Reading,  Regency

Read a Regency!!!!

There are far too many people in this world who’ve never read a “traditional Regency.” (Ooh, hate the name. Do you think it’s the name? I think it might be. “Traditional” — who wants to read a “traditional” anything?)

Actually, once upon a time our genre was just called “Regency” — and that’s the name it had for decades. But then the historicals came along, and eventually the Regency historicals were part of it….and one day some readers of Regency historicals (were they mischievous? ignorant? or possibly the forefront of an alien invasion?) started calling the books they read “Regencies” — and ever since, we’ve been stuck with the awkward designation of “traditional Regency.” Not a great name for a genre.

So I’m just going to call them “Regencies,” because that’s the better name, the name they went by for decades, the name that doesn’t scream “old-fashioned” without meaning to.

As I was saying…far too few people read Regencies anymore. In fact, some of the Risky Regency authors themselves, from what I can tell, rarely read Regencies! Now that’s just sad. Really sad. Little-kid-whose-ice-cream-dropped-on-the-ground sad.

So I challenge you: read a Regency! In fact, read more than one. Go read five highly-recommended Regencies, and see if you don’t fall in love with the genre! Oh, Regency historicals are all very well, but they can’t do everything. They can’t be everything. (When’s the last time a Regency historical washed your car for you??? Huh???)

Who will take the challenge? Is there anyone brave enough? Tough enough? After all, I’m asking you to read five Regencies. Wow. That’s a lot of books. And who likes books? Oh, you do? Great! Then take the challenge! Read five highly-recommended Regencies, and see if you aren’t won over to be a dedicated Regency reader! When you’re done, come back here, and tell us if you liked them, and why! (And yes, I’m extending this challenge both to readers of this blog, and to the authors on it too! You know who you are…)

So, what makes a Regency highly recommended, you ask??? Good question. Winning the Rita counts. (If people want, I could post a list of all the Regency Rita winners.) Having friends tell you “you have to read this book!” counts. And I also have a list here of books that I heartily recommend. (There are of course far far more great Regencies, including many books by my fellow bloggers….) I went mostly with older books, now out of print (but available in any good used book store), some of which are recognized classics of the genre, and some of which are hidden gems…in chronological order.

Clare Darcy: LADY PAMELA (1975)
Joan Smith: ESCAPADE (1977)
Joan Smith: IMPRUDENT LADY (1978)
Joan Smith: TALK OF THE TOWN (1979)
Joan Smith: SWEET AND TWENTY (1979)
Patricia Veryan: NANETTE (1981)
Joan Smith: PERDITA (1981)
Patricia Veryan: MARRIED PAST REDEMPTION (1983)
Sheila Simonson: LADY ELIZABETH’S COMET (1985)
Kasey Michaels: THE PLAYFUL LADY PENELOPE (1988)
Barbara Metzger: AN EARLY ENGAGEMENT (1990)
Barbara Metzger: MINOR INDISCRETIONS (1991)
Alicia Rasley: POETIC JUSTICE (1994)
Karen Harbaugh: THE VAMPIRE VISCOUNT (1995)
Gail Eastwood: THE LADY FROM SPAIN (1997)
Nonnie St. George: THE IDEAL BRIDE (2003)

And if any of you are enthusiastic Regency readers, please comment here and suggest your own recommended reads!!!

Cara King,
MY LADY GAMESTER — out now from Signet Regency!!!

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Megan Frampton
16 years ago


Your enthusiasm is infectious! I am reading a, ahem, Regency-set historical right now, but when that is done, I will go snag a Regency from my shelf and read it.
I’ve also got this year’s Christmas Regency collection to go through–and I just put my tree up. Perfect! Thanks, Cara!

16 years ago

oh, oh, I’ll take this challenge.

Oh dear…I just checked. I have 18 Regencies to be read.

Hmmm…Only one on your list that I have is the Nonnie St. George one. So Ideal Bride it is. Then I have Megan’s and Janet Mullany’s to read. So those go on the list.

I have two Carla Kelly ones – One Good Turn and The Wedding Journey? Which to read?

The I have a Loretta Chase two-in-one with Viscount Vagabond and The Devil’s Delilah. So I’ll count that as two. Hmm..that’s six. Guess I’ll read only Viscount Vagabond and one Carla Kelly. Help, which one?

