So here are the ingredients for your perfect Regency romance. Let's see what you choose! I'm delighted to say that I have broken the rules numerous times over the years. You can make it more interesting by rolling a die to choose! And please, don't take this one too seriously.
Writing a Regency Romance (excluding Scottish romances)
Choose one of the following in each section.
The hero is:
1. A rake about town
2. An army officer (captain or above, please, no lieutenants)
3. A widower with small children
4. A pirate duke (marquis or earl will do at a pinch)
5. A spy who is also a peer of the realm
The hero is never:
1. Geeky, spotty or bald.
3. Reasonably cautious and sensible.
4. Shorter than the heroine.
5. If he wears spectacles, he isn’t dependent on them and can lose them at convenient times without any ill effects.
The heroine is:
1. A clever, beautiful ingénue
2. A bookworm not interested in society or husband hunting
3. An older spinster looking for a husband for her beautiful younger sister
4. A governess or housekeeper, usually the daughter of a peer fallen on hard times
5. A young girl forced to wear a male disguise and work as a secretary/groom or something similar.
6. A young American heiress, despising English society.
7. A highwayman/urchin/thief by night, a respectable member of society by day.
8. A young woman fighting to save her family from financial ruin, caused by the gambling habit of her brother or father, or even both.
The heroine is never:
1. A respectable young woman with a good fortune looking for a future husband.
2. A war widow, who has lost her husband in the Napoleonic wars and has now returned to society. Widows are Sad, so they can't be heroines.
3. The daughter of a City gentleman, looking to increase her social standing. This is Bad because it makes her look mercenary.
4. Less than stunningly beautiful, clever and accomplished, even if she tries to hide these facts at the start of the story.
1. In a country inn, where they get snowed in.
2. In a ballroom, where she hates him on sight.
3. At the gates of a country house, where she mistakes him for the gardener or he mistakes her for a maid.
4. On the road, he in his phaeton, she in her travelling carriage.
5. At the altar.
6. In a gaming hell where she is the stake.
7. At a secluded lake where the heroine or hero is taking an impromptu bath.
They never meet:
1. By being introduced by their parents, who want to see if they would like to make a match of it.
2. By politely promenading in the park at the fashionable hour.
3. They have always known each other, because society is small, and they are, in fact, distantly related.
1. Hate each other on sight, but are filled with lustful thoughts
2. He loves her, she hates him.
3. She loves him, he hates her.
1. Take a liking to each other without it being accompanied by lustful thoughts.
Note: 2 and 3 must be accompanied by a Big Misunderstanding. They must always fancy each other’s pants off on sight, or It Isn’t A Romance.
The first time they make love is:
1. In the marriage bed (boring unless they met for the first time at the altar)
2. In a small antechamber set conveniently close to a ballroom
3. In a summerhouse
4. In a small cottage where they’ve taken refuge from the storm
5. In his library where she has gone in the middle of the night, barefoot, in search of a book to read. He is already there in his shirtsleeves, drinking.
Choose one or two of the following:
1. The hero’s brother who wants the title. He is usually handsome, etc, but not as handsome etc as the hero.
2. The hero’s ex mistress (see below)
3. The heroine’s father. He is usually a gambler who has lost the family fortune and now wants to sell the heroine in a card game.
4. A man who wants the heroine, but isn’t prepared to marry her. He may abduct her, take her to Gretna, etc. to achieve his wicked end. He will not rape her, though it is usually a near thing. He often seems to be a pleasant character.
1. The hero’s best friend. Usually another peer, with a set of problems of his own. He will get his own story later. Repeat as necessary to create a series.
2. The heroine’s sister. She provides plot problems, adds comments, and is there because she’ll get her book later.
3. The heroine’s closest friends. See heroine’s sister.
4. The hero’s ex mistress. Jealous, experienced, may be the villain. When she is not, she is always jealous of the heroine, and she plots against her.
You may pick as many of the following as you wish, to give color to your story:
1. An urchin, cheeky but very poor, a boon companion of the hero or heroine. This may be actually the heroine in disguise.
2. An old retainer, a maid who used to be the heroine’s nurse. She is referred to by her Christian name and magically has all the skills required of a good lady’s maid.
3. A valet. He may be either scoundrelly and talk with Dick Van Dyke Mockney, or superior, and talk like Jeeves.
4. A butler. Superior, tall, talks like Jeeves, or short and fat and an old retainer who knows all the family by their first names, prefaced by “Miss” or “Master.”
5. A Bow Street Runner, usually less intelligent than the hero or heroine. Always on the side of good, he is upright and honest (unlike the usual run of BSR’s in RL)
6. An old man, who the heroine is required to marry to restore the family fortunes.