I have a huge confession to make. It has taken me a long time to understand the magic of the “Regency Romance”. As a teenager Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer simply passed me by. My taste has always been for stories with a little more action and less mannered ballroom scenes. I quickly add that in more recent years I have become a convert to Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer and certain regency romance authors such as Anne Gracie and Jo Beverley.
I set out to write my own Regency, LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR, intending it to be of the school of the traditional regency romance. That lasted five minutes as my hero found himself having to solve a murder mystery. I loved writing the story and the reason is (my second confession) I read a great deal of mystery - mostly via audible books on the long commute to and from work. And, yes, historical crime is top of the list so it is small surprise that I turned the “thing I love to read” into the “thing I love to write”.
Recently I have come across a new breed of Regency hero - the amateur sleuth and I am in heaven. The two gentlemen in question are quite different but I am madly in love with both of them and thought I would share them with the rest of you.
CAPTAIN GABRIEL LACEY (Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries by Ashley Gardiner)
I picked up the first books as a boxed set on a special offer and on a recent holiday to Fiji dipped into the first story - THE HANOVER SQUARE AFFAIR). I read all three books and the two short stories within three days. I am now nearly at the end of the second box set and eking out the last story.
Gabriel Lacey is the impoverished son of Norfolk gentry who joined the Army to follow his charismatic friend, Colonel Brandon. The two men fell out over Brandon’s wife, Louisa, while on campaign in Spain and Brandon’s actions have left Gabriel permanently crippled. He now lives in genteel poverty above a baker’s shop but through good fortune has fallen in with one of London’s most popular men of the moment, who provides him with not only a man servant but entry into the fashionable salons. Gabriel is a man of honour and purpose but not without his flaws… or his baggage.
The plots are clever and well executed and the characterisations deep -everything I love about a good historical mystery. There are times I wonder at Gabriel’s motivations, particularly his honourable attitude toward Brandon, who, in my opinion, deserves nothing, least of all Lacey’s loyalty, but maybe Brandon will redeem himself. There are plenty more books to go…
To find out more about The Captain Lacey Mysteries visit Ashley Gardiner’s website: http://gardnermysteries.com/
And the HANOVER SQUARE AFFAIR is currently FREE on IBooks, Barnes and Noble and Amazon … so it costs nothing to introduce yourself to Gabriel… but remember I saw him first! (PS at $4.99 the boxed sets are incredibly good value!)
SEBASTIAN ST. CYR (Sebastian St. Cyr Mysteries by C.S. Harris)
Unfortunately I have come into the middle of the series so I need to go back to the very first book WHATANGELS FEAR (not out on Audio or as ebooks yet!) but just the couple I have read, I am smitten with Sebastian.
Like Gabriel Lacey, Sebastian is an ex soldier, although his books are set a little earlier than Gabriel’s stories and the Napoleonic war is still raging. Unlike Gabriel Lacey, there is nothing impoverished about Sebastian. He is Viscount Devlin, heir to the Earl of Hendon and he moves easily in the circle of the Haute Ton. I don’t want to give away any spoilers except to say he is well matched with his heroine but I think (and this is where not having read the earlier books is an issue) the path of their relationship has not been smooth, not least of all because she is the daughter of his arch enemy.
Like Gabriel, Sebastian has a minor cast of well drawn secondary characters to help him in his sleuthing - the one legged doctor and anatomist, Paul Gibson and his ‘tiger’, Tom just to name a couple.
Visit C.S. Harris’ website http://www.csharris.net/sebastian.php for more information on this series.
Both authors are also romance writers under different names and that understanding of characterisation and relationships is what gives these books an extra depth that you don't often see in "straight" mystery or crime stories. Both men are honourable and attractive and they love (and lose).
My biggest gripe with Harris' books is they are published by a mainstream publisher and the kindle editions of the later books are over $12! More expensive than the mass market paperback. Her early books are not even available as ebooks. Gardiner on the other hand is an indy author. Her books are beautifully produced, well edited and formatted and reasonably priced (and also gradually coming out as audio books too). When will the big publishers get it?
So if you are after a change of Regency pace and looking for a different type of Regency hero... one you can fall in love with over a span of different books, look up these two gents!
Or you can meet my own Sebastian Alder, Lord Somerton... in LORD SOMERTON'S HEIR. Sadly he only has the one story but oh, the temptation to write my own regency sleuth...
From the battlefield of Waterloo to the drawing rooms of Brantstone Hall, Sebastian Alder’s elevation from penniless army captain to Viscount Somerton is the stuff of dreams. But the cold reality of an inherited estate in wretched condition, and the suspicious circumstances surrounding his cousin’s death, provide Sebastian with no time for dreams, only a mystery to solve and a murderer to bring to justice.
Isabel, widow of the late Lord Somerton, is desperate to bury the memory of her unhappy marriage by founding the charity school she has always dreamed of. But, her dreams are shattered, as she is taunted from the grave, discovering not only has she been left penniless, but she is once more bound to the whims of a Somerton.
But this Somerton is unlike any man she has met. Can the love of an honourable man heal her broken heart or will suspicion tear them apart?