Gateway Regencies

To begin with, a little scheduling:

Next Tuesday, join us when (through the Jane Austen Movie Club) we’ll talk about our favorite heroines in Jane Austen movies.

And the following Tuesday, I’ll finally unveil JANE AUSTEN’S “PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.”

(I meant to have it ready for today, but I was kidnapped by a masked man who kept me busy with vocal warmups all evening…)

Now, the topic of the day:

Gateway Regencies!

After all, if a gateway drug is something that lures the inexperienced on to using more and more drugs…

then a Gateway Regency is clearly a Regency that gets a reader hooked on the genre.

So…what Regencies were your Gateway Regencies?

Which ones lured you to try more, and more, and more…

until reading Regencies was…

more than just a terrific means of entertainment…

more than just a great way to relax…

more than just a window on the past…

more than just a mentally stimulating pastime…

but became a way of life.

(Or a great fantasy life!)

Have you gotten anyone else hooked on Regencies?

If so, what Gateway Regencies did you supply them with…

or recommend to them?

Which books, which authors?

Did you ever recommend a fabulous book, which ended up being not the best book to hook someone with?

If a friend came to you today, and said she (or he) wanted to give the Regency genre a try…

and asked you what Regency to start with…

which book or books, or author or authors, would you recommend?

What sort of books in general would you recommend? (New, old, short, long, mostly history, mostly romance, mostly comedy, or what?)

Or are you of the opinion that Regencies are your private little world, and you don’t want your friends and family to read them too?

All answers welcome!

Cara
Cara King, who could be crushed under the weight of the Regencies she owns if there’s a big enough earthquake

About Elena Greene

Elena Greene grew up reading anything she could lay her hands on, including her mother's Georgette Heyer novels. She also enjoyed writing but decided to pursue a more practical career in software engineering. Fate intervened when she was sent on a three year international assignment to England, where she was inspired to start writing romances set in the Regency. Her books have won the National Readers' Choice Award, the Desert Rose Golden Quill and the Colorado Romance Writers' Award of Excellence. Her Super Regency, LADY DEARING'S MASQUERADE, won RT Book Club's award for Best Regency Romance of 2005 and made the Kindle Top 100 list in 2011. When not writing, Elena enjoys swimming, cooking, meditation, playing the piano, volunteer work and craft projects. She lives in upstate New York with her two daughters and more yarn, wire and beads than she would like to admit.
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24 Responses to Gateway Regencies

  1. Lois says:

    Well. . . when I started reading romances, I started with Sandra Brown. A couple books later, I was looking around the teeny tiny college bookstore, I picked up Lady Sophia’s Lover by Lisa Kleypas, and rather liked it. And it fed my long time love of England. πŸ˜‰ So, I got the only other one they had. . . then I got my first anthology type book, Christina Dodd and Connie Brockway’s Once Upon a Pillow, a story about following this antique bed during four time periods, one is today. After I finished that, I started thinking, you know, I thinked I liked the historical ones more.

    Okay, so I started going to real bookstores (like I said, college bookstore – teeny tiny), and I started really getting the other Sandra Brown and Lisa Kleypas books. Then I started looking on the internet, adding to those authors. . . but it took me a little while to realize that the historical English focused books were leaning towards one period, something I never heard of before, the Regency. Read up a bit on that, and then, I gravitated to that by the loadful (invented word? LOL And still got plenty of contemporaries as well).

    It was only a couple years ago that I finally tried and fell in love with Jane Austen – and I constantly say that I’m quite thankful we did not touch her in school for the required readings because I probably would have hated it. I still came out of high school liking Shakespeare and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but I really hated much of everything else. LOL

    And I still only have read one Georgette Heyer. . . but one day I’ll change that too. πŸ˜‰

    Lois, who thinks that’s basically the whole story, not that we need it any longer. πŸ™‚

  2. Lana says:

    My gateway definitely came through Harlequin. When I was young, I used to read my mother’s contemporaries on the sly. And when I was about 12 or 13, I found a big box of old Harlequins and tore through them. And I hated all of them – there were overbearing men and wimpy women, punishing kisses, you know the drill.

    But amidst all the rest I found one Regency romance (Belle of Portman Square) that I completely adored.

