I seldom blog about the type of stories I write. Mainly because not everyone who follows the Pen Warriors’ blog reads historical romances and probably even less read traditional Regencies, which are the type of historicals I write. But given that NO OCCUPATION FOR A LADY, my October release from Mills & Boon Historicals, is definitely a “no sex please, we’re British” type of book, I thought I’d devote a few lines to why I write the kind of stories I do at a time when sex sells and books like FIFTY SHADES OF GREY are leaping off the shelves and into the record books. Because believe me, I do get asked!
The answer is simple. I enjoy them. I love the formality of the language and the cleverness of the dialogue. I enjoy seeing where the characters fit into society and how they react to one another outside the bedroom (or the carriage, as the case may be). These books aren’t about sex—but they definitely are sexy. Restrained passion always is. I defy anyone to tell me that the scenes between Marianne and Willoughby, or Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth are not incredibly moving and highly evocative.
As fans of Elizabeth Gaskell, Anthony Trollope, Georgette Heyer and more recently Julian Fellowes (he of DOWNTOWN ABBEY fame) can attest, it isn’t only about what goes on behind closed doors that makes for a compelling story. It’s about what happens to those characters before they get there that makes you want to read on. I enjoy a well written love scene as much as the next person, but in many cases, I’m just as happy reading about the lead up to that point as I am to spending page after page on the point, if you get my drift. (Yes, I know Lady Mary Crawley had sex with a Turkish diplomat, but what happened in the bedroom wasn’t the focus of an entire episode, now was it!)
Like the cosy mystery, the traditional historical still has a loyal following, as evidenced by the undeniable popularity of All Things Austen and the constant reprinting of Regency novels. Some even say there’s a resurgence going on, particularly in the E-world, perhaps driven by mothers who want something their daughters can read or just a segment of the market that’s grown tired of explicit sex, although given the staggering sales numbers of FSOG, it’s obvious a huge part of the market is still enthralled. But the traditional Regency is a niche market and those of us who write them do so because we love them.
We may never rival the success of books like FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, but we will give you a witty and entertaining read to savour with your tea and crumpets!
NO OCCUPATION FOR A LADY, first in the ‘theatre duet’, from Mills & Boon/Harlequin Historicals, October, 2012.