Friday, August 12, 2005

Demise of the Traditional Regency

The most recent ATBF at AAR discusses traditional regency romances. I didn't get a chance to post on the subject so I thought I would say something about it here.

In the mid '80s I discovered traditional Regency romances quite by chance at a wonderful UBS with a huge selection. Over the next 15 years or so I recorded close to 600. At that time some of my favorite authors were Mary Balogh, Diana Brown, Carla Kelly, Laura Matthews, Mary Jo Putney and Joan Wolf. I was so thrilled when Signet Super Regency line came out because they had more explicit sex. Occasionally I read a historical romance with more sex like Kathleen Woodiwiss and I liked a couple but most of them made me very uncomfortable. There was too much rape or forced seductions and adultery. A lady I worked with loaned me a Rosemary Rogers that she just loved and I HATED it. And those covers!!! Horrible. I had no one to help me pick out something good so I just stayed away from all of them.

My reading tastes have since changed drastically. Eventually, with the discovery of online review sites like AAR, I branched out to other historicals, romantic suspense, paranormals, and contemporary and mostly selected the romances from reviews and recommendations from readers. I like sex in the romances I read. I don't even read reviews that have an 'N/A' or 'Kisses' sensual ratings, and only subtle reviews if they get a high grade. I have a few traditional Regencies left in Mt. TBR and I will probably read most of them, but I won't be adding anymore for three reasons: 1) no sex, 2) most are too "light", I tend to prefer darker romances now, and 3) my favorite authors aren't writing them anymore. So I won't miss traditional romances when Zebra and Signet stop publishing them completely.

I think that the introduction of the Regency historical with more explicit sex was the beginning of the end for the traditional Regency. It was for me. I followed Mary Balogh from traditional to historical Regency and discovered more authors like Jo Beverly, Lisa Kleypas, Judith Ivory, etc. But, if they stop publishing Regency historicals, I'm really in trouble, which is a real possibility since we are seeing some historical authors move to contemporary or historical mysteries or some other genre.

Here is a partial list of my favorites (many with a 'subtle' or 'warm' rating):

Mary Balogh:
The Notorious Rake
Snow Angel
(This is a partial list. TODO: reread my keepers and grade them)

Diana Brown:
A Debt of Honor
The Emerald Necklace
The Sandalwood Fan

Gayle Buck:
Lady Althea's Bargan

Anne Gracie:
An Honorable Thief
Tallie's Knight

Carla Kelly:
Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand
With This Ring
One Good Turn
The Wedding Journey

Katherine Kingsley:
A Natural Attachment

Emma Lange:
The Cost of Honor

Dawn Lindsey:
The Reluctant Heroine

Laura Matthews:
Lord Clayborne's Fancy
Lord Greywell's Dilemma

Melinda McRae:
Married by Mistake

Mary Jo Putney:
A Controversial Countess
The Rake and the Reformer

Joan Wolf:
The Counterfeit Marriage
His Lordship's Mistress
The Rebellious Ward

I'm always open to recommendations for traditional regencies that have more sensuality than kisses. So feel free to drop me a comment.

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