Friday, May 16, 2008

Make Jane Blush

One of the problems with liking the works of a deceased author is that once you've read all their books, the chance of them publishing a new title is pretty slim (what with being dead and all). Your only option is to move on to a similar author. Having enjoyed Jane Austen, I was then introduced to Georgette Heyer, who had an historian's eye for period detail and speech. She was able to throw just the right amount of Regency-period slang into the dialogue without becoming overwhelming, and she never had her protagonists behave in a manner that wasn't consistent with the time period. Alas, she is also dead, and most modern novels set in the Regency period are completely inauthentic. The dialogue sounds like something from Sex and the City, the plots are ridiculous, and everyone behaves like randy rabbits.
We do have a new book from an author who has attempted to be as true to the time period as possible. Simply Magic, by Mary Balogh, is the final book in a quartet set at Miss Martin's School for Girls. In this installment, Miss Martin herself finds romance with a handsome yet sensitive nobleman with a guilty secret from his past. Balogh has also written a 6-volume series (all beginning with the word 'Slightly') that follows the romantic destinies of the Bedwyn family. The characters in these two series actually overlap, so when you read this new book it's a bit like old home week as familiar faces continually pop up. The writing is relatively good, the plot isn't too farfetched, and aside from a couple of steamy scenes everyone seems to behave with the proper amount of 19th-century decorum. Of all the current spate of Regency romance novels, Balogh's are far and away the best. And fortunately, she's still alive and well.

No comments: