Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Why I Prefer Traditional Regencies

 With Guest Jacqueline Diamond

In the early 1980s, I had never read a book by Jane Austen nor heard of Regency romances. I was working as a reporter at the Associated Press in Los Angeles when PBS aired the BBC miniseries Pride and Prejudice (the one starring Elizabeth Garvie—I also enjoyed the later miniseries featuring Jennifer Ehle).

I was hooked, bordering on obsessed. Despite an odd schedule at the bureau, I managed to watch repeats two or three times a week, and this was before I owned a VCR. Then I read the book, followed by more Austen novels. One day, while passing through the library, I spotted a paperback whose cover featured a young lady in the same sort of costume. What was this? I wondered, and promptly fell even deeper under the Regency spell.

To clarify, the English Regency period covers the years 1811-1820, when the Prince of Wales ruled in place of his father, King George III, who had been deemed mentally unfit. In 1820, when the king died, his son was crowned King George IV. However, the Regency era is sometimes loosely considered the decades between 1795 and 1837, ending with the ascension of Queen Victoria. This expansion allows authors more leeway with settings and current events.

The Regency was a time of turmoil—including the Napoleonic Wars—and of change. Women’s rights and women’s fashions began to modernize, certainly compared to the preceding Georgian and subsequent Victorian periods. Men’s clothing, influenced by Beau Brummell, abandoned rich colors and velvet for a more tailored, elegant and masculine appearance. Powdered hair and stiff wigs were tossed aside for men as well as women, save for members of the British judiciary (an amusing article on that topic may be found at http://www.cardozo.yu.edu/life/spring1999/wigs/).

After reading as many Regencies as I could find, I began to research—in books, since this was before today’s convenient Internet--and to write them feverishly, in every spare moment. Until then, I had written plays, scripts and children’s fantasy novels, receiving a writing grant but never achieving professional status outside journalism.

After completing two manuscripts, I approached publishers, working my way through the alphabet in The Writer’s Market before selling my first Regency, Lady in Disguise, to Walker and Company. Still working fulltime at AP, I wrote and sold a total of five. My sixth, A Lady’s Point of View, was rejected by my editor, but later bought by Harlequin and published with only minor revisions. After Harlequin canceled its Regency line, I became discouraged about writing in the genre and moved on to contemporary romantic comedy.

It never occurred to me to put sex in my Regencies. I realize that people had sex in Olde

England, and that some unmarried women, such as widows, had sex outside wedlock. Personally, I have no objection to such conduct “as long as they don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses!”, to quote actress Beatrice Stella Tanner Campbell (1865-1940). Mrs. Campbell, by the way, was the first Eliza Doolittle in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. I think someone later made it into a musical. (Don’t write me. I know it was My Fair Lady).

When I first read a Regency that contained consummated sex, I was, if not shocked, decidedly taken aback. Did it not occur to this nitwit heroine that she might be impregnated? What about her reputation? Yes, Mary Shelley ran off at age sixteen (in 1814) with the married Percy Bysshe Shelley, but it raised quite a scandal. Only her intellectual pedigree as the daughter of women’s rights reformer Mary Wollstonecraft and her own talent—she wrote Frankenstein, thus inventing the genre of science fiction—saved her from complete ostracism. Also, she later married Shelley.

Since I encountered that first steamy Regency, the genre has provided larger and larger servings of passion. There are many wonderful Regency authors plying their craft today, and I don’t wish to disparage them or their readers, but I do wish more traditional Regencies were being published.

To me, the fun of a Regency remains its Cinderella-like innocence. I treasure a heroine of spirit, wit and modesty. While I wouldn’t deprive her of sensual yearnings, the notion of her lifting her skirts and discovering what lurks beneath the hero’s buckskin breeches seems a violation of her moral code. Also, it strikes me as profoundly foolish, the sort of behavior one might expect from Elizabeth Bennet’s giddy sister Lydia, who was only saved from disgrace by Mr. Darcy’s kindness.

Some popular authors of sweet Regencies that I recommend are Georgette Heyer, Joan Smith and Candice Hern. My own half-dozen novels in the genre continue to sell smartly on Amazon and other sites.

I’m thrilled that there are still readers who prefer tradition. Long live Eliza Bennet!



Bio: Jacqueline Diamond has sold more than 95 novels including romantic comedies, Regency romances, supernatural thrillers and mysteries. A former Associated Press reporter and TV columnist, Jackie received a Career Achievement Award from Romantic Times magazine and has twice been a finalist for the prestigious Rita Awards.

Website: www.jacquelinediamond.com 


Facebook: JacquelineDiamondAuthor 


Twitter: @jacquediamond




Today, Jacqueline is offering one of her Regency ebooks from Smashwords to one commenter. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition. Just let us know you want to be in the drawing.

