The Deconstructed Regency…What does it take to create a regency romance?

I love historical romance. It’s not as if I haven’t read other genres—in fact, I’m quite the fan of NA and contemporary. Every so often I’ll get particularly wild and read a book without romantic elements…though those times are few and far between. But for some reason, I always come back to historical romance—specifically, regency.

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So it got me thinking—why? Why do I love reading regency romance? Not just the traditional regency romances, but the sexier, more modern regency novels too. After hundreds, if not thousands of regency notches in my proverbial bed post of books read, there are very few plot devices or story lines that I haven’t read before. And then it hit me—that’s why I love it. I find it comforting to know that by the time I’m done reading, the hero and heroine will have resolved their conflict and all will be right in the world.  But, it has to be more than just that. After all, happily ever afters are pretty common place in the world of romantic fiction.

What are those key elements of regency romance that make me come back for more?

The Season: For those who don’t know, I’m not talking about the big four that you learned about in kindergarten. The London social season is a major factor, and the most often utilized backdrop to regency romance. Without the season, there’d be little opportunity for young, good-looking people to meet, therefore making for very boring books.

Marriage (may or may not be of convenience): Very rarely do I get to read about a regency couple who ended up simply shacking up instead of exchanging vows. Marriage is a dominant theme throughout regency romance. Whether they want to or not, main characters always find themselves leg-shackled.

Titles: A very small percentage of England held a title, yet to read most regency romances you’d think almost everyone got to call themselves Duke of Something or Other. This may or may not be tied to fortune…

Fortune: It’s fairly common for either the hero or the heroine (or both) to be filthy rich. Often times, this coincides with the subject of marriage.

The Time Period: It’s not really a regency if it falls outside the regency time period—say 1811-1820ish. This was a time of dramatic change and great social division. Issues such as women’s rights are often a subplot for the story, which may or may not spur the conflict between the hero and heroine.

Witty Dialogue: Many books have great dialogue, but regency seems to be the reigning champs for best banter. It’s clever, it’s quick, and it’s what sets the genre apart from the others.

Of course, I’ve completely ignored what makes a regency hero and heroine, but I need to hold something back for next time. So, what do you look for in a regency romance? Did I miss anything?

ROMANTIC PURSUIT QUESTION: What’s the first name of the heroine in my first regency romance, Compromising Miss Tisdale? Click here to answer.

Jessica JeffersonJessica Jefferson makes her home in northern Indiana, or as she likes to think of it—almost Chicago.  She is heavily inspired by classic sweeping, historical romance novels, but aims to take those key emotional elements and inject a fresh blend of quick dialogue and comedy.  She invites you to visit her at jessicajefferson.com and read more of her random romance musings. Her latest book, Taming Miss Tisdale, is available now.

http://www.jessicajefferson.com

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Jessica Jefferson makes her home in Almost-Chicago with her husband, nine and three year old girls, guinea pigs, and English bulldog Pete. When she's not busy trying to find middle-ground between being a modern career woman and Suzy-Homemaker, she loves to watch "Real Housewives of [insert city here]" and performing unnecessary improvements to her home and property. Jessica writes Regency-era historical romance with a modern twist, infused with humor. She always tries to create endearingly flawed heroes and one of a kind heroines that you'll want to continue knowing long after you read the last page. Fall in love with romance again... www.jessicajefferson.com

14 Responses

  1. Maggi Andersen

    There are so many things that appeal to me about that extraordinary period in history, Jessica. I’d have to say the pace, and the witty banter between the hero and the heroine makes it special for me. My love for the era came from reading Georgette Heyer.

  2. cassandrasamuels

    I agree with everything you said, especially the witty banter. But, you forgot the clothes. They are beautiful and elegant and that’s the mens clothes. The regency gown is a particular favourite of mine as well.

    • I love the regency era fashion – I’m always surprised by the color combinations and what was considered appealing. If you say ‘puce’ now, all you get is a bunch of scrunched up noses from people, and it used to be considered a pretty hot color.

  3. Don’t you just love this time period? the tight fitting men’s clothes 😉 and the beautiful diaphanous gowns-who wouldn’t want to go to a London ball? In my next life I’m coming back as a Duchess, I swear! Great post!!

  4. allybroadfield

    Fabulous post, Jessica. I agree about the clothes being a fun part of the mix. I also love a good house party at someone’s estate in the country.

  5. I look for something different in Regency–maybe a flawed hero or heroine–or a bit of mystery to add an extra layer. Enjoyed the post.

  6. Fun post, Jessica. I love the Regency lexicon, though it can be confusing to readers who don’t know it.

    • I think there are some common words that most people can recognize, but there’s others that I think can be misunderstood (Corinthian).

  7. Loved your post, Jessica. I devour Regency books. If it wasn’t for chamber pots and lack of deodorant, 😀 I’d love to live in that time. Like Nancy, I’d want to be a Duchess.

    • That’s what I love about romance novels – somehow things like using the chamber pot, hairy legs, and rank body odor are often omitted.