Archive for the ‘Regency romance’ Category

Since my previous post I’ve mulling over the so-called ‘passive’ heroine in romance novels. The stories I mentioned that didn’t have passive heroines in the previous post are fairly recent, say from the 1990 onwards. Also, the heroine I believe must be considered in context. The heroine in the Barbara Cartland novel discussed was an historical heroine. Would that account for her apparently passivity? Maybe. Then I thought of Georgette Heyer’s work and thought not so.

I have a weakness for Georgette Heyer’s Georgian/Regency romances.(Heyer died in 1974 so her works are much earlier than 1990s)  They don’t have sex scenes all, but they evoke a period in time reminiscent of the great and wonderful Jane Austen. A fantasy world, I suppose, with particular tropes. (I am equally weak at the knees for Scottish historials with Lairds in them. Totally non-realistic. Yes, I know it’s all fantasy, right?).

So four books that I have been listening to on Audible a lot lately are, Venetia (abridged), Sylvester (abridged), The Quiet Gentleman and the Grand Sophy. I have lots of Heyer’s books in print, but these just happen to be on my Audible account and I replay them a lot. Venetia and Sylvester are read by Richard Armitage. Enough said. He does a brilliant job. Those two books got me breaking my Audible rule. I set out not wanting to buy books on Audible that I own in print. I confess I spanked myself thoroughly when I broke the rule, but you know…Richard Armitage!!%$$$###???

Then I decided I didn’t like the abridged books, so I bought The Quiet Gentleman (almost romantic suspense) and The Grand Sophy because they were heaps longer and I could go away into another world while driving long distances.

I thought about the heroines and about whether they were passive or not. There is definitely a spectrum here. Sophia Stanton-Lacey is the strongest, least passive and positively feminist heroine, in some regards. She is the centre of a whirlwind. The first time I read this book I quite missed that it was a romance, or meant to be. I had to read it again. I missed something. It’s quite a wonderful satire. Now more recently listening to it many times. I can’t  count them. I’m weak. What can I say? Sophy stands up for herself. She locks horns. Charles her cousin gets quite riled with her. He is probably the most aggressive out of the heroes in these four novels. Mind you he has to be or he’d be pulp on the bottom of Sophy’s shoes. I could go into the plot a bit more but why spoil it for you. Just read the damn thing or listen to it.

Venetia on the other hand has lived a very retiring life. She pretends to be passive but she’s got steel in her, resisting the boring neighbour who wants to marry her. She falls in love with a rake. Who might be a libertine but is not overly aggressive. They form a lovely friendship until they are separated by interfering relatives. But when she finds out about her past, which has been kept for her, she just goes for the goal. She makes the rake propose to her, against his will. I wouldn’t call that passive.

Sylvester features Phoebe, who runs away when she thinks she’s going to be forced to marry Sylvester, a duke, who snubbed her. I wouldn’t say she was feisty exactly but she’s very unusual and when they are thrown together her magic explodes. She laughs at the duke, tells him what she thinks (a bit like Margaret in North and South) and she’s quite clever. They have an accord. Sylvester is not aggressive at all. He’s a gentle man, but very capable of fixing mishaps. Phoebe also has courage and gets into scrapes trying to do the right thing, to right the wrongs she has done.

In The Quiet Gentleman there is no aggressive hero. He’s so laid back, he’s almost effeminate. In fact, he doesn’t think much of Drusilla at all. She’s quite plain, short and plump. She isn’t trying to win him either. There’s is a slow and gentle coming together.Drusilla is practical and also quite determined to prevent, St Erth being murdered. It is really quite interesting really. I have listened (as well as read) this story and I don’t know when the transition occurs. It’s just a slow warming of him to her. Apparently he’s so gorgeous he was out of her league in the romance stakes and yet…without trying in any way to fix him, he falls for her. While Drusilla seems a bit laid back, she rears up at the end and tells them all what’s what. I don’t consider Drusilla passive, but realistic. This story is also an excellent satire and Heyer is great with her character descriptions. What a gifted writer.

So I don’t think historical heroines in romance novels are passive either. Of course, there are some. But don’t say they are all PASSIVE. You’re wrong!

If you are a romance reader or writer, please consider taking my survey. It’s for my PhD on Feminism in popular romance fiction. Just click here for more details.


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I feel good to be writing after a bit of a drought. The Regency Romance I’m drafting is continuing a pace. I’m past the half way mark. It’s a great feeling when a project gets its legs and you know it is going to work out. I thought this story would be 90 000 to 100 000 words. It might end up being in that range as there is still a bit of story to go and there has been a major blow up and I’m still writing all of the fall out from that.

