Historical romance (also historical novel) is a broad category of fiction in which the plot takes place in a setting located in the past. Walter Scott helped popularise this genre in the early 19th-century, with works such as Rob Roy and Ivanhoe. Literary fiction historical romances continue to be published, and a notable recent example is Wolf Hall (2009), a multi-award winning novel by English historical novelist Hilary Mantel. It is also a genre of mass-market fiction, which is related to the broader romantic love genre.
The terms "romance novel" and "historical romance" are ambiguous, because the word "romance", and the associated word "romantic", have a number of different meanings. In particular, on the one hand there is the mass-market genre of "fiction dealing with love", harlequin romance, and on the other hand, "a romance" can also be defined as "a fictitious narrative in prose or verse; the interest of which turns upon marvellous and uncommon incidents". However, many romances, including the historical romances of Walter Scott, are also frequently called novels, and Scott describes romance as a "kindred term". To add to the confusion literary fiction romances, for example Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, often have a strong love story interest. Other European languages do not distinguish between romance and novel: "a novel is le roman, der Roman, il romanzo."