Regency Romances, Still New After 200 Years

Here’s a post by Sherwood Smith over at Bookview Café: Regency Romance–still new after 200 years .

The title is funny because it’s true! I didn’t grow up reading Regencies the way Sherwood describes; I discovered Jane Austen when a friend dragged me to see “Sense and Sensibility” — it didn’t sound like my kind of thing at all, hence she had to drag me. Of course I loved it and read the book and then the rest of Austen. I was in grad school at the time.

Then I discovered Georgette Heyer when my brother recommended an audiobook (False Colors) much later than that, really just a few years ago. Her books sure do work well in audio; I could not believe how entertaining the first eighty minutes of False Colors is when it consists of nothing but the mother explaining to her son how deeply (and foolishly) in debt she is. I honestly have no idea how that loooong scene manages to be riveting, but there it is.

Anyway, Sherwood says:

I think of today’s Regency romances falling on a spectrum, with Jane Austen at one end: writing comedy-of-manners that happens to have a romance, Georgette Heyer in the middle, writing a mix of comedy-of-manners in the Silver Fork style, but with passionate kisses before the curtain fades, and at the other end of the spectrum, basically modern people doing a sort of Regency cosplay—you get the silks and stately homes, dukes and the ton (a word that seldom shows up outside its original meaning of ‘style’ in actual period, but which Heyer made de rigueur)

And then she goes on to describe a bit about modern Regencies and what different contemporary authors are doing, as well as giving a shout-out to one of my personal favorites, Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer.

These days I like an occasional Regency, without or without fantasy elements, and without or without every period detail in meticulous order. Sherwood Smith doesn’t mention one of the authors I like, Theresa Romain, whose Christmas-themed Regencies fall very much on the modern end of the spectrum. I nearly always like modern-style Regencies despite the sex scenes rather than because of them, though.

On a somewhat different end of the spectrum . . . or maybe one end of a whole different spectrum . . . I did read the first part of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and thought it was not a conceit that could hold up a whole novel. Funny as an idea, though.

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3 thoughts on “Regency Romances, Still New After 200 Years”

  1. I highly recommend Carla Kelly. Most of her backlist is available on Amazon Kindle. She has the occasional duke and ton party, but she more tends towards pastoral settings or military – especially naval. Marian’s Christmas Wish is a great Christmas read, The Wedding Journey for a military setting, Miss Whittier Makes a List for a naval setting or Mrs. McVinnie’s London Season for a more traditional London “haut ton” feel. The Lady’s Companion for the “downstairs” life. She has a long list, but this is just to show some of the range she covers within the Regency genre.

    She also writes some western types that are a little outside the norm – the “Spanish Brand” for Spanish/Southwest setting, and a few books about Mormons that are really nice. There’s a really neat story, Softly Falling, about a mixed blood woman on a ranch in the west, set during I think what was probably the same year “The Long Winter” took place in the Little House series.

    I really like her books – if I read too many in a row I find the characters to be a bit repetitive and a little too perfect, but they are very soothing, and the perfection, in smaller doses, gives you something to aspire to. You can also tell the Ms. Kelly has been exposed to the medical field – many of her books feature surgeons and doctors, if not as the main character, then in prominent roles. As a nurse, it’s nice to see the hero putting lives back together, or helping them end with a bit more grace, instead of out on the battlefield whacking and shooting.

    Give her stuff a try, on a cold rainy day, with a cup of tea and maybe some scones.

  2. Thanks, Mary Anne, I will definitely pick up a couple right now. They sound perfect to put in between more high-stress kinds of stories.

  3. Mary Anne, thank you for recommending Carla Kelly. I didn’t know her, bought some of her books on your recommendation, and am enjoying reading them!

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