I have quite a bit of tidy up to do but at this stage I’m just focussing on getting the draft down and being in the mental space where the story is sitting in my head and new ideas are floating to the surface.

I am hoping that this new found energy will last me into the revisions of other MSs I have stacked and waiting for attention. Revision can be hard work, but drafting something you really, really enjoy is fun, hard work but fun hard work. Revisions can seem to take longer and they do if you have structural issues. The trick is to get the structure right beforehand.

Anyway, I’m waiting for some workmen to finish up so I can get to my day job. But we have a writing date planned tonight so I’m so looking forward to writing some more.

PS. If you don’t know what I mean about a writing date. It’s where I get together with my partner and a couple of writing friends and we join together to write for a few hours. When life is busy, sometimes the only time I get to write is on a writing date, and I do that because I’ve committed to the time and made an appointment with others. We meet at each other’s houses, but sometimes  I’ve just had dates with Matthew in a cafe in town.

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A while ago, we formed the idea, Nicole Murphy and I, to go to the South Coast (Bateman’s Bay) to write with two CSFG pals, Cat Sheely and Marisol Durham. We had to find a weekend that everyone was free and then I counted down the says.  Nicole dropped out at the last minute but I made my way down here last night from Canberra.

We are sitting here right now in cosy armchairs writing away. We erupt into conversations occasionally. Cat talking time dilation and space travel. There were a few hiccups with a power outage and that took a while to sort out. It explained my cold shower (which I managed quite well as the weather here is divine). Toasting my sandwich for breakfast was a little harder but we did manage to melt the cheese.

I’m working on a Regency romance, one that I started on the Australia Day weekend. It’s going well. I’ve outlined it briefly on a piece of paper in pencil. I found that important bit of paper on the floor in the games room the other day with granddaughter scrawl on it. I knew I should have typed it out…sigh.

Anyway, I’m going for roughing the story out first. I know how long I want the story to be, but I need to know if the event are sufficient for that before I make the next decision. I’m quite nervous about writing this kind of story. I’m a fan of Regency romance but I’ve not tried writing it before. I have written a paranormal Victorian (more like steampunk, Victorian gothic romance/horror) but this story has no paranormal elements. A challenge you might say.

Cat is working on a science fiction short story featuring a female space freighter captain. Marisol is working on novel on a spy retelling.

We may even get into the pool later! Cat’s house is lovely and spacious and modern.

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This Australia Day weekend Russell and Kylie hosted a writing retreat. We usually  head off in January for a couple of weeks for a long writing retreat but events (work, $ and availability) conspired against us this year. I managed to get a day off so we could have a four day weekend.

Since my mother passed away on January 5 I have been flat emotionally and haven’t engaged in my usual activities. I’ve not cleaned Dweebehiem in a while and I’ve not really written anything either. I was able to put a few revisions through on book 3 of the Dragon Wine series as I had already marked them up on hard copy. So it was with delight that I headed to Double K ranch (Russell and Kylie’s house) to write.

At the last minute I decided to work on a dream project, something that had been at the back of my mind for more than ten years. It is a Regency Romance tentatively titled Tainted Lady. There is a lot of Regency Romance out there so I wanted to come at it with my own angle.

The heroine of this story, Matilda is a respectable widow, who has some issues in her past. She’s been a recluse since giving birth to her daughter at aged sixteen. Her daughter Sophia is now sixteen and ready for the marriage mart. Although her lovely sister-in-law is going to chaperone Sophia, Matilda must socialise as well at her brother’s home. Enter the hero, Sir Richard, who is a widower and a man who likes passionate women, particularly French ones. Now they get to make the sparks fly, as the nieces and the daughter are all angling for the eligible widower.

The issues I want to look at in this novel are to do with the results and issues left behind from indiscretions, particularly where the girl is not at fault and how a traumatic event can shape a life and deprive someone of their liberty, even if it is only socially. So Matilda has a history that she wants to keep private, whereas Sir Richard wants to discover it. Somewhere along that ends up in a love story.

I had hoped to get 20,000 words done. I could have aimed higher than that but I do have issues with RSI and I have a busy week at work from tomorrow. I’m set to meet my goal! I’m so excited about that. I have a scene to do that will take me past that so as it is still early in the day I may exceed my goal.

The rest of the year will be focusing on finishing the Dragon Wine Series but I think I’ll be able to tinker with Tainted lady in my spare, spare time. I have no idea if I can pull of the Regency Romance novel and I know I have a bit of research gaps in there, but I am going to try it anyway.

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I’ve been wondering why certain romance novels really thrill me and why I read them again and again. I could admit to be a pathetic romantic but I’m not alone. Is it the hero? The heroine? The setting? The story itself that drags me in?  I’ve listed a few favs so maybe you can tell me.

