Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Must-read Regencies

From Book Riot: CORSETS AND CARRIAGES: 15 MUST-READ REGENCY ROMANCE NOVELS

As you may have noticed, I don’t always wind up agreeing with Book Riot posts about, well, many things. In particular, I clicked through to this post with a deep, deep interest in seeing whether the author might possibly declare that of all Regencies in the world, the one you must not miss is Watership Down.

However, I am somewhat reassured to see that actually, all the choices here are in fact real Regency Romances, or at least they look like that to me.

The author of this post, Namera Tanjeem, has this to say about Regencies:

Officially it occupies only the narrow slot between 1811 and 1820, when King George IV was Prince Regent. Enterprising authors have, however, managed to make it stretch from roughly 1800 to the 1830s (until Victoria comes along in 1837).

Which, yes, and I certainly contribute to the stretching phenomenon because I really can’t remember from moment to moment exactly when George IV was regent. Nor, for that matter, do I care particularly whether a romance is set in this short period or somewhere a tinch outside it.

Now, I would definitely think first of Georgette Heyer and secondarily of Courtney Milan, because I’ve liked some of hers and have several on my TBR pile right now.

And Sherwood Smith, actually, because I read Rondo Allegra pretty recently, so it’s on my mind now, along with her fantasy novels.

So, let’s see who Tanjeem has picked out as Must Reads for this genre:

Okay, yes, here’s Georgette Heyer. She’s got first and second place on this list, for Arabella (I haven’t read it) and The Corinthian (I sure have, and really liked it).

Already I’m more in tune with this list than the Urban Fantasy one with Watership Down on it. Okay, I see now that Tanjeem is listing her entries in order from cleanest to most explicit — that’s actually very helpful, thank you, Tanjeem — and this is why Heyer is at the top. Next in line:

SIMPLY SCANDALOUS (WAYBORN SIBLINGS #1) BY TAMARA LEJEUNE

I’ve spent YEARS trying to find an author like Heyer. Lejeune is the one who comes closest. Her novels are just as clean, just as funny, and very nearly as witty.

Well, now, that sounds promising. The title Tanjeem recommends isn’t available for Kindle, but I see a different one is, for 99c. Sure, I’ll try it.

Several others, and then, yes, here’s Courtney Milan:

UNVEILED (TURNER #1) BY COURTNEY MILAN

The dyslexic hero is this one is AMAZING and the prose is gorgeous.

Oh, that does sound interesting. I might very well like that. I have at least two of Milan’s on my TBR pile, don’t need to add another one right now, but this title sounds good.

Next is Tessa Dara, a name I’ve certainly heard of, but I don’t believe I’ve read any of hers.

A WEEK TO BE WICKED (SPINDLE COVE #2) BY TESSA DARE

Dare has long been a household name when it comes to the regency romance, but this one is by far her best. The banter between the protagonists is second to none, and their romance is sweet as sugar.

Bookish, science-obsessed spinster Minerva Highwood needs to be in Edinburgh for a geology symposium. (They don’t exactly know she’s a woman…but she’ll deal with that when she gets there). Meanwhile, the rakish Colin, Lord Payne has decided to accompany her out of purely altruistic motives. (And also a very small desire to see her naked). The two of them proceed to engage in the regency version of a road trip all across the country – yet it’s incredible how many scrapes two innocent people on an innocent fake elopement can get into.

Certainly sounds like the right Tessa Dare for me to try. Regency geology road trip; that’s different.

And various others …. hmm, some look like I might check them out, no one else I’ve heard of offhand.

Okay, one author Tanjeem doesn’t mention whose books I do like is Theresa Romain. I have particularly liked some of her Christmas-themed Regency Romances, and I’ve meant to pick up something else by her … you know what sounds good? This one:

Mrs. Brodie’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies appears exclusive and respectable, a place for daughters of the gentry to glean the accomplishments that will win them suitable husbands.

But the academy is not what it seems. It’s more.

Alongside every lesson in French or dancing or mathematics, the students learn the skills they’ll need to survive in a man’s world. They forge; they fight; they change their accents to blend into a world apart.

The above appears to be a set of two novellas, one by Theresa Romain and one by, let’s see, Shana Galen. I like the idea, I know I like Romain, sure, let’s try that one.

Another author who’s missing: Carla Kelly. I know some of hers are set during the Napoleonic Wars because I read this one, for example, and it is, so as far as I’m concerned she’s a Regency writer.

My favorite of hers is Softly Falling. Not quite sure when that was set, but since it’s set in Wyoming, it doesn’t count as a Regency anyway — but certainly a Historical Romance, and a good one. Oh, yes, I see Kelly definitely has a somewhat expanded period; here’s one set in 1912. Maybe that’s why Tanjeem doesn’t count her as a Regency author.

Now: a little pause to appreciate the absence of Watership Down — or any other wildly unsuitable choice — on the linked list. For the rest of my life, I’m going to look with bated breath at Book Riot lists to see if Watership Down has somehow morphed into Gothic Romance or Space Opera or heaven knows what.

If you read Regencies — or historical romances at all — what authors do you particularly like (other than Georgette Heyer)?

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6 Comments Must-read Regencies

  1. Pete Mack

    Amusing that Jane Austen doesn’t get included as Regency in lists like this. Yes, she is almost redundant at this point–the genre wouldn’t exist without her novels, but still. Surely she should make the list sometimes? I actually prefer Jane Austen fanfic to many ‘official’ Regency novels. The fanfic author AMarguerite is actually on my list of favorite authors…and she is apparently trying to publish for real now. (A P&P modern retake, entitled Pride and Pyongyang, where Regency nobility is replaced by champion figure skaters.)

    Also, just reread Black Dog SS III. After seeing Tommy’s emergency surgery (amusingly set at a hospital) I was thinking that Ethan could also give Amira plastic surgery.

  2. Craig N.

    After your first paragraph I started trying to draw an analogy: urban fantasy : Watership Down as Regency romance : _______? Temeraire, maybe? Les Miserables?

    Pete, Austen does overlap the period, but she significantly predates the genre. People are hesitant to call James Fenimore Cooper’s works Westerns for much the same reason.

  3. Rachel

    Urban fantasy : Watership Down

    Regency romance : _____________

    I think both Temeraire and Les Mes are actually too similar to Regencies to capture the full lunacy of the Watership Down-as-UF example. Hmm. Maybe something gritty and dark, with practically no trace of romance in it and not much similarity to the Regency setting either. Maybe something by Scott Lynch.

    Or alternatively, something sweet and historical, but not remotely a Regency romance. Little Women, maybe.

  4. Elaine T

    Urban fantasy : Watership Down

    Regency romance : _____________

    Bambi? (the book)no Romance in that!

    I’m something of a pigeon-holer, and slot Rondo Allegro as a historical with romance, not a genre Romance romance.

    And, sorry, I really can’t swallow a supposed Regency with the premise of Mrs. Brodie’s Academy. That is so non-historical I’d have to read it as fantasy if I picked it up at all.

    I hope you’re enjoying Magic’s Poison

  5. Rachel

    Elaine, yes, the Mrs Brodie’s academy book is “another book by Theresa Romain I’ll try,” not “another Regency romance I’ll try.”

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