Regency novels continue to be popular with LDS readers. Many of the favorites stray from the standard formula that includes a strict time period surrounding the era when George IV ruled in his father’s stead when British monarch George III was deemed unfit to rule. The era generally refers to a longer period than that of the actual regency (1811 to 1820) and roughly includes 1795 to 1837 including the Napoleonic wars and French Revolution. Most regency novels focus on the manners, clothing, and social customs of this time period and are light, clean romances.

SIMPLY ANNA By Jennifer Moore

Jennifer Moore is quickly proving herself among the top Regency writers. Her new novel, Simply Anna is a spinoff from her best selling Becoming Lady Lockwood. Though set in the Regency period, this novel comes closer to an Historical novel than to the light romance, manners, and balls that generally mark a Regency.

When Anna is orphaned following the deaths of her parents, she has no choice but to become a maid in an aristocratic household. Fortunately she is employed by Lady Lockwood. Not so fortunately, she is swept overboard as the ship carrying the Lockwoods nears Jamaica where they own a plantation. She washes up nearly dead on the shore of a large plantation owned by Lord Philip Hamilton. When Philip and his foreman discover the unconscious young woman, they take her to the manor house and call a doctor. After several days Anna awakens to find she remembers nothing of her past, not even her name. A necklace with the single name Anna on it suggests that is her name.

Philip is the second son in a wealthy, titled family. He received a devastating blow when the woman he believed betrothed to him, dumped him for his brother who will inherit their father’s title. His father’s suggestion that he take over the family’s Jamaican plantation which isn’t entailed allows him to escape from the London gossip and the pain of seeing the woman he loves become his brother’s wife. He soon develops a love for the land and the people who work on it. He finds himself drawn to Anna, but has no way of knowing if she is betrothed or even married to someone else. When he discovers his overseer is abusive to the slaves that work the plantation, he fires the overseer and then becomes the target of the man’s hate and desire for revenge. As he battles the murderous attacks of the former overseer, he comes to value Anna for her ability to solve problems and organize as much as for her beauty.

This novel draws attention to the pain and unfairness of a time when class determined who someone could marry, laws of inheritance, and the plight of women who could not inherit in their own right. It also highlights the total absence of rights, of the ability to keep families together, and of the subhuman lack of respect shown for slaves. It also shows that some people, even during this period, had great love and compassion for those of a lesser class and were opposed to the dehumanization and lack of basic human rights that accompanied slavery. It also draws a subtle parallel between the lack of rights afforded women and the total lack of rights of slaves.

Moore’s main characters are warm and likable, imbued with positive social consciences. Some may find them overly simplified, but I found characters who instinctively know the difference between right and wrong refreshing. Dialog and actions are in keeping with the time period and the author has researched both the Regency era and the plantation life of the Jamaican islands which were a source of wealth to the English aristocracy who mostly left their management and the day-to-day realities of the slave trade tidily in the hands of agents.

Jennifer Moore is married and the mother of four sons. She has a B.A. in linguistics from the University of Utah. She and her family live in northern Utah.

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IN THE WILDS OF DEVON by Wanda Luce

Lord Rupert Carrington, son and heir of the Marquess of Landsdowne, isn’t content to be merely a rich, titled dandy. He served as a captain in the Royal Navy and worked with the Bow Street detectives to capture criminals. While he fought against Napoleon and pursued criminals, the girl he loved since he was a boy died and he has found it impossible to fall in love with another. When he is ordered to leave London for his own protection because his life has been threatened, he travels to Devon to stay in a friend’s small country home. He drops his title and simply becomes Captain Carrington to avoid drawing attention to himself. There he meets a country miss who for some strange reason, not only puts up with an abusive suitor, but contemplates marriage to the man she obviously detests. Soon Rupert is involved not only in solving a mystery, but his heart is awakened from its long slumber by the girl. Unfortunately she is supposedly of a lesser class and would be socially ostracized if he were foolish enough to marry her.

Alexandra suspects Rupert is of a higher class than he pretends to be and vows to protect her heart from caring for a man beyond her social class. She and her family have suffered greatly at the hands of Cecil Bedford, but marrying him may be the only way to protect her family from further harm. She lost both her father and an older brother, the family’s estate, and her social position due to Cecil’s schemes. Now it’s up to her to make certain her mother and younger siblings don’t suffer more grief and total destitution.

Luce writes in a warm comfortable style. Her characters feel real and the reader can readily identify with them. It’s a nice twist to turn a regency into a mystery while staying convincingly within the mores of the regency time period.

Wanda Luce graduated from Brigham Young University. She and her husband currently live in Utah and are the parents of two sons. She loves traveling and lived for a year in Germany. She is an avid Jane Austen fan and this is her second published Regency novel. Her first, Lydia, proved to be extremely popular with Regency fans.

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SIMPLY ANNA by Jennifer Moore, published by Covenant Communications. 209 pages, soft cover $14.99. Also available for e-readers.

IN THE WILDS OF DEVON by Wanda Luce, published by Walnut Springs Press, 333 pages. Soft Cover $17.99 Also available for e-readers.