The Talisman by Dawn Lindsey was the first I ever read and I still have it. I remember enjoying it, but I haven’t read it in year.

Cara King
16 years ago

Hurray for Nicole! Our first official challenge taker.

“One Good Turn” is a sequel of sorts to Carla Kelly’s “Libby’s London Merchant.” So if you haven’t read “Libby’s London Merchant,” probably best to hold off on “One Good Turn.” (Not that you can’t enjoy it on its own — if enjoy is the right word — but it gives away some really surprising plot turns in “Libby’s London Merchant.” Also, “One Good Turn” is pretty grim throughout — traumatic, cathartic, and very emotional, and so not the first Kelly I’d recommend anyway…though really good.)

I confess with red face that although Carla Kelly is one of my favorite authors, I haven’t yet read “The Wedding Journey”! (blush) Has anyone here? I’ve heard good things about it, anyway…. (more blushing)

The Loretta Chases are definitely considered classics. And of course, Janet and Megan’s books are great choices too! 🙂

Be sure to report back on the books once you read them, Nicole! Maybe we could make Risky Regencies a sort of a book club, where we all report on the books we read??? (That is, if they’re Regencies…) 🙂

Cara (still blushing a bit)

Megan Frampton
16 years ago

Yay, Nicole!

You know, I think I’ll pick up Cara’s book as my next TBR–I have it, but hadn’t gotten to it yet. I know, I suck.

And the Wedding Journey is good. All her stuff is good, although I didn’t love With This Ring as much as some of her others.

Kate Allan
16 years ago

Good idea for a challenge and good luck! Long live the Regency! Though I still don’t get the difference exactly between traditional and historical Regencies – we don’t have this in the UK where Regencies are either straight romances or romantic adventures / mysteries.

Janet Mullany
16 years ago

….far too few people read Regencies anymore. In fact, some of the Risky Regency authors themselves, from what I can tell, rarely read Regencies! Now that’s just sad. Really sad.

Guilty as charged! In fact…oh gosh, hold onto your hats…I don’t even read many romances.

Enough of this italicization, it’s beginning to read like Queen Victoria’s diary. In a moment I’ll be going off to give my lapdog a bath and have a violent quarrel and makeup sex with Albert, but before I do…I take the challenge.

Now I’m rather alarmed to see that the top ten list includes mostly out of print titles. Not that that implies anything, but it will mean I’m limited by what the library has when I visit on Saturday. I guess I can’t count the Riskies’ books, right? In which case I’m three ahead but they’re not traditional traditionals (haven’t got yours yet, Cara, because I haven’t been near a bookstore or done any online ordering in a while).

And then I’ll give a book report, mentioning no names or titles, and an account of my trembling heartstrings.

Janet, accidentally but not particularly traditional

16 years ago

I’ll take that challenge! Yesiree Bob! (Or Yesma’ammee Beth! How the heck do you spell “Yesiree,” anyway?!!!) There are a bunch of books on that list I’d been meaning to read, and also some not on the list that I’d also been meaning to read. So they would be on my list if I had a list. Maybe I should start by making a list. Or I could add “making a list” to my list of things to do. Sorry, it’s final exam time and I’m a bit distracted.


Elena Greene
16 years ago

So sorry I’ve been “away” for a few days. A stomach bug has been running through my kids’ school and this is one case where they all share… I won’t belabor the details!

Anyway, I am saving that list of yours, Cara. I’ve read some of them. The VAMPIRE VISCOUNT and THE LADY FROM SPAIN are on my favorites’ list, too. Gail Eastwood’s books are wonderful; I think THE CAPTAIN’S DILEMMA is my second favorite although AN UNLIKELY HERO is a close third.

The heroine of THE LADY FROM SPAIN is one of my favorite Regency heroines. She has the same courage and drive as Atalanta in MY LADY GAMESTER–another top recommendation!

Re Carla Kelly, I have to admit I have only read WITH THIS RING. I know some people loved that book (so don’t shoot me!) but I didn’t. Although the writing was extremely good, there were so many places where credibility was strained–the village barbershop with red-and-white striped pole (seemed more Victorian America than Regency England), the baby adopted from the Catholic orphanage in some random town (Regency England was not precisely littered with Catholic institutions), the same baby that never cried about being separated from her caregivers, who went from inn to inn and slept sweetly through the h/h’s lovemaking night after night (must have been on massive doses of laudanum). And the overall premise of the story was rather odd. But I can see why readers love Kelly’s books: the passion and the angst are so strong. I will have to try one of her other books you suggested, Cara.