59 comments :

  1. Please put my name in for the drawing! It's been a long time since I read Harlequin Historicals, and I can't even tell you know if they were from the Regency period, or not or if they might have been yours. Horror of horrors, I haven't even read Jane's novels! But it's on my TBR pile!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Marianne hasn't read an Austen novel? oh honey, fix that!

    Put me in for the drawing. And yes, sensual Regencies is like putting Lydia in the heroine's role .... no thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Marianne this is an ebook. You may have to change your stance!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Welcome Jackie! Delighted to have you in Seekerville.

    What a treat!

    I am looking forward to reading your Regencies as well.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh my goodness!!!

    95 novels!!!

    *drags self off the floor*

    Are you still writing for HQ as a hybrid? Or have you gone all the way to the dark side in self publishing Regency fiction?

    Excited to meet someone with such a love for Austen and trotting over to AZ to check them out!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Marianne and Melissa, the only one of Jane's novels I've read all the way through is the one I was assigned in high school. I tried rereading P&P earlier this year, and it was funny and good, but the language of most classics always feels so formal and distant. So I often have a hard time reading them. I'll start with good intentions, and then a modern novel will come along and steal my attention.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh, and Love at Any Cost is free today! Don't forget!!! (I already snagged my copy. :-))

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi JACQUELINE and welcome to Seekerville. I am not a big regency fan, but one of my early mentors was big in it. Emily Hendrickson wrote many.

    Best wishes on your continued success and happy holidays.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Welcome to Seekerville, Jacqueline! I agree wholeheartedly with your view of keeping the innocence in Regency romance.

    I read Regencies for their wit and flourish, not their passion. The talented Regency author makes me feel and understand the passion without be blatant about it.

    Sing it, sister. I've with you!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Finally, someone else who has seen the 1980 BBC version of P&P! That one is my favorite!

    Thank you for coming to Seekerville today. I read Regencies at times, and the stories make much more sense to me without the hot stuff. I'm currently enjoying the one by my cp, Elaine Manders and I know it will be published someday. Looking forward to yours!

    Piper

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Jacqueline,

    Welcome to Seekerville. I enjoyed reading about your writing journey. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Yes! Yes! yes! Agree with you 100%. Leave the Lydia's to their lot in life, but don't spoil the Regencies with those silly girls. :-)

    Jacqueline, I did the same thing when I discovered Jane Austin—I have Every version of PP on DVD plus all the others. I watch once or twice a year or anytime I'm tired of reading. :-)

    Going to check out your website...

    ReplyDelete
  13. Oh, and yes, I'd love to win your book! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Welcome to Seekerville, Jackie. I'm blown away by the number of novels you've sold and the diversity of genres! Makes me question the importance of branding.

    I totally agree that the fun of Regencies is their lively wit and lovely innocence. Thanks for the interesting post!

    Janet

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi Jackie, congratulations on your publication list. I've read some of your books, but I never knew you wrote Regencies, too.

    I really enjoyed your post and am heading over to tweet about it.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I just recently checked out Jackie's website and she has a Harlequin American coming out. 12th in the series!!!!!

    The Surprise Holiday Dad

    ReplyDelete
  17. Interesting, Anita, because I knew she wrote Regency but didn't realize she had TWELVE in this Harlequin American series out.

    GOOD GRAVY. And a medical series as well. Right up my proverbial alley.

    Jackie! Anymore planned for this series??

    ReplyDelete
  18. A medical series? I'm so there!

    Although I loved the historical info in your blog, Jacqueline.

    Would love a glimpse into your AP life as well. Could we turn your life's story into the basis for a future contemporary suspense heroine, perhaps? :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Jacqueline, so nice to have you as our guest today! I remember when I first really got hooked on Jane Austen's stories. It began with the movie versions on PBS, and then I realized how deprived I'd been by not having read the actual novels. I bought an anthology of all her books in one volume and proceeded to work my way through it. Delightful!

    I haven't read many regencies since then, but I'm halfway through one right now that I'm really enjoying. The title is Edenbrooke: A Proper Romance, by Julianne Donaldson. It's enough to convince me I need to read more!

    Oh, and thanks for the reminder, Naomi! Just downloaded Julie's book to my Kindle!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I wonder how many Austen fans are members of the Austen Society and go to their big conference each year.

    Author Marilyn Brandt is big into that.

    The Jane Austen Society of North America

    ReplyDelete
  21. Has anybody read Sheri Cobb South's Regencies? It's been a while, and the books are somewhere on my shelves, but I've never forgotten her book, The Weaver Takes a Wife.

