Friday Frivolity: Title Inflation in Regency Romances
What is up with the proliferation of dukes in the Regency romance genre?
This is a terribly unscientific observation, but it seems like the last few novels I’ve read in the genre have all featured dukes as heroes. I’m currently reading The Last Hellion by one of my favorite authors, Loretta Chase (hero: the Duke of Ainswood). I’m also halfway through YA Regency The Season by Sarah MacLean, which features the daughter of a duke. The count for other ducal characters in The Season is up to five, and I may yet find more. I just read another novel by Loretta Chase featuring a ducal hero, and another one of my favorite authors, Eloisa James, seems to make a good 75% of her heroes and heroines dukes, or duchesses, or both.
Okay, I get it. The power is attractive. But it’s horribly unrealistic when the rest of the aforementioned novels boast brilliant characters and bear the hallmarks of painstaking research.
Jane Austen knew that world better than any of us could. Mr. Darcy doesn’t need to be the Duke of Darcy to exude wealth and power. The highest ranking character mentioned in any of her novels is the Dowager Viscountess Dalrymple in Persuasion—and in the hierarchy of English ranks, a viscountess is a good three steps lower than a duke.
Dukes are supposed to be rare. That’s part of the reason people fawn all over them. Besides, isn’t a “Mr.” who is powerful and influential without an inflated title far more interesting?