ARRC2017: Dukes Need Not Apply

A panel about non-traditional historical romance. Non-traditional? What is actually meant is: non-Regency. However, this isn’t the place for a discussion about how the Regency era became the traditional domain of historical romance. This is about non-Regency romance, and about heroes who aren’t rich, white Dukes.

Moderator: Kat Mayo (Book Thingo)
AS – Alison Stuart
AB – Allison Butler
CM – Courtney Milan
TC – Tea Cooper

What era do you write, and your favourite romance couple?
AS – English civil war. Fav: Jane Eyre
TC – Australian history. Fav: Gone with the Wind
CM – Victorian. The dresses are ugly, which is fun. So much technological and social change happened then, which is a good analogy for current times. A reminder that democracy is good. Fav: Elizabeth and Darcy.
AB – Medieval Scottish. Fav: too many to pick from.

Each author continued their introduction of themselves by reading an excerpt from one of their books.
AB – The Rogue (Highland Brides Book 2)
TC – The Currency Lass
AS – Guardians Of The Crown/By The Sword/The King’s Man/Exile’s Return
CM – From an unpublished manuscript that will be part of an anthology based on the musical Hamilton. The whole audience swooned! And then CM started laughing at one of her own jokes. So delightful.

What issues have you had with research?
AB – The 13th century is difficult to research as much of Scottish history was destroyed in wars with the English.
CM – Women in Victorian times are often hidden. Once you look beyond the veneer of life, you can’t help but discover them.
TC – Trove is a valuable resource for local news, and especially great for advertisements. Ads also give you the local lingo and the cost of items and services. Kat: What is a currency lass? TC – A currency lass or lad is the first generation born in Australia to convict parents.

How do you find the right time in history to write?
AS – I love external conflict. War divides men and women, causing tension in society. It also provides space for women to do jobs that are traditionally perceived as only for men. Defending castles, etc.
CM – Social tension. The Victorian period is an analogue to the resistance to change we see now. I can use history as a safe space to explore today’s issues. Manly heroes should think that women who do stuff are cool.

This discussion turned into a fan moment when Kat asked CM “How do you say Suffragette?” (from: The Suffragette Scandal (The Brothers Sinister) (Volume 6))

 “Suffragette? How does one pronounce it, then?”
 “Suffragette,” she said, “is pronounced with an exclamation point at the end. Like this: ‘Huzzah! Suffragettes!’”

Questions from the floor
“What about books that turn the Duke power base upside down?”
CM recommended: Genevieve Turner’s Seduced in September (A Year Without a Duke)

“I’ve never read an historical novel, because I don’t care for the damsel in distress trope. How do you get beyond real history and create strong women?”

CM – “History has lied to you.” We aren’t damsels in distress. We’ve always been strong. We just get erased from history told by men. Our stories exist, you just have to hunt for them.


  1. […] One panel I wasn't able to get to was "Dukes Need Not Apply" — about non-traditional historicals. There's a report on the discussion here: […]

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