    Mr. Brundy was definitely not the swoon-worthy handsome hero most girls dream about, but Sheri MADE him heroic.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'm thrilled to see so many people reading my blog--and it's only 8 o'clock in the morning, California time. I haven't self-published any original Regencies, but I am revising and updating some of my contemporary romantic comedies as ebooks, plus a few mysteries and a fantasy.
    I am currently writing a medical romance miniseries (Safe Harbor Medical) for Harlequin American, as some of you have mentioned. There'll be at least 15 in the series--I'm currently writing #14. Thank you all for commenting!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Oh, I forgot to mention that, in my medical series, each book stands alone. You can start with whichever one you stumble across or whose premise appeals to you most.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I've never read a Jane Austen book, but I saw the movie!

    It's been a long time since I read a regency. All those rules!I'll watch for your upcoming Harlequin.

    ReplyDelete
  25. We are DELIGHTED TO HAVE YOU. Thanks for getting up early to visit with us!

    The coffee pot is on in Seekerville.

    And what would a Regency woman have for breakfast??

    ReplyDelete
  26. We are DELIGHTED TO HAVE YOU. Thanks for getting up early to visit with us!

    The coffee pot is on in Seekerville.

    And what would a Regency woman have for breakfast??

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hi, Jackie!

    I haven't read many Regencies, but I agree with you - I prefer the simple, Cinderella-like stories. They're hard to find these days, though.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Tina, I read Ebooks...I just won't pay for them!

    ReplyDelete
  29. LOL!!! Marianne! Seriously?

    We'll discuss this later over hot chocolate with whipped cream and lots of sprinkles.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Oh, a huge BRAVA!!!! to the wonderful woman writing this post!

    Long live the grace of the traditional regency!!! Jacqueline, thank you for being here. And how fun to write for Harlequin Medical! You rock it, girl!

    This is a delightful post, and you're going to laugh at me (and that's all right, honey, many do!!!) but I didn't realize you could actually have an official regency with sex.

    I just thought of them as historicals... Am I lame or what????

    Hey, I have sparkling punch to kick in the holiday mid-day spirit, ladies and gents. And a serving of fresh baked scones with clotted cream. To an old genre, best left alone! LOVE!!!!

    Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  31. I suppose I'm a Regency fan, but not necessarily romance, since I tend to read Anne Perry's works the most. Sensual Regencies just doesn't seem proper.

    I would love to win a book of yours. I definitely need to review your book list because I do enjoy the Harlequin lines you write for. Very fun to learn about a new author (well, new to me).

    ReplyDelete
  32. Marianne, laughing!!!!!

    I broke down and bought the Kindle this year and....

    I love the thing!!!!

    I have to admit to being WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, yet again!

    Ugh....

    So I'm going to tuck a couple of Jacqueline's regencies into my e-reader... although I love medical romances, too!

    I didn't think I'd love the Kindle. I really thought I was immune.

    I'm not. It's so stinkin' nice and easy and I can store books on it, and it's LIGHT... and I can carry it where ever I go. And my kids do steal it, did you know you can download Youtube videos for the urchins and they can watch them on Grammy's Kindle????

    :)

    So it's a multi-purpose machine around here! I expected to hate it... Duh me, again.

    Jacqueline, that many books is just a wondrous thing. I'm so happy for you!!!!! Your zest makes me smile!

    And yes, shout out for Julie's "Love at Any Cost".... I bought it a few weeks back, but it is free today!!!!! SUHWEET!!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hi Jacqueline, how did you have time to produce 95 novels? That's a huge accomplishment.

    Thank you for putting Regencies in the spotlight. A lot of readers don't know what a Regency is. They kinda have an idea, but not really. There are a lot of great Regency writers besides Jane Austen, though she may have been the first.

    Regency isn't a place or time so much as a state of mind. To me the Regency is the epitome of Romance, and make no mistake, the Regency lady wanted marriage not a romp in bed. The Regency novel reads like a game of chess where the heroine plans her moves, passes the competition, contrives to catch the hero's attention, yearns for his smile. Just a look is enough to dream about for days.

    The hero does his own share of yearning, but would never consider harming the lady's reputation. When he proposes and she says yes, he feels like he's won a great treasure.

    Explicit sex robs a romance of romance.

    Yes, I'd like to be in the drawing.

    ReplyDelete
  34. To me, a Regency is something of a Cinderella story in which the heroine takes her fate in her own hands.
    To respond to the question about breakfast, Regency folks ate much as we do: eggs, sometimes ham or bacon, and toast or a roll with preserves. Gentlemen sometimes drank ale as well. That reminds me of an ex-boyfriend's bumper sticker: Beer Isn't Just for Breakfast Any More. (This helps explain why I didn't marry him. My husband of 35 years definitely would not drink alcoholic beverages at breakfast).
    Re Kindles, I was unsure until my older son bought me one. It's astonishing how much I enjoy it, and I'm reading more now.
    There are a lot of free ebooks available. I consider these a good introduction to new authors and genres, but if I really enjoy an author's work, I'm happy to pay for her books, especially since the prices tend to be low compared to print books.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I'm a huge Regency romance freak. I mean it's RIDICULOUS.

