In fiction, what genre is romance and what is romantic fiction? It’s not a simple question as the answer draws confusion. Every month or so, controversy arises on Twitter, with some posters unable to comprehend the difference between the two terms. Besides, why must there be rules for romance?
Gordon Merrick created the legendary Peter & Charlie gay romance series. The trilogy portrayed the first mainstream love story between two men that concluded happily ever after. Another milestone in gay fiction occurred when they were reprinted in the 1980s. A young artist named Victor Gadino illustrated the iconic clinch covers. Never before had two men been pictured so intimately on romance novels.
To be considered a romance, a book romance must have a happy ending, just as every detective novel must include a mystery to solve. There’s an expectation of a committed relationship that will stand the test of time. But what about those romances that broke the HEA rule? Let’s look at some pre-2000s novels that did the unthinkable.
These 15 Historical Romances published before 2000 either caused radical changes in the romance novel industry or they are so pivotal and unforgettable, they are must-reads. Please note, we at Sweet Savage Flame may not have read all books ourselves, but recognize their importance to the genre. Our aim is to review all books on this list if we haven’t already.