I recently finished CLANDESTINE, by one of my favorite authors, Julia Ross (aka Jean Ross Ewing). As usual I adored her lush, poetic prose, the depth of her characterizations, the intrigue and the elegant sensuality.

CLANDESTINE is set in 1829, near the end of Prinny’s reign as George IV. I haven’t discovered a name for this period that is used in conjunction with 19th romance novels, which are usually categorized either Regency or Victorian. Some of the details, such as women’s clothing, are different and there are subtle social changes evident, yet a lot of it still feels “Regency.” One of my favorite romances ever, Laura Kinsale’s FLOWERS FROM THE STORM, is also set in this time period.

I find the period between 1820-1830 interesting to read. I would also like someday to write stories for the foundlings from LADY DEARING’S MASQUERADE. Since the oldest of the foundlings would only be 17 in 1820 I am clearly headed for that date range and beyond.

I have to admit I’m ambivalent about the Victoria era. Some aspects of Victorian womanhood really bother me: “chloroform and forceps” childbirth, corseting that pierces internal organs (thereby unfairly giving all corsets a bad name). On the other hand, it is the time of the Brontes and I’ve also enjoyed modern romance novels set in that time period such as Kinsale’s SHADOW AND THE STAR and Judith Ivory’s SLEEPING BEAUTY.

For me, the Victorian romance works if the characters don’t form a life that is typically Victorian. If they end up somewhat on the edge of society or living a rather Bohemian lifestyle, I can imagine them happy much more so than if they toe the line. It’s different from a Georgian or a Regency in which I can accept (but don’t require) that the couple’s marriage be fully accepted within society.

At the other end of the Regency we have Georgian novels. When I was reading Georgette Heyer as a kid I knew her books had varied settings but at the time I didn’t put them in categories marked “Georgian” or “Regency.” It wasn’t until I started writing my own Regencies that I discovered the official Regency was 1811-1820 or that Jane Austen started writing well before that time. Now I’m glad to see more Georgian-set novels coming out, because I enjoy them and also because I have a few (still very embryonic) ideas for Georgian-set romances myself.

So now to my survey:

1) When did you know the Regency was 1811-20? Is there a broader date range you consider the “Regency” in terms of the reading experience?
2) How do you feel about that period between the Regency and the Victorian (1820-1837)? Do you enjoy books set in that period?
3) Do you enjoy earlier Georgian-set romance?
4) What do you think of the Victorian era and Victorian-set romance?

Let me know what you think!