Love Rocks is a biweekly look at new self-published romance titles from the community of writers at Rock*ItReads.
Vikings. Sheikhs. Spies for the Union army. French Revolutionaries. Russian archdukes.
There was a time during the heyday of historical romance when authors wrote settings that spanned the globe—North America, Europe, India, Africa. Rosemary Rogers’ iconic series that starts with Sweet Savage Love took our protagonists, Steve and Ginny, from France to Mexico to Tsarist Russia and a few places in between.
Nowadays, historical romance seems to have settled down and made itself a home in Regency and Victorian England, with occasional side-trips to Scotland. What happened to the rest of the world and the rest of human history?
Liz French, managing editor of RT Book Reviews, says she thinks New York publishers are sticking with what’s “tried and true,” and that largely means Regency England. But the new frontier of self-publishing is poised to change this. “[S]elf-publishing is going to (maybe) rip the door down settings-wise,” French says. “Authors who didn’t receive a warm welcome for their 1919 Finland-set romance from the ‘big six’ might just turn to self-pubbing. And who knows? Finland and the early 20th century might just take off.”
When I began reading historical romance in junior high—I won’t reveal exactly when that was—I consumed a variety of settings and loved them all. American Revolution. Civil War. Wild West. Medieval England. Eighteenth-century France. Ancient Rome. I still love variety, and I’m finding it these days through self-published books. So let’s pack our bags and take a trip, leaving Regency England behind for a time.
Today we’re heading to the archaeological site of ancient Akhetaten in Amarna, Egypt. The year is 1892. Here we meet archaeologist Elizabeth Summers, heroine of The Falcon and the Dove by Bonnie Vanak. Elizabeth has come to Amarna with her uncle to search for a coveted artifact, the Almha, a golden disc, which, legend says, is inscribed with magical cures. Elizabeth hopes to find a cure to save her ailing grandmother. Little does Elizabeth know that a tribe of Khamsin warriors has vowed to keep that artifact safe. As she unknowingly encroaches on the site, she falls under the scrutiny of Jabari bin Tarik Hassid, Khamsin sheikh and warlord, who has no choice but to take her captive.
Running parallel to the captor-captive romance of Elizabeth and Jabari is the ancient myth of two lovers separated by death who just might be reincarnated as Elizabeth and Jabari. The element of fate—wondering whether history will repeat itself and death will once again separate the doomed lovers—adds tension to a story full of action, romance, sensuality.
I’ll admit that as someone who majored in archaeology in college and studied ancient Egypt, including Akhetaten, in grad school, I have a weakness for this setting. But judging from the success of The Mummy franchise, a lot of us are fascinated by ancient Egypt.
Gifted with an ability to imbue her writing with depth and emotion, Vanak is known for her paranormal romances. However, she debuted writing historicals. The Falcon and the Dove is just the first of five Nookbooks in her Khamsin warrior series. The other titles include (in order): The Tiger and the Tomb, The Cobra and the Concubine, The Sword and the Sheath, and The Lady and the Libertine. (Two additional Khamsin titles, The Panther and the Pyramid and The Scorpion and the Seducer are not yet available on Nook.)
I haven’t read the entire series yet. However, I have read the first three, and if Nooks had keeper shelves, Vanak’s historicals would be on mine.
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Pamela Clare began her writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and is a recipient of numerous national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. She writes sensual historical romance and gritty romantic suspense. Her next historical romance, Defiant, will be out on July 3. Learn more about her at www.pamelaclare.com.