Top Ten Things That Make A Regency A Regency

The Regency historical romance. What could be grander? But would it be a Regency if it didn’t contain at least one of the following?

1818 Guide to Cravat Styles

10. Cravats

Can anyone think of the Regency period without imagining all those handsome men in cravats? Perhaps I’ve watched one too many Jane Austen movies (not that such a thing is possible), but for me, those crisp, white folds signal early 19th century like nothing else. Or, in the case of The Demon Duke, a carefully crafted black masterpiece, complete with skull pin. Ah, a fine Regency gentleman, clothed in boots, breeches, waistcoat, and cravat. Sign me up, please!

9. Titles, titles, everywhere…

Speaking of gentlemen, when we crack open a Regency romance, we find dukes and earls and viscounts and marquesses. We find dowager duchesses and countesses and baronesses and more. And we love it. Sure, there are misters and misses mixed in, and those of no title at all. But for many of us, the title somehow gives that magical, fairytale essence we love. Who cares if there were really fewer than two dozen dukes in all of England? I, for one, can never get enough. Hence my new Put Up Your Dukes series.

By Unknown 1823 artist [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
1823 Ballgown
8. Those empire gowns

Who doesn’t dream of strolling through gardens while clad in a muslin gown, complete with a jaunty spencer? Or of twirling around the ballroom in the finest silk, with a high waist but low neckline, capturing the attention of every rogue in the room with delicately gloved hands, ringlets surrounding one’s face, and an admirable figure? Yeah, okay, so larger ladies like me might have struggled in such styles, but we can fancy ourselves a Regency-era Cinderella, can’t we?

7. A grand ball

Speaking of ballrooms, if you’re dancing in one, it must be at a ball, right? Is there anything more romantic than waltzing about in the arms of the object of your affections? Of spying him or her across the room and exchanging a quick but meaningful glance? Of perhaps escaping to the gardens or the library for a not-so-innocent interlude? There isn’t for me. In my mind, in my reading, I can dance like I’m on one of those dancing competitions – and winning. We won’t talk about real life skills.

Hyde Park and west Mayfair

6. Mayfair

Ah, Mayfair. That most delightful (read: rich) West End of London. Grosvenor Square, Berkeley Square, Hanover Square… Squares-O-Rama, all featuring the finest townhouses and perhaps the opportunity to bump into a beaux at Gunther’s Ices, Bullock’s Egyptian hall, or even Hatchard’s bookshop.

5. Hyde Park

Right next to Mayfair, of course, is Hyde Park – the place to see and be seen in the late afternoon, at least for London’s elite, especially along Rotten Row. Can’t you just picture handsome lords riding along on fine horses, horses perhaps procured from Tattersall’s, tipping their hats to ladies strolling or riding by? Could there be anything sexier? (Don’t answer that; I’m lost in my Regency fantasy here.)

1816 Phaeton

4. Phaetons or barouches

And speaking of riding, one simply must have the finest carriage to show off one’s wealth and status – much like owning an expensive luxury car today. The most luxurious barouche was a good, solid, Mercedes-level vehicle, while the elegantly outfitted phaeton more a hot sports car – perhaps a Lamborghini (or Lambo, as my son calls them). Not all would have been at those levels, of course – but let’s just go with it. It’s all about the fantasy.

3. The ton

Even fantasies have to face reality sometimes, though, right? And for many a couple wanting a moment alone, that reality would have come in the form of the ton, the top echelon of society eager to judge the behaviors and actions of others, to determine who should move in the finest circles, and who should not. Were you unlucky enough to be caught in a compromising position, you might find yourself in need of #2.

 By T. Malton (British Library [1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Many a Regency couple married at St. James’ in Hanover Square
2. A special wedding license

Ah, nothing sounds more Regency that a gentleman procuring a special license in order to wed. Special licenses were rare, hard to come by, and expensive, so what better way to emphasize the hero’s status than by his ability to acquire such a license? Normal people had to wait for the banns to be called, a process which took weeks and during which people could raise objections to the union. And who’s got time for that if #1 is involved?

1. A scandal

Ah, yes. A scandal! What could make a Regency romance juicier than an event of scandalizing proportions? Not much, which is why they’re so common, I’m betting. There are few things that truly cause romantic scandals in our 21st century day and age, so how mesmerizing is it to ponder an era in which being caught alone with a gentleman could lose you your reputation, in which slights of honor could mean being called out to a duel, in which breaking any of the many social rules and regulations could have effects nearly unfathomable now? It’s what makes such tales exciting – the scandal itself, and then the ways our hero, heroine, or both, work to overcome them.

A Regency wedding proposal – or perhaps a tete-a-tete in a garden?

What would the Regency be without the Regent himself? Prince George, soon to be George IV.

