JL Langley’s Sci-Regency series is such a wonderful creation. In it Langley combines the extremely formal social rules, etiquette, manners, and dress of Regency England with science fiction’s space and galactic travel to create a universe both familiar and removed from our experiences. And she did it so well, so convincingly that it become a genre beloved by many. I found Regency England early on in my teens with Georgette Heyer, creator of the Regency romance genre and her fabulous heroine, The Grand Sophy. I loved her books and the world they presented. Heyer wrote books full of humor, delightful dialog, and of course romance. Her women were strong willed and intelligent, trying to find their way in the very masculine world of England in the Regency Era (1795-1830). Lord Byron was making women (and some men) swoon with his dark romantic poetry and sexy brooding image he projected. The fabulousBeau Brumnel was busy defining and shaping fashion in his own image, the Dandy promenaded through the balls, and authors like Jane Austen, Charles Dickens started writing works of social commentary in their fiction.
The Regency Era saw the rise of Almack’s as a marriage mart, Tattersall’s was the place to purchase exquisite horse flesh, gentlemens clubs like Boodles, Brooke’s. the Four Horse Club and of course White’s were the places to be seen and heard. There were duels on the Commons and the aristocratic young were strictly chaperoned in accordance with the rigid societal rules of the day. To be discovered in flagrante meant a run to Gretna Green and a quickie marriage. Considering the short length of the Regency Era, it still projects a profound influence to this day upon so many areas of literature and society. The gambling hells and with its rakes, the opera singers and Covent Gardens, the clothes, and oh the poets and artists creating then. It is no wonder that era captures the hearts of so many authors and readers to this day.
H.G.Wells was born in 1866 and helped usher in thoughts of time travel and alien worlds. Science Fiction novels in every sense of the word and from almost every author you can imagine fills my bookshelves as well. Alien societies, space travel, and yes, alien romance captured my imagination and my heart too. I love each and every new universe a author creates and the beings they fill it with.
So just consider the heart palpitations I experienced when I found JL Langley and My Fair Captain, the first in her Sci-Regency series. I had no idea what awaited me beyond that unbelievably sexy cover. It teased us with a glimpse of a young man in Regency dress in back of a masterful, naked torso who dominates the design. How perfect as submission to those older and higher in society was a given during the Regency Era. My Fair Captain, published in 2008 by Samhain Publishing introduces us to the world of Regelence and it’s ruler King Steven and his Consort Raleigh, their four sons and ward. Intergalactic Navy Captain Nathaniel “Nate” Hawkins has been chosen by the Admiral to act as an undercover agent investigating the disappearance of a huge cache of arms on the male oriented planet of Regelence. On Regelence, male/male coupling is the norm with children born by genetically combining their parents DNA. Nate Hawkins comes from a planet where the opposite (m/f) holds true and homosexual acts are disgraceful to the point of disownment. A youthful indiscretion with another young man ended in a duel and a death and saw Nate escaping his father’s influence as heir to his dukedom by entering the Navy. To go undercover, Nate must use his aristocratic background to get close to the rulers of Regelence and their world caught up in political intrigue and suspence. What Nate doesn’t anticipate is falling in love with Prince Aiden, the middle son of King Steven. Prince Aiden is consumed by his art, and the thoughts of marriage to another well born son, as expected of him, leave him cold. Then he falls literally into the arms of Nate Hawkins, and Aiden can think of no one else. Amid court intrigue and intergalactic murder mystery, can a rakish Navy Captain and a virginal Price find love among the stars?
Just thinking about this book makes me fan myself rapidly. Langley’s characters are so utterly realistic, so believably hot and sexy that my pulse jumps just thinking about them. And she sets them in a world that any fan of Regency fiction would recognize accompanied by elements any Science Fiction fan can identify, such as space ships and communication devices. But as great as her world building is, it is J.L. Langley’s characters that claim your affections, clamor for your attention, and grab onto your heart, never to let go. And I am not talking about just the main characters either, although they are fantastic and sexy. It not just Nate and Aiden (a favorite couple of mine), no it is all Aiden’s siblings, and their ward. It is their fathers Steven and Raleigh who have a fan club as big as many of Langley’s other creations, and then there are the sons friends and well I am sure you are getting the picture. No cardboard cutouts here, no one dimensional portraits to spoil the reader’s enjoyment. No, just a complete world occupied by addictive, compelling characters the reader just can not get enough of. Lucky for us, JL Langley has promised each son a book as well as one for their fathers and several of the other characters I have mentioned.
