Regency Heroine Types

I have been doing a bit of thinking on this topic. I trolled the internet to see what others wrote, but didn’t find anything that delineated the types in the way I was thinking of them.

We see certain Regency heroines over and over and marvel at how authors can make them fresh and new.

Here’s what I came up with:

DUKE'S GUIDE TO CORRECT BEHAVIOR cover[2]The Governess.
Tried and true from Jane Eyre to Megan’s upcoming The Duke’s Guide to Correct Behavior. The governess is often a genteel young woman who has fallen on hard times and has to accept employment that basically robs her of any social status at all. She is neither servant nor noble. It is the hero who comes to her rescue and frees her from her dismal fate. In a way she is a Cinderella figure. Just thought of that this moment.
My Born To Scandal is a governess story and my homage to Jane Eyre.

The Debutante.
The classic traditional Regency heroine. I used to love to read the Signets and Zebras about the young woman making her come-out and attending Almack’s for the first time. Her task, of course, was to make a good match and often it was not the man with the high title who ultimately won her heart.

The Bluestocking.
A bookish heroine who is more interested in her field of expertise than in the marriage mart. I have yet to write one of these heroines, because my imagination has yet to go in that direction.

The Fallen Woman.
I’d place courtesan heroines or heroines ruined by scandal in this category. She is a woman who, perhaps, once had a fine reputation but has lost it and this can either free her to take charge of her life or trap her in a worse situation. My The Mysterious Miss M fits this description, as does the heroine in Scandalizing the Ton. I’m returning to this type of heroine in A Lady of Notoriety, due out in paperback June 17.

The Feisty Heroine.
I think of this heroine as the one who defies all convention and protests to want things that, in my mind, only a modern woman would expect. You can tell this is not one of my favorites, but I do think that readers can love this heroine if she is done well. About the closest I’ve come, I think, is in Chivalrous Captain, Rebel Mistress.

91cbc8f1c531b62592f78425641434d414f4141The Hard Times Heroine.
This would be the heroine who needs to marry well in order to save her family or to escape something worse. My Wagering Widow was one, and looking through my books list I’ve written different versions of this heroine several times – . One of my favorite old Regencies had one of these heroines, The Last Frost Fair by Jo Freeman.

The Commoner.
This heroine is not a typical choice for a Regency Historical. She is not from the aristocracy. She is a commoner, like my French heroine in Valiant Soldier, Beautiful Enemy or Innocence and Impropriety.

You might also be interested in Mary Balogh’s discussion of Regency heroines.

And, for fun, here is a Regency Heroine Quiz to discover which type you are.

Do you have other Regency Heroine types to add? Let me know!

About diane

Diane Gaston is the RITA award-winning author of Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon, with books that feature the darker side of the Regency. Formerly a mental health social worker, she is happiest now when deep in the psyches of soldiers, rakes and women who don’t always act like ladies.
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3 Responses to Regency Heroine Types

  1. I love this post, O Divine One. Another heroine I have seen quite often lately is the best friend heroine. She is usually someone who has grown up with the hero, perhaps his best friend’s sister. The hero sees her as a little sister or even “one of the guys.” He asks for her help in courting a woman or solving some other problem and ends up seeing her in a whole new light.

  2. A couple of heroines I’ve seen are The Widow. This is often a young woman who married for any reason but love–arranged marriage, mismatched couple, marrying for necessity, etc. Sometimes her marriage was fraught with angst as she’s married a monster, sometimes it was simply he was too old for anything other than bestowing a title and his inheritance.

    Now her husband has died, The Widow can pursue for love.

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