Why I love Regency Romances

I stated on Austen Prose recently:

Until my early twenties I fervently read only folklore and fairy tales and action adventure such as those novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs and sword and sorcery fantasy such as penned by J.R.R. Tolkien.  Then in my early twenties I discovered at my local library, romance novels via the somewhat risque, historical romance adventures (10 novels circa 1950) of the French heroine Angélique written by Anne and Serge Golon.  Thus followed Kathleen Woodiwiss and others of that somewhat racy type.  After a while, I found I was reading them for the historical plots and details, and skimming the risque and the racy.  Not that I’m particularly prudish, mind you, I just don’t particularly enjoy reading about, (or watching onscreen) the sexual escapades of other couples.

Then in my early twenties I stumbled onto the love of my life Georgette Heyer’s “The Grand Sophy.” Suddenly, I-as a great lover of the written word-found romance novels that I thoroughly enjoyed reading, where the emphasis was on the courtship, the dialogue, the historical settings and accouterments–books, in short, where I could savor every detail.

Now back to the part about my not particularly enjoying playing witness to the sexual escapades of others…and also not being a prude. I think that is an important point, but that statement could allow others-who do enjoy steamy sex scenes-to feel that I am taking subtle pot shots at them…and I’m not.

There is nothing wrong with sex in novels, or with enjoying reading (or in the case of movies, watching it), I just pure and simple do not enjoy it myself.  That doesn’t make me a prude-believe me, you can’t enjoy many classics of fine art, or even begin to make it through an entire season thoroughly enjoying every minute of  “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” on Starz if you have any prudish tendencies.   On the other hand, as a longtime fan of “How I Met Your Mother“, I found the experience of seeing Jason Segel full blown naked in Forgetting Sarah Marshall downright embarrassing-it was too much like seeing one of my son’s friends au naturel-eeek!   I suppose that’s my point about enjoying reading Regency Romance novels, I’m not overly voyeuristic by nature.   I enjoy the courtship, and the dialogue, the background, scenes, setting, clothing, architecture, idioms and the quiet little plot twists and turns, as for the rest, if they are characters that I have come to care about in the least, I would prefer to leave them to their privacy, just as I would with my own friends in my real life.

I’m the same way about other novels as well.  I’ve read every single one of Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt novels-some of them more than  once-but I read them because I love everything about Dirk Pitt and his friends and his adventures-which are, much to my taste, always portrayed outside the bedroom.   However, I  still skim over many passages-and so by the way does a female friend of mine from work.   We both love Cussler’s books-but we love what we call-the good parts versions.   To put it quite simply, we just want to know the bloody gun fired in time or the bomb went off with a whopping big bang-we don’t care how the firing action works, or what particular chemicals went into making the bomb-we just want it to hurry up and do its job of moving along the plot.

I’m the same way about Regency Romance novels, a passionate kiss and a closing door is all I need to make me happy, the rest I can imagine for myself, if I choose to do so.  If on the other hand, it’s a good book with great characters or a good plot, I’ll read and enjoy and skim when necessary :)



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