Here is a bit of summary of some of what I think are the greats and I’d be happy to hear your thoughts too. Most of these are old and well known.

I can’t recall when I started loving Scottish historical romances. It was either before Crosstitch by Diana Gabaldon (Outlander in the USA) or around that time. I’ve been reading speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy and a bit of horror) from an early age. I think I had a major dive into reading the genre when I was 19 and it hasn’t let up since.

My faves:

The Secret by Julie Garwood. Oh boy. The actual set up for this novel is a bit far-fetched being a friendship between an English girl and a Scottish one in a time when travel was difficult and expensive. However, I was swept away with Judith’s story, particularly her reactions to Iain Maitland. He was particularly interesting in the sense that he was aloof but also passionate. The cast of secondary characters were lots of fun.

That leads me to a second favourite, Ransom by Julie Garwood. This novel stars the gorgeous and pig-headed Brodick, who is brought to his knees by Gillian, a brave English girl that saves Iain Maitland’s son. It is part of the series. Gilian is a girl out of her time, I suspect, braving the unbravable, but I love her and I love Brodick’s stubborn humour. I’ve read both these books a number of times and I have kept my copies.

I read a number of other Garwood books, but these are the standouts for me. I’m not sure why.

Moving on from Scottish historicals and moving to Johanna Lindsey’s, Warrior’s Woman. OMG! This is a book that was before its time. Erotic SF. I liked the SF in the story, though there is some borrowings from Star Trek (but hey who cares). Challen is an awesome hero and Tedra, what a match. I read a lot of Johanna Lindsey on the strength of this book, including the two sequels in the series, but for me nothing beats, Warrior’s Woman. You could say this book inspired me to try my hand at writing.

Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon, blew me away. I read quite a lot of the series. The first book is my favourite and the latter books just too long and bloated and there was only so many ways to almost kill the hero before it became tired. James Fraser is a stand out hero for me. I have been thinking why this is. He’s Scottish, funny, brave, sexy, tall, clever and sensitive. Claire in the first book was great as a semi-modern view in the historical period. There are parts of Cross Stitch I can’t read without laughing, always in the same spot. When I reread I skip the torture scenes. I was so influenced by this book that I went to Scotland and Culloden etc. I saw horizontal rain and I wished I had found Lallybrook. I also dabbled in learning Gaelic. (I know I’m a sad case).

Until recently the only Australian romance writer I had read was Anne De Lisle, who had three books out by Bantam and then she sort of slipped out of view. I did she that she had an agent trying to sell a paranormal series and kept my eye out but to no avail. Her first book was Clementina, a Scottish historical. This story had a lot of energy. Her next book, Isabeau was also Scottish and then Tabitha was Regency. I believe Tabitha was my first foray in Regency romance and I was a bit astonished that the hero, Dominic, behaved in a very un-Darcy-like manner.

Later Regency romances that I’ve read by Anna Campbell and Anne Gracie. Anna Campbell introduced me to Regency Noir in Claiming the Courtesan. Obviously I got over my ‘he doesn’t behave like Darcy syndrome’ because I loved this and bought Captive of Sin, which I haven’t read yet. I picked up the Perfect Rake, by Anne Gracie and became very antisocial until I finished it. This has humour and laughter and romance so I’m thinking it’s in the ‘to be read again’ pile.

Escape Publishing’s first Scottish historical was The Chieiftan’s Curse by Frances Housden (NZ author I think). It’s done so well it’s going into print. I loved it and it was what started me wondering about what made a block buster romance novel.

I don’t think I’m extensively well read in the genre as I’ve been concentrating a lot in the speculative fiction spectrum, but now I’ve dived back into the romance reading. I’m not normally a fan of contemporary romances but I’ve been indulging, ostensibly to research the market so I can write romance. I had been writing some paranormal romance and I’ve read a bit of urban fantasy too. Love it!

However, a goal is for me to write at least one Scottish historical and at least one Regency romance. You see the first time I ever tried to write in 2000 was a Scottish historical piece, which after 700 words I said was crap. Later on, when I’d been writing for a bit, I started a Regency romance and wrote the first kiss scene. I’ve matured a lot as a writer since then so maybe I’ll just go for what turns me on.

Please if you think I’ve missed a few classics then leave a comment. I certainly read the two books that Anne Gracie recommended in her talk at the Romance Readers Conference in March. Fierce Eden by Jennifer Blake (so rich in detail it was amazing and very sensual)  and Mackenzie’s Mountain by Linda Howard (Shiver! I loved that),

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