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.