Saturday, July 25, 2015

Why I love Regency romance – doesn't everybody?

I can remember when I was in my 20s searching through the racks in the library for Regency romances – in those days there were several publishers producing them and I read them all. My love of all things Regency began when I discovered Georgette Heyer in my early teens and then later, Jane Austen. As a young mother of two small children,with a husband at Essex University and living on a student grant, being able to escape into a world of aristocratic heroes, adventurous young ladies all living in luxury surroundings, was just what I needed. The heroes always had to be the three As – autocratic, aristocratic and arrogant, but they must also be a true a hero in every sense of the word. It goes without saying they must be wealthy, intelligent, witty and kind to animals and children. but if they are also ex-military gentleman, so much the better.
When Bernard Cornwall's wonderful Sharpe books were turned into a TV series with Sean Bean playing Richard Sharpe I knew I just had to write my own Regency romantic adventures and have my hero as similar to him as I could. Although my heroes are aristocrats, the vast majority of them are ex-military man and as ready to slice the villain with a sabre as they are to kiss the heroine into submission.
The Duke's Reform was the first book I author-published in 2012 and I still think Jane Dixon-Smith's cover is one of my favourites. In this book my hero is decidedly un-heroic initially which upset a lot of readers – I think the title is self-explanatory. The book is about a man who reforms – therefore he must need to change for the title to make sense. I love describing the fashions, the high-waisted dresses of the young ladies and the tight-fitting breeches and shining boots of the gentlemen – in fact everything about this era appeals to the romantic side of me. My favourite Regency romances are those that have plenty of adventure and are not just a comedy of manners – although I enjoy those as well if they are well written. There is a plethora of Jane Austen variations about at the moment, some of which I love and some I don't. They are far more popular in America than they are here. I've written three myself and intend to write a fourth next year. Fortunately for those like me who love both to write and read Regency romances there are plenty to choose from nowadays. Every day I discover new writers and eagerly look out for their next book. I have to be careful not to read a Regency similar to the one I'm writing just in case I inadvertently put something from the book I'm reading into the book I'm writing. The book I've just released, Lady Emma's Revenge, has a Bow Street Runner for the hero and I think Jane's cover shows exactly the kind of man my hero is. He might not be a gentleman born, but he is everything Lady Emma requires in a husband.
My books are not great literature, I don't aspire to be a 21st-century Jane Austen, but I hope they provide my readers with a few happy hours of escapism to an era full of candlelight, beautiful gowns and delicious suppers. Of course, we all know that the vast majority of the population during the Regency were living in abject poverty, but in the world I write about grim reality is kept hidden. I also write mainstream historical sagas set in World War II, as well as Victorian sagas, but my absolute favourites, both to write and read ,are Regency romances. Fenella J Miller

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