I first discovered Regency romance in my early teens with Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer and I was hooked. Of course, Jane Austen wasn't really writing Regency romance, she was writing contemporary novels, but she set the template for a whole genre with Pride and Prejudice. Georgette Heyer picked up the baton in the twentieth century and made the Regency romance her own.
So what do I love about it? I love the chance to escape to an elegant age where courtesy was the order of the day; where witty conversations took place in crowded ballrooms or gracious drawing-rooms; where men and women danced and rode and took tea as they gradually fell in love. Many Regencies are comedies of manners about impoverished ladies who meet rich, handsome and arrogant gentlemen, causing the sparks to fly. Or sometimes it's the reverse, with heiresses meeting their match in impoverished gentlemen,
The language is another thing I particularly love about the genre. Georgette Heyer introduced a lot of wonderful phrases to the genre, which came from her detailed research. Characters are not poor in Heyer's novels; instead, they don't have a feather to fly with or they have pockets to let. They aren't drunk, they are a trifle disguised. There's a fantastic list of Heyer slang here This kind of rich and exuberant language peppers the pages of Regency romance and provides a unique and very entertaining read.
Regencies also offer a chance to delve into history and find out more about how our ancestors used to live. Some Regencies focus on the day-to-day life of the characters in small country villages. Others highlight historical events and place their characters in the turbulence of the Napoleonic wars or other similar events. I love reading and writing smuggling stories similar to Poldark, or stories about highwaymen or daring rescue attempts from the shores of revolutionary France, as well as elegant comedies of manners. Most of my own Regency romances have some kind of adventure as well as a romance. There is so much choice in the genre, it offers something for everyone, which is why I suppose it is still so popular, over 200 years after the first publication of Pride and Prejudice.