Thursday, June 18, 2015

Looking for non-traditional Regency

I write this post with great sadness because the genre I'm talking about has been a favorite for as long as I can remember. I remember cutting my teeth on the genre with the early Johanna Lindsey 's Mallory Anderson Family series, Love Only Once. That book was written in 1985, so I'm not only showing my age but also how long I've been reading traditional Regency romances. Some of my favorite authors include Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn, Victoria Alexander, Stephanie Laurens, Mary Ballogh, Eloisa James, Jo Beverley and many, many more.





What am I lamenting, you ask? I'm lamenting the fact that I have gone off the genre. I have sadly fallen out of love with the traditional Regency romance novel. I am no longer fascinated by the ball gowns, amused by the willful, marriage hungry misses and the incorrigble rakes. I am no longer loving seeing how the rake with a heart of gold is brought down by the right woman. The manners and the customes do not enthrall me as they used to, and the Ton bores me.

All the common elements in the traditional Regency novels just doesn't excite me anymore, and these incluce: (source: Wikipedia)
  • References to the Ton (le bon ton)
  • Depictions of social activities common during the social season such as carriage rides, morning calls, dinners, routs, plays, operas, assemblies, balls, etc.
  • References to, or descriptions of, athletic activities engaged in by fashionable young men of the period, including riding, driving, boxing, fencing, hunting, shooting, etc.
  • Differences of social class
  • Marriages of convenience: a marriage based on love was rarely an option for most women in the British Regency, as securing a steady and sufficient income was the first consideration for both the woman and her family.[3]
  • False engagements
  • Cyprians (sex workers), demireps (women of ill repute), mistresses and other women employed by rakehells and men from the upper classes
  • Mistaken identity, deliberate or otherwise
  • Mystery or farce elements in the plot

I am totally and utterly bored by the genre and it makes me sad. I've recently read two books, one by a favorite author and one my a highly acclaimed but new to me author, and I did not finish either of those books. I will include my reviews of them for you.

However, as I say I've gone off the genre, I only mean the traditional ones. I've recently read a Regency romance that only has a hint of the Regency in it and it's a thoroughly modern story and I greatly enjoyed it. The heroine was bold and sassy. The hero was, of course, a debauched rake. In this story, the heroine is married to the hero though they've not seen each other since the wedding day when she was 16 years old. She's decided to seek out the hero, her husband, in order to get impregnated with his child to secure her financial future, but that's where the similarities to a traditional Regency romance end.

In this rather non-traditional Regency romance (in fact, it doesn't even tell you it's Regency until the second book in the series), the hero is a rather lewd, dirty talking, if charming fellow. I was caught a little off guard by his dirty, dirty mouth, and I do love a dirty talking hero. :-)

Then there's the sex. There's lots and lots of sex. Lots and lots of very explicit sex. In fact, the first sex scene happens about 20% or so into the book and in that scene, even though the heroine is a virgin (she's pretending to be a courtesan) they have sex 3 times in quick succession, each time described in very scintilliating, titillating detail.

It's a sexy book. The characters behave only slightly with Regency manners and customs and there are many liberties taken. I'll even go so far as to call it an erotic romance if it had more sex scenes in it. There's also a mystery thrown in which adds a little interesting twist so it's not just sex and baby-making. I don't mean for this to be a review to offer spoilers so I'll stop here in describing the book. I only wanted to give you an idea of what I'm referring to when I say non-traditional. It's a thoroughly modern telling with the hero even using the word "F*ck" a time or two, though the origins of the word date back far enough that it's not historically incorrect to use it.

I'm also finding that I am liking the stories where the hero or heroine is a spy for the Crown (yes, back then, it was all for the Crown!) or even an assassin. These characteres are so different from the typical misses who wake up at noon, breakfast at one and then spend 3 hours getting ready for the parties that they would be attending that evening in the hopes of catching a husband. These characters have depth, and well, as in The Courtesan Duchess, if you don't have depth, throw in a lot of sexy sex!


My rating: starstarstarstar
4 of 5 stars


My rating: starstarstarstar
4 of 5 stars

My rating: starstarstarstar
4 of 5 stars

I had a conversation about this to an author friend of mine recently explaining what was going on and she helped me narrow it down.  When I told her that I read a Scottish historical set in the 1400s and loved it, and I read an English historical set in the 1600s and loved it, we were able to determine that it was just one particular time period and one particular niche of the genre. Phew! I thought I was broken and off all historicals! That would have made me even sadder as I love history.

Then I told her I was tired of the ball, the gowns, the rides in Hyde Park, she laugh and said she totally understood where I was coming from. She said to me "You mean you like a story with PLOT!" :-)

I do. I like a story with plot. I like a story with sex and dirty talk. I like a story with a strong heroine and an equally, if not stronger hero. I like them to face diversity and overcome it. I like it when the communicate. I want stories that are set outside of the ballroom, without the rules and the manners and the marriage minded mamas. Think early Anna Campbell (Captive of Sin, Untouched),  Amanda Quick (Arcane Society and her newer works), think Joanna Shupe.

In short, I want my traditional Regency romances to be non-traditional. As you can see from above, I've been reading traditional Regency romances for about 20 years. I think it's time for a break and please, this is just me. Don't think that it has anything to do with all the fabulous authors and books that are out there. This is a huge genre and beloved by many. I am not putting it down at all. There's a time and place for it, and for me, the time has passed, at least for now.

Are you a lover of the traditional Regency romance? If so, what are you favorites? If not, what do you love to read? And do you know any non-traditional Regency romances that I might enjoy? Tell me. I want to know.

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