My two published novels are Traditional Regencies, and I'm sorry I will not get to write (or read) more of them. The last two publishers of the Traditional Regency dropped their Trad lines late in 2005, leaving us without the promise of another new Regency. However, the Traditional Regency was an excellent platform for authors to move into single-title Historical Romance.
And why is that? Easily explained. Readers of Traditional Regency Romance were notoriously picky. If an author made a mistake on a matter of historical fact, they were frequently excoriated in the various review and discussion venues. To write a good Traditional Regency one had to know how to do research and to understand the voice of the genre.
It will be no surprise that Mary Balogh is the first author who springs to mind when discussing Trad authors who turned to Historicals. First of all, Mary Balogh is probably the first author that springs to mind when you say “Traditional Regency” in any context. She has written over 35 Traditional Regencies beginning with A Masked Deception in 1985. I still reread her Christmas Trads and Novellas every year during the holidays. While writing Trads, Mary Balogh was already breaking the mold. Her Traditional Regencies had—gasp!—sex. Okay not all of them, but in The Notorious Rake, the hero and heroine are getting it on in the first chapter. And then the courtship starts. Not typical Traditional Regency, and an excellent run-up to Historical Romance.
Jo Beverley's first Traditional Regency was Lord Wraybourne's Betrothed, published in 1988, followed by six others. During this time, Beverley also wrote the first three of her Company of Rogues books, all published as Super Regencies, but essentially the beginning of her first Historical Romance series.
Loretta Chase's Isabella, the first of her six Trads, was published in 1987. Her six novels are Traditional Regencies in every sense of the word, comedies of manners in which the line between propriety and impropriety is approached, but never crossed. The Lion's Daughter was published in 1992, marking the first of Loretta Chase's Historical Romances, leading, famously, to Lord of Scoundrels, which won the hearts of thousands of devoted readers.
There is a solid reason that these three are among my favorite authors of Historical Romance, and that reason has its roots deep in the Traditional Regency. All three authors understand how to do research and all have an innate sense of the period in which they write. Their longer, more sensuous, more adventurous Historical Romances retain the knowledge they gained in writing Trads. They have tapped into their period and, although there is, undoubtedly, the occasional historical false step, each novel feels grounded in the Regency.
It is our great fortune that the Traditional Regency was there to give us that first taste of these three authors—and more—and to allow them to move on to write the delicious Historical Romances that followed. And it is our good fortune that the unique voice each of these authors, honed in the Traditional Regency, is still recognizable in her more recent works. In each of the Trads, we recognize the nascent voice of the author: Loretta Chase's dry humor and wry characters, Jo Beverley's exploration of emotion and senses, Mary Balogh's pitch-perfect ear for character and dialog. All begun in the Traditional Regency, and perhaps not possible without it. All as delightful in each new novel as they were in the first.
The Republic of Pemberley