    The thing I think is FUNNY about them is the absolute assurance we are given in each book that each and every man and woman is always exactly the same, the simpering miss just out of the school room, the dandified gentlemen....except of course for OUR heroine and OUR hero who are quite different.

    TIMES twenty thousand books which is more than all the members of the ton in the Regency era. So that strikes me as pretty FUNNY.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Welcome, Jackie! I've always loved reading Regencies. I'll go take a peek at your website to see if I've read any of yours. I imagine I have! :)

    ReplyDelete
  37. I certainly appreciate all the folks who've visited my website and/or Facebook page. I love "meeting" readers!

    ReplyDelete
  38. Somehow I missed your post PIper. I didn't know your CP, Elaine wrote Regencies as well.

    I want to read that book. She is an awesome writer.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Jackie, how do you keep all your characters straight after 14 books in a series??

    ReplyDelete
  40. Absolutely LOVE Regencies, But am so sad that there are so few out there that are clean. Thanks so much for posting on a topic dear to my heart!:)

    ReplyDelete
  41. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I hope I don't get in trouble for that comment! Haha!

    ReplyDelete
  43. As to how I keep the characters straight through 14 or more books, I have a file just for characters. It's nearly 60 pages long! I update and reorganize with each book, noting the ages of the children as they grow and grouping together the new book's hero, heroine and those close to them. I also have to track who got married and which doctor is working with which nurse (s). It's fun when I can revisit a character from a previous book who fits into a new book's subplot.

    ReplyDelete
  44. JACQUELINE, WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE!!!

    Although I am a historical author, I suppose I tend to stay on this side of the pond most of the time, but I have read Georgette Heyer and loved her, as well as Christian authors such as MaryLu Tyndall, Julie Klassen, Sarah Ladd, Jamie Carie, Jillian Kent, Ruth Axtell, Laurie Alice Eakes and so on, so I do LOVE regencies.

    As an edgier Inspy writer, however, I don't mind a tad of Godly passion in my books, regency or otherwise, but certainly not to the extent that secular regencies tend toward, so I'm in staunch agreement with you there. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

    ReplyDelete
  45. Sex sells, Melly. You didn't get the memo??

    ReplyDelete
  46. I totally agree! Restrained/bridled passion is much more entertaining to read and can create greater tension/chemistry between characters if done right.
    Looking forward to reading your books!

    ReplyDelete
  47. LOL, Tina! Yep, I know. But it's not that easy to work feasibly into a plot if you want to be historically accurate and write Regencies. Unless you're writing about Lydia, as Jacqueline pointed out, or Colonel Brandon's ward who got pregnant--and was deserted--by Willoughby.

    ReplyDelete
  48. LOL. Historical accuracy. Well, that's another issue.

    ReplyDelete
  49. It's much easier to be historically accurate today with the Internet. In polishing A Lady's Point of View for reissue, I looked up the history of eyeglasses in the Regency period and incorporated some of the material that I couldn't find twenty or so years earlier.

    ReplyDelete
  50. I completely agree about clean regencies. I'm really enjoying my CP Elaine Manders' (hi, Elaine, hi Piper). :)

    The thing I love most about Regencies is when the hero's restraint and consideration of the heroine overshadows any type of physical gesture he may have wanted to make, but didn't.
    (I'm picturing the scene in BBC's adaptation of "Wives and Daughters" where Roger proposes in the rain, but won't touch Molly or even get close to her since it risks exposing her to scarlet fever)
    It's self-sacrifice, which is the #1 hero IMO.

    Great post, thank you, Jacqueline!

    ReplyDelete
  51. In Austen's novels, she doesn't deny that sex is real, but, like a Shakespeare play, it happens off-stage, and the consequences are also real. (not glamorized)

    I would love to be added to the drawing. :)

    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
  52. I'm late to the party, Jacqueline, but I LOVED regencies. I was so sad when all the lines closed down. I wish they'd start one up again.

    And, yes, I too preferred the more innocent regencies :)

    ReplyDelete
  53. I love Regency romances. But being a labor and delivery nurse (for twenty-two years), I'm looking forward to checking out your medical romance miniseries. I'd like to be included in your drawing.

    ReplyDelete
  54. I just want to say that this is a well-written post and I couldn't agree more. Amen, Jacqueline!

    ReplyDelete
  55. Thank you all for your wonderful comments!

    ReplyDelete