WHY I LOVE THE REGENCY
I write sensual, Regency-set historical romances—and I’m not the only one! Take a look at any bestseller list and you’ll see lots of Regency authors like Mary Balogh, Eloisa James, and Stephanie Laurens topping the list. The competition is fierce, and there are so many terrifyingly good historical authors out there, you have to wonder why anyone would be fool enough to attempt to break into their ranks. Fortunately for me, readers love the Regency period, and are loyal and voracious consumers of romances set in this fascinating period.
So what is it, exactly, that we love about the Regency? There are some obvious answers, of course. The glamour, for one. Aristocrats of the time loved to party, and party large. The clothes were elegant, the soirees elaborate, and the conversation devastatingly witty. And when the wealthy weren’t racing from one ball to the next in the city, they were hosting large gatherings at their country estates, where they hunted, feasted, gambled, made love, and generally had a great time until the wee hours of the morn. These settings are like gold to the writer, providing all kinds of opportunities for color, drama, and comedy amidst the social whirl of the ton.
The Regency was also populated with fascinating characters like The Prince Regent, Beau Brummell, Harriett Wilson, Byron and Caro Lamb, Lady Jersey and the other aristocratic hostesses who dictated the social rules governing high society. These figures often people the novels of Regency romance, and provide fascinating authenticity to the period we love so much.
But underneath all that opulence and splendour lived another England—one that was violent and dark, and suffered all the evils of poverty and a society on the verge of massive change. For the Regency author, this gothic underworld is a rich source of dramatic conflict. It’s especially interesting to explore the subtleties of class distinctions that make English society so unique. And what better way to do this than by creating a hero and heroine separated from each other by social class and wealth. Those were huge barriers back in the early nineteenth-century, ones we have trouble imagining today, and it’s so much fun—as a writer—to explore those differences.
I came to my love of Regency romance like many readers of the genre—by falling in love with the novels of Jane Austen. So much so, that I went on to study English literature of the Regency period in graduate school. I specialized in the novels of Fanny Burney, and studied the theme of madness in her books. Years later, that theme was still rattling around in my head, and when I started writing my own Regency romance, madhouses and conniving relatives, and dastardly villains soon made their way into my book.
MASTERING THE MARQUESS is the story of a woman intent on saving her little sister from incarceration in an insane asylum. My heroine, Meredith, turns for help to the Marquess of Silverton, a man above her class, and arrogant and powerful to boot. Meredith has always led a sheltered life in the country, but she soon finds herself thrown into the unfamiliar and bewildering world of London’s high society. Add in the madhouse and the villains, along with the social snobs, and you have a romance that combines the glittering elegance of the Regency ton with the dark underworld of the Gothic.
So, dear readers, what do you think? What is it about that Regency that fascinates us so much, and makes it such a great period to read and write about?
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To read Vanessa’s bio and the back cover blurb for MASTERING THE MARQUESS, please see yesterday’s post.
To learn more about Vanessa and her upcoming books, please visit her website.