Top 10 Traditional Regency Romances

As Determined by AAR’s Readers in May 1999

Shelley Dodge, AAR Romance Listserv member, had a terrific idea after the work she did last summer polling readers for their Top 100 Romances. This time around she decided to poll for readers’ favorite Regency Romances. Below you’ll find the winning ten, and some analysis by Shelley, along with reader comments.

As you can see, there were several ties on this list. I was surprised by the final tally – I expected more of Mary Balogh and less of Carla Kelly, and perhaps some different titles for Georgette Heyer. I also expected some of Mary Jo Putney’s Regency Romances, in particular, The Rake & the Reformer, to make it onto the list.

The remainder of this page is in Shelley’s voice.

Top Ten Traditional Regency Romances

  1. Lord Carew’s Bride by Mary Balogh, 1995
  2. With This Ring by Carly Kelly, 1997
  3. Cotillion by Georgette Heyer, 1953
  4. The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer, 1951
  5. Mrs. Drew Plays her Hand by Carla Kelly, 1994
  6. The Famous Heroine by Mary Balogh, 1996
  7. The Devil’s Cub by Georgette Heyer, 1932
  8. Venetia by Georgette Heyer, 1958
  9. The Lady’s Companion by Carla Kelly, 1996
  10. A Loyal Companion by Barbara Metzger, 1992

Breakdown of the authors most voted for in this special readers’ poll:

# of Votes
# of Titles
Georgette Heyer
Carla Kelly
Mary Balogh
Barbara Metzger
Joan Wolf
Mary Jo Putney


Reading all the comments confirmed something I have always believed about Regency Romance readers – we are very character oriented. For most of us, to love the book means to love the characters.

Here are some of those comments.

“If I had to take one and only one Regency to a desert island, this would be it. I love the protagonists and the complexity of the hero’s family is fascinating. This is a book about family ties and what relatives do to one another in the name of love and need. A true keeper.” Mary Lynne about The Temporary Wife, Mary Balogh, 1997

“I loved this book! The inner dialogue of Susan pulls you into her world and makes you her friend…..It is one of those books that you close with a sigh.” Carole about The Lady’s Companion by Carla Kelly, 1996

We want to know the protagonists and to be able to relate to their problems. Of the 10 titles on the list the books by Mary Balogh and Carla Kelly in particular have characters that are working through complex and sometimes painful issues. We get to feel for them and celebrate the outcome as they work out their problems.

We also want to laugh with (and sometimes at) our characters. Humor was mentioned over and over in the voter’s comments.

One of the voters, whose sign-on name is Daniel, summed it up perfectly: “I love this book because of the strong characters, the seriously comic writing , the wonderful sense of delicate self-mockery of the rigid social rules of its setting which makes a good Regency.” – about The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer

Many of the titles submitted were chosen for their humor. Georgette Heyer is famous for her witty dialogue and funny secondary characters, Barbara Metzger for her funny situations and original plots (for instance, A Loyal Companion is told from the perspective of a dog).

And last, we like originals. Over and over in the voting, books were chosed because they had something out of the ordinary to recommend them. Examples off the list: The Lady’s Companion with a non-noble hero, Cotillion whose hero is definitly not an alpha, Lord Carew’s Bride with a disabled hero (readers also voted for Mary Balogh’s Dancing with Clara involving a heroine in a wheel chair).

Thank you to everyone who participated in the voting. If anyone is interested in the complete list of 141 titles recommended by the voters I would be happy to forward it to you. It will be in the form of an Excel log, so you will have to be able to open Excel on your computer.”

Check our 2007 poll on Top Ten Funnies

Post your comments on these poll results

Read about Shelley