I’m sure you’ve heard of Netflix’s show Bridgerton, based off of Julia Quinn’s best-selling romance novels revolving around the Bridgerton family. As someone who wrote a whole spiel about how much they’ve been loving historical romance novels lately, I felt like my time has arrived when the show started.
I won’t say much about the show other than to say that it was exactly what I was hoping for, which was a dramatic story filled with swoony romance and some shocking twists. While our physical copies of the book have some wait times, you can actually read the first book through Hoopla instantly! Now that we’re all more aware of the wonders of historical romance, I thought this would be a perfect chance to recommend some Regency era historical romance novels. I tried to focus on titles that we have available digitally, so you can read it instantly, and I tried to focus on authors with more than one book so if you particularly enjoy one, you can continue the series.
Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean. This series is one of my absolute favourite historical romances and I just love all the books. While there are not many dukes involved, the novel still revolves around the London ton and has more than its fair share of ladies. It has themes of revenge, found family and a whole lot of swoon. This title is even on Hoopla so there’s no wait times and you can start reading it now (and I mean yes, you want to read it immediately)!
The Trouble with True Love by Laura Lee Guhrke. If you’re looking for an author with lots of books that you can dive into, you can’t go wrong with Laura Lee Guhrke. Even Julia Quinn recommends them! This book is about a woman who writes an advice column for the newspaper and the rake whose advice she takes for the column. The two enter a secret alliance but as we know with Bridgerton, that alliance can only stay platonic for so long.
I had a discussion with a friend recently about what makes someone associate a movie with a particular season. This started because I said that Catch Me if You Can is a Christmas movie (despite having little to do with Christmas) and Mean Girls is a Halloween movie (despite having a very famous Christmas scene). Sometimes, it’s simply about the ephemeral phenomena we like to call vibes. It’s not really explainable, but you know it when you see it—or, more accurately, feel it. So what makes a beach read, a beach read? Does it even require a beach?
Since we’re still in summer’s sweaty thrall, it appears a lot of us have beach books on the brain; Book Riot recently posted an article titled “What Makes a Book a Beach Read?” and it got me thinking. Imagine lying on a pineapple blanket in the hot summer sun, the sound of crashing waves sprinkled with the sound of laughter, eating a popsicle and trying to read Anna Karenina. The disconnect is too great. Basically, when you’re stretched out in the sun (or the shade), you don’t want your brain to be doing too much work.
Before I go on, let me address the elephant in the room. Oftentimes, “beach reads” are synonymous with “women’s fiction”: light, fluffy, romantic, nothing too strenuous. Of course, this assumption has blatantly sexist roots, assuming that “books by women, about women, are more likely to be considered “light reading.”’ But let’s say that this flavour of “women’s fiction” actually is light reading—is that even a problem? I did just say I don’t want to use my brain. Perhaps women have just unlocked another level of enjoyment with this genre? The tension between “women’s fiction” and “literary fiction”—and that fact that those are considered two different things—is at the core of Emily Henry’s new novel aptly titled Beach Read. The plot is ripe for rom-com goodness: a struggling writer of women’s fiction moves into the beach house next door to—gasp!—her literary rival since college. Of course, the rival is an attractive, successful man. But Emily Henry uses this tropey set-up to explore what makes something a “beach read”; her main characters agree to swap genres (heavy literary fiction for romance) to overcome their respective writers block, and in doing so learn the value of each. Not just a beach-set rom-com, Beach Read—as its blunt title suggests—is a meta exploration of its genre.
For the last few months, many people, even the most avid readers, have been having trouble picking up a book and getting through more than a few pages before their minds start to wander. My colleague Kasey wrote about this recently and I can certainly relate.
One way that I have been coping with the anxiety of these uncertain times, besides my weekend stress baking, is reading more romance novels. Romance is often considered an escape. It tends to be about regular people living their lives, and you know there will be a happy ending, whether it’s happily ever after or happy for now. There’s something comforting about that, and even the predictability of the story lines can be reassuring – you know what’s likely to happen but you get invested in the characters and you continue the story to its satisfying conclusion. Continue reading