For far too long, Beau Brummel's cravat has held a stranglehold on historical romance! Yes, we dip our toes in books set twenty or thirty years on either side of the Regency, and some even—daringly—dabble in medievals or Westerns, but when you think of Historical Romance, you tend to think of books set in that tiny sliver of a setting known as Regency England. But no more! With the successes of Downton Abbey, Boardwalk Empire, and even Mad Men, and perhaps our march into the 21st century, readers are tentatively interested in romance novels filled with motorcars, electricity, telephones, short hemlines, and speakeasies. Granted, I do have a personal stake in this new trend, since I write 20th century-set romance novels <eg>, but I believe this setting is just as romantic as all of those books filled with Empire waists, scandalous waltzes, dandies, rum smugglers, and curricle races.
My love affair with the Edwardian Era was sparked by Jane Feather's Matchmaker's trilogy. Published back to back in 2004, the trilogy follows Constance, Prudence, and Chastity Duncan, daughters of a spendthrift viscount and a (deceased) suffragist. To resuscitate their waning income, they reinstate their mother's society newspaper and add a matchmaking service to go with it. Book one, The Bachelor List, opens in the midst of the suffragette movement, which was sparked when the Women's Social and Political Union moved their headquarters from Manchester to London. Ardent suffragist Constance Duncan meets her match in new MP and Cabinet Member, Max Ensor, whose views on votes for women are more than Neanderthal. Book two, The Bride Hunt, deals with the trouble their newspaper has caused for their father's dubious business associate, which leads Prudence to obtain the services of London's top barrister, Sir Gideon Malvern. In Book three, The Wedding Game, the youngest Duncan sister is hired to find a rich bride for Dr. Douglas Farrell, and ends up wanting him herself!
[More fun with time periods...]