Back to favorites–THE DEVIL’S DELILAH (Loretta Chase), THE RAKE AND THE REFORMER (Mary Jo Putney), THE UNWILLING BRIDE (Jo Beverley), LOVE’S REWARD (Jean Ross Ewing).

Elena, hoping there will be no more puking in the Greene household for the forseeable future…

Elena Greene
16 years ago

After my rambling comment, I figured out why that Carla Kelly bothered me so much. I’m not as much a historical accuracy purist when the story is meant to be a romp, or sort of a fantasy type Regency. But the tone of WITH THIS RING was gritty realism–and it was very beautifully done gritty realism. That’s what made the anachronisms more jarring, because they violated the reality of the story.

Did that make sense to anyone? I really don’t like to be snarky about anyone’s work and do fully recognize Carla Kelly’s talents. Otherwise the book would not have even stuck in my memory.


Cara King
16 years ago


FWIW, I don’t think all of Carla Kelly’s books have noticeable inaccuracies. In fact, I think I’d only ever noticed two (though I haven’t read “With This Ring”.)

My theory was that when she researched, she did it fantastically well — I thought her naval books were really impressive in that regard. But then there are the assumptions a writer makes, things a writer doesn’t bother to look up because thinks she knows them…which may be the problem.

You mention some great writers that I forgot! Well, “forgot” is not perhaps the best word — I ran an eye over my bookshelves, and because some of my books are still in storage, I never mentioned some great Regencies that might otherwise have been on my list… Regencies by authors like Jo Beverley, Loretta Chase, Edith Layton, Mary Jo Putney, Jean Ross Ewing, Mary Balogh, Margaret Evans Porter, Nancy Butler, Judith Lansdowne, Emma Jensen, Maggie MacKeever, Susan Carroll….and I’m sure I’m still forgetting many of my favorite authors!


Megan Frampton
16 years ago


Carla Kelly is frequently cited for her anachronisms, but her writing is just so darn good I ignore her mistakes. That said, as I mentioned above, too (great minds think alike?) With This Ring is not my favorite Kelly, I think for the reasons you mention–way too cute, the baby was too perfect, etc. My favorite of hers is Reforming Lord Ragsdale. Love, Love, LOVE that book.

I have one more Kelly Regency I’ve yet to read–saving it for when I really need a huge pick-me-up.

Laurie Bishop
16 years ago

OUCH!!! (grin)

Okay…I must admit I am in Janet’s camp. I haven’t had as much time to read as I used to. I am trying to read more now, however, while I don’t happen to have a deadline hanging over me.

I have a TBR pile that could resemble the Leaning Tower of Pisa if I stacked them one on top of the other. And I have purchased many Regencies in the last couple of years…just have not managed to read that many. 🙁

I have recently been reading Loretta Chase…but a historical, not a “original regency.” (That sound better than ‘traditional?’).

Now…the list…MY problem is that I have read so many regencies in the distant past that if it is an older book, I can’t remember the titles. I read all of Clare Darcy I could find, ditto Joan Smith, and yes, THE VAMPIRE VISCOUNT (now THAT one is recent enough for me to remember!). I read a lot of Gail Eastwood and Karen Harbaugh until I sold a book myself and got caught up in deadlines.

Anyway, I will definitely pick up five Regencies to read. Is there a time limit proposed? 🙂


Cara King
16 years ago

I have no idea about time limits, Laurie… Certainly for busy people nowadays, five books could take a while…though as Regencies are usually short (which I love) they shouldn’t take as long as five anything else!

Does two weeks sound reasonable?


Melissa Marsh
16 years ago

Patricia Veryan is one of my all-time favorite authors. Not all of her books are set in the Regency period per se (her Golden Chronicles series is set during the 1740’s in England and Scotland), but they all have the same flavor as the Regency.

I used to read a lot of Regencies (though not lately). I remember reading Clare Darcy, Marion Chesney, and Patricia Veryan a lot in high school.

