Why Regency Romance Gets Stuck in My Craw (As scavenged from my readers group)

1. Virgin Heroines;
2. Balls (dance, not anatomy);
3. Virgin Heroines;
4. Gaming Halls;
5. The oops, ‘why the hell didn’t you tell me you’re a virgin’ sex scene; 
6. Upperclass twits and social climbers with Virgin daughters they want to marry off to a duke;
7. Everyone has a title;
8. Virgin Heroines;
9. Maidenheads;
10. Virgin Heroines;
Oh, all right. I’m messing witchu. Sort of. I can do Victorian romance. I can do Westerns, American Revolution and Civil War romance, but clearly, there’s something about Regency romance that makes me groan. Regency romance novels are incredibly popular and I’m not knocking them. Really, I’m not. There are some really fabuloso ones out there that I have enjoyed.  Unfortunately, this moan stems from the last few Regency-set romances I’ve read because they were very nearly traced and cut from the same cloth. I was disappointed. Greatly disappointed. I’m damn tired of the same elements appearing over and over, right down to the cookie-cut-out hero and heroine. If you read regency romance maybe you know what I mean. If you don’t, refer to the list above and insert a BIG YAWN.

Allow me to explain my list. So what is it about those things on the list that stick ’em way down there in my gullet? Gee. I’m trying to figure that out. Perhaps it’s because I know my history or because I’ve read Defoe’s Moll Flanders and Burnley’s Evelina as well as Jane Austen and I know what I liked better. Family secrets, bastard children and sexual escapades weren’t limited to the Aristocracy. The Regency era wasn’t only filled with the gentry and not every female was an eighteen year old virgin who had no idea about sex. The 18th and pre-Victorian 19th century were randy times full o’ lusty sex and excess like the 1980’s. Common folk were not excluded from par-taying like it were 1999, however in Regency romance, they are.  Really. Think about it. Can you come up with of a Regency that features a romance between a blacksmith and the baker’s daughter? Or one where the tenant farmer has a thing for the groundskeeper’s eldest? The housemaid and the valet?  It just breaks my heart. Regency cooks and footmen needed to get down too, didn’t they?

Indeed this comes down to being a matter of taste.  I know many readers like the Regency era for, as Anna Campbell put it at yesterday”s Brisbane Writer’s Festival, the fairy tale. I like fairy tales. I’m living a freakin’ fairy tale! I’ll agree that the Regency lends itself well to fairy tales what with the clothes and the colours and the estates and the wealth an all, but there are fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel and The Fisherman and his Wife where there’s not a ball, a baron, or a sexually ignorant virgin in sight. For some reason, that’s the kind of fairy tale that appeals to me. It’s dirty. It’s dark. It’s poor. It’s the kind of fairy tale I’d like to see applied to more Historical romance, to more Regency set romance.

What? What did you say? I should quit my belly-achin’ and write one?

Are you kidding?

Oh, no. Oh, no, no no. I’m not about to write historical romance. Uh-uh. Nope. I’ll let Jo Goodman do that. Or Lorretta Chase. Or Laura Kinsale. Or Lisa Barry. Maybe, if I beg her hard enough, I can get Anna Campbell, the Godmother of Regency Noir, to write a duke-n-virgin-free Regency just FOR me.

And in the meantime, I’ll stick with my contemporary romantic comedy fairy tales. 

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