I'll be reading along, thoroughly enjoying the interplay between the hero and heroine when, all of a sudden, someone refers to the son of a viscount as Lord Firstname or the unmarried daughter of some aristocrat (I presume) as Lady Lastname. And worst of all, the hero is a duke who is repeatedly and by everyone referred to as Lord Lastname or simply Lastname rather than by his title. Grrr. My teeth are worn down to nubs, and yet I read on because she's a really good writer and I like HIS GRACE, THE DUKE OF TITLE (*ahem*).
I am enraged every time another character refers to the duke as Lord Lastname. And I'm a little insulted that the author does not respect me enough to take the time to get these simple details right. So when I come to one of these incorrect titles, I have to put down the book and step away. It's taking me forever to finish the book. This morning at breakfast, the title thing happened twice on one page, so I stepped away and came here to write this.
This is this author's tenth book set in the Regency period. If she hasn't figured out the titles of the aristocracy (about whom she is writing after all) by now, would it be too much to ask for her to do a little research?
Here. Let me help: Laura Wallace's exhaustive British Titles of Nobility or Jo Beverley's English Titles in the 18th and 19th Centuries) or for something quick and easy, The British System of Aristocratic Honorifics at The Republic of Pemberley. There. Google is your friend.
I'm not asking her to invest in a Debrett's, but even they have a Web site. So, please, if you forget what to call you hero, or your heroine's best friends, go to one of these sites and search for “duke.” It's not so hard, really.
Of course, this author is not the only culprit. In fact, some of my favorite authors are guilty of this transgression. Carla Kelly's Traditional Regencies were rife with title and inheritance errors, which she freely admits. But I love her Trads. Her voice is unique and engaging and, if I squint, I can pretend I don't notice the errors.
Am I being particularly petty? Should I close my eyes and think of England when I come to one of these title errors? Should I pretend the author has created an alternate universe where the system of honorifics is different from what we know? Should I try squinting again? Should I just shut up and read the book?
Does this drive you crazy? Is there something else that does? What shall we do?
UK Royal Coat of arms image courtesy of Chabacano via Wikimedia Commons
The Republic of Pemberley