    But when I recommend romances to the uninitiated, I almost always bring up The Perfect Rake by Anne Gracie. For me, it’s just the epitome of what a romance should be. It’s funny and emotional and full of mistaken identities but without a Great Misunderstanding. Love love love…

    And it’s gotten at least two other people interested in the whole genre – former romance-disavowers even!

  3. Diane Gaston says:

    Why, I’d recommend Regencies by Amanda McCabe, Cara King, Elena Greene, and Janet Mullany, of course. Any of these wonderful authors would hook a reader into the Regency (read that TRADITIONAL Regency) genre.

    I must admit I miss the good traditional Regencies that you now basically have to find used. I’d also recommend Mary Blayney, who wrote the most wonderful trads!

    My gateway to the traditional Regencies was Mary Jo Putney’s The Rake and the Reformer, followed by Mary Balogh’s trads, like An Unlikely Duchess. My friend Helen introduced me to Traditional Regencies in 1995 or so.
    That’s where it all began!!!

  4. Debora says:

    My gateway to Regency romance was Georgette Heyer, Barbara Cartland. Clare Darcy, and Alice Chetwynd Ley. Then there were all the Coventry Regencies and the Candlelight Ecstasy Regencies,Second Chance at Love Regencies, Fawcett and Signet…those were the days!

    Debora

  5. Cara, I too could be crushed by the weight of all the Regencies I own. When my brothers moved me into my present home everyone began to make jokes about the number of boxes marked books versus the boxes marked anything else. The books won, four to one!

    Georgette Heyer was my gateway author. I started reading her at age ten. Next came Jane Austen after that I was hooked for life.

    I have to agree, O Divine One, that Mary Balogh and Mary Blayney are great places to start. Then again – so are Diane Gaston, Amanda McCabe, Cara King, Elena Green and Janey Mullany! I have books by all of those authors on my keeper shelves!

  6. Linda Banche says:

    Like Debora, I’ve read all those Regencies. I read a few Heyers, and lots of Barbara Cartland, but my real intro to the genre was Mary Balogh. Then came Mary Jo Putney and Barbara Metzger. I read other historical eras, but always returned to the Regency. But what really solidified my preference was a romance-reading binge I went on a few years ago. I tried dozens of authors unfamiliar to me, and found lots I like,including the ladies of the Risky Regencies.

    I also discovered that I like a lot of history in my Regencies. But just as I realized I like the traditional Regencies the best, Signet and Zebra ended their lines.

    Nowadays, the best place to find the Regencies I like is Harlequin. I buy every Regency they print, both in the Historical line, and in their other lines. Too bad the books in Harlequin Historicals are on the shelves for such a short time.

    As for a book to recommend to someone, I would pick “The Sandalwood Princess” by Loretta Chase. I read it only a few years ago in a reissue. Talk about knocking my socks off. With books like that, how could traditional Regencies have died?

  7. M. says:

    Hey – I’ve been looking for a Nonnie St. George! I hear they’re very funny.

    I can’t remember my first Regency. Have the riskies ever compiled a list of their favorites?

  8. Janga says:

    Does Austen count as a gateway? If so, that’s where I started at the age of ten. A bit later I discovered Heyer. When I had read all the Heyers I could find, I searched the library for
    “something like Heyer” and found Clare Darcy and Patricia Veryan.

    I still have boxes of favorites from the 70s and 80s. I started reading both Mary Balogh and Jo Beverley with their very first books and Mary Jo Putney with her second.

    When it comes to recommending Regencies to friends, I try to choose a book that fits the friend. It might be a Carla Kelly for one, a Janet Mullany for another, and so on. One of the best things about the subgenre IMO is the variety available within such a narrow defintion.

    Does anyone know what happened to Judith Nelson? Kidnap Confusion remains one of my comfort rereads.

  9. Kalen Hughes says:

    I started with Heyer, and then found writers like Elizabeth Mansfield, Jo Beverley and Mary Balogh. I had a horrid roommate in college whose only reaming quality was that her mom mailed her stacks of Regencies every month.

  10. Cara King says:

    Great story, Lois! And I know what you mean about reading things in class…I admit it didn’t ruin too many authors for me, but the one teacher who taught us that Macbeth was all about the bird imagery and the cloak imagery, and never talked about the fun stuff, sure tried to! πŸ˜‰

    Lana — I own that Anne Gracie book, though I confess I’ve never read it {blush} — but I’ve just shifted it over to my to-be-read section. Thanks!

