What makes a Regency regency?

I’m guest blogging today over at Loveisanexplodingcigar.com (don’t you love that blog name?) on what makes a hot book hot–please come on over and visit. You have to register, but Riskies’ readers are the smartest, so you can do it…and you could win a copy of one of my books, including the now hard-to-find Dedication, the only Signet Regency with bondage.

Pimping over, I thought I might do a complementary post today on what makes a Regency regency.

Think about it. Consider your favorite Regency reads and what makes them successful as giving a feel for the age. Which books float your boat, rock your curricle and make you think, yes, this is what it must have been like. This rings true.

And why? Or how? I entered a contest once where a judge gravely told me that I should have the characters mention Prinny and Hessian boots to give it a period feel.

I tend to like writers whose work is full of careful details (although not necessarily the Hessians and Prinny) and who can include, but go beyond, the life of the ton in London. I like dialogue that flows and characters who have real concerns, passions, and occupations. I like the history to be right but not obtrusive. I like a world that I can immerse myself in, and am sad to leave once the book is over

Off the top of my head, The Slightest Provocation by Pam Rosenthal, An Accomplished Woman by Jude Morgan, and anything by Naomi Novik (whose history is certainly right in her own worldview!).

How about you?

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Elizabeth Kerri Mahon
14 years ago

I would have to say the Rules of Gentility, and all of Mary Balogh’s books have what I think of as making a Regency regency. As well as the late Elizabeth Mansfield. I first read about Frost Fairs in one of her books. I love history that is there but not intrusive, and the little details about life beyond London. I would love to read books set in Scotland, or in Bristol during the Regency.

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

I, of course, try very hard for that authentic historical period feel. If readers don’t find it in my books, then I’ve failed.

I think all the Riskies strive for this authenticity without being cliched. Surely I would include Mary Balogh and Elizabeth Mansfielf, Elizabeth. Mary Jo Putney’s early books.

Really, there are so many, but I am the first to admit that I don’t read too many Regency set books these days because I am writing them.

I’ve purchased lots of the Regency RITA finalists but have had no time to read them.

Kalen Hughes
14 years ago

I’m so with you on Pam’s books (I haven’t read the other two authors, sad to say). I don’t need Prinny prancing around in his Hessians to set the stage for me, but I do really enjoy it when a book is filled with small details that are simply spot on. Tracy Grants books are just perfect for this IMO.

I also think that the social rules of the day have to play into the plot somehow. The book doesn’t need to be a full-on comedy of manners or anything, but at least part what’s keeping the two lovers apart has to be some kind of social convention or generally accepted principal, etc.

This is one of the reasons that I though TROG worked so very well.

Janet Mullany
14 years ago

I don’t need Prinny prancing around in his Hessians I think you mean galumphing, Kalen!

I definitely want that feeling of “other-ness” in my reading material–I think world building is so important, picking and choosing the historical details.

Thanks for the nice words about Rules, Kalen and Elizabeth.

La Belle Americaine
14 years ago

The reason I stopped reading a lot of Regency Historicals is because they’ve slowly but surely moved away from that “traditional Regency” feel–it wasn’t 100% rigidly accurate to the period, but the characters and plots felt cemented to that particular era. The little touches that make the Regency era spring to life as a separate entity from the 18th century and the post-1820 world can be absent, and it leaves me vaguely dissatisfied.

14 years ago

Everyone mentioned so far and I’d have to include all the Riskies here have never failed to make me feel like I am in Town for the Season or on my way back to the country seat.

I’ll also add Edith Layton and Barbara Metzger, as well as, Jo Beverley make me want to sit down with a dish of tea and some strawberry tarts and go back to Regency England.

Cara King
14 years ago

Santa, I agree with you on Jo Beverley, Barbara Metzger, and Edith Layton! There are a lot of Regency authors who carry me away, so I certainly can’t list them all, but I would include all the Riskies, and also Carla Kelly, Sheila Simonson, Alicia Rasley, early Joan Smith, Nancy Butler, Nonnie St George…okay, there are a lot more, but I’m running out of breath… 😉


14 years ago

The Riskies never fail to put me right in the middle of Regency drawing room or ballroom as if I was born there.

And it is ALL in the little details, the things you read and don’t realize are there because they are so woven into the story. And you, O Divine One, are one of the Queens of this art! Innocence and Impropriety comes to mind. Your music research was spot on!

I have to agree that Mary Balogh and Jo Beverly are two more prime examples. Cara King and Janet Mullany aren’t too shabby either! Edith Layton, Loretta Chase, Anna Campbell, the list goes on and on. Oooh, Nicola Cornick too. Has anyone read her Edwardian – The Last Rake in London? Delicious! Oh and Kalen Hughes uses a lovely Regency palette to paint Lord Scandal.

There are some new writers out there, some who have received great accolades, who have, nonetheless, snatched me out of the story with some period anachronisms. Unfortunately at times, no matter how well written a book is, too many of those and I just cannot enjoy the book.

Diane Gaston
14 years ago

Thanks, O Doggie One, for the nice words about Innocence and Impropriety! Thanks, too, Santa and Cara.

The little touches that make the Regency era spring to life as a separate entity from the 18th century and the post-1820 world can be absent, and it leaves me vaguely dissatisfied.

Haven’t we all read Regency Historicals like this, la belle, that could have happened in any time period. I always feel the book is stronger if it is anchored in a particular time and place.

Elena Greene
14 years ago

Tossing in random buzzwords culled from Georgette Heyer isn’t enough to evoke the Regency for me. For me, the details used should be relevant to the character and the setting, which doesn’t have to be London during the Season.

I agree with so many of the authors mentioned already. In case no one mentioned her, I’d also add Jean Ross Ewing aka Julia Ross as one who writes evocatively for whichever period she chooses.