Cara King
16 years ago

There’s a reader named Mark on one Regency email loop I’m on who’s a voracious reader and an amazing list-maker. Here’s Mark’s list of favorites:

<< These are the Regencies I have reread the most times in descending order from 22 readings to 5. A Rake’s Reform by Holbrook, Cindy
Black Sheep by Heyer, Georgette
Autumn Glory (short story) by Metzger, Barbara
The Mad Miss Mathley by Martin, Michelle
These Old Shades by Heyer, Georgette
Lord Sayer’s Ghost by Holbrook, Cindy
Devil’s Cub by Heyer, Georgette
The Corinthian by Heyer, Georgette
Christmas Wishes by Metzger, Barbara
Elyza by Darcy, Clare
The Present (short story) by Holbrook, Cindy
Frederica by Heyer, Georgette
Lady of Quality by Heyer, Georgette
The Unknown Ajax by Heyer, Georgette
Venetia by Heyer, Georgette
The Actress & the Marquis by Holbrook, Cindy
Cupboard Kisses by Metzger, Barbara
The Masqueraders by Heyer, Georgette
The Duke’s Downfall by Lynson, Jane
A Suspicious Affair by Metzger, Barbara
The Tenacious Miss Tamerlane by Michaels, Kasey
Sylvester, or The Wicked Uncle by Heyer, Georgette
The Wayward Heiress by Chenier, Blanche
A Scandalous Portrait by Hamilton, Violet
Faro’s Daughter by Heyer, Georgette
The Black Moth by Heyer, Georgette
The Grand Sophy by Heyer, Georgette
The Talisman Ring by Heyer, Georgette
The Toll-Gate by Heyer, Georgette
The Earl’s Fancy by Hines, Charlotte
The Winter Picnic by McKeone, Dixie
Minor Indiscretions by Metzger, Barbara
The Primrose Path by Reece, Jean
The Duke’s Mistress by Stewart, Lois
Four in Hand by Westhaven, Margaret
The Earl and the Émigrée by Chater, Elizabeth
The Runaway Debutante by Chater, Elizabeth
A Country Chit by Dalton, Emily
False Colours by Heyer, Georgette
Regency Buck by Heyer, Georgette
Sprig Muslin by Heyer, Georgette
Daughters Four by McKeone, Dixie
An Affair of Interest by Metzger, Barbara
The Duke’s Design by Westhaven, Margaret
A Heavenly Houseguest by Dalton, Emily
The Nonesuch by Heyer, Georgette
The Quiet Gentleman by Heyer, Georgette
The Reluctant Widow by Heyer, Georgette
An Angel for the Earl by Metzger, Barbara
Lady in Green by Metzger, Barbara
An Infamous Sea Bath by Dalton, Emily
Escapade by Devon, Marian
Cotillion by Heyer, Georgette
The Convenient Marriage by Heyer, Georgette
Lady Megan’s Masquerade by Holbrook, Cindy
The Somerville Farce by Kasey, Michelle
A Highly Respectable Widow by McRae, Melinda
My Lady Innkeeper by Metzger, Barbara
The Questioning Miss Quinton by Michaels, Kasey
The Wagered Miss Winslow by Michaels, Kasey
A Matchmaking Miss by Overfield, Joan
The Lark’s Nest by Pianka, Phyllis Taylor >>

Megan Frampton
16 years ago

Just an update–I started Cara’s book today (after sneaking a peek at Metzger’s story in this year’s Regency Xmas collection). I’m liking it, especially Cara’s way with setting the scene with scents. And the card scenes are well-done, esp. for a person with no math sense.

Cara King
16 years ago

Thanks so much, Megan! 🙂


Megan Frampton
16 years ago

Okay, so I’ve finished Cara’s book–I liked it a lot. I thought the hero and heroine were very real, and made mistakes, and thought about them the way real people do. Thanks, Cara! I also found two bits that were similar in my book and, I bet, in others: one where the hero complains about his stiff cravat (no, not a euphemism. A stiff cravat), and one where the heroine bemoans the fact she wasn’t born a man.

I know Nicole read a Regency, too, as part of the challenge. As it happens, it was mine, which was cool.

Cara King
16 years ago

So glad you liked it, Megan! You know, I don’t even remember my hero complaining about his cravat…funny! Though I do recall heroine saying how much easier things would be if she were a man… 🙂


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