Well, it seems I may be the odd author out with this topic. I confess, historical erotica really is a blind spot for me. For no reason in particular, I’ve not embraced historical fiction of any kind for the most part. Some of the first grown-up books I read were Wilbur Smith’s Courtney novels, the first of which is set in the 1870s. I suppose those count as historical for that reason, though they’re far from erotica.
The thing is, it’s not that I dislike historical fiction at all. I’ve even made some covers for Regency books (Suzi Love's Regency Life series). For reading, though, historical stuff has simply never “crossed the line” for me. I started out in my childhood years reading sci-fi and comedy, and then moved on to thrillers and crime. And erotica of course. Yet even now, my choices tend to lead me to works other than historical ones.
One factor which causes me to stumble is the difference in language. Not so much the slang terms, as Giselle discussed yesterday, but the cadence and structure. I feel the same way every time I try to read Lord of the Rings – it just doesn’t “take”. It took me eight weeks to struggle through two-thirds of the original Moby Dick, and that was before I had children.
In that particular case it was the pacing and structure as much as the archaic word use which tripped me up. On one occasion, just as I was picking up some momentum, Melville essentially broke down the “fourth wall” (I realise that’s a theatre term, but hopefully ya know what I mean) to launch into a lecture about whaling, and why it was essential for us to keep murdering those great “fish”. You know, the kind of thing an editor would probably send back with pretty red lines all over it these days.
On the other hand, the smatterings of historical works I’ve been able to immerse myself in have been amazing. And in some cases completely debauched.
Anais Nin's Delta of Venus contains so many elements which are complete red flags these days – the kind of red flags which will get your book not just Adult Filtered on Amazon, but completely banned. Yet it's considered a classic.
In another vein, the far more modern "Fingersmith" by Sarah Waters hooked me in almost instantly. Perhaps due to being written in 2002, though set in the 19th Century. It's not erotica, of course, but has some delightfully erotic scenes.
In all this, though, I realise the issue is mine. Just as I can't fall asleep quickly, I can't immerse myself in historical works quickly, due to those speed humps of structure. The pressures of family and career, often self-inflicted, make it difficult to set aside the requisite amount of time for my gears to link with the story's.
My writing tends toward the contemporary, and toward the shorter end of the spectrum, due to twenty years of song-writing and several more years of flash-fiction work. Perhaps my reading is more geared in that direction as well. But I'd be more than happy to take recommendations from anybody for historical erotic works which might appeal to me. Perhaps I just haven't met the right book yet.