A Beta-hero, an Alpha-aunt, Jane Austen, and Me by Anne Gracie

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[Note from Frolic: We are so excited to have author Anne Gracie guest post on the site today. Take it away Anne!]

There are two reasons I write Regency-era historical romance, and one is Jane Austen. If Jane Austen knew how well-known and popular she was today, more than two hundred years after her death, she’d be spinning cotillion-happy-dancing in her grave.

In her own lifetime she had only modest success, and financially, her books were a loss. But two hundred years later she’s a mega-star.

Partly I think that’s due to the various movies and TV adaptations of her books, bringing her wonderful characters to life on the screen and taking her stories to a wider audience. (Also we can’t rule out the effect of that scene — which wasn’t in the book — where Colin Firth emerges from a pond in the Regency version of a wet T-shirt.)

But mainly it’s to do with her wonderful characters, witty dialogue, clever and ironic social observation, and that her books are simultaneously classic literary fiction and romances with happy endings.

In my own books I’ve occasionally had a character refer to Austen’s books indirectly. For instance, in The Winter Bride, Freddy, who is very much a beta hero, has a very strong reaction.

Freddy shook his head. “Not the literary society. The horror stories those
girls read are enough to make a fellow’s hair stand on end.”

Max frowned. “Horror stories? They don’t read horror stories, only
entertaining tales of the kind ladies seem to enjoy, about girls and gossip and
families—”

“Horror stories, every last one of them,” Freddy said firmly. “You asked
me to sit in on their literary society last month, when you went up to Manchester,
remember? The story they were reading then…” He gave an eloquent shudder.
“Horror from the very first line: ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a
single man in possession of a large fortune must be in want of a wife.’Must he,
indeed? What about the poor fellow’s wants, eh? Do they matter? No. Every
female in the blasted story was plotting to hook some man for herself or her
daughter or niece. If you don’t call that horror, I don’t know what is!”

Max chuckled.

“You can laugh, bound as you are for parson’s noose in the morning,”
Freddy said bitterly, “but every single man in that story ended up married by the
end of the book! Every last one.” He numbered them off on his fingers. “The main
fellow, his best friend, the parson, even the soldier fellow ended up married to the
silly light-skirt sister — not one single man in that story escaped unwed.” He
shuddered again. “Enough to give a man nightmares. So no literary society for
me, thank you.”

Aunt Agatha, the elderly martinet aunt of the girls in my Convenient Marriage series has quite a different view of the same story. She has Standards — Aunt Agatha is very much an alpha aunt –and remembers the opening line slightly differently. Here are her thoughts…

What was that line again? It is a fact, widely understood… No, that wasn’t
it. It was a truth — yes, that was it, a truth.

It was a truth universally acknowledged, that a single duke in possession
of a large fortune, must be in want of a bride. That was the line. A very sensible
observation to commence a very silly book.

Young gels deciding for themselves who they would marry or not.
Ridiculous! Especially in their situation. An irritating — and stupid! — mother
who deserved to be strangled, and a father — well, men were useless in these
matters anyway.

Had it not been for the commonsensical actions of an aunt, that foolish,
mule-headed Elizabeth would have whistled an excellent marriage down the
wind. But her aunt had saved the day, and taken the gel to visit the young fellow’s
estate — and what a handsome estate it was. That had made the silly gel sit up and
take notice.

Still, the whole matter of the young gentleman actually being on hand, and
then being willing to propose to the stubborn gel again — poor besotted fool — that
was the sheerest luck. But it had all worked out in the end — thanks to chance, and
the actions of an aunt.

We all tend to view stories through our own personal lens, don’t we? It is part of the fun of reading and talking about the books we love, or don’t love.

Oh, and the second reason I write Regency-era historical romance? Georgette Heyer.

About the Author:

Anne Gracie is an award-winning author of twenty novels, published with Berkley USA (part of the Random/Penguin group), Penguin Australia and Harlequin International. She’s a nationally best-selling author in the USA and her Regency-era historical romances have been translated into more than eighteen languages, including Japanese manga editions (which she thinks is very cool). A lifelong advocate of universal literacy, Anne also writes books for adults just learning to read.

Connect with Anne:

Website: https://www.annegracie.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnneGracieAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnneGracie

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/65591.Anne_Gracie

Marry in Secret by Anne Gracie, out now!

Lady Rose Rutherford—rebel, heiress, and exasperated target of the town’s hungry bachelors—has a plan to gain the freedom she so desperately desires: she will enter into a marriage of convenience with the biggest prize on the London marriage mart.

There’s just one problem: the fierce-looking man who crashes her wedding to the Duke of Everingham — Thomas Beresford, the young naval officer she fell in love with and secretly married when she was still a schoolgirl. Thought to have died four years ago he’s returned, a cold, hard stranger with one driving purpose—revenge.

Embittered by betrayal and hungry for vengeance, Thomas will stop at nothing to reclaim his rightful place, even if that means using Rose—and her fortune—to do it. But Rose never did follow the rules, and as she takes matters into her own unpredictable hands, Thomas finds himself in an unexpected and infuriating predicament: he’s falling in love with his wife….

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