    (Diane & Louisa, thanks for the Read-a-Risky list, though I must point out you’ve left out Megan!)

    And Diane, I agree to the YAY to Putney and Balogh.

    My own Gateway Regencies were Heyer and Joan Smith — Smith’s IMPRUDENT LADY and SWEET AND TWENTY, and Heyer’s THESE OLD SHADES (I know, not quite Regency) and VENETIA. And then Clare Darcy’s LADY PAMELA, and some Kasey Michaels…

    Debora, yes, I miss those Coventry books! They were my favorites by far. They tended to be light and funny, or at least not too dense, and they had such a lot of interesting time-periods, too (I loved the Edwardians!) Of course, I liked the Regencies best… πŸ˜‰

    Linda B, I’m with you on Metzger, too. She wasn’t quite my gateway author, but she was fairly early for me, and then I just snabbled up all her books and she became one of my all-time favorites.

    And Loretta Chase too, of course.

    M, definitely keep looking for Nonnie St George! I believe she only had two books out, but they’re both hilarious, and strongly on my keeper shelf. (My husband and I still quote from them: “exactly what part of his anatomy is a man’s warehouse?”)

    Okay, my internet is being fussy this morning, so I’ll post this and then respond to the rest…

    Cara

  11. Cara King says:

    Have the riskies ever compiled a list of their favorites?

    Not exactly, M, but we’ve done a few posts that are a little bit along those lines. Here are four, all from a while ago:

    Read a Regency
    Your Favorite Regencies
    Laugh-Out-Loud Regencies
    Favorite Heyers

    Enjoy! (And remember, all our Risky discussions are still “active,” so if you comment on an old post, we still see it and respond to it, and an old discussion can easily come back to life!)

    Cara

  12. Cara King says:

    Janga — oh yes, how can one forget Veryan! NANETTE and MARRIED PAST REDEMPTION are certainly on my all-time-favorites lists. And though it’s not Regency-set exactly, her Golden Chronicles series is right up there, too — especially PRACTICE TO DECEIVE and THE TYRANT.

    And did I forget to YAY Beverley? If so, I hereby remedy the oversight. YAY!

    But I have no idea about Judith Nelson. Sorry!

    Kalen, I know what kind of roommate you mean! Though I also lucked out and had a great roommate who also had a ton of Regencies…which is clearly much better. (YAY Heather!)

    Cara

  13. My grandmother was my first “supplier” when it came to romance novels! The first trad Regency I remember reading (aside from Cartlands and some Heyers) was Marian Chesney’s “At the Sign of the Golden Pineapple” (the heroine owned a Gunters-style pastry shop). Then I found more Chesneys, and some Metzgers, at the library. Wow, I miss those books!

  14. Mea culpa, Cara and Megan! I actually have not read Megan’s book, but I am off to Amazon to remedy that oversight immediately! Popped over to read the blurb and it sounds wonderful!

  15. Diane Gaston says:

    (Diane & Louisa, thanks for the Read-a-Risky list, though I must point out you’ve left out Megan!)

    Oh, No!!!!!!!!
    I typed that in a hurry and meant to put in all the Riskies!!!!!
    Megan’s A Singular Lady is wonderful!!!
    Read this:
    During the Season, debutantes rush to London to find a man who’ll fill their hearts with love–or their bankbooks with money. The Honorable Titania Stanhope is of the latter category. She simply has no choice–for her father has bequeathed his entire fortune to his mistress. Armed with velvet, dancing slippers, and a firm resolve, Titania heads to do battle in the ballroom in order to vanquish–and marry–a gentleman who can afford to keep her family from ruin.

    Edwin Worthington, Earl of Oakley, wants nothing to do with money-grubbing young ladies. He wears scuffed boots and old jackets, allowing Society to regard him as the penniless black sheep of a wealthy family. But in reality he has a fortune–and no plan to marry–until he meets Titania, a woman whose sharp wit and keen mind are rivaled only by her lovely face. Can Edwin let go of his pride in order to follow his heart?

    see??? The sort of Regency I devoured when first reading them and the kind I still love.

