What should you read after you've ready every Mary Balogh? Try...
When someone asks me to recommend a Regency romance, the author I’m most likely to suggest is Mary Balogh. She’s been an autobuy for me since I first read A Precious Jewel in the early 90s. That novel broke new ground in the Regency genre, offering a hero and heroine unlike others we’d seen in a format that could be stiflingly formulaic—Jewel had a heroine who willingly prostituted herself, and a hero who wasn’t very bright or socially adroit. It was a game changer for many readers.
Balogh paints in subtle colors but the finished picture glows. Many of her books offer antagonists who turn out to be not the people the protagonists—or the reader—expect them to be. She’s also skillful at character development across a series. When readers are newly arrived to her Bedwyn books (Slightly Married, Slightly Dangerous, etc.) I tell them, “Watch Becky!” A minor secondary character travels through the series and interacts with one key character, each time revealing more about that other person.
Over the years people ask me what I like about Balogh and there are many points that stand out: her sparing use of adjectives, her unreliable narrators who hold back information until it’s necessary for the reader to know it, her attention to detail, and her craft at not dumping too much backstory or exposition up front.
But one cannot read a single author, no matter how talented. That would be like only eating chocolates when there are also gingersnaps and almond cakes to enjoy. So when people ask me who else I would recommend if they enjoy Balogh, a few names come to mind:
Edith Layton—Ms. Layton was taken from us far too soon, but she left behind a body of work that lives on. The Duke’s Wager is an example of a classic modern Regency which strays beyond the conventions, giving us a questionable hero whose true self is only revealed in small glimpses as the story unfolds.
Joanna Bourne—Bourne burst onto the scene with The Spymaster’s Lady only eight years ago, but she’s already earned a spot for herself as one of the more intriguing Regency authors. Her books delving into the spycraft of England’s fight against Napoleon show complex characters in all their shades of gray, along with an attention to detail that makes them noteworthy.
Jo Beverley—Another writer whose death was a loss to the romance community, but one who left behind a body of work enjoyed by new readers. While Beverley wrote in different periods, her website lists her traditional Regencies, including RITA award winner Deidre and Don Juan.
SEE ALSO: Remembering Jo Beverley
While each of these authors has a unique voice, they all exemplify what draws readers to the Regency romance. The stories have solid characterization, strong attention to place and detail, excellent writing and satisfied readers. Mary Balogh continues to produce novels that keep readers involved with her characters across their interwoven lives, the most recent series being her recently concluded Survivors’ Club and its seventh novel, Only Beloved. Fortunately, her backlist is being reissued and will allow a new generation of readers to discover why her books, and the other authors listed, continue to satisfy fans.
Learn more about or order a copy of the books mentioned in this post:
|A Precious Jewel by Mary Balogh|
|Slightly Married by Mary Balogh|
|The Duke's Wager by Edith Layton|
|The Spymaster's Lady by Joanna Bourne|
|Deidre and Don Juan by Jo Beverley|
H&H Editor Picks:
Darlene Marshall writes award-winning historical romance about pirates, privateers, smugglers and a possum or two—and while she knows how to cook a possum, she’s glad she doesn’t have to since they’re definitely not kosher.