I realize I am totally remiss not reading KJ Charles yet (braces self for being scolded by Caz).
“The fact is, gay/lesbian people have been around forever and they have found ways to exist… But I feel sure gay men also found ways to live. It’s up to the author to be creative enough to imagine a scenario that could work.”
Absolutely! For me, a lot of the fun of reading queer HR is watching the scenario unfold, wondering how the heck the leads are going to make their arrangement work in a time and place that demanded secrecy. And make no mistake, I *want* them to have their HEA/HFN. But like you said, that requires the author to be creative. I am pleased that a number of authors like Cat Sebastian *do* make that hard-won HEA work in a fashion that seems plausible for the genre. When it falls apart for me is when authors get cavalier, letting their characters be so open that it becomes alternate reality rather than a period-appropriate happy ending. To me, The Vicar and the Rake is a perfect example of how *not* to write queer HR. Besides the author applying certain tropes without any originality, the characters behave in a rather heteronormative 21st century fashion to the point of being cringeworthy- especially the thoroughly modern ending that would have felt a bit much even for a CR.
Whereas with It Takes Two to Tumble by Cat Sebastian, I could totally buy the widowed sea captain and the vicar getting together without causing too much suspicion. Granted, it’s an HR and I’m willing to stretch suspension of disbelief a *little* bit. But pairing someone who was previously married with three children with a vicar he hired as a tutor for those children created that plausible opening for an HEA. I closed that e-book thinking, “Yeah, they totally could have made that work given their circumstances.”
“When people gobble up the “duke marries a serving girl” tropes… I don’t understand when they balk at the Indian nabob at the society gathering.”
I can totally see your point there. For me, I’ve never been a huge Regency or titled character fan partially because of the huge amount of suspension of disbelief that goes along with it. In a way, I understand though. Regency HR is a bit like Westerns in that both genres are typically based on a mythos rather than actual history. Which is unfortunate, I think. Both time periods have a lot to offer that could be more historically grounded *and* diverse. But I think doing so means looking outside of the ton for inspiration. After all, there are so many professions, time periods, and places to explore!