As with Balogh, I started reading Jo Beverley’s books with her first one, Lord Wraybourne’s Betrothed, in 1988. I loved all six of her trads, and after fifteen to twenty years of rereading, they were all tattered and needed replacing. Thanks to NAL’s reissues, beginning with Lovers and Ladies, which included The Fortune Hunter and Deirdre and Don Juan, in 2008, and following with Lord Wraybourne’s Betrothed in 2009 and with The Stanforth Secrets, The Stolen Bride, and Emily and the Dark Angel (one of the best trads ever written IMO) in 2010, a complete set of Beverley’s trads is now easily available. If only they’d reissue “If Fancy Be the Food of Love” and Jo Bev would write the Daffodil Dandy’s story . . .
Regency Reads where ecopies of such hard-to-find trads as Mary Jo Putney’s Carousel of Hearts, Barbara Metzger’s Snowdrops and Scandalbroth, Joan Wolf’s Her Lordship’s Mistress, and dozens of others are available for $5.00.
Even when used copies are available at bargain or moderate prices, given a choice, most readers would choose a reissued book. I’m thankful for the trads that are being reissued in print or electronic formats, but there are so many more I’d like to see added to the list. Here’s a list of the trads I’d most like to see made newly available (in alphabetical order by author):
1. The Devil’s Delilah by Loretta Chase
Before Lord of Scoundrels, this author wrote some marvelous trads. This one is the one I love best. I adore this sort of screwball comedy Regency style featuring a heroine with a scandalous father and a heart-stealing, beta hero who is one of my all-time favorites.
2. Allegra by Clare Darcy
Darcy was the first Regency romance writer I read after Georgette Heyer. Between 1971 and 1982, she published fourteen trads, all titled with the heroine’s name. Allegra is my favorite and the one I most want, although I’d be happy to see them all reissued. It’s very much in the style of Heyer with an independent, impoverished heroine and a pre-Waterloo Brussels setting.
3. Love’s Reward by Jean Ross Ewing
You may know Ewing better as Julia Ross, but before she wrote passionate, complex, historically accurate European historicals as Ross, she wrote passionate, complex, historically accurate trads as Ewing. Love’s Reward, a Rita winner, is the last in her six-book Rewards series. It includes mystery, political intrigue, and a marriage to the wrong brother.
This is the first book I read by Gracie, and as much as I love her other books, it remains my favorite, one of those books that I return to again and again for comfort and joy as a reader and for inspiration and instruction as a writer. Kate is an invincible heroine, Jack is a tortured hero who has multiple reasons for retreating from the world, and if that’s not enough, this book contains my favorite ballroom scene ever.
5. The Country Gentleman by Fiona Hill
If you’re tired of dukes and dances, you can’t do better than The Country Gentleman which features a heroine forced to leave London when she loses her fortune and the man she has loved for a decade and a farmer hero. The book has humor (especially the fish-out-of-water variety), great dialogue, and a love story that develops through interaction and character growth.
6. The Lady’s Companion by Carla Kelly
This Rita winner is one of the few Carla Kelly’s trads missing from my collection. Somehow it was lost during a move. Used copies range from $25-$95. It’s a wonderful story, one that turns some romance conventions on their head. The hero is Welsh, a former army sergeant turned baliff, far below the heroine’s father in social terms, but immeasurably his superior in character. The old lady whom the heroine serves as companion is neither a martinet nor an empty-headed fool; instead, she is intelligent, courageous, and interesting, and she proves a good friend to the heroine. I’d love to see all of Kelly’s pre-Harlequin trads reissued, but this one tops my list.
7. The Unwavering Miss Winslow by Emma Lange
This book is a wonderful example of how a skilled writer can use even the generally trite and irritating to advantage. Jessica Winslow’s great beauty is the cause of all her misfortunes—and they are many, and a Big Misunderstanding lies at the heart of the story, but despite two strikes, Lange hits a homerun. She makes her heroine endearing and shows the H/H as reasonable people who learn to understand and trust one another.
How many romances have you read with a heroine whose kidnapping makes you cringe. In this book Nelson upends the kidnapping trope when two young brothers and their groom kidnap the eminently practical and capable Miss Margaret Tolliver, having mistaken her for their eldest brother’s mistress. It’s a comedy of errors that ends in a touching HEA. The proposal scenes alone would send KC soaring to the top of my favorite trads list. Nelson is another author who wrote a number of trads on my keeper shelves, but this one is special, one of my go-tos when I need to laugh.
9. A Royal Escapade by Alicia Rasley
Maybe you know Alicia Rasley for her workshops or the excellent writing instruction she provides on her web site, or perhaps you visit her Edittorrent blog. But back in the 90s, she was best known for her traditional regencies. A Royal Escapade is my favorite. Trads generally won praise for their historical accuracy, and one of the delights of this book is the way Radley weaves historical details and people into her fiction. Her Wellington is a more human-sized character than the one romance readers are accustomed to encountering, and her princess heroine is closer to historical princesses caught up in arranged marriages and burdensome responsibilities than to fairy tale princesses with magic at hand.
10. The Sergeant Major’s Daughter by Sheila Walsh
Frederica and The Grand Sophy are the Heyers I’ve reread most often, so it’s no surprise that this tale of another independent, competent, “managing” heroine is one for which I have a deep affection. Felicity Vale, who spent much of her life following the drum with her parents, is also a heroine with a social conscience and, even rarer, with the determination to add practical action to admirable ideals and change the aristocratic hero’s views in the process.
Are you a fan of traditional Regencies? What are your favorite trads? What books do you long to see reissued in print or electronic formats?