If you’ve read everything by Jane Austen, and would like more in that same vein, you should try Georgette Heyer. Heyer has been credited with writing the first modern historical romance novels. Many of her novels are set in the Regency era in England (the same time period/location as Jane Austen’s novels), and she also wrote contemporary (for her time) mysteries set in the 1920s. In order to inform her 20th Century readers about the realities of the Regency era, she included meticulous details about the daily life and social customs of the British upper class. This gives the reader a real feel for what it would have been like to be one of the characters in her books. Due to her attention to detail, her book An Infamous Army includes, in my opinion, one of the most historically accurate depictions of the Battle of Waterloo ever written!
Heyer’s books tend to follow similar plotlines, but her characters and their dialogue are what makes these books a delight. Laughing out loud while reading one of her novels is par for the course, and you find yourself rooting for her intelligent, often unconventional heroines. And her heroes aren’t bad either (if a trifle stubborn or pompous sometimes – though the heroine usually breaks them out of their stuffiness!) The stories are nicely paced, and there’s ample action and sometimes even danger to keep the reader involved.
For those who like their romances more on the steamy side, alas, Heyer only delivers an occasional kiss or embrace. This is true to the time period; in that era, an upper-class girl who was discovered kissing a man would be socially ruined, and often seen as unmarriageable. But for those who love Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer might become a new favorite author! Two great books to start with are The Talisman Ring and The Masqueraders.