Today’s post is by queer Regency romance authors KJ Charles and Ava March. Ms. Charles’s latest book, A Fashionable Indulgence, is a DIK at AAR (review here). Ms. March’s The Viscount’s Wager was released by Carina yesterday.
Thanks to both!
KJ Charles: Some readers seem to feel that queer historical romance is basically going to be either unrealistic (even more so than het romance) or depressing. Modern readers have a sense that homosexuality (to use a modern concept that didn’t exist in the Regency as such) was always disapproved of, and that gay men in particular were doomed to shame and the gallows. But this isn’t always the case.
Ava March: There was such a great divide between the upper classes and lower classes during the Regency, and it wasn’t just in terms of wealth. There was a divide in their ways of thinking. The upper classes tended to be very concerned with maintaining appearances and proper behavior. But even though homosexuality was against the law back then, those in the lower classes didn’t always have the same views as the upper classes. For example, Harry, from A Fashionable Indulgence, has a much more open view of sexuality than the average Regency lord.
KJ Charles: He’s very sexually open, he’s as bisexual as bi can be, and that is in part because of his radical upbringing. Though of course, although his attitudes are more casual, the law was still the same. And unlike a lord, Harry couldn’t bribe or bully his way out of trouble. But he certainly isn’t hampered by concerns about gentlemanly behaviour.
Ava March: Will, from Sharp Love, is in a similar boat. He’s poor, he struggles to make it to the next day. What people shouldn’t be doing in a bedchamber isn’t a huge concern for him. He had more important things to worry about. With Harry, I found it interesting how it wasn’t just being from the lower classes, but also his radical political roots that influenced his views of sexuality.
KJ Charles: Ha, yes. Of course some groups very openly called for sexual freedom, as part of the ongoing drive for political and social reform. My book 2, A Seditious Affair, features a “Spencean Philanthropist” which was this weird little political cult with totally bizarre extremist beliefs in things like divorce, legal rights for children, women’s rights, nimal rights, and so on. You very definitely had a lot of people who just wanted to get on with their own lives without the interference of church and state.
Ava March: If someone just read Regencies that only centered on the upper class, they might have a skewed view of the whole of the time period. Might believe everyone wanted to hang male/male couples. But in actuality, there were those like Spenceans and others who had more open views. While finding lasting love with another man might have been a completely foreign concept to some men in the Regency, it wasn’t that way for everyone. And therefore, the HEAs we craft for our characters aren’t just fantasy or wishful thinking. They could and did actually happen.
KJ Charles: No, we can see that in some of the recorded documents. Female couples who lived together openly or with one of them basically passing as male. Men who had long relationships. Of course everything that made it to the papers was by definition in the crime section (in the case of men at least), but you have to just consider the numbers to realise that basically a lot of what we’d now call LGBT people were under the radar. Not being prosecuted. Getting on with their lives.
Ava March: And some living Happily Ever After :)
Ava March is a bestselling author of sexy, emotionally intense M/M historical erotic romances. She loves writing in the Regency time period, where proper decorum is of the utmost importance, but where anything can happen behind closed doors. With over fifteen works to her credit, her books have been finalists in the Rainbow Awards and More Than Magic contest, and deemed ‘must-haves’ for Historical M/M romance by RT Book Reviews readers. Viscount’s Wager is the third book in her Gambling on Love series.
KJ Charles is a writer and freelance editor. She lives in London with her husband, two kids, an out-of-control garden and an increasingly murderous cat. KJ writes mostly romance, gay and straight, frequently historical, and often with some fantasy or horror in there, and has won Rainbow Awards for her historical and fantasy romance. The Magpie Lord was one of NPR’s 100 Swoonworthy Romances in July 2015. A Fashionable Indulgence is the first book in her Society of Gentlemen series.