Are you the type of reader who enjoys reading a book even if the author has wrong information or hasn't done enough research for their story? Should a historical fiction book, regardless of it being a romance, be historically accurate? If a character has a specific job or works in an industry that is important to the plot, should the author make sure their research is correct with what the characters do for a living?
Ever since I read Sarah F's review of Jungle Heat by Bonnie Dee over at Dear Author, I wondered if an author doesn't research enough or have their facts correct, should that be a big deal? I've read Bonnie's work before and I've always enjoyed her stories. I was really interested in picking up Jungle Heat, one of the few MM romances released this month from Carina Press. Jungle Heat is a take on the Tarzan story, but with two men who fall in love.
It seems one main issue Sarah had with the Jungle Heat is that the main character, James, who's trying to come to grips with his homosexuality. He ponders his sexuality, using the word, "homosexuality" in his mind. Jungle Heat is set in 1888, and from what Sarah states:
"An 1888-set text shouldn’t have James musing about his “homosexuality,” considering the word was first published in English in 1895 in a translation of von Krafft-Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis, which itself was only published in German in 1886. As scientific as James may be, I really don’t think he’d think about his sexuality *as* a “sexuality” — that is, as a sexual *identity* — or be calling himself “a homosexual” in 1888"
A few commenters didn't appreciate Sarah's opinion, especially with the lack of possible research Bonnie may or may have not done. D Suede states:
"Completely disagree. Not only with the thrust of the review, but also with the strange criteria by which you were judging a romance novel. I loved this book, and found it fresh, well structured and moving.
Burroughs was hardly historically accurate, and he’s flagged on the title page. And while it’s fortuitous that you are educated in postcolonial history that in no way puts you in a position to treat a romance novel as if it were a modernist treatise on the ethics of imperialism. That’s such a weird preconception! Ditto Kraft-Ebbing. ALL genre fiction takes liberties with period and veracity.
It’s great that we all went to liberal arts schools and have these facts at our fingertips, but does anyone read GONE WITH THE WIND for coverage of the treatment of slaves or social roles of women in the antebellum South? What could they learn thereby? Bizarre. Romantic fantasy is a genre with its own rules. KNOW THE RULES before you denigrate them."
I feel as an author, if you're writing a historical piece of fiction, you should to the best of your ability to research the time period. Many readers may have a historical fiction background and if a historical fiction author, including one who writes romance, mentions a specific event or verbal slang that may have been used during that time period, and doesn't have all their facts straight, readers may be less than pleased. The same goes for industries mentioned. If you write a book set around baseball, hockey, race car driving or even the day in the life a taxi drive, you better do your research because a person reading your book could be involved in this world and know everything about it because they are living it. Authors can't take for granted that readers may just take what they're reading at face value and leave it at that. But in the same vein, some readers may not care and find enjoyment in the story even if what they are reading may not be factual.
Also, I believe as a reviewer, you have the right to bring up these discrepancies and mention them up in your review like Sarah has done. And if you give a book a lower grade because of it, so be it. Book reviewers come from all walks of life and different backgrounds. An author can't take the chance that a reviewer or reader is not going to call an author to the floor is something in their story is misleading because they didn't do their research, even though the story maybe a work of fiction.
In my case, if an author is writing about the television and video industry and has incorrect tape formats and post-production procedures and terminology, I may find myself disappointed in what I'm reading because I'm very knowledgeable about this industry from working in it for so long. My overall enjoyment in reading the story would be ruined because the author didn't do their research. And, I would mention this first and foremost, if I posted a review about the book
By the way, does the romance genre have their own set of rules? If so, what are they because apparently I don't know them. Is one of the rules being liberal with possible known facts, events and careers and changing them in a way to suit a story?