Now of course many a fine Regency romance deviates from this list, either in part or in whole. It’s become much more common to feature locales other than London, heroes other than titled gentlemen, and heroines more likely to serve as spies than sip tea. We’ve got Regencies in Scotland, Ireland, and India. We’ve got thieves and vicars and merchants as heroes; governesses and actresses and seamstresses as heroines.

The expansion of the Regency romance is exciting and inspiring.

Still, for those of us who love the Regency era romance, these Top Ten are those little symbols, those specific ideas, that make us both smile and sigh and feel right at home among those dukes and debutantes, and make me want to always #ReadARegency.

At least me.

How about you? What would you add or delete from this list?  

Why I Write Romance

Don’t tell my mom, but I started reading romance at the age of ten. I’d worked my way through all of the children’s books available in the local bookmobile, so I turned to the adult section, where I spied a book with a woman in a flowing green dress on the cover. The back said something about a pirate. I was hooked from that moment on (and still wish I could remember the name of that fateful book!).

As a teenager addicted to historical romance novels, I often had to defend my reading material of choice, even writing an essay for my tenth grade English class explaining my love for the genre: I read romance, because no matter what happens (and some pretty crazy things happen), you know those two people are going to end up together.

For this anxiety-prone child of divorce, that was the ultimate comfort, the idea that two flawed people could encounter all sorts of obstacles and still stay together, still find everlasting love.

As to why I write it? Because as an adult, I continue to seek that comfort, that security, that promise every day. Also, I’m a bit of a control freak. Plus, I really love witty repartee between characters. So an encouraging, reassuring story (with funny/witty parts, or so I hope) dictated entirely by me? Sign me up!

Romance provides escape, yes, but it also provides hope, and reminders that no matter what obstacles may come, Happy Ever After might be just around the corner. I hope my books entertain, amuse, and give that sense of hope, that sense of promise we all need, that second chances are possible, and that when life seems its bleakest, a new chapter might be waiting to be written. Gosh, that’s super-corny, but it’s true.

Writing, I’ve learned, also allows me to explore my own thoughts and beliefs through watching/learning what my characters do.

In A Man of Character, I examined the ideas of fantasy versus reality, perhaps in part because people have long challenged romance as presenting impossible ideals.

In A Matter of Time, I delved into whether feminism is compatible with wanting to prioritize love and marriage. (For the record, I am an ardent feminist who happens to be madly in love with my husband and who finds my identity in that relationship, and I’m good with that. So my answer to that question is a resounding yes.)

In A Scandalous Matter, I switched up the feminist theme by asking if romantic relationships negate individual independence, through the eyes of a heroine and hero who believe the two ideas are incompatible. (Spoiler alert: I disagree.)

And in my forthcoming The Demon Duke, admittedly a bit of a Beauty and the Beast story (my favorite Disney tale!) I looked at how we judge others and how we judge ourselves, and how we must make peace with who we are before we can be truly happy.

In each of my books, a main theme is finding one’s place in the world. How ironic that in becoming a writer, I’ve finally done just that. I know where I belong now, where my heart feels happiest, and it’s in writing romance.

I’ve come full circle, and I’m incredibly blessed.

Now, to you: What makes YOU read (or write) romance? I’d love to know! 

An earlier version of this blog post appeared on Tina Glasneck’s Celebrate With A Book site. I’m grateful to her for being fine with me posting it here, as well.

Want to join my Facebook Fan Club

It’s A Man of Character’s Bookversary! #Giveaway

Margaret Locke A Man of Character
That’s me the first time I ever held one of my books in my hands.

Holy cow. It’s A Man of Character‘s Book Birthday. That means I’ve been a published author for one year. Say what?

It’s been quite a ride, and I’m absolutely thrilled so many people have joined me on it.

I treasure every single Facebook exchange, email correspondence, tweet convo, and review left. Every. Single. One.

Because I couldn’t have imagined a year ago I’d have fans. Or that I’d publish two books in the space of a year, with the third debuting July 6th. Or that I’d final three times in the 2016 HOLT Medallion Awards

I’ve met amazing readers. I’ve met amazing writers. I’ve made lots of mistakes. I’ve learned lots more.

And I’m so very grateful for all of it.

Have you signed up for my newsletter yet? I sent one out this morning with TONS of giveaways as a Book Birthday present to you! You can check the newsletter out here:

** Please note if you email me to enter a giveaway (or two or three or seven), I take that as consent for you to be added to my newsletter list. But don’t worry – I only email when I have actual news (such as a new release or a sale), and I try to include a giveaway every time!

MUCH LOVE to all of you. I wouldn’t be here without you. THANK YOU. 

A Man of Character and A Matter of Time

#VaLoveFest 2016 at the Virginia Festival of the Book

With the fabulous Eloisa James! Squee!

Two weeks ago, I was privileged to attend the #VaLoveFest panels at the Virginia Festival of the Book, but couldn’t post until now because of an editing deadline. #AuthorProblems.

