In a little village, at the edge of the sea, lived a young couple.
Shortly after their marriage the wife became heavy with child to their delight.
However, as the pregnancy wore on and winter set in, the wife began to crave a
particular food. She was unsure what it was but she said she’d know when she
saw it and her husband promised to get it for her. One day as the wife took a
short walk to cure herself of a slight restlessness in her body, she passed a
home with its garden in full bloom! Neat rows of tomatoes, carrots, turnips,
herbs…and the delicate, tender leaves of Rapunzel lettuce. The woman felt her
mouth water and scurried up the walkway to knock on the door.
An older woman answered, eyes sharp yet unhappy. She glanced down to
see the baby bump and sneered. “Let me guess; you want my crops.” “Just a
little lettuce is all.” the woman replied shyly. “My child craves it.” “Well
the babe will go without; it is my food alone. Now leave.” The woman left
disheartened and was sobbing when her husband returned from the fishing nets.
She told her story and the husband felt fear lance through him; that was the enchantress’
home. But he had sworn to his wife he would get her what she craved and he
refused to see wife and unborn child so unhappy.
In the dead of night he slipped into the garden and picked the delicate
Rapunzel leaves but unfortunately he was caught. The enchantress was both furious
at the disobedience but also impressed a man would go so far for his wife; he truly
cherished her. And so she let him go, smiling. When Spring broke through Winter’s
icy grip the baby was born with soft golden hair and eyes the color of delicate
lettuce leaves. She was named Rapunzel.
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
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
Wicked Becomes You by Meredith Duran **. Victorian /
Belle Époque. Jilted bride decides to ditch nice girl image, black sheep hero,
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
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
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.
Briar roses are quite prickly and while compared to garden roses, ad spinning wheels ran many young women’s pre-industrial lives. Interesting how often the ‘princesses’ in fairy/folk tales are really just the landlords’ daughters in actual social position, how very far removed the people telling these stories (you know, The People) were from actual royalty. Anyway, her nightgown looks comfy at least! Sometimes when I’m super tired I want to sleep for a hundred years…with no annoying princes to wake me up.
i don't wanna be that person but how about a fluffy mikadam fic to heal my heart after this mess of a clip
xoxo ur queer woc fairy godmother
it was mad fucked up to say that adam was a little bit happy that even ghosted them, but.
obviously, like not right away. right away, it was fucked up and sad and it took like two months for adam to remember to stop bringing him up and elias and yousef would shoot him these mean ass looks to remind him. but mikael would just roll his eyes and talk about him anyway, and that’s kind of how it all started.
it’s just this: even left a place open and adam sat down. and now – he’s hungry and tired and even is back and he doesn’t want to give him back his place. that probably makes him a shit person, but he doesn’t get how he’s supposed to just go back now that he knows what it’s like to have mikael livetext him through whatever pretentious fucking movie he’s being forced to watch for his film studies class, or the weight of his body when he takes a running jump to hop on adam’s back when they get off the tram, his breath hot against his ear and his laugh loud and sweet against his neck, or the way it feels to know that when mikael ducks his head close to adam’s and murmurs a joke, it’s because he likes adam best.
but it’s chill. his seat is taken now: mikael’s playing croquet or whatever white nonsense with even and it’s completely chill. he’s just hungry and thirsty and tired and his seat is taken now. he doesn’t notice he’s staring until eskild pokes him in the shoulder and asks, slowly, for what must be the second time since mutta is giving him a weird look too, do you want a hot dog?
“we can’t eat hot dogs,” he snaps without meaning to, coming back to where he is, instead of where he should be. then, since he knows eskild is nice and he didn’t do anything wrong, he pats eskild on the shoulder, adds, “we’re fasting, bro.”
he fakes a laugh at eskild’s joke, and pretends to have the energy to dance, and raps over mutta’s beat boxing, and tries to find a place to sit.
he’s on the outskirts of the dance circle, halfheartedly bopping around and feeling pretty satisfied that he’s still dancing better than even, not that he’s paying attention, not that it matters. the light is dying, casting everyone in that golden haze. it’s all picturesque and no one else is pissed, not even yousef who’s been pissed for like three weeks straight, so he tries to be happier.
he goes to check his watch to see how much time left until iftar, when he can probably bounce without too much fuss, and someone catches his wrist and tugs. mikael is there. he drops his grip from adam’s wrist to thread their fingers together and he tilts his head, smile on his face. he steps close, and adam wraps an arm around him instinctively.
“wanna break fast at mine? it’s gotta be time soon, i’m so fucking hungry.” the words are muffled where mikael’s mouth is pressed against his chest, nuzzling in closer. adam looks around, and kind of feels like he’s getting punk’d. but no one is looking at them. even is chatting with chris and eva, arm slung around isak’s shoulders, and elias and mutta are bastardizing the croquet set into some kind of miniature hockey game, and mikael is here, still, with him.
“fo’sho,” he says, only a little bewildered.
mikael lets out a happy sigh and starts to pull away, but adam squeezes him around the shoulders tighter, and lets out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. he turns his head and ducks a little to press a kiss against mikael’s temple, short and sweet, the scent of his bougie shampoo lingering as he pulls away.
“you sure there’s room for me?” adam asks, uncharacteristically quiet, as mikael straightens up, pulls his phone out of his pocket.
he looks up, eyebrows scrunching together. adam stares at the soft lines of his face, the fall of his hair, wonders when the fuck he started to believe the sun was made to catch mikael’s light.
I work in a book store and was brought in these kids books called “Jump at the Sun Fairy-Tale Classics” that re-draw fairy tale classics as with characters of colour!
Prices online are a little high, but the original prices on the little paperback picture books are $4.50ish (CAN)
Princesses and Princes are featured with locs, cornrows, natural hair and a variety, as well as slightly varying skin tones. Everyone in the stories are people of colour. Here’s a couple of the covers I found online:
In real life, Snow White stays dead and Rapunzel grows old, alone in her tower. In real life, you gotta have enough sense to stay away from ugly bitches offering you shiny apples and have enough balls to cut off your own hair and use it as a ladder if needs be. In real life, you gotta save yourself and the only happy endings are the ones paid for in massage parlors.
Sania Maskatiya’s Paristan ( a place of fairytale whimsy), S/S 2015
“I have long daydreamed of a land where worries fade and frivolity reigns and this Spring-Summer my childhood whimsy finally takes flight! Picture swarms of mellifluous fairies sweeping across a moonlit sky; imagine a spring meadow bouncing with blossoms and overrun with pixies; join a tea party where riddles and silliness are all you’ll be served. Once you do, you’ve arrived at a place called Paristan” - Sania Maskatiya