Tag: romance

Meet the Parents: Regency Romance Series

Welcome back to another round of the Regency series:
* Starting off
* Meet the man
* Pretty Lady
*Who Do I Read 1

Since someone had to give birth to these paragons of virtue, troubled souls, wicked but utterly reformable rakes, and innocent but oh so wise maidens (and occasionally widows), we must as matter of course have parents.

Mothers:

Now then, in all the really good novels, they kill off the mother. Perhaps it’s a throwback to the classic fairytales or perhaps it’s just the reality that children, especially girls, with mothers often have relationships with those mothers and don’t tend to be quite so prone to running away, having strange romances, etc etc. So please, do consider abolishing the mother before you start the first page.

Mother often died early, perhaps even in childbirth. This is not necessarily unrealistic, many women did die at that time from giving birth. And all of their children apparently promptly grew up to star in Regency Romances. If the mother dies, it allows one to make her a sainted creature, fondly remembered and loved and without any flaws a woman who had to survive the teenage years of her child.

But sometimes you need the mother to live.

If it’s the girl’s mother:

If she survives the father (killing him off, also popular) often she’s useless and all burden of supporting the family, being an active character etc falls upon the daughter about whom the story is written. Mother is often relegated to having trunks of beautifully made clothing that can be remade for the daughter to wear when snaring the noble who’ll be her husband by the end of the book. Said noble then gets mother and other siblings as new dependents.

Other mother daughter options to consider:
* Mother ignores daughter in favor of another child: either a boy or a much more beautiful sister
* Mother is the grasping mushroom type trying to buy her daughter a title she doesn’t want
* Mother is running around with all sorts of inappropriate men, which embarrasses virginal daughter

It’s very very helpful is the girl’s mother was disowned by her gentry/noble family for marrying the girl’s father, reconciliations between grandchildren/grandparents are very popular.

And, occasionally, mother is a pretty regular normal decent parent with a pretty normal relationship with her daughter.

If it’s the guy’s mother:
* She was the only one who loved him but died early because his father was cruel to her
* She abandoned him at a young age to run off with her lover
* She had him with her lover but he’s been acknowledged/raised as the heir
* She is vitriolic and plans to rule his house forever and has to be thrown out.

Those are the extremes. Usually the guys have much better mothers and much better and more realistic relationships with their mothers, the moms mostly having the role of complaining about them not being married and providing grandchildren.

Fathers:

Fathers are more likely to be alive for the girls. If they have died, they’ve left massive of debts behind so their daughters are impoverished (the charming gamester dad or poor cleric dad) or they’ve left them as heiresses with bad guardians.

For your heroine, her Father

* raised her like the son he never had but hates her for being female and/or for behaving like a boy.
* ignored her, hated her for being female.
* is the vague professorial type who educated her too well for men.
* has remarried and the woman he’s married is awful for variety of reasons

For your hero, his father
* hates him for surviving his older brothers, or being wife’s ill-begotten child, or being born at all (take your pick)
* loves him and thinks his being a rake is perfectly marvelous
* is dead and was horribly mean, causing the hero never to want children or get married.
* is dead and was wonderful, in which case he only gets mentioned in passing.

Occasionally both parents are still alive and do seem to have a good relationship with their child. More often these are his parents and then they are either wonderful people who have a lovely marriage or they are cold, harsh aristocrats who sneer upon anyone except a frigid girl like themselves and who hate each other.

(At least I’m giving you a variety of options…cut them all up, draw them out of a hat, and go.)

Ah but we can’t forget remarriages, now can we.

Stepmothers:

These poor women are, ninety percent of the time, bad mean evil women. They resent daughters and sons of first marriages, they are grasping, money grubbers.

Generally it is the heroine’s father who has remarried. Those women, often younger than sainted dead mother would be, always want to marry off the daughter as fast as possible in hopes the daughter won’t require any more money from their fathers. If the father has remarried the stepmother wants the son/heir to die so her children can inherit or some other random and strange thing.

Such it is, it comes as a pleasant surprise when there is a healthy relationship between stepmother and hero/ine. The best example I can give is Julia Quinn’s book The Viscount Who Loved Me.

