In my last post, I gave you the list of my favourite Open-Door Regency Romances – books which had a lot of steamy scenes and bodice-ripping. Today, I give you the list of my favourite Closed-Door romances. If, like me, you feel that high sexual content sometimes takes away from the story itself, then this list is just the one for you. Also, if you’re a Georgette Heyer fan like me, you’ll enjoy this list more, since her books usually contained only one tame kiss right at the end of the book, which is why they were so full of romance, humour and fun. The books below are not the same but enjoyable nonetheless.
Let’s begin this list from books where the door is just a bit open to give a small peek to those books which squarely fall under the Christian (and very tame) romance category.
Elizabeth Mansfield – A Christmas Kiss, Winter Wonderland
The author of these books is the famous playwright Paula Schwartz. She wrote her regency romance novels under the pen name of Elizabeth Mansfield. That she was a playwright is probably why her books sparkle with such wit and humour. I have only read her Christmas novels, and since we are fast approaching December, this is a great time to read these book. You’ll find them sweet, funny and filled with comedies of errors. I especially recommend the audio version of Holiday House Parties narrated by Mary Jane Welles. Her Scottish brogue accent is to die for!
Barbara Metzger – Wedded Bliss, A Worthy Wife, Miss Lockharte’s letters
Like the covers (above) suggest, she is not a part of the fresh crop of Regency Romance writers, but she also doesn’t belong to the same generation as Georgette Heyer. I will not say that her books had unpredictable storylines, but her writing was sweet and humourous. These books are superb for when you want to do some light, relaxing reading – they work like a good palate cleanser after a heavy read. I recommend you start with Miss Lockharte’s Letters if you do read her books. This time around I read the books instead of listening to them, so I have no clue about the quality of the audiobooks. Someone else will have to tell me about them.
Julianne Donaldson – Edenbrooke
When it comes to Clean Romances (also called Proper Romances), Edenbrooke features right at the top of the list. The book gives serious Pride and Prejudice vibes, probably because the author wrote of Edenbrooke as a great English estate similar to Pemberley and made its master as distinguished and mysterious as Mr Darcy. I enjoyed reading this book, especially since it came with a short novelette called the Heir to Edenbrooke, which told the same story but from the perspective of the hero. It was fun to find out what both the protagonists were thinking when they met for the first time at a tavern (a pretty common regency meet-cute). The author has written only one other book, which I haven’t read so far, so the jury is still out on whether we can rely on her for more wonderful books. But this one is a hit for sure!
Nancy Campbell Allen – My Fair Gentleman
This book is a lot of fun since it is a gender role reversal re-telling of the play Pygmalion (George Bernard Shaw), adapted into the cult-classic film, My Fair Lady (starring Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison). In our story, it is the gentleman who needs to polish up his act to fit into snobbish English high society and it is up to our lady to bring him up to scratch. You know what happens next, so I needn’t go into that. However, I will say this – do not miss the audio version of this book because it is narrated by none other than Saskia Maarleveld. If you haven’t heard books read by her, believe me, you have been missing out on something fantastic. I’m such a big fan that sometimes I choose books only because she is the narrator (author be damned!) – that’s how much I love her voice.
Julie Klassen – The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, Lady of Milkweed Manor, The Painter’s Daughter
Now we are getting into the Christian Romance category and our protagonists are turning into god-fearing people. Not that they don’t make mistakes – in fact Ms Klassen likes to write about flawed characters who make bad choices and end up in unpleasant places, even if everything works out for the best in the end. I wouldn’t call these books Regency Romances and for once you get to see the dark, dirty and unpalatable side of England. I didn’t mind that since in all the books, there was an element of mystery involved and my attention always got hooked right from the start. Each book deals with a different subject so things don’t get repetitive, and it is quite clear that Ms Klassen does extensive research before writing her books. I recommend that you try these books – a whole unknown world will open up to you. If you want to listen to the wonderful voice of Simon Prebble again, then don’t miss the audio version of Lady of Milkweed Manor.
Kristi Ann Hunter – Hawthorne House series
These books are as Christian as they get with several references to passages from the Bible. But I didn’t mind very much, because I just skipped all those parts and just enjoyed the story. This is a series about four siblings – you can say this is the PG-rated version of the Bridgerton series (Julia Quinn) or the Bedwyn saga (Mary Balogh), with some elements of mystery and intrigue thrown in. As I said, I enjoyed them and the character of Lady Georgina (An Elegant Facade) remains a great favourite. Anne Marie Gideon is a fabulous narrator, but she narrates only Book 1 and Book 4. The remaining two books in the series are narrated by Charlotte Anne Dore, who is satisfactory.
With this, I end the list of my favourite Closed-Door Regency Romances. I haven’t included a few names since the list was getting too long, but if you’re interested, you can try books by Jen Turano (set in America), Sarah E. Ladd and Sarah M. Eden.
Hope you enjoy reading these books. Let me know the books or authors you loved or hated. Ciao!
(First published on Momspresso.com on 31st October, 2020 and can be accessed here)
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