate heritage.