Stepfathers:

Stepfathers are rare. Sometimes the mother has remarried before she goes off to sainted death and now the stepfather is selling the heroine off to the highest bidder or one of his old cronies. Sometimes the mother is still alive and this same situation is happening. Rarely do they just portion off the daughter and let her marry some nice man.

But then, that wouldn’t make a good story now would it.

Siblings and other relatives on the way soon!

Who Do You Love? Part 1: Regency Romance Series

A commenter asked for some reading recommendations. If you’re just getting into historical fiction and regencies, it can be a bit daunting to face the romance section in your local library or bookstore and try to pick out the ones that are interesting and amusing over those that might be to prurient or insipid or “Please tell me that isn’t REALLY Fabio on the cover….”

My author suggestions will mostly come from the longer types of romances, those running about 350 pages. This is not to imply that there are not many valuable authors in 180-220 page category, but I read those by the pound. I don’t tend to grab a particular author (with one notable exception), I grab a publisher and put everything the library has on hold, ten books at a time.

Those publishers are:

Signet Regency
Zebra Regency
Fawcett (Coventry Romances or Crest or something other of that nature)

They aren’t the only ones but those are the most prominent amongst the 40 or so I just had a quick look at in the living room. You’ll get to where you recognize the cover formatting, more than anything else.

I don’t read the Harlequin Historicals. I have read a few and they were decent, but there seemed to be a focus on getting a sex scene into what was a relatively short story. When 1-5 pages has to be sacrificed to the obligatory “then they went to bed together” with all of the accompanying euphemisms, it annoys me.

So, onto those author suggestions.

Georgette Heyer: Heyer gave us Regency Romance and so no list should begin without her name. She’s known for her historical descriptions, her inclusion of detail, and her fine style. Her books tend to read like the shorter Regencies but be of the length of the longer ones. I’ve only read a couple of hers but more are definitely on my list. These are ones, I’m told, that have convinced skeptical male readers that there might be more to these books than petticoats, balls, and “purple patches.”

Julia Quinn: Quinn is my absolute favorite and I back that with my checkbook, having bought every single one of her titles, a couple of them more than once when my copies went missing. She is witty, her characters have depth, and she tends to break out of the oh-so-typical formulas that I am gently mocking. She spins new twists with a wonderfully ironic sense of humor. I recommend starting with The Duke and I and reading through the Bridgerton series. Those are, in my humble opinion, her best work.

Eloisa James: James is a tenured Shakespeare professor and a NYT best-selling author of romance. It somehow was a surprise to me, when I heard her speak, for her to point out that she writes about marriage. Not about engagements and happy endings that stop at a march down the aisle, but what happens five, ten, fifteen years later, when things have gone awry from misunderstanding, people growing and changing, miscommunications, etc. Her books are well-researched and rich in detail. Jemma is her most vibrant character, but certainly not the only one with whom one can or wants to identify. I would say start with either Duchess in Love or An Affair Before Christmas.

Celeste Bradley: Bradley was recommended to me by a dear friend in Chicago. Upon discovering that the other read historical romance, she and I went through author names until we found ones we’d not heard before. Bradley writes strong heroines, active women, and for that I grab everything with her name on it eagerly. Her books are also humorous, often I chuckle aloud at a description or turn of phrase. Witty dialogue, fun characters, and she tends to write in groups of three or four, which make for a pleasant, but not overwhelming cluster of books to take on for a trip, weekend, or however long. Best to start though with The Pretender. I read the books out of order, but it’s helpful to get them in sequence.

Michelle Martin: Here is the exception to the short-Regency author rule. Martin wrote The Hampshire Hoyden, a book known between the Incredibly-Patient-Mother and Sibling-the-Elder and I for having made all three of us cry for laughing so hard. It’s out of print, so you’ll need to look for a used copy and they aren’t the easiest to come by. I have one and no, you may not borrow it. Her others are amusing but not as good, in my opinion.

I have another half dozen authors to suggest, but I’ll leave you with these for the interim.

