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I write historical romances set in 1740s England. Warning: No bodices are ripped. Think of Georgette Heyer and Jane Aiken Hodge. No explicit sex, but some mild bad language, as my characters sometimes find themselves in situations calling for an oath a little stronger than “Zounds!” There’s also crime and some humor.
My heroines do not lose their wits at the first kiss and my heroes usually prefer to solve problems with creativity rather than fists. Or swords or pistols. Which is not to say swords are not wielded and pistols fired.
And because there are more dukes, marquesses, and earls in historical romance than have existed in Great Britain since…well, since the Romans left and the Vikings blew in, sometimes the hero is merely a gentleman. He may even—horrors!—work for a living. In one of my books, the heroine works, too.