If you’ve never been to #VaLoveFest, mark your calendars for the next one (March 2017), because WOW do you ever get to see big names (Eloisa James and Maya Rodale, anyone?) and hear amazing insights into all aspects of romance.

Here are a few pictures and quick summaries from each session, for those not able to attend.

Panel 1: Series Writing: For Women, by Women, with Betsy Ashton, Ellen Butler, Avery Flynn, and Tracey Livesay

L to R: Avery Flynn, Betsy Ashton, Ellen Butler, panel moderator Kim Dalferes , and Tracey Livesay
L to R: Avery Flynn, Betsy Ashton, Ellen Butler, panel moderator Kim Dalferes, and Tracey Livesay.

Tracey Livesay on how she plans out a series (or doesn’t):

Betsy Ashton takes a highly organized approach:

Avery Flynn affirmed:

Ellen Butler sometimes writes more in a series because:

These women shared great insights about the joys and trials of series writing. And Avery Flynn summed up how many a writer feels upon completing a book with this gem:

Panel 2: It’s Raining Men, with Grace Burrowes, Cristin Harber, and Marliss Melton

Back row: Panel moderator Kimberly Kincaid and Grace Burrowes. Front row: Cristin Harber and Marliss Melton.

Grace Burrowes nailed the description of a romance novel hero:

And how does a romance author craft the perfect hero? Marliss Melton had this great tip:

Though we were talking men, it’s true every hero needs a heroine. So how does an author choose? Here’s what Cristin Harber had to say:

At the end of the panel, I think authors and audience agreed with Grace Burrowes‘ statement:

Panel 3: Screening of Romance Industry Documentary Love Between the Covers, followed by a talk with Eloisa James and Maya Rodale

Eloisa James and Maya Rodale talk the state of the romance industry following a screening of Love Between the Covers
Eloisa James and Maya Rodale talk the state of the romance industry following a screening of Love Between the Covers.

If you haven’t yet seen Love Between the CoversI highly recommend you seek out a screening. It’s a fabulous inside look at the romance industry; a celebration of a genre written largely for women, about women, and by women (though with male readership at 16% and rising, and an increase in gay romance, we’re not without our male counterparts!).

Both Eloisa and Maya agreed:

and that:

After the documentary, Eloisa and Maya graciously signed books, and I snapped a picture of Regency Royalty:

L to R: Regency romance authors Eloisa James, Joanna Bourne, Maya Rodale, Grace Burrowes, and #VaLoveFest organizer and Regency romance author, Sue London
L to R: Regency romance authors Eloisa James, Joanna Bourne, Maya Rodale, Grace Burrowes, and #VaLoveFest organizer and Regency romance author, Sue London.

Panel 4: Getting Published With Women’s Fiction & Romance, with Jenny Gardiner, Tracee Garner, and Linda Grimes

Tracee Garner, Linda Grimes, and Jenny Gardiner
L to R: Tracee Garner, Linda Grimes, and Jenny Gardiner.

Sunday, we turned our focus even more to the business side of books, discussing paths to publication in women’s fiction and romance.

Tracee Garner encouraged us:

Indie author Jenny Gardiner shared lots of great insight, including:

Traditionally-published author Linda Grimes acknowledged:

Regardless of which path one chooses, all three authors agreed:



We capped off the day with a Crime Wave and Romance Group Book Signing at Barnes & Noble. It was a marvelous weekend!


Thank you so much to all of the authors and panel moderators who gave so generously of their time, energy, and knowledge.

Thank you to #VaLoveFest organizer Sue London, for making it all happen.

And thank you to the Virginia Festival of the Book, for including us in the celebration of authors, readers, craft, and basically all things book!

With the charming Maya Rodale!
With the charming Maya Rodale!

Everybody needs a cheap romance at least once in their life, right?

A Man of Character can be yours for less than $1, but only for A Matter of Time…Don’t miss out on your chance to fall in love with the magic this Valentine’s Day!

amanofcharactersmallA Man of Character: – Check out this whimsically magical romantic comedy, in which a bookstore owner must choose between fantasy and reality after discovering the men she’s dating are living versions of fictional characters she created long ago.

A Man of Character is a HIT!!! Margaret Locke’s first novel is a true gift to any of us that enjoy romantic comedies with a whimsical twist.” – Annie McDonnell, The Write Review and

amatteroftimesmallA Matter of Time: – A fun, emotion-packed Regency time-travel romance in which a modern-day Austenite’s dream comes true when she lands in the arms of an authentic Regency duke, only to learn some fantasies aren’t all they’re cracked up to be when he proves less than a Prince Charming…

“A love story and so much more, A Matter of Time should be on every fantasy, paranormal, contemporary and Regency romance readers “to read” list. I would definitely recommend this novel – you will be charmed, captivated, have a few good laughs and shed a few tears as you cheer Eliza and Dev on to find their happy every after ending.” – Marcy, Keeper Bookshelf