What is regency romance and how does it differ from historical romance?
You may well recognize Jane Austen as a regency romance writer. She is best known for works such as Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility.
So what makes an authentic regency romance?
Well if you look at Pride and Prejudice you can see quite clearly the basic setup of a regency romance. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet stir the hearts of readers as they bicker and dance around each other, but a key element to the novel is that their romance is not the only one. Miss Jane Bennet and Mr. Charles Bingley also fall in love in this classic tale, though perhaps with fewer hindrances on the characters' part.
To break it down:
Regency romance is based in the early 19th century and will normally revolve around a comedy of manners. The romances are very chaste and do not include conversations about sex between the main characters. In several cases, there will be a side romance to the main one. This of course applies only to Regency romance and romance written around the actual time period. Modern Regency romances include sex and overt (sexualized) flirting.
The monarchs you will find in regency romances are George IV and William IV. Some novels may be included in this genre, even if George III is ruling, though technically speaking he is not part of this era. George III is before the regency era. The period starts when he was declared insane by the Parliament Regency Act and his son was placed on the throne as acting king. The regency (and post-regency) period ends prior to Queen Victoria's reign.
Time Frame: 1810-1820, generally speaking.
Historical Romance on the other hand is considered to be everything prior to WWI in history. Contemporary attitudes usually color the writing enabling the female lead to be more educated, witty, or relatable. There are many sub genres to this type of romance including but not limited to Viking, pirate, colonial United States, and Western.
In conclusion, regency romance is included in theme of historical romance as a separate and more distinct subgenre.