Blame It on Austen

Why is Regency Romance so popular? Notice how the romance section of your local bookstore contains a vast amount of books set in Regency England.

Why is that? And why is it that present-time writers still produce stories for this era?

Whether deserved or undeserved, I’m crediting Ms Jane Austen for the Regency Romance popularity. Personally, Pride and Prejudice was the first romantic book I encountered for this era. And I really loved it. Because what’s not to love?

  • The very eloquent hand-written letters.
  • The beautiful Regency-era clothes
  • The dances (especially the ones that make it look like a whole group is dancing in tandem) *note: please forgive me for being a huge ignoramous about this
  • I especially love the speech pattern of this era. The characters’ word choices and grammar sound so good that it sometimes goes over my head that they are actually insulting each other. LOL

In my opinion, a lot of authors thought so too. And Jane Austen’s works have inspired them to set it in around the same time as Mr Darcy and Lizzie Bennet.

But of course, each author would have put their own spin on their stories. Pretty obvious is the presence of graphic sexual situations in a lot of our modern Regency romance. (This is the modern day, after all).

Though one other thing I noticed is how the heroine of the modern Regency romance equal and maybe even exceed Lizzie Bennet’s independence. A lot of these heroines are very educated. Some of them are even teachers, scholars, and company proprietors. Whatever the circumstance, they do usually follow Lizzie Bennet in her courage.

Like Lizzie, they won’t allow anyone (not even the love interest) to treat them as anything other than an equal. And in an era where being unmarried would be considered very unfortunate for a woman, these ladies (especially those who aren’t heiresses) would rather brave the uncertainty of that status  rather than endure a husband who thinks little of them.

So here are some Regency Romance that I enjoyed

When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare

Madeline Gracechurch is totally uninterested in finding a husband. She’d rather draw the natural world (animals and such) rather than go out and mingle to find a spouse. To stop her parents from forcing her to go, she invents a sweetheart: Captain Logan MacKenzie. According to her, the Captain is currently in the army  (to explain why the family can’t meet him at the moment). To perpetuate the lie, she even writes and sends letters to the Captain care of the army (which later turns into some sort of diary as she feels like she can write her most secret thoughts to the fictional Captain). Never knowing that there is in fact a Logan MacKenzie serving in the army

This is one of the funniest and most adorable books I’ve read. I was laughing out loud when I read the first letter Maddie sent to Logan. Let’s just say that I was really hooked when she decided to enclose a snail drawing to that letter.

The Duke by Gaelen Foley

Robert, the Duke of Hawkscliffe, wants revenge on the man he believes to have killed the woman he loves. In the service of that goal, he finds out about the man’s current obsession: Belinda Hamilton (who was reduced to poverty due to the same man, Dolph Breckenridge).

Because of Dolph, her father is sent to debtor’s prison and she loses her post as a teacher. At the start of the novel, she is reduced to selling oranges. Dolph thinks that poverty will make Belinda more amenable to accept his marriage proposal. However, a traumatic experience with the prison warden left Belinda with the notion that she has nothing left to lose. She immediately decides to be a Cyprian (ie a high class prostitute). And it is at this point that Robert and Belinda’s paths begin to intersect. An arrangement is formed wherein she will be the Duke’s mistress (in name only).

This book is a bit darker than usual. Trigger warning for rape. But I loved this book for how the two main characters came together and fell in love. I’ve read a lot of Regency Romance wherein the guy is usually this big playboy. But in this case, Robert is actually a pretty upright Duke who’s well-thought of by his peers. I love how it is really made clear how seemingly impossible a lasting relationship would be for these two. But as you know, they will overcome it

Simply Love by Mary Balogh

Main character Anne is a single mother who teaches in a school for girls. This school is noteworthy because the headmistress accepts girls from various social classes (and also because the headmistress accepted Anne as a teacher despite being an unwed mother).  At the start of the novel, Anne and her son are invited to stay at a sea-side manor. There she meets Sydnam, the steward of the manor and a man who survived being tortured as a spy (by the French). This is unfortunately very evident in his current physical state.

The two eventually develop a relationship which culminates into a one-night stand. But when Anne gets back to school, she later realizes that she is pregnant

One of my favorite romance books. Both characters really need much love as both have come from very traumatic experiences. Perfect for readers who really love a lot of angst. I like the interaction between the two characters. They start out as friends and then become lovers. But due to said traumatic experiences, they seem to think that they’re un-loveable and don’t dare hope that the other person actually loves them.

Yours Until Dawn by Teresa Medeiros

Gabriel Fairchild lost his eyesight after a distinguished service in the Navy. To think that he entered the Navy to prove his love for a young woman (he never heard from her again after that one visit as he was recuperating). Needless to say, Gabriel is currently at the lowest point in his life. Without his eyesight, he has even eschewed the use of cutlery for dining….

Enter the nurse his parents hired, Samantha who is a tough no-nonsense young woman who’s determined to help him adapt to his new situation. Needless to say that she has her work cut out for her and it’s pretty much an uphill battle to help Gabriel.

This is another favorite. The story is extremely well-done in my opinion. Gabriel and Samantha have a belligerent sexual tension going on and I really love their match of wills. I also love the angst factor here where they fall in love and Gabriel wants to marry her but Samantha doesn’t think it’s a good idea. I won’t spoil any more for you though LOL! I’ll just say that the book has a good balance of humor and angst

 

What do you think caused the popularity of Regency Romance? Please let me know because I’m really blaming Jane Austen for this! LOL

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