Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Joy of Reading Regency

I have a massive TBR pile. And a great deal of it is out of print Regency novels. I pick them up at charity book sales and fund raisers, I've a number of Zebra regencies given me by a friend, and I am trying to compile a complete set of the Harlequin Regency romance series released in the 1980s--more for the challenge than anything. I'm a collector at heart.

I often think that the decline in quality in Regency romances in the 1990's had a great deal to do with their disappearance in print. The quality of writing and research that went into the novels at the time of their greatest popularity was extremely uneven. The aforementioned Harlequin series ran the gamut from consummate professionals like Gwyneth Moore (Patricia Veryan) and Patricia Wynn to some absolutely abysmal writers obviously chosen merely to keep up the required publication numbers. Avon Regencies were in the main good, and Signet Regencies had high standards of both writing and historical accuracy. Zebra (Kensington) Regencies were much less good. I am passing on most of the ones I have been given--a great deal of the writing needed a strong editor with a sharp pencil. And the historical detail was sadly lacking. In one book, the heroine's father--Sir Alexander Frazer--was referred to as 'Sir Frazer' throughout. Such a little thing, such an easy thing to research, such an off-putting and annoying detail. I tossed all the work by that author!

I've recently discovered a little gem amongst the Zebras however; an author by the name of Joy Reed. Her Regency voice is very good, her details accurate and her characters--and their predicaments--are believable and enjoyable. Of course, she is out of print now, and I don't know what she is writing nowadays, but if you have access to out of print books, I recommend her.

And if you haven't read Patricia Veryan, I strongly recommend her. I have only ever had one quibble with her writing, and that is that all her heroines seem to have 'tiny hands'. It's an odd thing that has leapt out at me in her work. But I would never let it deter me from getting to know her wonderful, memorable characters, enjoying her masterfully described action scenes, or sighing over her HEAs.

Back to work here,

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