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Long Ago and Far Away, Part Two

Last week we spoke about our love for historical romances. One thing we didnīt touch on was what happens when there are factual errors. In a professionally edited book, you wouldnīt expect something like that, right? Wrong. Sometimes it happens. Editors and copy editors are only human, too.

I posed this question to some readers and writers recently and got back a multitude of opinions. I personally have only come across a couple of these boo-boos in my reading, but then again, Iīm not that familiar with every part of history and have likely missed some. As a writer, I want to avoid this sort of thing as much as possible. As a reader, I also want to avoid this. Donīt you hate being jarred out of the story, for whatever reason? Imagine reading along hapily and suddenly coming upon a sentence describing something the heroine is doing. Only you know that wasnīt possible back then. What kind of reaction do you have?

What if it was deliberate, and the author notes that she knew this wasnīt the exact time for that action, but changed history to suit her story? For me, in this case, that isnīt a problem. Other readers felt it meant the author didnīt care about their opinions. If you donīt see an author note on it, do you assume that she just didnīt do enough research? Or care?

The women who responded to my query were split fifty-fifty on that one. Some said that the story mattered most, not whether the corset the heroine was wearing hadnīt become available yet. I know a couple Regency readers who get all bent out of shape if they come across an error in their reading. What about you?

Other readers didnīt mind some minor errors, as long as the story was good. A few readers also mentioned that something that seems not quite right may actually be correct--for example, a scientific mention that causes the reader to wonder whether that would have been discovered yet. Again, just for me, if it jars me out of the story, that isnīt a good thing.

How do you, as romance readers, feel about this? And authors, what do you think? How much research is enough? Please email me, or better yet, post in the forum, and let me know your opinion on this topic.

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