Historic vs. Contemporary Romance

by Hallee Bridgeman

Amazon.com

Anyone who spends any time around me knows how much I love Almanzo Wilder – the eventual husband of Laura Ingalls from the Little House on the Prairie series. To me, he was my perfect first book crush. He adored Laura Ingalls, and you could see his adoration in everything he did for her. Clearly, his love language was acts of service.

He rode his horse through a snow storm to get home to her for Christmas, carrying a pocketful of oranges with him. He picked her up from the place where she was teaching during the week so Laura wouldn’t have to spend the whole weekend with the crazy woman who wanted her to die out there on the prairie. And he built her this amazing house – in between his manual farming labor – complete with a kitchen she described with such love that I could see it perfectly in my mind.

But one thing that often comes to the forefront of my mind when I think about the love story between Laura and Almanzo was, after a long courtship, when he asked her to marry him and after she said yes, she declared, “You may kiss me now.”

Gasp! I could not believe how I just assumed all of those long Sunday rides and choir rehearsals didn’t end in a goodnight kiss! And then they finally kissed!

Cue sigh with love-eyes-emoji.

That wasn’t a fictional book, though. That was real life. That was the real-life courtship of a couple in the late nineteenth century. So, when writing historical romance, it’s something I have to remind myself—that the physical freedom even Christian couples experience today was not acceptable or appropriate behavior in most of history.

I have written many contemporary romances and, due to the way that I write, my couples often kiss out of desire, affection, and/or romance. They kiss passionately or sweetly, depending on the scenario. And, like real life, once that physical barrier has been breached, a couple in love will kiss often.

However, in my World War II series, even at the end when the hero is professing his love to the heroine, he hasn’t touched her other than to offer her his arm to walk. And the book ends with them simply holding both hands. I so wanted to end it with a kiss, but it wouldn’t have worked in that time period in the circumstances of my characters the same way it would have worked in a contemporary romance with similar circumstances.

It’s better to know how a couple should act culturally when entering into writing (or even reading) historic romances. There have been couples breaking social norms throughout history (have you read the book of Judges?) but that doesn’t mean that there wouldn’t be thoughts, feelings, worry, guilt, defiance or any other host of emotions about those who break the norm. Added to that, when you know what should be, you’ll be able to know what your characters have as far as expectations with each other. Almanzo didn’t expect to be able to kiss Laura without her permission – though we’re talking about a twenty something man who had courted this woman for over a year, who loved her and served her unselfishly – so we know he wanted to. There was a social, cultural barrier that kept him from acting on that desire, despite his desire.

In Christian romances, even contemporary ones, our characters struggle with desire and a social norm that accepts sexual behavior as a norm. So, we’re being anti-cultural when our characters don’t fall into bed with the first hint of desire. Yet, even in a Christian setting, it’s more okay now for a tall, dark, handsome hero to sweep the heroine off her feet and plant a steamy kiss on her lips when that desire grows to that point of sweeping – even if she hasn’t uttered the words, “You may kiss me now.”

BOTH instances can be sigh-worthy romantic, if written true-to-time period. I didn’t need a sweep-her-off-her-feet moment for me to fall in love with Laura and her Manly. But I need to give my readers that moment sometimes in my contemporary romances.

[Click to Tweet] “I #love Almanzo Wilder – the eventual husband of Laura Ingalls from the Little House on the Prairie series. To me, he was my perfect first book crush.” Historic vs. Contemporary #Romance @halleeb via @inspiredprompt


An Army brat turned Floridian, Hallee Bridgeman finally settled in Fort Knox, Kentucky with her family so she could enjoy the beautiful changing of the seasons. She enjoys the roller-coaster ride thrills that life with a National Guard husband, a daughter in college, and two elementary aged sons delivers.

A prolific writer, when she’s not penning novels, you will find her in the kitchen, which she considers the ‘heart of the home’. Her passion for cooking spurred her to launch a whole food, real food “Parody” cookbook series. In addition to nutritious, Biblically grounded recipes, readers will find that each cookbook also confronts some controversial aspect of secular pop culture.

Hallee loves coffee, campy action movies, and regular date nights with her husband. Above all else, she loves God with all of her heart, soul, mind, and strength; has been redeemed by the blood of Christ; and relies on the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide her. She prays her work here on earth is a blessing to you and would love to hear from you. Find out more about Hallee and her books at www.halleebridgeman.com.


Jade’s Match by Hallee Bridgeman

Two Olympians are matched in a media campaign that turns into something more than a game.

Rio Games silver medalist and social media darling CORA “JADE” ANDERSON is approached by a popular cell phone company to launch a flirty but fake media campaign with ice hockey star DAVIS ELLIOTT. When things get off to a rocky start, Cora and Davis both wonder what they’ve gotten into and how they’ll get through the months until the Korean games.

It’s not long until things start to warm up between the athletes and soon this fake romance becomes something much more real. Cora knows just how to work social media and engage her fans, and as the world watches and interacts with them, their love grows. When Davis is selected for Team USA, the opposition starts. As a Korean American, he’s already facing odds Cora can never comprehend, but he takes his frustration at the racism to the ice and lets the puck take the beating.

Things come to a head just weeks before the games begin. Can Davis and Cora’s very public relationship survive the aftermath of a very public confrontation, or are they going to have to let their love go when the Olympic flame is extinguished at the closing ceremonies?

3 thoughts on “Historic vs. Contemporary Romance

  1. Hallee, have you visited the Laura Ingall’s Wilder home in Mansfield, MO? We stopped there a few years ago on our way to Branson. My daughter was in 5th grade and did her “American History Idol” project on Laura. You would love it. You get to walk through the cabin Almanzo built for them, and there are so many interesting facts you’ll learn about them. Then you can take a short drive into town to the cemetery where both Laura and Almanzo are buried. It was a quick detour and one of the highlights of our vacation.

    • I definitely want to go there. I’m planning a trip this summer to the Fort Leonardwood area, and plan to make the Wilder home part of that trip.

      I’m so excited about that!

  2. Yes to the comment above, Mansfield is a wonderful visit! – Pa’s fiddle is even there!!! 🙂
    Thanks for your insights on this topic and for your interesting interview! It’s so jarring when a story’s action doesn’t fit in with the period it’s written in. I like WW2 fiction, so now I have some new ones to look into 🙂

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