After My Fair Captain, we had a small wait until JL finished with other characters yelling for attention in her mind (they do that, you know) but April 2008 found the release of The Englor Affair and our love affair continued with Steven and Raleigh’s pack of boys, their friends and the continuing mystery behind the political shenanigans that threaten the stability of Steven’s rule. The Englor Affair finds us transported to the planet Englor, birthplace of Nate Hawkins and the origin of much of the troubles occurring on Regelence. Englor, another Regency oriented society is more typical of the times, and has just barely accepted some homosexuality. Nate Hawkins returns to Englor after the events of My Fair Captain saw Aiden kidnapped by the conspirators behind the arms theft. That kidnapping and Aiden’s rescue opened up the investigation to reveal a much larger conspiracy then anyone had imagined. Now an Admiral, Nate works for Steven and Raleigh after his marriage to Aiden and he had returned to Englor to further their investigations as to who is directly behind the threat to Regelence. Accompanying him is Payton, third in line to the throne of Regelence. Payton is a genius at computers and Nate needs his gifts to break into the files on Englor. Payton is hiding his true identity as he pretends to be the Admiral’s assistant. A simple assignment turns complicated when Payton meets Englor Marine Colonel Simon Hollister. A virgin, as are all artistocratic youth, Payton is unprepared for the feelings Hollister engender in him. A chanced kiss turns into something more and hidden identities are revealed to both young men’s horror and consternation. For Simon Hollister is none other than the heir apparent to Englor. His future mapped out for him as Englor’s future King. He will marry a women and have the children needed to continue the line. Into the murky waters of political intrigue and possible galactic war, two princes try to find love and the road to HEA.
With The Englor Affair, Langley delivers an outstanding story that furthers the theme of interplanetary conspiracy and subterfuge while giving us memorable characters that engage our affections from the very first page. Nate, Aiden, King Steven and Consort Raleigh are back as are all their fascinating brood. Payton is the focus here and we come to love him as much as Aiden. A slight build hides a passionate nature and a quick highly intelligent mind. Payton loves going undercover as he finds the limitation of being a crown prince repressing. For all that, Payton is still sexually native and unpreparing for the lustful reactions he feels when meeting Simon Hollister. Holliston is also attracted to Payton but thinks him just an Admiral’s assistant, perhaps the son of a lesser noble. So Simon acts upon his attraction and kisses Payton to Payton’s utter astonishment, for a such bold and disrespectful act would have heavy consequences would it be known. Princes do not act that way nor do they receive such attention without the benefit of marriage or engagement bans on Regelence. Their actions have far reaching consequences and are one of the real joys of this book. We watch as sexual attraction grows into something much larger and Simon has to adjust his thinking not only about homosexuality but about himself as well.
One of the things that so impresses me about JL Langley’s stories is that all the elements are juggled perfectly throughout the story. The focus may be temporarily on the romance contretemps of the couple but the mystery and mayhem of the terrorist group is never forgotten. All threads are woven beautifully within the novel so we end up with a rich, colorful, and complex tapestry to enjoy. And return to time and time again.
Lucky again for us that today sees the release of My Regelence Rake, the third in the Sci-Regency series. It is the reason this post came out later than expected. I couldn’t put that book down long enough to finish writing this. My review will be up later in the week, but trust me, this is a 5 star read. My Regelence Rake stars Prince Colton and you are going to love him as much as the others, I promise.
So if you haven’t already found this series, start with My Fair Captain. It will introduce you to a cast of characters who breathe, bleed, love, and cause trouble across the galaxy. You will have a universe you will never want to leave and a horizon of people whose stories are clamoring to be told. What a wealth awaits you between the pages of these books. Go and get them. You will love them all.