**Note: Some people like to know in advance, all but the Heyer books (and Martin’s) have sex scenes in them and some of those are pre-marital. None of them tend to put dialogue in those scenes that “can’t be missed or you’ll never understand the rest of the book.” As a result, once I’ve read how an author does the scene once, I usually can skip right over them in the rest of the books. They are there but they aren’t obnoxious. And with rare exceptions, all of their books meet the no-sex-in-the-first-100-pages rule.

Free Book!

Got your attention didn’t I?

One of my favorite romance authors of all time, Julia Quinn, has a new book out. And said new book was waiting on my doorstep for me when I got home last night, which was pretty nifty. Unfortunately, I was too exhausted to do much more than crawl in the door with all the stuff that I’d drug home from the Incredibly-Patient-Mother’s house, chuck it it in a heap, and collapse into a small heap on the bed. But trust me, it’s going to the top of the reading pile pronto.

Julia’s newsletter came out this morning with an alert that you can, for a limited time, read one of her most popular books online in entirety for free. (Say that one three times fast!)

So if you’ve been trying to understand my bizarre obsession with happily-ever-after not very ripping bodice rippers or you just need something to pass the time one a dull afternoon, The Duke and I is available here.

The Joys of a Hold System

May I just take a moment to reflect upon my love of putting holds on books.

*Ahhhhhhh*

At my current POW, patrons are not yet allowed to place their own holds. We’re working on a new ILS that’s coming “soon” that will allow them to do so and slowly ramping up for the waves of holds that the new system will incite. But in the interim it means that while I can place holds to my heart’s content, our most frequent hold placers spend a lot of time with the professional staff putting Harlequins, Regency Romances, and the latest from Pixar on their lists. (For whatever reason not understood by me–only the degreed staff is allowed to do this.) It creates an interesting relationship, I know a few patrons more by what comes in on hold for them than I do for any other reason, and it tends to surprise them when I start a conversation on something I know they had on hold. I know, we’re supposed to respect their privacy but when I place the hold for you or happen to unload the box of holds when your frequent holds come in and then check you out–readers advisory is just going to happen.

It’s an interesting experiment in seeing what people are looking for and following. It’s also a really good effort to retrain myself not to make assumptions about who reads what. I try to remind myself that I went through about 200-300 of the Regency romances held in the NYPL catalog and that the circulation staff at the Jefferson Market Branch library probably thought I was incapable of reading anything other than those romances. I was in about once a week to change out one bag of them for another–and usually had one nearly finished by the time I got home that evening. (I miss taking the train to work….A LOT.)

If I were, like my patrons, required to ask the professional staff to trigger holds for me–I’d never put the number of holds in place that I do. However, since I’m not a patron and have full access to helping myself–I currently have about 30 holds (all but about 3 placed this morning!)

Current project– bring in and reread all of the original Boxcar Children books.

If you’re in a multi-branch system, I hope you make as much use of this as I do. What a priviledge to reserve books and have people arrange to ship them to me, free of charge and of my time and make sure that as long as I can wait a few days–I can access nearly any book the library system owns.

Get Out and Participate!

Cheers and Happy Valentines Day! I think we got less than a foot of snow and if my sister can make it back from Washington DC in one piece, we’ll be excellent. (She’s at the airport and has actually seen a plane taxi! A positive start)

Although the week hasn’t been especially exciting a couple of things have cropped up and I’m starting to feel energy coming back again so perhaps I’m emerging early from winter hibernation.

Item one: an article proposal was accepted! Yay! So now I have a couple of months to put that together and see what coherent piece I can come up with for said newsletter.

Item two: I’m judging a romance novel contest! Giggle all you want but if you have seen what little I’ve managed to get into my LibraryThing thus far, most of it is from the romance shelves in my bedroom. It’s my version of television and it’s a lot easier to stop at the end of a paragraph and come back a week later. Also–no commercials. There isn’t even product placement! It’s fabulous!!

I’d also like to start doing book reviews but I’m a little concerned that my “affiliation” of “freelancer” will be a turnoff. I’d love to have a glossy place of work for you–truly I would–but I’m paying the bills with MS Access.

What are you doing this spring to participate? Any book/resource selection places you recommend I apply to? Enjoying the glut of chocolate and pink/red hearts?