No Sex Please, Jane Austen’s in the Room!

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.

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7 Responses

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  1. Bonnie Edwards
    Bonnie Edwards at | | Reply

    Gail, a great blog! And there truly does seem to be a renewed interest in traditional Regency stories. And I am so glad you love to write them.

    Keep on keeping on and I will be a happy reader,

    1. Gail Whitiker
      Gail Whitiker at | | Reply

      Thank you, Bonnie–or should I say Merci Beaucoup!

      LOL, EC, maybe that should be the Regency version. 50 Shades of Pomona Green. But it was a glittering time and setting stories in those elegant ballrooms and grand country houses is a treat. Certainly the passion people felt for one another was no less then than it is now. It’s just in the way it’s expressed. 🙂

  2. Lynne Rattray
    Lynne Rattray at | | Reply

    As someone who reads a whole buffet of catagories – spy thrillers to pararomance to historical and more – I love coming back to the traditional Regency stories that Gail is writing about. A longing to go back to the days when we knew what everyone’s role was and what was expected of us must appeal to me (only if I was wealthy and it was for a short time 😉 I’m presently reading through Gail’s backlist and am having some very late nights (or early mornings) with her wonderfully charming characters.

    Can’t wait to get to “NO OCCUPATION FOR A LADY”!

    1. Gail Whitiker
      Gail Whitiker at | | Reply

      Thanks, Lynne. I’m so glad to be keeping you awake . And yes, you do read the whole gamut, so it’s nice to know that the trad Regencies still have a place in that reading pile!

  3. EC Sheedy
    EC Sheedy at | | Reply

    You don’t need Fifty Shades of anything to write a beautiful love story, Gail. You have The London Season.

    Glittering ballrooms populated with ambitious dowagers, arrogant, handsome lords, and diamonds of the first water wearing a hundred shades of pink will do just fine.

    Ah… Love in the time of morals and manners, often so difficult, always so exquisitely romantic.

  4. Catherine Spencer
    Catherine Spencer at | | Reply

    Good article, Gail. Like you, I’ve written a couple of what I call “old-fashioned romances set in the regency period” because I love Jane Austen’s books and see that a lot of women enjoy this type of story.
    CM Spencer

  5. Gail Whitiker
    Gail Whitiker at | | Reply

    Thank you, Catherine! Lovely to hear from a fellow “traditionalist” (and one not too far from my own shores). I agree that the popularity of Jane Austen’s books and the overwhelming success of Downtown Abbey prove that a well written historical can be every bit as entertaining as the ‘warmer’ variety. Miss Austen would be pleased!

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