  16. Santa says:

    I’m such an easy mark. Just looking at the covers you posted got my fingertips all tingly.

    My gateway traditional Regency was a Barbara Metzger. I’m not sure which one as I’ve read them all and adore her. Every author here has a special place in my heart and on my shelves or Rubbermaid containers as the case may be.

    Without hestitation, I’d have to say Loretta Chase’s ‘Lord of Scoundrel’
    remains to this day my all time favorite Regency.

    Do I strive to convert others? Isn’t that part of the charter? I’ve turned my daughter into a Regency reader. She’s started with some old Avon YA Regencies. She is currently reading Regina Scott’s Petite Four. Naturally, she has dipped into P&P. It’s a rite of passage after all.

    Oh, and I recently got that tingly feeling at my UBS when I spied and grabbed 12 of Mary Balough’s trads. TWELVE of the most illusive ones. I thank the heavens every day for those misguided souls who let these treasures go!

  17. Santa says:

    Oh and I almost forgot – Diane Farr’s Fair Game is a Regency that I recommend over and over and over again! Talk about sexual tension and delicious dialog.

    Here’s another delightful bit of news – her re-release of ‘Once Upon A Christmas’ just went into a second printing. A second printing for a re-release. Who were the fools who let this sub-genre go? Fools, I tell you, fools. That’s just my humble opinion.

  18. Todd says:

    My girlfriend forced me to read Regencies. I was traumatized for life. The trauma was so deep that I kept reading them, and dating her, and then we got married. It was all very confusing.

    Todd-who-is-still-scratching-his-head-over-that-one

  19. Todd says:

    Oh, and the authors in question were: Georgette Heyer, Joan Smith, and Sheila Simonson.

    Todd-who-still-reads-all-of-the-above

  20. M. says:

    this is a wonderful discussion, i’m getting all kinds of new ideas of lovely ‘older’ books to pursue. i’m especially intrigued with the ‘laugh out loud’ regency list of yore (ha! us that an apropos word for this blog? i’d like to think so but i write contemporary…) because i like to study how other authors got it right as an assistance to my own poor efforts…

    i also read a whole bunch of chesneys, and really enjoyed them. i think maybe it was that author who gave me a taste for series. she had a very enjoyable series called ‘the travelling matchmaker’, i think (about a lady who had been in service all her life and upon receiving a bequest fulfilled her heart’s desire of travelling in stage coaches around britain) and another called ‘the poor relation’ which was the name of a hotel run by a group of older gentry who were, eponymously, all poor relations, resenting their negligent treatment and reliance on handouts from more financially comfortable relatives. All great fun!

  21. M. says:

    cara – do i understand correctly that your DH reads regencies also,to be able to quote from them? i’m very impressed

  22. Cara King says:

    cara – do i understand correctly that your DH reads regencies also,to be able to quote from them

    Yep! BTW, my dh is the Todd who posted just before you. πŸ™‚

    Yeah, he’s just really really good at remembering word for word things he hears or reads — if I see a movie with him, and then afterward quote a funny line, I’ll be able to remember the gist of the joke, but he’ll remember it exactly.

    And he did quote the Nonnie St George line at me recently! (I guess I should have quoted the set-up for the line, too, for it to make sense; IIRC, it goes something like:

    Hero: she’s only interested in me for my warehouse!
    Other Fellow: Erm, exactly which part of a gentleman’s anatomy is his “warehouse”?)

    Cara

  23. It was this old Walker regency. I have no clue who the author is, and I’m rather fuzzy on the plot (weird, considering I remember everything I devoured after that book opened the floodgates), but I was so entertained and impressed, that I scoured my library shelves for any and every Walker Regency they had. Since early Jo Beverley’s, Loretta Chases’s, Jeanne Savery’s, etc were published by that company, I was introduced to a lot of really great authors. I still hold a soft spot for those old trads after all these (well…five) years.

  24. Cara King says:

    Oh, yeah, La Belle Americaine, Walker had a lot of great authors, didn’t they! Barbara Metzger, Margaret Westhaven, Jacqueline Diamond, plus those you’ve named… My library didn’t catalog by publisher, so I’d walk slowly through the whole fiction section looking for their dust jackets. πŸ™‚

    Cara

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